Welcome to Kitchn's new series My Favorite Healthy Recipes, where we show you how real people around the country (and even world) eat "healthy," however they choose to define that for themselves. Maybe you'll even find a few recipes to add to your own meal plan.
Name: Leah Vanderveldt
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Occupation: Food writer and cookbook author
Number of people in household: 2 (me and my husband)
What Does Healthy Mean to You?
Healthy to me means eating foods that make me feel good and not being too dogmatic about it. As someone who has worked for health and wellness websites, it's easy to get caught up in the hype of superfoods, individual nutrients, and supplements, but when it comes down to it, it's about paying attention to how your body responds to certain foods and eating more of the stuff that leaves you feeling energetic, happy, and satisfied. That also means leaving room for foods that are emotionally healthy and nostalgically happy, too — like the pizza and wine you share with your friends or an ice cream cone at the beach.
I just finished writing a cookbook about plant-based comfort food and I cook mostly plant-based and vegetarian at home, but I typically eat meat or fish once or twice a week. It's ultimately about going with what I want and need on a daily basis. I do think plants (including legumes, grains, nuts, etc.) are really high-energy food and they make me feel amazing, so I base my meals around those most of the time. I think vegetables themselves are so badass; when someone can make broccoli taste amazing, that's way cooler to me than any cut of meat. But when a burger craving hits, I take that just as seriously as putting some extra greens in my smoothie.
What Are Your Favorite "Healthy" Recipes?
1. Cherry Almond Green Smoothie from The Nourish Exchange
Smoothie bowls are everything I want in a warm-weather breakfast — cool, refreshing, filling (if made right) — and are the perfect bed for crunchy toppings that keep things interesting.
2. Roasted Vegetable and Quinoa Bowl from Sprouted Kitchen
I'm all about big, abundant bowls of colorful food. Having a bunch of different varying textures and flavors in one meal leaves me feeling satisfied and happy. Roasting is my favorite way to cook vegetables, so this bowl (and Sara's entire book Bowl + Spoon, for that matter) is a winner for me.
3. Sweet Potato Burger with Roasted Poblano from Jessica Murnane
I love the simplicity and total deliciousness of this plant-based burger. It has all my favorite things in and on it. I also love Jessica's One Part Plant (the cookbook and the movement) approach to eating — it's simply about adding one plant-based meal to your day. Not only is this doable, but it can also be really enjoyable.
4. Vegan BBQ Lentils with Millet Polenta from The First Mess
Another dish under the plant-based comfort food umbrella. I love this one for its simplicity and nostalgic flavors, but really anything slathered in a BBQ-like sauce is a winner for me. This is the bowl I want to eat curled up on my couch in my sweatpants.
5. Slow-Cooker Pork Carnitas from Kitchn
This is one of my favorite entertaining or Sunday recipes — it can stretch really far for a crowd or a week of leftovers. We make all the fixings for tacos (guacamole, some fajita-style peppers and onions, a slaw, some fresh pico de gallo, etc.). If we're entertaining we'll serve everything buffet-style for a build-your-own taco situation, which is great for hosting people with different dietary needs.
If we have them as a Sunday night meal for just the two of us, we'll have plenty of leftovers throughout the week for more tacos (can you ever have too many?), upside-down taco bowls, or sandwiches. Cooking smarter like this is healthy on our budgets and minds too, since having cooked food in the fridge helps us resist the urge for mediocre takeout.
Thanks so much for sharing your favorite healthy recipes, Leah! Want to share what healthy means to you? See how here.