What does America's tireless champion of good nutrition serve to his own guests? We ventured into Dr. Andrew Weil's kitchen to find out.
When health and nutrition guru Dr. Andrew Weil throws a dinner party, it's not the bland, good-for-you affair you might expect from someone who's made a living advising people to eat well. Not that nutrition goes out the door, but for Weil, food is about so much more. "What you put on the table should be delicious and serve the purpose of bringing people together," he says. "You should strive for health, but not at the expense of taste. These things should not be -- and don't need to be -- in opposition."
Andy Defines "Healthy" Food
It's no surprise that his food philosophy would so effortlessly encompass what some consider mutually exclusive: seriously wholesome ingredients and delectable flavor. As one of America's preeminent pioneers of integrative medicine, Weil has spent the past 30 years championing a more encompassing approach to wellness -- one that addresses body, mind, and spirit holistically and uses both conventional and complementary practices. Through his best-selling books, website (drweil.com), and newsletter, Weil has inspired thousands to optimize the body's natural healing power -- in part by improving their approach to food.
When it comes to cooking in his Arizona kitchen, Weil believes in balance. In preparing a dinner for friends, he aims to keep the menu simple, nutritious, and pleasing to the palate. One of his favorite autumn dinners celebrates food beautifully. He makes a point of incorporating in-season produce -- all the better if it's growing in his garden. Come fall, for instance, the nutty, sweet taste of winter squash is a frequent attraction. Roasted squash paired with tart apples come together in a soup appetizer he calls a "showstopper."
Omega-3-rich wild salmon always ranks high among his top choices for protein. Weil loves to grill, and with the oppressive Southwest summer heat now subsiding, the cool evenings afford him the perfect opportunity to fire it up. To dress the salmon, he prepares a tangy mustard sauce that includes plenty of fresh herbs. "Spices have healthful properties, but I choose them purely for flavor," says Weil, who lists allspice, basil, chili, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, and turmeric as some of his favorites.
To accompany the fish, Weil serves whole-wheat couscous -- a high-fiber, somewhat earthier food than he might choose in the spring. Shiitake mushrooms round out the meal, along with sugar-snap peas, which provide sweetness and visual contrast. Dessert is simple: dried figs soaked in red wine and flavored with orange zest.
Weil often enlists the help of his guests when preparing the meal, being of the mind-set that cooking together provides a relaxing backdrop for conversation. But once dinner is served, the ultimate compliment is silence. "When the food is really, really good," he says, "people stop talking and concentrate solely on the eating."
Text by Donna Coco; recipes by Andrew Weil.
Recipes reprinted with permission from "Eating Well for Optimum Health" by Dr. Andrew Weil (Knopf; 2000) and "The Healthy Kitchen" by Dr. Andrew Weil and Rosie Daley (Knopf; 2002).