The Beekman Boys Reveal Their Healthy Cooking Secrets

(Image credit: Handout/Tate Tullier)

By Diane Henderiks:

Meet Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcel, aka, the Fabulous Beekman Boys. A dynamic couple (one is a doctor, the other a best-selling author) bought the 19th century Beekman mansion on a run-down upstate New York farm as a weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. The recession hit, jobs were lost, and to sustain a living they packed their NYC bags, moved into their weekend home and turned it into a working farm. The kicker … they had no idea what they were doing or what they were in for, which includes a 200-year-old ghost child they call Mary Beekman, who tiptoes around and thinks these guys are her imaginary friends.

The Beekman Boys started a blog to share their day-to-day life experiences, which they call "a shared experiment in seasonal living." Every step they take is an opportunity to learn something new and their website visitors were along for the ride. The blog was so successful that they were contacted by a television producer who knew the rest of the country would love to follow them on their journey. The blog turned into a television show, and now you can watch the drama unfold right in your own living room.

These men appreciate seasonal and local ingredients, support local business and craftsmen, and have learned how to "work with what we have when we have it." I met Brent and Josh at the 15th anniversary of Epicurious at Eataly in New York. We were seated at the same table and had a great time while Mario Batali cooked us all dinner. Their second season will be at their new home, the Cooking Channel.

Two goats, a llama and drama, oh my!

Let's get the Fabulous Beekman Boys' take on healthy eating.

Diane: Do you see a trend with people seeking better-for-you dining options?

BBoys: We absolutely see this trend. Healthier (often vegetarian) dishes are some of the most commonly searched recipes on our website.

Diane: What's your definition of "healthy eating"?

BBoys: It's sad that most people think "healthy eating" is synonymous with low calorie. We have always believed that if people eat REAL foods, made from REAL ingredients, that their body is naturally more satisfied and fulfilled. You naturally eat less because your body doesn't continue to crave things the way it does when you are feeding it a bunch of overprocessed and synthetically enriched foods. Hooray for real fats and sugars!

Diane: What is your secret to cooking healthier without sacrificing flavor?

BBoys: Anyone who plans to cook a lot at home should really invest in buying good quality spices and to give a try of different types of salt and peppers. Herbs are very easy to grow in small pots right on your window seal or outside the kitchen door. It's so convenient to pick off a few leaves and toss them into whatever you are making. You will be amazed at what you'll learn about seasoning food appropriately. Check out our Beekman 1802 vegetable and herb seed kits available at Williams Sonoma.

Diane: What is your favorite healthier dish on your own menu and why?

BBoys: I would say it's our corn chowder salad. We love it because it's like a deconstructed corn chowder, where we use the common ingredients in corn chowder and turn it into a quick and delicious salad. This dish is great served warm or cold, and wonderful the next day.

Diane: How about an update on what's new and exciting in your world?

BBoys: Most exciting right now is the September 20th debut of Season 2 of the Fabulous Beekman Boys on the Cooking Channel at 10:00 p.m., so please tune in. Our "Beekman 1802- Heirloom Cookbook" is doing great and available on our website or at most national bookstores. We are currently working on our second cookbook, which is very exciting. We have a unique line of products that are hand-crafted near Sharon Springs, N.Y., using only natural ingredients & quality materials. We support small farms and communities by working with over 20 local crafts people to produce these amazing goods.

Diane Henderiks is a registered dietitian, the founder of and a "Good Morning America" health contributor.

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