In her latest book, Simply Laura Lea, the holistic chef focuses on whole ingredients, familiar dishes, and easy steps
Laura Lea Bryant is a Nashville-based certified health-supportive and holistic chef who has grown a devoted following for her approach to healthful eating. In her second book, Simply Laura Lea, she advocates for using whole, fresh foods; indulging in moderation; and best of all, having fun in the kitchen. Her recipes are super easy to follow, so it’s a book you can pull out even during a hectic week. Here, she shares a few tips for balanced eating, plus two recipes you can pull off tonight.
The Local Palate (TLP): For those who don’t yet know your book, what are the three biggest takeaways for how you approach everyday cooking?
Laura Lea Bryant (LLB): First, set yourself up for success by creating some kind of cooking structure. Have a set of recipes you know that your family loves. Memorize these recipes, and make sure you always have the pantry staples required to whip them up. Second, focus on what you can add, not what you can take away. We get so overwhelmed by all of the health rhetoric out there, and everything seems “off-limits,” so we don’t even begin. Yet, we all know some simple things we can add to what we’re already doing, which may improve our health. Some examples are to increase our intake of a variety of vegetables, make sure we have some satiating protein in meals, and drink an extra glass of water. Third: Have fun in the kitchen and welcome imperfection! There is, quite literally, only one way to become a better cook: practice.
TLP: For a month when many of us are thinking of cleaner eating, which recipes in the book should we turn to first?
LLB: Anything that makes you feel good, which is also sustainable for you! It’s important to know that what makes you feel healthier, may or may not do the same for someone else. I recently launched my Simply Balanced Meal Plan Community, which offers monthly batch-cooking style recipes, which you can customize to what works for you and your family. Some of the more popular recipes, which seem to be energizing, nourishing, and enjoyable for members, are sweet potato shepherd’s pie, garlic alfredo spaghetti squash, and creamy chickpea and tomato tortellini soup.
TLP: What are you personally doing to refresh or renew your own eating habits this month?
LLB: I stay pretty consistent throughout the year. What I try to do on a regular basis is to listen to my hunger cues and eat meals that taste delicious and include sources of healthy fiber, protein, and fat. That said, if I’m craving something traditionally considered “indulgent,” like a handful of Skittles or a croissant or potato chips, I have it! I enjoy every bite, and I don’t assign a moral value to it.
TLP: What ingredients do you turn to most this time of year?
LLB: Leafy greens, squashes, potatoes, ground beef for stews and meatloaf, citrus and pineapple (eating them makes me feel closer to summer!), hearty bread, good-quality butter, garlic and onions, gruyere cheese, tea!
TLP: What is one indulgent (but sorta healthy) recipe that you’re excited about right now?
LLB: The pizza queso I recently posted on my blog. Perfect for game day, and it includes a whole bag of cauliflower rice.
TLP: What are you cooking tonight?
LLB: Tonight, I’m throwing together a leftover bowl. I love meal-prepping a few different dishes and making “Buddha Bowls” throughout the week. Tonight’s bowl includes a wild rice and roasted delicata squash salad, tahini-sesame green beans and brussels sprouts, avocado, and kimchi.
Simple and Balanced Recipes
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