Oprah Winfrey can now add “best-selling cookbook author” to her long list of credentials. The media leader, talk show host and philanthropist has just released her very first cookbook, Food, Health and Happiness: 115 On-Point Recipes for Great Meals and a Better Life, where she reveals a candid look into her life alongside delicious, healthy recipes that she loves to make at home.
On a recent morning, Oprah hopped on a call with us from her home in Santa Barbara to tell us a bit more about her cookbook and offer a glimpse into her culinary life. See five kitchen revelations we learned about her—plus one of her beloved recipes!—when you keep reading.
Being on Weight Watchers is one of the reasons for her writing this book.
“I joined Weight Watchers, and every time somebody would come over for dinner, they would say, ‘I thought you were on Weight Watchers—I can’t believe you eat pasta!'” she recalled. “Friends started to suggest that I write a cookbook. I really wanted to write a book that included my struggles with food and my attempts to make peace with it. Being able to tell that story and share my on-again, off-again yo-yo struggles with food and coming to make peace with it was the reason this book came about.”
She loves to cook (that is, if it’s a small crowd).
“I love to cook but don’t have to cook, so when I do cook, it’s purely for my enjoyment as a love offering,” she said. “I have a general rule: I don’t cook for over six people, because I cook by sight; I normally don’t measure anything. When it gets to be over six people, I solicit help.”
For Oprah, it’s all about togetherness. “Being able to break bread with people, even in business relationships, helps to bring a level of confidence to relationships that you wouldn’t have without breaking bread together. I cherish it, and I relish the idea of sitting together with friends. I’m working on this movie right now, A Wrinkle in Time, with Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling. We’re on our way to New Zealand this afternoon, but I’m going to stop at my ranch in Maui [first], and I’m going to make dinner for them. The very idea of sitting down with friends, with coworkers, and making a meal is one of the things that brings me great joy.”
She loves sorbet so much that she makes it every day.
Oprah is a huge fan of sorbet, adding, “we do a different flavor every single day.” She is a big proponent of investing in a quality ice cream machine, as she believes they can be worth the investment: “If you’re going to use it every day and change your lifestyle, it’s worth the price.”
She has a go-to place to dinner spot in New York City.
“I really love chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. He has many restaurants in New York. My favorite place to eat in New York is this place called ABC Kitchen. I’m inspired by his use of spices and ability to create flavors that your mouth hasn’t felt before,” she told us. “My favorite go-to dish [in the book] is Asparagus Pasta with Morels and Mint Pesto, and that’s where [the idea] came from. When I ate there I was thinking, ‘How can I make this recipe without so many calories?’ We figured out a way to do it where it’s just six points per serving.”
She has some kitchen stories just like the rest of us.
“I have at all times in the refrigerator chopped scallions, onions, garlic, celery, red peppers and green peppers. I can make omelets immediately because I have all those ingredients there,” she said. But she learned to label them the hard way: “Celery is not good in eggs,” she told us, laughing. “It’s not good eating crunchy eggs, let me tell you! That’s when we started labeling.”
She also has plenty of funny tales of being at the table with her longtime love. “Stedman loves for me to cook for him,” she said. “He prefers if I cook, and if I can, I do it myself,” she tells us. “He is just the best person to cook for. On Saturday, I toasted an English muffin for him. He said, ‘This was the best English muffin! How did you make that?’ I told him I put it in the toaster and set it to five.”
Her perspective on working the land has completely changed.
“I grew up in an environment where I lived on a farm with my grandmother,” she explained. “Having to grow everything ourselves, making your own clothes, churning your own butter all felt like things poor people did. I wanted to be like the rich people I saw on TV—I wanted peas from the Green Giant. Now my life has come full circle, and I have a 16-acre organic farm in Maui.”
Below is a recipe from Oprah’s new book. If you’re into what you see here, be sure to join us along with your kids at your local Williams Sonoma store tonight, Wednesday, March 22 at 6 p.m. for our next cookbook club event. $75 per person includes a cooking demonstration from one of our culinary specialists, a copy of Food, Health and Happiness, a special surprise gift and a generous tasting of all the recipes prepared. On the menu? Garden greens with lemon vinaigrette, chef Mei Lin’s turkey lasagna and coconut lime sorbet. Get in touch with your local store for more details.
Based on the classic Nobu recipe, this quick midweek meal is sweet, savory, decadent, and low in points! I love to pair it with spicy, sesame-scented green beans and, my favorite, forbidden black rice with chives. Miso, which is made mostly from fermented soybeans, is a nutritional superstar.
SmartPoints: 5 per serving
Calories: 139 per serving
- 6 tablespoons mirin
- 2 tablespoons sake
- 6 tablespoons white miso paste
- 3 tablespoons agave nectar
- Zest of 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 small clove garlic, grated
- 6 cod fillets, skin and bones removed
- Grapeseed oil spray
- Freshly chopped fresh chives and cilantro
Sesame Green Beans
- 12 ounces fresh haricots verts or green beans, ends trimmed
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
- 1⁄2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1. In a small bowl, whisk together the mirin, sake, miso paste, agave, lime zest, ginger, and garlic. Place the fish in a large zip-top bag, add the marinade, secure the bag, and refrigerate overnight.
2. When you are ready to prepare dinner, turn the broiler to high.
3. Fill a medium saucepan with 1 quart water and add 1 teaspoon salt. Place over high heat and bring to a boil.
4. While the water is coming up to a boil, remove the fish from the marinade and place it in a broiler- proof dish in one layer. Lightly wipe off any excess marinade, but do not rinse the fish. Spray the fish lightly with oil and broil for 8 to 10 minutes, until the fish is opaque and the surface of the fish has a caramelized look to it.
5. While the fish is in the broiler, add the green beans to the boiling water and cook for 3 minutes, or until al dente. Drain the green beans, place them in a bowl, and toss with the toasted sesame oil, black sesame seeds, and red pepper flakes.
6. Divide the fish and green beans among plates and garnish with the chives and cilantro. Serves 6.
Reprinted with permission from Food, Health and Happiness: 115 On-Point Recipes for Great Meals and a Better Life by Oprah Winfrey (Macmillan, 2017).