Daily Digestive: Dorie Greenspan

Live a day in the food life of a renowned chef
Nutritionist Elyse Sosin weighs in on Dorie Greenspan’s day.

There’s hope for us all. Despite being a James Beard Award-winner (twice!) for her numerous best-selling cookbooks, a popular food blogger, one of the first chefs to launch their own cooking apps, and someone who's been heralded by The New York Times as a "culinary guru," Dorie Greenspan only learned to cook once she got married. "I didn’t start cooking until I was married and I loved it from the start. Now, decades later, I’m as interested in food and cooking as I was at the beginning. Perhaps even more interested, since food is one of those wonderful subjects where the more you learn, the more there is to learn. It’s endlessly fascinating… and delicious," says Greenspan.

These days, Greenspan is "an eclectic eater and a curious cook," but is there anything she absolutely hates? "I’m lucky in that I can and pretty much will eat anything. If I don’t have to, then I’d prefer not to eat tripe or andouillette.  I keep trying, but I just can’t like them," she says. And, how about favorite cuisine? "I fell in love with French food when I first started cooking and I love it still," she said, which is quite convenient, seeing as Greenspan divides her time between kitchens in France, Connecticut, and Manhattan.

Greenspan is probably best known for being the queen of all things baked, so managing a balance between taste-testing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be a tight line to straddle. "The fact is that while I have sweets every day and throughout the day, I truly am only 'tasting' —  I’ll take just a bite or two of each thing that I bake or cook. I’ve never added up all the little bites, but my guess is that they don’t equal a normal-size portion of dessert. However, I love sweets and always finish the day with one. And if I’m at a friend’s home for dinner or in a restaurant, I never miss dessert," reveals Greenspan.

Apart from her "tastes" throughout the day, Greenspan tries to balance out her naughty nibbles out by daily activity, but it doesn’t always pan out. "Every morning, I wake up and say I’m going to throw myself out of the house and walk briskly for an hour… most mornings I head for coffee and my desk instead. When I exercise, which is a couple of times a week, I walk. But even though I don’t have a steady exercise regime (except in my imaginary 'book of good intentions'), I’m active because I’m working in the kitchen a good chunk of every day. Also, I try to make it a point to walk instead of taking a car, bus, or subway," says Greenspan.

To truly understand the eating habits of this baking guru, we asked Greenspan to disclose a typical day’s food log and asked our resident nutritionist Elyse Sosin, RD, to provide her expert opinion.


Dorie’s Food Log

6:30 a.m.: While I adore breakfast, I rarely have it when I’m home working. I started the day (as I always do) with a skim-milk cappuccino in a tall glass.

10 a.m.: Another cappuccino — same size — however, this time I didn’t finish it.  I meant to, but I got caught up in baking. 

11 a.m.: I had a taste of the pecan-caramel cookie I’m testing for a new book. The flavor and texture were great, but it needed something else, so I started making dulce de leche.

11:30 a.m.: Grabbed a banana.

12:30 p.m.: In my next life, I’ll sit down to a proper lunch, but in this one I usually have lunch working at my desk. Today, I was editing recipes for my next book, Baking Chez Moi, and so I had my normal at-my-desk lunch: apple, nonfat plain yogurt, raisins, and sunflower seeds.

1:30 p.m. until about 7 p.m.: I tasted a bunch of things I was working on: a dried-cherry and dark chocolate brownie (just a taste), some goat’s cheese on a cracker (just a taste), and a coconut macaroon (just a taste). I had a slice of my husband’s just-made sourdough multi-grain bread with some salted butter and then, when the dulce de leche was finished, I re-tasted the pecan-caramel cookie with it. This wasn’t a taste — I finished it and checked it off my list as "done." 

During the day, I usually keep a glass of hot water going. It’s my attempt to drink more water and less coffee.  Some days I do a better job of it than others.

8 p.m.: I had a glass of Alsatian pinot blanc and a couple more goat cheese crackers (great combo) while I cooked dinner. I love this time of day and, even though I’ve been in the kitchen all day, switching gears from sweets to savory, from testing to preparing dinner, makes me happy. 

9 p.m.: My husband and I had dinner: Fresh tomato salad (since we can get tomatoes and corn until the first frost, we’re having them just about every night so we can stock up on memories) with saba, a drizzle of olive oil, basil, and chives; grilled local swordfish (marinated with orange and lemon juice, herbs, sea salt, pepper, chiles, and a little olive oil); fresh corn-off-the-cob, red pepper, red onion, and two strips of bacon, sautéed in a little olive oil; and avocado and tomato salsa with citrus juice and cilantro on top of the fish. Instead of dessert, we had some of my husband’s bread with Jasper Hill-Cabot Clothbound Cheddar. I drank a glass of Burgundy pinot noir.

11:30 p.m. Just because I can’t go to sleep without one last little something that’s sweet, I had a spoonful of salted-caramel ice cream.

Elyse’s recommendations: As with most chefs, Greenspan has a very long day — 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Her general approach to eating seems to be "everything in moderation" — except tripe — but I won’t hold that against her. The portions sound reasonable, for example, she will have "treats" such as ice cream and wine, but in small amounts.

My thoughts:

  • Greenspan does not really have any breakfast. I would suggest perhaps having some salmon and eggs or toast — not a "traditional" breakfast but salmon contains a good amount of protein, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, an important vitamin especially for bone health. Or, oatmeal with walnuts, which would provide some soluble fiber as well and the plant form of omega-3 fatty acids from the walnuts.
  •  Lunch is reasonable and light, containing some carbs, some protein, and some fat, which will maintain her energy for a while.
  • Greenspan goes from 1:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. and actually does not have her next meal (dinner) until 9 p.m. This is a long stretch of time that is only devoted to tasting foods and eating snacks such as goat cheese on cracker and bread with dulce de leche. The snack does include some protein/carbs/fat so that is keeping her full until dinner. 
  •  Greenspan makes sure to stay well hydrated and hot water is being consumed during the day.
  • While sugar is included from the taste-testing of cookies, brownies, and macaroons, it does not seem excessive. Sugar is also found in milk (lactose) and fruit (fructose, fruit also has glucose).
  • Her protein intake is more than adequate coming from milk, yogurt, fish, and cheese.
  • Greenspan's fruit and vegetable intake looks very good. She has a wide variety — including apples, bananas, tomatoes, corn, onion, and red pepper.
  • Her calcium intake is quite decent, coming from skim milk, cheese, and yogurt.
  • Greenspan is taking in both good (monounsaturated) fats (for example, avocado and olive oil) and bad (saturated) fats (for example, cheese and butter). Good fats will tend to lower total blood cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), bad fats work in the opposite way. All fat (whether good or bad) contains the same amount of calories.
  • Whilst walking outside, I would recommend carrying some bottled water to keep up the fluid intake.
  •  Although walking is great, making time for strength training and flexibility training would be suggested. Working in the kitchen may allow for some of the above-mentioned activity.
  • Ideally, I would have some additional days to evaluate. This was a typical day during the week but there are specific influences that change food intake such as: restaurant dining, people you dine with, weather, mood, food availability, and days off, etc.

Disclaimer – Elyse Sosin, nutritionist, is not engaged in rendering medical advice that should be obtained from a qualified health professional. Acting on any information provided without consulting a health care provider is at the reader’s own risk.




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