Dr. Andrew Weil (Robert Lachman / Los Angeles…)
Too many people see health food as medicine, and that is one thing that keeps them from eating healthfully, says Dr. Andrew Weil.
In his new cookbook, written with Sam Fox and Michael Stebner, he tries to dispel the notion that delicious food and healthful food are exclusive. The book is called "True Food" (Little, Brown and Co., $29.99), which Weil said Thursday in a telephone interview, means "real food first of all. I think a lot of what people eat is not real food."
"I am a good home cook, and I like dishes that are simple, that have bold flavors, that are relatively easy to prepare," he said. Too often, he said, that food is not available without making it yourself.
What's food that's not real, then?
"Almost all the stuff that's sold in the center of supermarkets and in convenience stores and fast-food restaurants. There's not much that I want to eat there. It's too distant from the way nature produced it," said Weil, the author of several books and a restaurateur. He is speaking Nov. 4 at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts about the importance of a balanced life. (Tickets at www.cerritoscenter.com.)
Weil is the director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine and believes that conventional and alternative medicine should be used in conjunction.
He said he's hopeful about the young people he sees interested in healthful food and in the slow-food movement. Still, he's disheartened by the obesity epidemic and the level of consumption of "fast food and junk food."
In recent trips to Italy, he noted, he ate "fantastic food" at highway rest stops, in comparison with what he finds in this country. "Why do we put up with it here?"
"I don't know. I think people are complacent and maybe they don't know what's possible," he said.
People too often mistake healthful food for unpleasant food, when the reality is just the opposite, he said. He said he loves pizza and dark chocolate, and his book has many recipes that don't sound like the stereotype of health food: breakfast tabbouleh with kiwi, mint and strawberries; fava bean bruschetta; scallops with kale pesto; chocolate pudding; even a tamarind margarita.
Though Weil eats fish but not meat, the book includes meat recipes and meat is served in his restaurants. Weil and Fox opened the first True Food restaurant in Phoenix. Three more have opened since, including one in Santa Monica.
The idea behind eating "real" food -- in reasonable portions -- is that it's not just delicious, but it makes you feel good when you eat, Weil said.
“Very often I don't feel well when I eat out. I eat too much, or it doesn’t agree with me," he said.
Cooking, however, is relaxing and creative, he said, and leads to meals he wants to eat. He said he knows that many people find cooking intimidating or time-consuming, but hopes his new book will show people otherwise.