Chef Inspired Healthy With Diane Henderiks ~ Elizabeth Falkner

Elizabeth Falkner is an award-winning chef, cookbook author, James Beard Award nominee, and lover of culinary competitions. She has competed in multiple culinary competitions including Food Network's Next Iron Chef, Redemption, Iron Chef America, and Next Iron Chef, Super Chefs, in which she was a finalist and runner up. She has been a three-time competitor on Food Network's Challenge, as well as a contestant on Bravo's Top Chef Masters. Elizabeth also likes to be on the other end of the competition as a judge, having taken that seat on Bravo's Top Chef Just Desserts, Top Chef Masters, and Top Chef. This fierce competitor is also a super nice gal, and we had a blast making her delicious BLT salad!

Now let's get Elizabeth's take on healthy cooking and eating.

Diane: Do you see a trend with diners seeking better-for-you options on the menu?
Elizabeth: People are definitely trying to eat healthier or make better choices and yet there is still desire for what tastes good and feels indulgent. Unfortunately, sometimes so many items and trends are marketed as healthier, when they really are not doing anything "healthier." People seem more open to ingredients from all over the world and in their back yards and into better ways of cooking.

Diane: What's your definition of "healthy eating"?
Elizabeth: I like to eat what my body is craving before it starts crashing. I try to eat healthy bites during the day and I believe exercising is the key. I also believe in indulgence and not denying having rich and decadent foods — particularly during dinner when it is culturally more fun and not feeling bad about it. I look at my consumption weekly rather than daily. If I do decide to have a donut with someone at breakfast time, I probably will skip dessert later or just have a bite.

Diane: What is your secret to cooking healthier without sacrificing flavor?
Elizabeth: I like the concept of flipping the proportions of fruit and veggies to the higher quantity or volume on a plate and the protein or indulgence being the smaller quantity on the plate. I believe it's all in portioning.

Diane: What is your favorite dish on your own menu and why?
Elizabeth: I am eating more seafood and, of course, summer vegetables. I make a lot of pasta but again, I usually only want about four ounces of fresh pasta, more vegetables, and not too much cheese.

Diane: How about an update on what's new and exciting in your world?
Elizabeth: I am currently working on a few book and television concepts and taking the summer to travel more. Also, I am the current president of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs and we are in the middle of a big overhaul of this 21-year-old organization that connects, promotes, and continues to educate and support women in the restaurant and food and beverage businesses.

Click here for Chef Elizabeth Falkner's BLT Salad Recipe

Diane Henderiks is a personal chef and culinary nutritionist on a mission to teach America how to cook and eat well. Follow her on Twitter @dhenderiks, "Like" Diane on Facebook, or visit her website.