Friends first, food after. That’s how registered dietitian, Shira Lenchewski, and I could classify our relationship. She is one of my girls — grounded and ambitious, playful and quirky, and she peppers in sentences with the word “AB-soh-luuute-ly” with such an adorable intonation (syllables drawn out, eyes bright, with a slow nod for unintentional dramatic effect) that you will giggle. Trust me on this one. And then there’s the food. The fact that as a a highly educated nutritionist, with her undergrad from UCLA and her Masters in Clinical Nutrition from NYU, she can break down the whys and hows of what you’re eating so that you make smarter choices. We were ladies who lunched and babes who brunched, and it wasn’t until a few years of friendship that we delved into the actual lunching & brunching choices I was making.
Shira and I are both California girls who did the whole “farm-to-table” thing before it was a thing. That way of seeing eating as a lifestyle VS a diet may have been ingrained in her from the womb, but her success is in how she’s woven all of this knowledge (both learned and instilled) into a completely relatable approach. Mami keeps it real. Helping her clients make the right choices for their lifestyle – like our shared love of wine & dining out – so that you look and feel great in your clothes (“and without them” as Shira says).
If you are able to work with Shira as your personal nutritionist, jump at the chance. You’ll thank me later. In the interim, here are a few tricks up her savvy sleeve to help you make great choices everyday.
My approach is rooted in the most basic — yet often conflicting — functions of food: nourishment and pleasure. Many of the diets you see in the media favor nutrition at the cost of pleasure, and that’s not something I can get behind. Because at the end of the day, enjoying delicious, flavorful food is part of a happy (and healthy) life.
Plate It Pretty
Many of us go out of our way on presentation when serving food to guests, but wind up eating from paper Whole Foods containers when it’s just us. But when food is plated beautifully and thoughtfully, it makes the meal or snack more appetizing and enjoyable, and can even prevent overeating.
Many of my clients start off our initial consultation by confessing, “I know I need to drink more water.” So I’m always on the hunt for new ways to make hydrating less of a chore. Most people prefer drinking flavored water. But typically, commercially flavored H20 is loaded with artificial sweeteners, flavors and colors, so I recommend making your own.
I like filling up empty tea bags (like these) with fresh produce and herbs, placing them in water, and leaving them in the fridge overnight. This allows the tea bag to subtly infuse the water with flavors from whole fruits and plants of your choosing. So you can rock spa-water classics like cucumber and mint, or more adventurous blends like muddled peach-basil.
I’m a bit of a farmers market junkie, and with good reason. Because organic food from small farms is typically grown in healthier, less nutrient-depleted soil, it also tastes better – meaning you can prepare a delicious and satisfying meal more simply. And since the nutritional breakdown starts as soon as a fruit or vegetable is harvested, the less travel time, the better.
This summer I’m feeling pretty amped about: butter and red leaf lettuce, cucumber, eggplant, tomato, zucchini, figs, peaches, and berries.
Reducing added sugar is something I recommend to all my clients, as a way to feel better, brighter, and less sluggish. By no means does this translate to cutting out carbs completely. Instead, it’s about limiting that sneaky sugar that doesn’t really need to be there in the first place, i.e. evaporated cane juice in nut butters. One of my favorite, simple switches is swapping out jelly or jam in PBJs for fresh berries and sea salt, and serving open-faced for breakfast or a pre-workout snack.
Speaking of workouts, I’m a huge fan of the buddy system. We all lead such busy lives, and it can be challenging to coordinate our social calendars and our workouts. And the truth is, both are important for health. This is why I’m such a big advocate for combining the two.
You couldn’t pay me to run on a treadmill for 45 minutes. But a hike through the Santa Monica Mountains while catching up with a girlfriend, or shaking my way through a barre class with a new colleague in Manhattan? Yes, please.