Putting the Delicious in Diet
By Carin Chea
For many, especially in the United States where obesity is widespread, perhaps the most troubling four-letter word is none other than: - Diet.
But, for fitness guru, athletic model, and newly-published author, Marie Blanchard believes that good taste and enjoyment can exist peacefully with conscious diet and training.
Blanchard's cookbook, Dieting Deliciously, erases the norm that a careful eating regimen is something to be dreaded. Ms. Blanchard may as well be the first person I know who has truly taken the "die" out of "diet."
You are a fitness athlete, foodie and model. Which came first?
I modeled for a long time when I was younger. The competing came in my mid to late 20s when I focused on training and eating healthier. That led me to change my whole lifestyle.
The first thing I decided to do was, "Why not enter a body-building contest?" That was in 2013, I believe. Everything started taking off and I started winning consistently.
How did your book, Dieting Deliciously, come about?
It was an idea I've had forever. I've cooked my entire life. My mom taught me to cook without having to measure anything. She taught me to cook by taste. It became second nature to me.
When I started competing, I had to give up a lot of delicious foods that I used to cook. But I know it's a sacrifice you have to make when you're competing.
Then I thought: Why not experiment with the spices I cook with, but get rid of the high sodium foods and spices? It worked in my favor and that's how Dieting Deliciously came about.
What was the moment in which you decided you really wanted to create this cookbook?
I started posting a lot of the meals I was preparing online. I've always loved to eat. I eat enough for a small village. The idea came from posting all these ideas and inspirations.
Eventually, I decided that, instead of posting pictures and videos on YouTube and Instagram, I wanted to make something out of this.
I have always wanted to publish a cookbook but I never thought it'd be a healthy cooking book. I thought it'd be a Haitian cookbook. They're the polar opposite of one another.
I understand you have a second book coming out. Tell us about that. What is your inspiration behind your books?
The next one will be Lose Weight Fast and Keep It Off. I'll have a lot more dishes and recipes, but without the large amount of meat. There will be a lot of gluten-free meals, keto-friendly meals, yet the meals will never lose their flavor.
What do you want people to take away from your books?
The one thing I wanted to do was to create crave-killing recipes. You don't have to sacrifice flavorful foods if you're dieting or if you're changing lifestyles to eat healthier foods. Most of these recipes are shadows of more traditional foods.
For example, there is a donut recipe in Dieting Deliciously. There are also Sloppy Joes, except it's called a Dirty Bird. I use tons of veggies loaded with flavor, such as onions, peppers and tomatoes.
What I wanted to do was take the foods that people crave, and substitute it with healthier foods that won't give you the inflammation, water retention or bloating. The sloppy joes in the book are created with 99% lean ground turkey, low-sodium chili powder, and fresh veggies - purple onions, green chili peppers, and minced garlic.
I don't use massed-produced bread which is bleached, I only use whole-wheat pita bread. Everything in there is fresh, organic, and loaded with flavor. At the end of it, you walk away feeling like you had a cheat meal when you've had a very healthy meal.
Do you think living in different areas of this country affect our diet and lifestyle?
Absolutely. 100%. I think your environment affects your lifestyle. When I used to live in Pittsburgh, most of the people I knew trained all the time and there were no pizza shops.
Here in the city, no matter where you go, there's a pizza shop in every corner. It never ends. At the end of the day, that's where I had to really learn how to be a little more disciplined and be consistent with it in order to accomplish my goal.
What is your advice for those who want to lose weight? Asking for a friend, of course...
Food is a drug. That's why when you're getting ready for a competition, you get cranky. Carbs absolutely affect your mood and grain function.
My advice: You should give yourself a good 3 weeks. If you spend 3 weeks of eating clean and training, you will start to see a little bit of a change and your body will start to shift.
Based on my experience, after 3 weeks of following whatever diet you're doing (smaller meals, smaller portions throughout the day, and keeping consistent with your training) your body will go into cruise control and help you handle your new lifestyle.
If you were stranded on an island for 6 months and could only eat one dish, what would it be?
That's not fair. It'd be doughnuts all day. Chewy, gluten-free donuts all day long. A lot of time when you think of gluten-free, you think "hard" and "non-flavorful." I use coconut powder. When I make them, it actually smells like desert, and that's how it should be.
I create the vanilla glaze with a protein powder, unsweetened almond milk, coconut oil, and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. I make it thick enough so that it has the viscosity of a glaze. It feels like you're cheating.
How can people keep up to date on your latest works?
My Instagram is dieting deliciously. I put tons of recipes up on social media.
Also check out DietingDeliciously.com, which has the spiral bound version of my book. Amazon does not have the spiral-bound version.
Marie Blanchard's Dieting Deliciously can also be found on Amazon.
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