I had another book signing and tasting event on June 20 at Regency Park Oak Knoll Senior Living community (www.regencypk.com) in Pasadena, CA. We served some recipes from my cookbook, FOODTRIENTS: Age-Defying Recipes for a Sustainable Life. The Pomegranate Iced Tea, Green Tea Noodles with Edamame, and Prune and Walnut bars were a hit. By the end of the book signing, we were completely out of food, and we started with quite a bit! The audience was fantastic and they asked me some wonderful questions. I want to share those questions and my answers with you, my online audience. And I want to thank Regency Park for making me a part of their Summer Speakers series.
Q: What sets this book apart from other health books?
A: This is really an anti-aging book, not a diet book, or a meal program. It’s full of recipes that utilize powerful ingredients like turmeric, bitter melon, açai, soursop, and jackfruit which help keep you looking young. Everyone remarks how young I look for my age (which is over 50). It’s because I eat all of these foods which are very high in antioxidants and specifically very good for keeping your skin healthy and your nails strong. My recipes are for people who don’t like to diet—like me! I create hearty dishes, full of flavor. I hate diet food and I don’t want to eat salads all day long. You’ll see my cookbook has recipes for Spiced Rack of Lamb, Mustard-Crusted Tri-Tip, Veal Meatballs, Baked Lobster Tails, and plenty of desserts. Also, I went to a lot of trouble to include a beautiful, full-color photograph with every single recipe in the book. We spent a lot of time styling those photos and getting them just right. That’s part of what makes my cookbook such a great gift for friends and family members.
Q: Are the recipes hard to make?
A: No. I originally came up with this concept for FoodTrients when I was writing a magazine column for people who were over 50 years of age. The magazine is called Life After 50 (www.lifeafter50.com) and my column was called “Eating Well Over 50.” I wrote it for six months and it got me started cooking and taking photographs for this book. Almost every single one of my recipes has 7 steps or fewer. They don’t take a lot of time to prepare—minutes, not hours. They aren’t overly complicated and often can be made in just one pot or pan. I want people to see how easy it can be to get really good, anti-aging foods into their diets.
Q: Are the flavors in your recipes really strong or will kids like them, too?
A: Kids can enjoy my recipes as much as adults do. For instance, I have a recipe for Turkey in Turmeric sauce. It’s actually a variation on an Asian or Indian curry, but much milder. It has far fewer ingredients than you would find in a traditional curry so kids won’t be turned off by too many unfamiliar flavors. I don’t use hot chile peppers or strong fish sauces like you find in Vietnamese cuisine, so I think it’s very approachable to an American audience. I was very conscious of this when I was developing my recipes and made sure to have a wide variety of people from many different cultural backgrounds taste my food. My recipes appeal to moms, grandparents, and kids. I even wrote a blog post called “FoodTrients Are For Kids, Too!”.
Q: Where do you get the exotic ingredients you use in your recipes?
A: Well, I’m very fortunate to live in southern California where so much produce grows. It’s a melting pot here and many people from all over the world have brought their native plants with them. I found a man in Sherman Oaks, California who grows moringa plants, a small tree that’s native to Africa and Asia. I love to cook with fresh moringa leaves and I planted a few trees of my own on my ranch in San Diego. I realize not everyone wants to grow their own moringa leaves, but you can find powdered moringa online at moringaforlife.com. And even though I can stop into Asian or Latino markets on any corner in Los Angeles and find fresh turmeric or bitter melon or soursop, I know that most people across the country aren’t so lucky. For them, I recommend visiting www.melissas.com, an exotic produce company which will ship fresh and sometimes dried produce anywhere in the U.S. I took great care to mention in every recipe where to source any unfamiliar ingredients. I want everyone to be able to make and eat these wonderful, anti-aging recipes. That’s why I wrote my cookbook in the first place. (To learn more about moringa, click here.)