THE POINTE OF FOOD: A Ballet Dancer Cooks

Interview With: Terry Walters

The Pointe of Food | September 8, 2014 | Susannah Marchese

I recently had the immense pleasure of spending a bit of time in the kitchen of Terry Walters, author of the cookbooks Clean Food and Clean Start. I have been an admirer of Terry for a long time. I own an early copy of her cookbook Clean Food (a go-to cookbook of mine) and recently purchased Clean Start. I love these books. The recipes are simple, colorful, full of veggies and nutrients. In other words: This is my kind of food!

Terry’s food philosophy is clear: Eat whole foods. Eat close to the source. Eat organic. Cut out the processed stuff and cook more of your meals yourself. I couldn’t agree more! So when I was planning my posts for The Pointe Of Food, a chat with Terry was first on the to-do list. Lucky for me, she doesn’t live far and was gracious enough to make some time for a chat.

The Pointe Of Food: So, Terry, what is a typical breakfast for you?
Terry Walters: I run for exercise, so on the days where I am up early, I might have a handful of almonds, or some dried apricots, just to give me a boost. But then I’ll come home and have my real breakfast which in colder weather might be oatmeal or steel cut oats topped with ground flax seed or milk thistle, olive oil and cinnamon. Or I might have a bowl of my own granola. In warmer weather, I love to make green smoothies.

TPOF: I notice in your books that the recipes are mostly without animal protein. Do you categorize yourself as a vegan?
TW: I eat for health and balance. I try not to label myself because labels don’t listen to your body. There are some people who NEED animal protein. Their bodies and their internal make-up just need it. But yes, my cookbooks, to look at them, would be considered vegan. I present these recipes because these are the foods we need to eat more of. Simply put: I listen to my body to figure out what it needs, but balance is the ultimate goal.

TPOF: Talk a little about your kids. As they grow up, are you happy with their food choices?
TW: From the beginning, I was very sensitive to building their “gut” health, and eliminating their food sensitivities. And we always had a running dialog about food, why it was a good food, or what about it made it nourishing. But we don’t talk about eating. I never forced them to eat, but I would bring things to their attention. I would cook a beautiful meal, and they would try the things that were new to them, and then I would sit back and let them make their own choice and I respect their choices. It’s food, but it’s like anything else in parenting. You model good behavior, and you hope they learn from that and make good choices for themselves when the time comes.

TPOF: So speaking of parenting, how influential was your own mother in how you view food?
TW: My mother cooked all our meals. I remember sitting in the room near our kitchen, doing homework, and smelling the wonderful aromas coming from the kitchen and I can remember being excited about dinner thinking “Oh, what’s it going to be!” When I grew up and went off to college, I definitely missed the nourishment of my mother’s home-cooked meals and our shared mealtime.

TPOF: What about cookbooks? Besides your own, what do you have in your kitchen?
TW: I don’t use cookbooks! They failed me back in the 80′s when I had high cholesterol. Don’t get me wrong…there were plenty of good cookbooks in the 80′s, but even the healthy ones were full of dairy and sugar, the very foods I was trying to eliminate. So in college when I moved off campus I taught myself how to cook. Doctors told me I had to eat Kale and brown rice. So I made kale and brown rice. It was awful, so I taught myself how to make food taste good. That was the beginning for me.

TPOF: You taught yourself well because now you’re a wonderful cook! What’s your favorite meal to prepare?
TW: I love beautiful food. The best pick, the freshest in season. Food should nourish all our senses including visually, and if it doesn’t, that’s why we’re not nourished. I also believe in the family meal, sitting down together to a dinner of beautifully prepared food. Unfortunately, family meals are not the norm anymore.We are an instant gratification kind of society.

TPOF: Do you have a “go-to” dish you never tire of?
TW: Year round, I’d have to say sauteed greens. Any greens in season. A bit of sea salt, olive oil and avocado on top. Soups and roasted veggies in the winter are also staples. And I’m always fermenting something. I eat homemade fermented foods every day.

TPOF: Why fermented foods?
TW: Fermented foods are the best probiotic around. Hands down. Great for your gut!

TPOF: Did you ever meet a vegetable you didn’t like?
TW: If you read through all my books, you’ll notice there is only ONE cauliflower recipe, and it doesn’t even taste like cauliflower. So there’s your answer. But I have learned to love it. I think if you don’t like a certain vegetable, chances are you’ve never had it prepared well. If you can figure out how to bring out the good qualities of a vegetable and balance the less-than-pleasing qualities, you’ll probably like just about everything!

TPOF: I’m so excited about your new cookbook, Eat Clean. Live Well. Tell us a little about it!
TW: It’s every bit the clean food cookbook as the first two books with over 175 new seasonal vegan and gluten-free recipes for the foods we all need more of, no matter what else is on your plate. What’s new in this book is a wealth of life-style information to help people maintain balance and health throughout the year. Topics include everything from making clean food kid-friendly to boosting the immune system in the fall, the benefits of fermenting your own food, cleansing and detoxifying in the spring and much more. Plus, this book has over 200 photos, so it provides plenty of visual as well as cooking inspiration.

TPOF: Finally Terry, what’s your favorite part of your job? Teaching? Recipe development?Writing?
TW: All those things! It’s all good because it’s balanced. I might sit down for a while and write or do some editing or prepare for a cooking class, then get up and do some cooking or work in my vegetable garden. It’s a balanced life.

Terry’s new book is Eat Clean. Live Well. It will be available November first. Terry is currently the culinary director at The Institute Of Sustainable Nutrition.


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