Pamela Salzman: Healthy Approaches for Healthy Eating
Pamela Salzman never planned on being part of the health and nutrition world. To wit, she was an economics major before she attended business school for marketing (circuitous path, much!?). But after she met her husband and had children, a random cooking group with friends steered her toward the culinary arena she always enjoyed as a child.
When she considered quitting the group, her crew, instead, convinced her to take over. She started experimenting with coconut oil, kale, quinoa and the like (anything healthy was tossed in her mixing bowl), and also offered clever substitutions like rolled oats instead of cream for thickening. Initially, she thought the concept of teaching—and customers attending—was crazy, but the thrilled word-of-mouth deluge proved her wrong. The evidence? Her classes are maxed out and her website is bursting with recipes and tips for healthy, healing food. And, as if her veritable plate wasn’t already overflowing, Salzman develops recipes for Clean Eating Magazine and created the low calorie menu for California Pizza Kitchen.
Here, Salzman breaks down her top tips and musings on food for you.
- Rethink “Healthy”
The word healthy is thrown around a lot, and by some standards the way I eat (which includes animal protein) isn’t healthy. But in my mind, creating an anti-inflammatory, low-glycemic index, plant and whole food-heavy diet is the truest form of healthy. These ideas can be applied to a variety of “diets,” from paleo to vegan and vegetarian approaches.
I think inflammation is the root of most chronic illnesses, so the more we can do to reduce and combat it, the healthier we are. Some foods promote inflammation, like refined foods, sugar and processed oils (of course!), while others reduce it, like omega-3 fatty acids, dark leafy greens and some whole grains.
And, as far as the glycemic index, things that are high in simple starches and sugars have been proven to be the most detrimental to our health. They raise our blood sugar, release insulin into our blood and promote both inflammation and the fat storage hormone. These are the things we should be considering, not just calories and general ideas of “healthy.”
- Simple Swaps and Focal Points
Easy swaps and specific areas of attention can change your world.
-You can replace a processed table salt with a high-mineral, healthy sea salt with no issues.
-Switch out store bought items for homemade salad dressings to avoid refined oils. Minced shallots, a drop of Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, oil and vinegar mix well. My favorite option includes olive oil, rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, a drop of maple syrup, shallots, salt, pepper and a dash of Dijon.
-Focus particularly on dark green leafy veggies, as well as those high in keratinoids like winter squashes.
-Look for already cooked grains and legumes, because something like brown rice in your freezer is an easy way to pull together any meal. Mix cooked greens, quinoa and garlic for a five-minute option.
-Learning how to make a few staples like a simple roast chicken or a broiled piece of fish is so much healthier than buying something at the store.
- Indulge Specifically
If you’re going to indulge, pick your absolute favorite items. I’ll make popcorn on the stove top with coconut oil and salt, and then I’ll grate dark chocolate over or stir in a few drops of maple syrup. Another idea is to take the pit out of a date and stuff it with a pecan and chocolate chip. Frozen, sliced bananas can be dipped in chocolate or peanut butter. An Acai bowl feels super indulgent with a base of banana, some leftover cold oatmeal and a drizzle of peanut butter.
- Stay the Course for Your Kids
It can be very frustrating when kids shun what you spent time making, but you have to stay the course. The overall message is, “This is the way we eat.” But, you can also be flexible and considerate. Keep offering a wide variety of healthy foods, but be mindful of specific issues. My youngest is still picky at age 12, but year after year he eats a few more things. I am flexible enough with him that it doesn’t take away from preparing just one meal for the whole family. But if I know having the dressing on the side will allow him to eat the salad, I’ll accommodate that. I’ll also do things to make items appealing: Ask if your kid wants to put popcorn on top of soup, or scoop food up with a corn tortilla. A little bit of flexibility goes a long way.
- Strive for…Progress
I don’t believe in going for perfection. We’re always evolving and perfection is impossible—and stressful. We have to do the best we can. Plus, a lot of us are out of touch with our bodies. We’re so focused on the nutrients and calories, but we’re losing touch with how we feel. If we could be more aware of being full or feeling energetic after eating something specific, then it makes it easier to self-regulate. If you feel horrible after you eat dairy, maybe that doesn’t work for you: Accept that. Instead of focusing on “points and cups,” if we could start to notice how we feel, we would change our relationship with food quite a lot.
- Lose the Processed, Prioritize the Quality
If you’re eating a processed diet and you start eating a whole-foods diet, you might see your body changing in an amazing way. Appreciate that. Sometimes people will do something for a short amount of time, lose weight and go back to their bad habits. That’s not the point. Develop a healthy lifestyle that’s supportive of the person you want to be for a lifetime.
- Workout Reality
I was never an “exercise person.” I hate it, but I do it because I know it’s important, and that’s a truth we all need to accept. And, since I turned 40 it’s even more important: Cardio and walking on the beach stopped cutting it. So, I started focusing on weight training mixed in with cardio, and that’s been a great change up for me. My favorite workout is a barre class at Fit On Studios in Manhattan Beach, and I also love hot yoga.
- Feed the Burn…and the Morning
Whenever I do any sort of weight training with resistance, I eat protein right after, whether a smoothie bowl or an egg dish. And, I start every day with a big glass of warm water with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to complete the detox process your body completes overnight.
Be Grateful is my favorite SBS mantra because I’m extremely thankful for my health and family. The universe showers you with more when you have a sense of gratitude.