Daphne Oz, author of The Dorm Room Diet, and daughter of the famous daytime television host and heart surgeon Dr. Oz, has accumulated a wealth of information from her father, holistic nutrition adviser grandmother and vegetarian mother over the years. Daphne took her knowledge and wrote a book aimed to teach people how to fuel their bodies with food that gives energy, fights disease, and is healthier for the planet. The Dorm Room Diet contains an entire chapter especially dedicated to thinking about the impact of food on the environment, in addition to a chapter filled with vegetarian recipes.
Throughout the book, you remind readers of the benefits of being vegetarian (discuss how you get your nutrients without meat, pitfalls of meat protein, only vegetarian recipes in the book) without actually telling people to go veg. Was this done on purpose as a way to promote a vegetarian lifestyle without being preachy or did it naturally fall into place?
It naturally fell into place, partly because I have no idea how to cook meat, and partly because it’s a lot easier to purchase, store and cook vegetarian dishes when living in the dorm room. I’m glad you saw it as a natural way to promote the vegetarian lifestyle, and introduce readers to flavors, textures, and substitutes they might never have considered before, because that was certainly a goal of ours throughout the chapter. So often, knowledge and a little nudge is all people need to change old habits.
What’s your favorite recipe from the book and why?
My favorite recipe is the Nuttier Butter, just because it’s so easy and versatile–I would spread it on whole grain toast for breakfast, eat a spoonful before working out for a powerful shot of protein, fiber and energy, and even used it as the base for a spicy thai peanut salad dressing for dinner sometimes. Plus, it’s such a cool variation on the average peanut butter that adds omega fats and fiber.
The Dorm Room Diet sounds like it’s aimed at college students. How can a regular, working adult benefit from some of the advice in the book?
The advice in the book is really targeted at anyone looking to break free of the deprivation of fad diets and establish a permanent, healthy lifestyle that puts you in total control. The tips and tricks are targeted at anyone short on time, space, and/or money who still wants to make an effort to establish healthy habits to last a lifetime, so it’s equally helpful to people spending their time in a dorm room or a cubicle!
Tell us about some interesting vegetarian food you’ve eaten this week.
I tried an incredible new protein called Gardein–it tastes just like chicken but is made from soy and a pea extract, so it has tons of fiber and protein, with none of the fat (or cruelty) of meat. And you have no idea how delicious it was, prepared just like chicken breast, and so flavorful! I also had an amazing quinoa salad with avocado and mango in a spicy jalapeno dressing that was to die for.
Tofu, tempeh or seitan. What’s your favorite and why?
I’m a tofu or tempeh girl (love Fakin’ Bacon!). I can’t really eat seitan, though I do love the texture, because it’s wheat protein and I’m gluten-intolerant.
Tell me more about your work getting the Healthy Eating Initiative at your high school.
This endeavor grew out of a research project I was working on in high school, studying how well the average American teen followed the eating guidelines recommended by the US government. I was shocked by how poorly we followed these suggestions, and quickly came to see that a lot of that inability was due to lack of information (this was before everyone had access to Internet) and lack of opportunity to eat well. So I decided to try to correct for these in our own school by bringing Fresh Samantha (now Odwalla) juices and smoothies into our school at an affordable price, and then educating students about why these drinks were better for them and worth the little bit of extra money. We ended up having to dedicate a whole fridge to the juices and doubled our original shipment as kids really took advantage of the opportunity to drink something other than sugar water. My siblings, who are still at my old high school, tell me the juices are still there and that soda is now not available for sale anywhere on campus!
In The Dorm Room Diet there’s an inventory people can take that assesses where they learned their eating habits and causes them to reflect on how the family’s eating affects them today. I’ve heard that your mother was always into vegetarian and healthy eating while your dad needed some coaching to get there. Growing up, who did you find yourself taking after eating-wise?
Well, since my mom was the cook in our family (my dad can barely boil water!), we pretty much ate what she liked. She’s a fantastic cook, with a really good knowledge of spices and flavors, and a willingness to experiment with new cuisines, so our menu was always changing. It was really nice to get to experience such a wide variety of fish, tofu, vegetables, pastas, rices, legumes, and so on–believe me when I tell you we never missed the meat-n-potatoes meal!
Don’t forget to check back this week for a chance to win a free copy of The Dorm Room Diet!
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