May 15, 2013

An Interview with Daphne Oz + Book Giveaway!

Relish by Daphne Ox

I have been a huge fan of Daphne Oz ever since she started on The Chew. Her youthful energy and commitment to health is such an inspiration! I wish I had has it as together at her age as she does now. (Just saying that makes me feel so old!) Lucky for us, this week Daphne stopped in for a quick interview about her awesome new book, Relish: An Adventure in Food, Style & Everyday Fun. Anyone looking for an uplifting book filled with healthy recipes, solid life advice, and tips for home improvement this volume is for you!

1) I love that your new book, Relish, highlights much more than just food. You cover all the essential topics for adults in their twenties and thirties: diet, home, career, friendships, and love. What inspired you to write this complete manual?

I wanted a book like this for myself! I wasn’t looking for a major life overhaul; I just wanted usable tips for small things I could be doing a bit better that would yield big results. Most of us are already doing a lot of things right, we just need a nudge in the right direction, or a couple of smart and helpful insights we can easily use in our own lives to improve our health, our style, our relationships and our careers without driving ourselves crazy in the process. I took a year and a half organizing all the expert knowledge I picked up on set at The Chew, growing up around the Oz family dinner table, through my own successes and failures, and by asking everyday people how they maximize happiness in their own lives into a book that is all about creating a lifestyle that is beautiful, fulfilling, fun, and – above all – delicious!!

2) Social media and technology play such a huge roll in life today. How do you recommend young men and women manage the roll it plays in their lives while they learn to balance daily work/life/love post-graduation?

I love social media for so many reasons – it’s where I get amazing recommendations for trips I’m planning, books to read, news items, etc, and it’s a super easy way to interact with real people I’m trying to learn from and teach, which I love! But it’s also a major time suck for me – how many days have I been “too busy” for the gym, but spent HOURS hitting refresh on my newsfeed?? Such a waste! That’s time that could have been spent doing just about anything else in the real world. I had to train myself to stop the cycle because I wanted my real life to be better than my digital one.

Another little catch to social media: I’ve never seen anyone get up there and tell the world about all the little failures they’ve had today, or all the things they didn’t get to do, or were disappointed by – it could be that social media makes us all optimists, but more often than not, our Twitter streams, Instagram photos and Facebook updates are essentially a free-for-all brag-fest about the amazing friends, amazing places, amazing things and amazing us the fill our lives! We can’t help but to start to judge our own lives against other people’s…and sometimes feel like we come up short. We forget this online representation of a person is only a very narrow sliver of his or her life, and often an inaccurate one at that. The best advice I have is to judge yourself on your own totem poll. Don’t worry about what everyone around you is doing – if it’s all good for them, that’s wonderful! Be happy for their success. Hopefully, it’s all good for you, too! And if it’s not right this second, you have an exciting opportunity to learn from and push through the experience, and get better because of it. Every opportunity we have to struggle is an opportunity we have to grow and to come out on top. Sooner or later we all realize: the things we really should be bragging about don’t generally fit into 140 characters anyway.

3) I love that your recipes have a healthy bent but aren’t based on any extreme diet. My twenties and thirties have been all about creating healthy lifelong eating habits. What is your advice on easy ways to create these habits while life whirs by at the speed of light with work, children, marriage, and the like?

Make health a priority and NOT an obsession. This is something I really had to remind myself to do over and over again as I was working to create a healthy lifestyle and losing 30 pounds in college. It was a process, because we are so trained to look at things in black-and-white with ‘good foods’ and ‘bad foods’ and rigid rules that leave no room for balance or flexibility. But we are human! And life is short, and should be filled with delicious experiences. I grew up overweight, reaching almost 180lbs at age 17, and I tried every fad diet under the sun to try to lose the extra weight. Of course, none of them worked because making an item taboo only made it all the more alluring for me. The only way I was eventually able to lose the weight – healthfully and permanently, without ever giving up the foods I love – was by putting myself back in the power position and realizing that I had the responsibility and the freedom to choose to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Nothing is off-limits. I do try to eat a mostly healthy (plant-based, lots of foods that look the way they do when they come out of the ground as opposed to out of a box) most of the time, but I leave plenty of room for worthy indulgences (homemade cookies, dessert when I’m out to dinner with my husband) that count for something as opposed to stale, store-bought brownies at an office party that mean nothing and just add calories.

The biggest trick for me is to remember that eating dessert doesn’t make me ‘bad’ or ‘unhealthy’ – it’s a CHOICE I make, and I try to make smart decisions and relish those moments of indulgence so I can fuel my resolve to eat well most of the time and feel great about the balance. I set myself up for success by keeping healthy snacks on hand (snack time is generally where I’m at my weakest because I’m usually on the run and will power is at an all-time low when you’re already hungry and relying on convenience foods), stocking my kitchen with items that make whipping up healthy meals a snap (canned beans, dried brown rice/quinoa/lentils, frozen chicken breast, frozen fruit, yogurt, healthy sauces, etc) and picking up produce as I get inspired to make a particular dish so I don’t waste money on things that will go bad before I’ve had a chance to use them. But you know what, if there’s a night where I really just want to order in or go for pizza with friends, I do! And I enjoy it!! A healthy lifestyle is a commitment for life, and it has to be flexible to make room for all the things that fill your life with fun, which is the most important part and what Relish is all about!

4) What are some simple changes you recommend to add a little fresh joy to the everyday? I find that sometimes a little change or new perspective can make all the difference in my frame of mind. This feels especially relevant during the change of seasons. Spring is all about taking a deep breath and starting fresh!

For your food, fresh herbs and flavored oils are a simple way to breathe a ton of new life into old recipes. Even if you’re having canned soup, add a dollop of yogurt, a drizzle of chili oil and a sprinkle of fresh parsley and it becomes gourmet! Even better if you can grow the herbs in your own garden – outside or on a windowsill if you’re an apartment dweller like I am, or even at your desk at work! It’s a great way to add a little useful lush greenery to spruce up your surroundings.

For your fitness, try a new workout routine this week. Skip the gym – it’s too nice out to be indoors – and head for a run outside, or jump in on a new class. It can be mortifying to be the most uncoordinated person in the breakdance cardio class, and I can either choose to hold on to my embarrassment or loosen up and get lost in the energy of it! Anything that can make my workout go by faster I am down with.

I also love a good bout of spring cleaning. I do it for every area of my house to get rid of all the clutter that piles up over the year, but my favorite is my annual closet rummage. I go through my closet and try on EVERY SINGLE item of clothing. I see if I like how it fits (not how I hoped it would fit, thought it might, wished it could if I dropped 5 lbs, etc), examine for any holes or stains, check if I have unnecessary duplicates, and be honest with myself about whether I really am ever going to wear that vintage gold lame vest (the answer was “Yes!” – I had a 70s costume party it came in great for! And then I donated it). Streamlining is key to getting me out the door looking my best and feeling great about not having to spend an additional 20 minutes rummaging for the skirt I wanted because it’s buried behind 10 I don’t. My happy, fresh, joyful Spring life is an organized one.

5) This book is so thorough and inspiring! What is the single piece of advice you give in this book that you heed in your personal life?

Don’t be afraid to try, jump in, get your hands dirty, and not be perfect right from the outset. Everything worth doing is worth doing well, and doing anything well takes time and effort…and more than a few fails. Anyone who make it look easy is just having fun and enjoying the journey as much as the destination! That’s my goal.

6) When I was bopping around NYC in my 20’s I had a hard time figuring out my long term career goals because I was so caught up the intensity of building my resume and reputation. I had entry level jobs, emails streaming in on my blackberry, and could just squeeze by with my bills. It was a good learning experience, but not necessarily always fun. What advice would you have given me to remind me to take stock, enjoy, and relish that time despite the ups and downs? I’ll admit, sometimes I miss those days, and sometimes I am relieved they are over.

Don’t worry. If I have one regret in life, it’s all the time I spent worrying that I didn’t know the right answer. Then I realized that no one does, and that even the wrong choices lead us to the right destination one way or another – if we let ourselves learn from them. Plus, worrying never solved anything. Do something about the things you can control and forget the rest. A simpler way of saying the same thing is: “Live in Love, Not Fear.”

You are exactly where you are meant to be at this moment in time – whatever you’re living through, there’s something to learn. The most important thing to pay attention to is are you happy or are you at least working towards happiness. If not, get outta there! If you think you could be, figure out how to prioritize this joy in your life – whether it’s making more time to see your kids or your friends, creating a new role at work, learning how to cook for yourself or finally trying that restaurant you’ve been dying to get to, don’t wait for it. Tell people what you need from them, surround yourself with things you love, and be responsible for your own happiness – the truth is, no one else can give it to you.

7) What is next for you post-Relish? Will you write more about handling everyday fun as your life evolves in your career and marriage? I hope so!

I hope so, too!! Writing Relish was such a fun project because it really gave me a chance to crystallize all this great information I’d been gathering for myself and put it in a package that would let me share it with all the friends I know are looking for this kind of fun, practical advice, too! But I learn new ways of doing things a little bit better every single day – and the more I learn, the more I love to share. There are many more adventures that await!

Thanks, Daphne!

I am thrilled to be giving away a copy of Relish today. To enter to win:

1) Leave a comment sharing one of the favorite pieces of life advice you’ve gotten to date.

2) Subscribe to Daphne Oz on Facebook.

3) Subscribe to Kelsey Banfield on Facebook.

4) Contest runs from May 15th at 7:00am through May 22nd at 7:00am. Winner will announced in the May 24th newsletter!