Healthy Living: The Dude Diet

For week two of our six week “healthy living” series I am thrilled to feature the beautiful, talented and highly humorous chef/writer, Serena Wolf. She’s been busy on her food blog, Domesticate Me, since 2011, and this year she wrote her first cookbook, The Dude Diet: Clean(ish) Food for People Who Like to Eat Dirty. After having read it cover to cover I can confirm to you that it is fan-taaaaas-tic. The turkey, meat and quinoa meatloaf is off the hook. The stuffed peppers, made by my husband John, were tasty, hearty, and super healthy too. And the nachos are perfect for your next football watching fiesta. I love that Serena doesn’t take herself too seriously. In fact she really became a chef so she could make venturing into the kitchen less intimidating to the masses. As she says, when she went to cooking school in France, the only thing she was confident cooking was a burnt grilled cheese. She makes you feel like if she can do it, you can too. The cookbook was created to help her now-fiancé, who loves “bad” food, get healthy after some serious binge eating of unhealthy food had reached an all time high. I would eat anything in the cookbook, but the good news is that this food isn’t just for adults. Our kids are totally digging into Serena’s recipes too. I for one think this cookbook would be a great gift for that Valentine who might be needing a little inspiration on the cooking ortrimming down front. I recently made her chia pudding (I had been dying to try making it after eating the one made at Green and Tonic and loving it), and the images of my final product are above. Keep reading below, and I double dog dare you to not drool over the images from inside the cookbook of Serena’s other great recipes.

Q&A WITH SERENA WOLF, AUTHOR OF THE DUDE DIET

What is The Dude Diet?

In short, The Dude Diet is a realistic healthy lifestyle for people who want to feel better (and look hotter) without giving up the foods they love.

How did you come up with the concept? 

The Dude Diet was inspired by my wonderful, nutritionally confused fiancé, Logan. When I moved in with him five years ago and became privy to his day-to-day eating habits, I was horrified. I’d occasionally mention that he might want to eat more healthily, but these suggestions were typically met with shrugs and derogatory comments about vegetables and “weird vegan things.” So, when he announced one random Saturday that he wanted to start eating better, I was determined to capitalize on the opportunity. I knew that overhauling the eating habits of someone who comes precariously close to having excitement seizures in the vicinity of finger food, and who regularly trips over himself when running to the door to get his Domino’s, wasn’t going to be an easy job. But I love a challenge, and I committed myself to helping Logan create better habits by feeding him nutritious, hearty meals that he’d be pumped to eat.

Who is your ideal eater?

Honestly, anyone that loves really tasty, unfussy food. I’d describe The Dude Diet, and my cooking in general, as “comfort food that won’t kill you.”

In your opinion can dieting and eating well be fun and satisfying? 

100%. One of the most unfortunate misconceptions about healthy eating is that it’s “boring” or “bland.” My underlying goal with The Dude Diet is to prove that meals made with nutrient-dense whole foods can elicit the same extreme excitement associated with deep dish pizza or delivery Chinese.

What is your food/writing history?

Truth be told, it’s pretty hilarious to my friends and family (and myself) that I ended up in the food world. Nobody in my family cooks, and prior to culinary school, the only thing I had ever cooked was a burnt grilled cheese. I moved to Paris and enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu on a whim after college, and I was only meant to do the basic 3-month program before coming home to start my “real life.” The early cooking school days were mildly traumatic, but after a couple months, I had become a completely different person. I was gutting and filleting fish, deboning chickens, breaking down whole rabbits, and whipping up hollandaise sauce without breaking a sweat. And weirdly, I loved every second of it. Realizing that I’d found my (very unexpected) calling, I enthusiastically signed on to complete the full diploma program and never really looked back.

Since graduating from LCB, I’ve worn a range of culinary hats—private chef, culinary instructor, freelance writer, recipe developer, nutritional spirit guide, etc.—but blogging has easily been my most rewarding pursuit, both personally and professionally. I started my site while in Paris with no goal in mind other than to casually share some of my new skillz with other domestically-challenged souls (i.e. my friends at home, who I assumed would be the only ones interested in reading it). There was a lot of pink, Julia Child quotes, and Blackberry photos on domesticatemoi.blogspot.com back in the day, but I had a clear vision: Help others get their act together in the kitchen. And make it fun, dammit.

Domesticate ME! has come a long way since then (thank God), and I’m so grateful that it spawned a book. (The Dude Diet started as I column on the blog!) I truly believe that cooking should be accessible, experimental, and most importantly, FUN, and I’m committed to spreading that message.

It’s almost time for the Superbowl – any favorites for our readers to try making for their “dudes”?

Oh man, SO many! There’s an entire chapter devoted to game day eats in the book, but my personal favorites are the Buffalo Chicken Tenders with Yogurt Ranch, the Bison and Sweet Potato Waffle Fry Sliders with Special Sauce, and the Fiesta BBQ Chicken Nachos.

What’s next for Serena Wolf?

A tropical vacation?! Kidding. I’m hoping to do a lot more video content in 2017, and I’m hustling to get a Dude Diet-related product off the ground that I’ve been contemplating for a couple years. The thought of writing another book feels daunting, but to be honest, I’m already itching to get another one in the works. Stay tuned…

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