When The Food Lover’s Healthy Habits Cookbook arrived in our office we started reading it and could not put it down.  Written by the editors at Cooking Light magazine, in conjunction with a dietitian we love (aka Janet Helm), the book offers chapter upon chapter of achievable action plans, moving past knowledge and providing real solutions, for adopting new healthy habits.

The writers’ belief system is in line with what we live by here at Oldways – you can have it all, “delicious and healthy can happily coexist.”  The approach is positive and nothing is off limits. It’s all about understanding balance.  The book includes examples from others who have succeeded on their own journeys to health, sharing personal stories of tips and tricks that have worked, inspiring readers to embrace these healthy habits one at a time and take their own steps to better health.

We recently caught up with Janet to ask her a few questions about the book.

OLDWAYS:  The title says it all, The Food Lover’s Healthy Habits Cookbook, but the approach this book takes is unique. Can you talk to us about the way the book is designed and how it sets the reader up for success?


JANET:  Thanks for recognizing the uniqueness of this book.  Yes, it’s a cookbook — with more than 250 wonderful recipes –but it’s really so much more than that.  I like to think of it as a guidebook to help change your life  – one delicious meal and one healthy habit at a time. The book helps break down the latest nutrition guidelines into achievable goals and then provides a detailed plan to help you establish a new routine – offering specific shopping and meal preparation ideas, simple swaps, habit-changing advice from leading experts and inspiring stories from real people who’ve been successful at making changes.  Each chapter focuses on a different habit, and nearly all of the habits are positive changes – things to add instead of eliminate, such as eating more vegetables, adding more whole grains to your day, enjoying seafood twice a week, increasing healthy fats and starting each day with a healthy breakfast. I’ve selected some of the top-rated recipes from the test kitchens of Cooking Light to help support each of the habits.

OLDWAYS:  In the book you talk a lot about healthy habits (12 to be exact) and how to build them into your life.  Can you tell us the experience you’ve had that helps you understand what it takes for readers to create a new healthy habit?
JANET:  I’ve done a lot of research on the science of habit formation.  You’ll find these principles in the book, including specific ways that you begin to replace old habits with new behaviors.  There’s also quite a bit of research on strategies to make your changes stick, such as starting small, having a specific plan, keeping track (self-monitoring), changing your environment, celebrating victories and staying positive.  The belief that you can make a change is a powerful force.  Behavioral scientists call this self-efficacy.  There’s also the concept of a “keystone” habit that helps other healthy habits fall into place.  That means when you successfully make one change, you could kick-start a trickling effect that leads to other positive changes. 

OLDWAYS:  Are there particular healthy habits that you have found to be more important than others when working toward a healthier lifestyle?
JANET:  For many people, exercise is a keystone habit that helps inspire other healthy changes.  I talk about that in a chapter on physical activity, where I chronicle my own story of training for a marathon.  Sometimes getting starting is the hardest part of all.  But once you begin to see some improvements and you accomplish a few small goals, you’ll be amazed at what you can do. I think one of the most important habits to adopt is the first chapter of the book – cook at least three more meals per week.  When you prepare more of your meals at home, you can control the ingredients, reduce portions, and increase all the wondrous foods we need to be eating more often, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and seafood. The second chapter is all about breakfast, which helps you set the tone for the day.  If you change your breakfast habit, you can make a big impact on your day.

OLDWAYS:  Building off of the healthy habits you then take readers on a six-week journey (recipes included) to jumpstart their new routines.   What does this six-week action plan look like, how does it support a new healthier lifestyle?
JANET:  At the end of the book, you’ll find a six-week plan that brings everything together and provides a structure for implementing these 12 healthy habits.  Each week focuses on two habits – featuring sample meals and snacks that will help you meet the daily and weekly goals outlined in each chapter.  Recipes representing each habit are including in the meal plan, along with tips for making the habit a new routine. The idea is to take it day by day and then by the end of the six weeks, you’ll be well on your way to making 12 powerful changes that truly have the potential to change your life.

OLDWAYS:  We would love to include one of your recipes on our blog. Is there one you might suggest?
JANET:  Absolutely, how about our recipe for Avocado Corn Chowder with Grilled Chicken. With avocados being so wonderful this time of year it is the perfect time to share this recipe.

Avocado Corn Chowder with Grilled Chicken



2 ripe avocados, divided
1-½ cups water
½ cup fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
¼ teaspoon ground red pepper (optional)
12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small garlic clove, cut in half
1-½ cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
⅓ cup chopped green onions
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 lime wedges

1. Peel and coarsely chop 1 avocado; place in a blender. Add water, orange juice, honey, ¾ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and red pepper, if desired; blend until smooth. Place in freezer to chill while chicken cooks.

2. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush chicken with oil; sprinkle with remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Place chicken in pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan; rub chicken with cut sides of garlic halves. Let chicken stand 10 minutes; cut or shred into bite-sized pieces.

3. Peel and dice remaining avocado. Stir diced avocado, corn, bell pepper, and onions into chilled avocado puree. Spoon chowder into bowls; top with chicken and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges. Serves 4 (serving size: 1¼ cups chowder, about 2 ounces chicken, 1 tablespoon cilantro, and 1 lime wedge)

CALORIES 359; FAT 17.9g (sat. 2.7g, mono 11.2g, poly 2.6g); PROTEIN 24.5g; CARB 30g; FIBER 9.7g; CHOL 49mg; IRON 2mg; SODIUM 558mg; CALC 39mg

Add a Comment