Bobby Flay—cookbook author, restaurateur, star of the iconic “Throwdown” and today’s hit show “Beat Bobby Flay”—was thrilled to help launch our Virtual Wellness Retreat recently. (You can still attend!) The retreat gave us an opportunity to look inwards and check in on how we’re doing, health-wise. So we were psyched to watch Bobby cook up some brothy white beans with shrimp and kale pesto… and glean some wellness tips. (If you’re already hungry thinking about his food, please, right this way for three knockout recipes!)
“I look at food as a friend, not an enemy,” says Bobby. Whether he’s swapping out canola oil for healthier high-smoke-point safflower or avocado oils or making his favorite healthy snack of apples with nut butter and cinnamon (!), he’s learned to keep how he feels at the forefront.
Bobby, whose Las Vegas restaurant Amalfi reflects his lifelong love of Italy, reflected at length upon the Italian ethos as he cooked for us. The two biggest takeaways we got from his class reflect very Italian sentiments. Here they are.
1. Take Time to Slow Down
When a viewer asked him about the influence of his time in Italy, Bobby said, “The pace of life there is very different than the pace of life here. When you’re in Italy, you learn how to drink an espresso for two and a half hours. Everyone is relaxed.” Though in America, he’ll drink a coffee “to jolt me for a busy day,” there “I can sip an espresso for over an hour, read a newspaper, and take in life.”
“Slow down” is the sort of mental health tip we appreciate!
2. Look for Flavor in Unexpected Places
Italians (along with other cultures) are famous for trying to reduce waste with their cooking. Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds go into pots of beans; one can use the whole pig for porchetta. The other big tip we gleaned from Bobby was to think like Italians, and look to, as he calls it, “free things.” For his bean and shrimp recipe, he exhorts you to buy shell-on shrimp, rather than shelled shrimp. (Sure, it’s a little extra work, but he’s fine with you buying canned beans!) The benefit? A super-simple shrimp shell stock that you can use for shrimp risotto, shrimp pasta… the list goes on.
And we don’t need to tell Bobby how to use up all those lemons! He’s a lemon guy, too, wanting you to use both the zest and the juice. “You buy the whole lemon? You use the whole lemon,” he says. Lemon zest goes into the base, on top of the finished dish, and brightens both the plate and your mood.
“The moderation thing is really important if you can stay the course,” says Bobby. He’s not going nuts eliminating things from his diet. He eats ice cream and puts his pants on one leg at a time like the rest of us. And he sure does have a ton of healthful recipes in his fantastic new book.