Health & Diets

Val & Carter eat asparagus

Every day there are more headlines on the escalating statistics of diabetes and obesity in children and adults.  I discovered the importance of eating well from a young age.  Because my mother’s cooking was so delicious, I was never tempted by sweets as a child nor did I snack on junk food between meals.  I’ve carried these eating habits into adulthood.

Junk food is loaded with salt, sugar, trans fat, preservatives, artificial coloring etc.  So, when people question tamari’s (or soy sauce) sodium content, I explain that this is my main salt intake for the day.  I don’t eat snacks (pretzels, chips) or processed foods which get their flavor from excessive salt.  I show you how to prepare simple wok dishes using few and fresh ingredients with good brands of Asian sauces without MSG.  Read more about ingredients.

 

Simple stir fry with kale & yellow bell peppers for pot luck

“Looks like you are doing a great job teaching people how to cook healthfully.” 
Margo G. Wootan, D.Sc., Director, Nutrition Policy, Center for Science in the Public Interest

One of the original goals in my first “Ho Wok Mei” video was to educate the public about faux Chinese food with my mantra, “Just say NO to chop suey!”   In recent reports and criticisms of “Chinese” restaurant food as being unhealthy my response is, “that’s NOT Chinese food.”   Most of these restaurants have two menus, one for the Chinese and one for the uneducated palette that craves and assumes Chinese food is salty, deep fried foods with thick, sweet goopy sauces.

 

 

I was hired by Pritikin’s nutritionist to develop some dishes with Asian flavors based on their no-fat philosophy.

The Pritikin Longevity Center’s nutritionist in Miami Beach hired me to develop tasty dishes with Asian flavors.  I’ve used one of their techniques of cooking in sauce for a flaky fish dish, Tilapia in spicy, brown bean sauce.  The brown bean sauce is included in my Wok Star Kit and technique I show in my “Easy Style” DVD.  Pritikin’s “no fat” approach to cooking, combined with their strict food exchanges, was difficult for many of their  clients to follow.  People find my “no recipes, no measuring, no calorie counting” very liberating and easy to follow.

 

My approach is adaptable to any diet!

Humana invited me to demonstrate how fast, fun, flavorful, AND HEALTHY wok cooking can be at the University of Miami’s Wellness Center.

Low carb dieters love it (Weight Watchers, Atkins, Zone, South Beach Diet, Sugar Busters etc.) because all they need to do is cut back or eliminate the rice (starch) and they’ve got an endless number of meals with the perfect combination of protein and fresh vegetables. This is how my husband, Ralph and I eat nearly everyday. Easy and quick to prepare, little to wash up.

Ralph only started cooking 2 years ago after 16 years of marriage.  The best part about him cooking is I never feel I need to rush home to cook dinner anymore.  His segment “Wok Up and Smell the Coffee” on my “Easy Style” DVD will inspire and encourage you with breakfast alternatives.  Those of you who hate to cook, are you paying attention?  It’s never too late to start.

Wok cooking is a great way to engage the whole family especially children, who LOVE to help out.  Yet, I hear lots of complaints of why people don’t want to cook.  If you keep it to a simple one-dish meal, I KNOW you’ll love wok cooking once you start.  The saying, “It’s the journey, not the destination” couldn’t be more true.  You’ll enjoy your time in the kitchen as well as the meal.

 

Buy a variety of vegetables & just mix & match, easy!

Keep Cooking Simple and Tasty is a great way to “Getting Started and Keeping Going” (the two hardest challenges of any diet.)  Please feel free to contact me with any questions you have.   My brother passed away from diabetes, so I want to encourage and help anyone who is ready for a lifestyle change.  It’s EASY when you have the right tools. Go to Tips for more ideas and resources how to Cook Like a Wok Star!

“Eleanor, Great insight!! And thanks for the wok tip. I always wondered why my stir fry never came out so great. I think Americans are afraid to fry veggies because they think it will erase the nutritional value. But a quick fry in a wok IS ok. You are also right that color and variety are key. And it’s true that introducing veggies they have never heard of works. My kids are always curious about a fruit or veggie they have never seen or tasted before. They’ll try it and if they like it, will stick with it.  You’re right that good food is the best antidote to junky, unhealthy eating.”  Rachel, Parentdish.com

210 pounds Here I am with my “portable eating platform” (which I no longer have). At this weight I’m “obese” per the weight / height tables. (What, me obese!?!?)

Now, read Ralph’s personal story about weight loss…

Dear Dieters,

I’ve gone through two major weight loss episodes… the first time I lost 50 pounds (210->160) following a “low fat” diet. The second time I lost 35 pounds (200->165) on a modified Atkin’s / Zone / South Beach diet (I cut out starchy carbs). My reason for adopting the low carb diet was because I would become fatigued and have to nap in the afternoon. Adjusting my carb/protein ratio remedied this and made my head feel clearer… losing 35 pounds was a pleasant side effect.

Wok cooking will accommodate almost any diet and provides two essential ingredients often missing in today’s “healthy” food… FUN and FLAVOR. I never feel “deprived” so I’m not tempted to “cheat”.

 

165 pounds

Two other things I’ve discovered:

      1) When you eat tasty savory foods you won’t crave sweets or junk food.
      2) Wok cooking means you’ll eat more fresh fruit and vegetables which ALL diets recommend (no more bland boiled/steamed au gratin veggies).

During both of my weight loss episodes (and now to maintain my desired weight) exercise played an important part. I’ve noticed that when the calories I consume exceed the calories I burn off… I get fat (duh). Wok cooking adds fun and flavor to the quality foods EVERY diet recommends– fresh fruits and vegetables.

But I must warn you, there is ONE downside to becoming creative in the kitchen… Once you begin cooking by “smelling, seeing, touching, and tasting” your senses will become heightened (Some students have likened this to the reawakening of their taste buds after they gave up smoking). You will become very discriminating about what kind of food you eat. Once you’ve developed a taste for fresh, flavorful vegetables you’ll no longer settle for frozen or canned vegetables that have been boiled to death. Your favorite restaurants won’t seem quite so special (I’ve become a “food critic” and often finish a meal with, “I could have done better than that”). But I GUARANTEE, the pleasures of good food, expressing your creativity in the kitchen, and enhancing the time spent with friends and family around the dining table, will be worth it.

Here’s some feedback from folks who’ve found my approach easy to follow!

Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables which ALL diets recommend!

“I purchased the wok to help hopefully, lower my cholesterol, and maybe lose a little weight. I figured healthy cooking was a great start! ebay,” Melvin

“Recently, a nutritionist at Weight Watchers suggested stir-fry as a healthy and fun way to begin preparing meals…and this resonated with me. I’m a bachelor and frequently eat fast food and make other not so healthy eating choices. I’ve impressed dates and kept it healthy at the same time.  This Wok rocks…soon, I’m sure I’ll be able to Wok just about anything edible. Truly, one of the best purchases I’ve made. ;-)…”  Steve

“I even enjoyed the squash, which will now be added to my regular grocery shopping list.  Eleanor, thanks to you, I think there will be a lot of “new” things for me to enjoy, now that I have the benefit of your experiences and techniques in the Asian style of cooking.”   Richard   

“…well organized, simple enough for everyone to learn the principles.  It would be great if all my clients for whom a kitchen is uncharted and mysterious territory took your class.” Dr. Janet, nutritionist at Shin Wellness

I thought the class was wonderful. It was a perfect mix of cooking comments and cuisine. Best of luck with your programs. It is a great idea.” Sheah Rarback, UM registered dietitian, Herald health columnist.

“Lately I’ve been feeling like I need to remove more animal protein and increase the vegetables so I’m especially excited because I know I have a whole new approach to vegetables, one that I like much better than steaming.  Tonight will be my 4th stir fry. They just keep getting better. Tonight is scallops with baby bok choy red/orange peppers and mushrooms. Yesterday I did just veggies it was great!”   Babette

“I sing your praises to everyone I know.  My husband has come to love veggies because of your stir fry techniques! As you mentioned in class, keeping it to 3 or 4 different types of veggies is best; otherwise there are too many different flavors and they may not all work well together.  At least that has been my experience.”  Paula