Sara Novak an inspiring, healthy cook
This week's featured home cook Sara Novak was suggested by her friend and neighbor, Susane Harris of Sullivan's Island.
Sue writes, “I know Sara because she and her husband are my neighbors and I can attest to her good cooking because I often finagle my way over to their house to taste test her creations! She recently posted two recipes that I hope to try to recreate: Hoisin Marinated Tofu Fried Rice and Everything But The Kitchen Sink Quinoa-Stuffed Tomatoes.
“Her cooking is not only delicious but healthy and will inspire your readers to eat better.”
Name: Sara Novak
Occupation: Health and food writer
Family: Married to Justin; two lovable cocker spaniels, Madison and Bella.
Lives: Sullivan's Island
Q: Can you briefly elaborate on what you do?
A: I'm a health and wellness writer for Discovery Health. I explore popular health and specialize in natural health and holistic wellness topics for their website. I also write about food policy and health for Discovery's TreeHugger.com. I recently launched my own website Serenekitchen.com, where I dabble in plant-based recipes and explore overall wellness topics.
Q: You are a food activist of sorts. Can you crystalize a few of your strongest beliefs?
A: I believe that food is your daily medicine, three times a day, every day. Your diet has by far the largest impact on your overall health, both mentally and physically. By changing your diet, you can alter your life.
Q: Are you vegan or vegetarian?
A: I emphasize a plant-based diet, free of meat and most dairy. But at the same time, a health addiction is like any other addiction. Stick to your ideals, but don't obsess.
I eat fish and dairy once in a while, but for the most part, a vegan diet. My reporting led me to conclude that a meat-heavy diet was the root of so many health problems. A plant-based diet is a simple and natural way to lose weight, keep your arteries flowing strong and eat sustainably.
Q: What are some common misconceptions about such a diet?
A: Hands down, the largest misconception is that you don't get enough protein. Americans in general get far too much protein. On an entirely plant-based diet you can get protein from nuts, seeds, whole soy, Spirulina, quinoa, beans, lentils and even some vegetables.
People also tend to think that a plant-based diet means eating like a bird, but my meat-loving husband can attest to the hearty nature of my cooking.
Q: What is your cooking style?
A: When I cook at home, it's mostly plant-based recipes that fall in line with the seasons. I'm a huge fan of all things local whenever possible.
Q: Do you cook on a daily basis? How do you find the time?
A: Yes, we eat in most nights. I wake up before the sun rises and get to work so I can knock off a little earlier than most. It leaves time for me to decompress in the sanctuary that is my kitchen at the end of the day.
Q: Just for fun, what are a few things you've had for dinner this past week?
A: I made a delectable avocado chickpea bruschetta with fresh oregano and basil from the garden and quinoa-stuffed tomatoes with fresh corn and Vidalia onion.
Q: Who do you find inspiring in the food world and why?
A: Heidi Swanson from 101 Cookbooks (a culinary blog) is one of my favorites. Her creativity is second to none and each recipe she comes up with might as well be a work of art.
Q: What's a favorite food indulgence?
A: Without a second thought, it's french fries.
A favorite recipe:
Upscale Vegan Nachos
2 full-sized whole wheat tortillas, cut in fourths
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 chopped jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed
1 avocado, meat removed and chopped
1/2 cup fresh corn
1/2 cup organic black beans, cooked
Sea salt to taste
1/2 cup pico de gallo relish
1/2 cup shredded soy cheese
Olive oil for drizzling
Cilantro for garnish
Add oil to a medium skillet and turn the heat up to medium high. Add in tortilla pieces, two at a time. Cook until golden brown on each side and set aside.
Turn the broiler in the oven on.
Place each nacho chip on a cookie sheet. Add a layer of onion, jalapeno, avocado, corn and black beans. Season with sea salt.
Top with a layer of pico de gallo and soy cheese. Place under the broiler, watching carefully so as not to burn the chips. Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with cilantro. Serve as an appetizer.
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