I met #1 New York Times best-selling author and Today Show nutritionist Joy Bauer at an event she hosted recently for her new book, Food Cures, and was glad to find that she is just as affable and knowledgeable in person as she comes across on TV. In between her television appearances and her book promotion events, Bauer took time to dish on her pantry essentials, her favorite food cure, and more.
The Fashion Spot: Can you tell us a little bit about your background? Did you always know you wanted to work in the field of health and nutrition?
Joy Bauer: I was a competitive gymnast growing up, so I developed a strong interest in sports nutrition and the best way to fuel my body for performance. As an undergrad at University of Maryland (Go Terps!), I studied exercise kinesiology, which goes hand in hand with nutrition. After graduation, I decided to get my Master’s Degree in nutrition, and within a month of starting the program, I knew I had found my calling. Made total sense; I have a passion for health, I love to cook, and I loooove to eat.
tFS: What do you think we should always have stocked in our kitchen?
- Healthy, whole-grain cereal—Quick, easy breakfast option so you always have time for something to eat in the morning, choose brands with at least 3 grams fiber and no more than 8 grams sugar per serving.
- Quinoa—It’s richer in protein than other whole grains (it’s actually a seed!)
- Whole grain pasta and bottled marinara sauce—Great for a quick dinner (add some lean protein and lots of veggies).
- Nuts and nut butters—Almond, peanut, cashew, sunflower … whatever you like the taste of best, they’re all healthy!
- Lean ground turkey—Easy swap for fatty ground chuck, and great for quick meals like turkey burgers.
- Frozen vegetables—So you always have a quick vegetable option when you’re out of fresh stuff (or it’s past its prime).
- Nonfat yogurt—Great snack or breakfast option; go for Greek varieties to get twice the protein.
tFS: Hot dogs, a summer-time staple, have been getting a lot of bad press lately. Is it warranted?
JB: Unfortunately, YES. Hot dogs are 70-80% fat (much of it the unhealthy saturated type) and loaded with salt. Processed meats like hot dogs have been linked to increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and colon cancer. You don’t have to give them up completely—get them out of the house and instead enjoy one occasionally at a ballpark, fair, or amusement park when it’s part of the experience.
tFS: Is there one thing you make sure to eat/drink everyday?
JB: A glass of wine! Just kidding, that’s a few times a week with dinner. The only things I eat/drink every single day are probably water and coffee. I aim to eat as much produce as I can every day, but I try to vary it up and go with what’s in season whenever possible.
tFS: What would we find if we looked inside your fridge/pantry?
- Part-skim ricotta—I combine creamy part-skim ricotta with frozen, thawed berries for a great dessert or breakfast.
- Sriracha sauce—I LOVE spicy food so I use sriracha on just about everything. I squirt it on top of egg white omelets, use it as a dip for veggies, add it to chili or soups, you name it.
- Canned pumpkin—I mix a scoop of canned pumpkin puree with nonfat vanilla yogurt and cinnamon to make Vanilla Pumpkin Pudding, one of my standard breakfasts.
- Reduced-fat cheese—Love snacking on cheese in the afternoon. I like the snack-size individually wrapped pieces.
- Roasted edamame—I’m definitely on a roasted edamame kick right now! Fiber, healthy fats, and protein all in one—and they’re incredibly crunchy. The perfect snack.
- Light vanilla ice cream—My absolute favorite dessert! I like it soft and melty. Sometimes, when I want to make it a bit more decadent, I mix in dark chocolate chips or even crumbled cookies.
tFS: What are some of the biggest health/nutrition myths you'd like to clear up?
JB: One thing I hear a lot is that certain foods can blast away belly fat. That’s a definite myth. The truth is, when it comes to losing weight, your body has its own agenda and it’s just not possible to target a specific problem spot by eating specific foods. But there’s good news: When you eat less and move more, you burn fat from all over your body—and that means eventually (if not at first) your belly.
tFS: What was the most surprising "cure" you discovered while researching your new book?
JB: I’ll tell you one of my personal, most favorite Food Cures…it involves one of my “healthy vices”— coffee. New research shows that coffee actually boosts long-term memory. Regular coffee drinkers are at lower risk for dementia and Alzheimer's. A lot of people are surprised to hear that! Best news ever, right?
tFS: What are some of your favorite health gadgets?
Oil Mister: I have a reusable oil mister that I fill with heart-healthy olive or canola oil. Using spray oil instead of pouring bottled oil directly into pots and pans saves significant calories (every Tbsp of oil you cut saves 120 calories). And the reusable misters are less expensive and more eco-friendly than disposable nonstick spray canisters.
Hand-held Chopper: My son Cole gave me a hand-held chopper for Mother’s Day one year and it’s one of the best gifts I have ever received. I use it to chop veggies for just about everything — tossed salads, meatloaf, pasta sauce, chicken salad, soups and stews, you name it. It’s hard to quantify how much time this handy little gadget has saved me.
tFS: Any tips for balancing a busy schedule with eating well and exercising?
JB: Pre-plan your meals (especially dinner!) You also want to learn 5 simple, healthy, delicious recipes you can whip up in under 20 minutes, and make a point to keep the ingredients for at least 2 of these meals on hand at all times. Then, for times when you’re stressed and short on time, you’ll always have these fallback meals to turn to, and you can still put something healthy and homemade on the table. It could be whole wheat pasta with ground turkey meat sauce (using jarred tomato sauce) and a side of frozen green beans. Or a shrimp-broccoli stir-fry (using frozen shrimp) with quick-cooking brown rice.
When it comes to exercise—multi-task and sneak it in (even just 10 or 20 minutes) whenever you can. Because exercise is a top priority for me, I find ways to combine my workout with other things on my to-do list. Most days of the week, I hop on the treadmill for at least an hour, and I read new nutrition research articles or take conference calls while I walk (I’m also capable of iPad’ing through an entire workout!) You can walk on the treadmill or outdoors (or do bicep curls or squats) while you quiz your kids for their spelling test, make those obligatory phone calls you’ve been putting off, catch up on your favorite TV shows, or prep for a meeting.