Ten years of chronic health issues led Manhattan based personal chef and culinary nutritionist, Amie Valpone, to figure out how to be healthy in a REAL way. She has a new beautiful book, and she paused her busy schedule to answer a few of my questions and share a delicious recipe.
Q: What are your favorite herbs and spices?
Amie: Fresh basil, fresh cilantro and fresh parsley. I make salads that have more herbs than lettuce because there is so much flavor in fresh herbs and they're packed with nutrients. When you start to add fresh herbs into your lifestyle, you'll see you no longer need processed salad dressings! Olive oil and lemon juice will create amazing flavor with the herbs and that's all you need!!!
Q: Where do herbs and spices fit into your Eating Clean plan?
Amie: They're in all of my meals and snacks from breakfast to snacks. I tossed them into my Millet Tacos for breakfast and my Grain-Free Crackers for snacks as well as my main dishes such as Paella and my Panzanella with Gluten-Free Herbed Croutons, Cherry Tomatoes and fresh herbs, plus a whole lot of other recipes that are full of fresh herbs for maximum flavor!
Q: What are your go-to snacks?
Amie:I love all veggies with hummus, guacamole and salsa. That's a staple in my home. I also love munching on my grain-free crackers or grain-free breads made from almond four, coconut flour, and chickpea flour.I have an incredible flatbread recipe in my cookbook and two more coming soon to my blog that are amazing. I’ll wrap them in parchment paper along with my homemade nut cheese and I’ll be set for a long plane ride to California!
Q: Which kitchen tool can’t you live without?
Amie:My food processor! When I had colitis, I had to eat out of a food processor for an entire YEAR- hence the reason for the HUGE condiment and soup and dip, spread and puree chapter in my new cookbook, Eating Clean. I'm still in love with pureed dips and dressings and nut butters that I make from my food processor. It's the best!!
Q: If you’re traveling and need to eat out, where do you go and what do you select?
Amie: I go to Whole Foods Market --that's my first stop for EVERY trip! I load up on avocados, raw walnuts, raw almonds, LOTS of veggies, hummus and a few other ingredients to hold me over until my meals. I usually eat this when I'm traveling as well as chia seeds and ground flaxseeds for omega 3's and healthy fats to keep me satisfied. I store it all in my hotel fridge and have a picnic. It's fabulous; more about this in my cookbook, Eating Clean, that's in stores nationwide this week. Yay!!
Golden Bell Pepper Soup
Serves 6 to 8
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ small onion, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 yellow, red and/or orange bell peppers, chopped
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
3 teaspoon finely chopped fresh marjoram
1 recipe Gluten-Free Herbed Croutons, for garnish
Sliced avocado, for garnish; optional
Finely chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish; optional
Drizzle Seriously Sensational Sriracha Sauce, for garnish; optional
In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and a pinch of salt and black
pepper. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 4 minutes. Add the bell peppers and cook until soft,
about 6 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and broth. Season with salt and black pepper, cover the pot,
and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and add the marjoram. Simmer until the vegetables are tender,
about 20 minutes.
Let the soup cool slightly, and then, in batches, transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. If needed,
thin the soup with water. Adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper if necessary. Return the soup
to the pot to keep warm until serving. Serve garnished with the Herbed Croutons and, if desired, the
avocado and cilantro on top and Seriously Sensational Sriracha Sauce on the side.
Try it! It's amazing!
Text excerpted from EATING CLEAN, © 2016 by AMIE VALPONE. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.