By Diane Henderiks
Todd English has built a culinary empire: He is a four-time James Beard Award Winner, restaurant mogul, cookbook author and television personality. Todd and I first met while shooting a healthy cooking segment together at his digs at The Plaza Food Hall and had a blast. In addition to being a great chef and guy, there is something mystical about Todd. When you first meet him, his soft-spoken nature and quiet charm leave you with a feeling like "Twilight" meets "Top Chef." We whipped up a few of his delicious and healthy dishes for "Good Morning America" that you can check out here.
Todd is a brand of his own and has his successful hands in a multitude of ventures which, at the core, is food. Todd has been an innovator of interpretive, rustic Mediterranean cuisine for over20 years and is a fixture stamp in our culinary minds.
Let's get Todd's take on healthy cooking and eating:
Diane: Do you see a trend with diners seeking better-for-you options on the menu?
Todd: I do but that doesn't mean there's not a long line at the Shake Shack. We see a lot of diners requesting more proteins and salads and less carbs. I do feel that healthier options cannot be 100 percent of the menu because when people go out to eat is the time they are looking for a little bit more indulgent food than they would prepare at home.
Diane: What's your definition of healthy eating?
Todd: I think most important is portion control and moderation. Try to stay away from processed food, exercise more and eat food that leaves you feeling satisfied. I believe in eating smaller meals more often throughout the day to keep the metabolism going. Don't deprive yourself just make better choices. At 50 years old it is definitely a lot harder to stay in shape then it was when I was in my 20's.
Diane: What is your secret to cooking healthier without sacrificing flavor?
Todd: I use a lot of spices, fresh veggies and fruit, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, avocado, soybeans and organic ingredients as often as possible. We need fat in our diets and using the healthier fats is key.
For healthier cooking I have a line of GreenPan™ cookware that has breakthrough non-stick technology, called Thermolon™ which is completely PTFE-free and my cookware is also "green" for our environment. The non-stick eliminates the need for added butter and oils in the pan which means less fat and calories in your foods.
Diane: What is your favorite dish on your own menu?
Todd: Definitely my whole roasted branzino with spiced baby carrots, toasted quinoa, and brown butter yogurt. I love this dish because it's such a delicious and simple recipe, and the elements on the plate provide an equal dose of eye candy and taste bud treat.
Diane: How about an update on what's new and exciting in your world?
Todd: I have some exciting ventures happening! I just re-launched two of my flagship restaurants- Olives Boston, my very first restaurant I opened back in 89' in Charlestown, MA, and Olives NY, which was my first NYC restaurant I opened 11 years ago at the W Hotel in Union Square. Both restaurants underwent major renovations and I just re-opened both locations last month (May). I'm thrilled with the new design of both spaces, and I'm having a lot of fun creating fresh new menu items in addition to the Olives classics.
Also, my third season of "Food Trip with Todd English" is in the works for an air date next fall, and in this season I visit some exotic locales I hadn't been to before such as Malaysia and Portugal. My fourth cookbook "Cooking in Everyday English" has been out since October and is a great basics book inspired by my "Food Trip" travels and love of global flavors, but every recipe is broken down into 10 ingredients or less, so it's simple for the at home cook and features great recipes for the whole family!
Diane Henderiks is a registered dietitian, the founder of Dianehenderiks.com and a "Good Morning America" health contributor.