Q&A with “The Gourmet Nutritionist”: Tina Ruggiero
Tina Ruggiero, “The Gourmet Nutritionist” works closely with the Pasta Fits team to bring you recipes that you will love and that fit into your healthy lifestyle. As we transition to warmer weather, Tina has some advice as to how to stay fit, eat well, and enjoy your summer!
1. With summer upon us, can you offer some suggestions for easy, yet nutritious pasta meal perfect for outdoor picnics or beach time?
Pasta is one of the quickest, healthiest, from scratch meals you can make, and with summer here, it’s the perfect time to incorporate pasta with seasonal ingredients. I love having lunch or dinner al fresco, so I make friends and family rotelle with asparagus tips and a little balsamic butter; linguini with swiss chard and garlic; ziti with grilled summer veggies; fettuccini with fresh clams, or farfalle with chicken and peas. Nutritious options are endless and they seem to please everyone!
2. During the summer we tend to take a more relaxed approach to everything. Any tips for parents to keep their kids (and themselves!) healthy this summer?
Summer is the ideal time to get fit and to adopt healthy eating and cooking habits. A more relaxed pace allows time for shopping and cooking; the weather lends itself to outdoor activity, and bikini season certainly inspires a more healthful approach to living! Keep in mind, being fit and healthy doesn’t mean going on a crash diet to get skinny; it doesn’t mean depriving yourself of foods you love, and it doesn’t mean getting caught up in food fads or trends that won’t be here tomorrow. Being healthy is about having lots of energy, being strong, feeling good about yourself and enjoying the fresh, wholesome foods that Mother Nature has to offer. So, this summer, try to simplify life! Make mealtime a family activity and get everyone involved in preparation and cooking; make diet matter and choose quality, seasonal foods; think smaller portions, more relaxed mealtimes, more activity and less junk food, snacks, desserts and processed food. Health and wellness will follow!
3. As a registered dietitian, what do you consider to be the most important factor in a healthy diet?
Preparing fresh, simple, quality meals. When people rely on processed food, they deprive themselves of the joy of eating, not to mention important vitamins and minerals. Processed meals take away an individual’s ability to appreciate real food, whole food, food as it was meant to be eaten, and it limits the pleasure of trying an enormous range of seasonal food. Cooking and enjoying whole food expands the mind as well as the palate and, of course, it provides nourishment and disease protection that processed foods can’t.
4. Can you offer some time-saving tips when preparing a homemade meal?
Timing is an issue for everyone, but the key to whipping up healthy and delicious meals during the week is planning – and cooking – during the weekend. Bulgur, whole wheat couscous and pasta, barley, quinoa, farrow and brown rice are each grains that I love to cook in big batches. I’ll choose one, make it on Sunday, then use it throughout the week in grain salads, for a side dish or as part of a meatless meal. Roasting vegetables is another good idea, and carrots, purple or red potatoes, onions, turnips and peppers are usually my choice; they last for days without losing their integrity, and they can be served with a grain, atop a pizza, tucked into a quesadilla or in a Panini with cheese. Finally, I roast a chicken. This doesn’t require slaving over a hot stove, since the chicken nearly cooks itself, and when it’s finished, you have a healthy, main-dish protein that will go well with your grains and vegetables, or work as part of a hot or cold salad, soup or sandwich.
5. What is your favorite summertime pasta recipe?
I call it Confetti Farfalle, and the recipe incorporates whole wheat pasta, edamame, corn, red pepper and basil. It packs lots of nutrition and delicious, seasonal flavors into one fabulous meal! The recipe can be found in my new book.
6. Tell us about your new cookbook!
When it comes to food and nutrition, everyone is confused about what to cook and eat. People are contemplating going vegan or Paleo, gluten-free or raw. And everyone is stumped about what to feed their family. So, I wrote a cookbook to dispell all diet myths, focus on what’s really healthy, and provide the most mega-nutritious, delicious recipes readers have ever seen! THE TRULY HEALTHY FAMILY COOKBOOK is the name of my new book, and it becomes available August 9th (though it can be pre-ordered now on Amazon).
Filled with 120 mega-nutritious recipes you won’t find elsewhere, THE TRULY HEALTHY FAMILY COOKBOOK focuses on what works when it comes to good-for-you cuisine: tasty, fresh, real food ingredients, simple preparation and proven nutrition based on modern science — along with tips and hints that will make anyone more confident in the kitchen.
Scrumptious recipes include Homemade Date and Almond Muffins; Orange-Infused Couscous with Fresh Cherries; Curried Veggie Pancakes; Crustless Mini-Quiche with Goat Cheese and Beet Greens; Thai Salmon Sliders; Stuffed Chicken with Herbed Ricotta and Kale; Fruited Yogurt Brûlée and Chocolate Chip Angel Food with Ganache.
THE TRULY HEALTHY FAMILY COOKBOOK is about real food with big benefits, and it’s relevant no matter how large or small your family. Armed with this book, you’ll have the power to take charge of your family’s health without eliminating foods or following crazy diets. This is the only cookbook you’ll need!