Andrew Wilder regularly touts the benefits of healthy eating.
Wilder, the projection co-designer for "An American Story for Actor and Orchestra," starring Hershey Felder at Chicago's Royal George Theatre, is also the founder of the healthy food blog EatingRules.com. For more informaton on 'An American Story," call (312) 988-9000 or visit theroyalgeorgetheatre.com.
"I've been interested in food since I was in ninth grade and I've been a vegetarian since ninth grade," said Wilder. I've always had an interest in diet and nutrition and how it influences people. Over the years, it's become such a part of my identity and become a habit."
Wilder said after college, he lost his way regarding healthy eating and wasn't following it in the way he should have been. In 2009, though, his interest reignited.
Then in 2010, he founded the website and blog EatingRules.com, which is dedicated to nutrition and healthy food consumption. He's also the founder of HealthyAds.com, an online advertising network on health through food and fitness.
Among foods Wilder enjoys making are homemade pasta sauce, whole wheat pizza, healthy breakfast foods and more.
"I'm all about whole grains," he said, adding he also loves to get ingredients for his meals from farmers markets.
The act of eating together with friends and family, Wilder said, is of utmost importance.
"It's so fundamental to our nature. It's almost primal and (speaks) about how deep the bond goes when you eat together. It strengthens relationships, families and is healthier," he said.
Wilder, who grew up in Los Angeles, lived in Chicago for two years after he attended Northwestern University.
He said he most enjoys "cooking for friends and family" and guests "who will appreciate my cooking."
The following recipe is from Wilder
Spinach Artichoke Dip
Everyone loves spinach artichoke dip. But most are weighed down by buckets of mayonnaise and sour cream. This one lightens things up by using Greek Yogurt to provide the creaminess, making it far healthier without sacrificing any deliciousness. And, this is the perfect dish for when you're having friends over and need an impressive appetizer in a hurry!
1 can artichoke hearts, rinsed well, drained, and chopped fine
1/2 cup chopped, cooked frozen spinach (thawed)
1/2 cup unflavored/unsweetened Greek yogurt (I prefer Fage, but any brand will work)
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan, Romano, and/or Asiago cheese
1 clove garlic, pressed, or 1 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt)
Pinch of freshly ground pepper, to taste
DIRECTIONS: In a large, microwave-safe bowl, mix together all ingredients. Heat on high in the microwave, in 30-45 second increments, stirring each time to be sure it heats evenly. Once it's hot and the cheese is melted, transfer to a clean bowl and serve. For an alternate and more elegant presentation, you can double the recipe and bake in a casserole dish at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, covered. Sprinkle a little extra mozzarella on top and bake uncovered at 450 degrees for about 8 more minutes, until the cheese is browned and bubbly. Serve with 100 percent Whole Wheat Bread, Ak-Mak Whole Wheat Crackers, or a few Reduced-Fat Triscuit Crackers.