Art Smith encourages home cooks to travel healthy culinary path

2013-07-03T00:00:00Z 2013-07-03T18:20:12Z Art Smith encourages home cooks to travel healthy culinary pathEloise Marie Valadez Eloise.Valadez@nwi.com, (219) 933-3365 nwitimes.com

Celebrity chef Art Smith is sharing new recipes and urging food lovers to eat better and wiser through his latest cookbook project.

Smith, known for his restaurant Table Fifty-Two in Chicago and others across the country, catapulted to fame as Oprah's personal chef. The acclaimed culinary personality has long been known for his delicious Southern fare.

His recent book, "Art Smith's Healthy Comfort," focuses on a new culinary philosophy from the chef, who recently battled Type 2 diabetes and now has it under control. Smith's new lifestyle of cooking and eating more healthfully has also led him to lose 120 pounds in the last few years.

"I started writing cookbooks 10 years ago," said Smith, during a recent telephone interview from his appearance at a diabetes convention in Chicago. "And this is the first book where I've been able to have all the caloric counts in it. This time, people wanted to see them."

Smith said through "Healthy Comfort" he wants to show home cooks that eating healthy doesn't mean eating without flavor.

He also said after being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and coming from a family who's been "challenged" with the disease, he knew how important it was for him to change his lifestyle and now focuses on encouraging others to do the same.

"Unfortunately, (diabetes) is a very challenging disease for our country," Smith said.

In addition to addressing better eating habits and focusing on healthy recipes through his new book, Smith is also working with the company Merck on the "Taking Diabetes to Heart" program. The program stresses keeping diabetes under control by making lifestyle changes and monitoring food choices. (Taking DiabetesToHeart.com). A variety of Smith's recipes are also found at the website.

"I think as a chef, people always think of you as 'food.' but when they think of you as food that tastes good and is good for you, that's a plus," he said.

Among recipes in "Healthy Comfort" are dishes such as Oatmeal and Quinoa Granola; Grilled Flank Steak Salad with Red Onions, Tomatoes and Spinach; Watermelon and Feta with Lime and Serrano Chili Peppers; Vegetable Shepherd's Pie; Dirty Rice with Mushroom Bolognese; President Barack Obama's Favorite Glazed Salmon; Unfried Chicken with Roasted Brussels Sprouts; Buttermilk Fried Chicken; Peach Cobbler; and Grilled Watermelon.

Smith said "When you eat food in their utmost wholeness without additives, I believe it plays a huge important part in your wellbeing." The chef added whether people are dealing with health challenges, such as diabetes or not, he advocates eating whole, unprocessed foods.

"I've been able to show people how you can eat really wholesome, delicious food and through that you can make such a profound change in your own health," he said.

Making small steps, he stressed, is also the key to changing your lifestyle.

In the introduction to "Healthy Comfort," Smith says it's not a "diet book" in the classic sense.

"I make no claims that the recipes on these pages will help you lose any specific number of pounds. Instead, they are full of healthful, whole foods and great flavors that work with a healthy lifestyle. The advice  in this book is my own, too, and following it, I have turned my life around. Perhaps you can, too!," he writes.

The following recipe is from "Healthy Comfort."

WATERMELON AND FETA WITH LIME AND SERRANO CHILI PEPPERS

3 pounds seedless watermelon, rind removed, cut into large dice (about 6 cups)

2 serrano chili peppers, seeded and minced

Juice of 1 lime

1/2 cup low-fat feta cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup cilantro leaves

DIRECTIONS: Place the watermelon in  a large mixing bowl. Add the minced serrano chili pepper and lime juice to the bowl and toss gently until combined. Sprinkle with the feta and cilantro leaves and toss once more to incorporate. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Per serving: 54 calories, 1 gram fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 3 milligrams cholesterol, 119 milligrams sodium, 9 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams sugar, 1 gram fiber, 3 grams protein, 34 milligrams calcium.

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