Following the New York City launch, we had an opportunity to sit down with two of the Cooking Light Chillteam — Shaun Chavis, Foods Editor at Oxmoor House and Editor of Cooking Light Chill, and Allison Fishman Task, author of You Can Trust a Skinny Cook and spokesperson for Chill. They were a great tag team for our interview, sharing some wonderful information about how this new cookbook came to be, a favorite recipe or two, and why Wild Blueberries should become everyone’s “frozen” pantry staple.
Shaun Chavis shared with us the inspiration behind Cooking Light Chill.
How did the idea for Chill come about? Why a cookbook with recipes for healthy smoothies, slushes, shakes and juices?
SC:One of the things Cooking Light does so well is to show people how to enjoy all the foods they love in healthful ways. So many Americans now turn to beverages for health — juices for a health boost any time of day, and smoothies for a quick portable meal, especially for breakfast. The challenge is that many commercial, drive-thru drinks are oversized and overloaded with calories. We wanted to give people recipes for smoothies and juices they can make that can be part of a healthy diet. Another reason we did Chill,is with summer approaching, we all have nostalgic memories for creamy shakes, drive- thru slushes, snow cones, and other cool treats. Again, a lot of what’s out there is oversized and overloaded with calories and sugar and fat, and offers no nutritive value. The recipes we did in Chill use real fruit and veggies, and every recipe meets the nutrition standards you see in the magazine every month. Dietitians and health advocates are telling people to think about what they drink — that drink calories count, too— and this book gives you recipes for healthy, delicious drinks and ices.
What makes this compilation of smoothie/summer beverage recipes so special?
SC: Several things! 1) We didn’t want people to need to buy special equipment before they could try the recipes. Every drink can be made in a regular kitchen blender. You don’t need a juicer or an expensive specialty blender. And, most of the recipes in the ices chapter require only a baking dish and a fork. 2) A lot of people need or want dairy-free recipes, so as we tested recipes that have dairy in them, we also tested non-dairy versions. You can always substitute in your favorite dairy-free products, but we tested to see which ones gave the best taste and texture, so what you see in the recipes are our recommendations. There are more than 80 dairy-free options in Chill, so no one has to feel left out or forgotten! 3) This book is the perfect inspiration to get you out of a smoothie or juicing rut. We wanted all the ingredients to be easy to find in a neighborhood grocery store, but that said, we found a lot to play with. Lots of sweet juicy fruits like Wild Blueberries… herbs like basil, mint, lemongrass, ginger… veggies… nuts and nut butters. We also had fun dressing up drinks with garnishes like crushed cookies and toasted marshmallows.
Where can you purchase Chill?
SC:At your favorite bookstores like Barnes & Noble and on Amazon.
Allison Fishman Task, author of You Can Trust a Skinny Cook and spokesperson for Chill, shared with us her favorite smoothie recipe and how she selects her ingredients for what she calls her ‘frozen” pantry staples. She also suggests why smoothies are a great addition to any healthy diet – young or old.
What’s one of your favorite recipes in Cooking Light Chill?
AFT: One of my favorite recipes is the Wild Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie. All it takes is four ingredients that you place in a blender: 2 Cups frozen Wild Blueberries, 1 Cup chilled Pomegranate Juice, a tablespoon of honey and a container of fat-free yogurt. What you’ve got is a refreshing smoothie that’s high in protein and antioxidants. It also has a good tart flavor which l love and that little bit of honey sweetness to take the edge off.
Watch Allison Fishman Task make this recipe in the below video. The recipe for this Wild Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie can be found on page 33 of Cooking Light Chill.
How do you select your Smoothie ingredients?
AFT:When it comes to fruit for my smoothies, I always have Wild Blueberries on hand as a key ingredient. In fact, for smoothies, I prefer frozen Wild Blueberries over fresh because they are already frozen and I don’t have to use ice. I prefer the texture of a smoothie without ice. With frozen Wild Blueberries I have freeze and fruit all in one.
Frozen Wild Blueberries are a great “pantry” ingredient when you extend the idea of the pantry to the freezer. My freezer is definitely like my second pantry. And, there are a number of ingredients that live in my freezer all the time including Wild Blueberries, baby peas, extra butter, nuts and seeds.
Are Smoothies a great way to get kids eating more fruits and vegetables?
AFT: When feeding children, I subscribe to the European approach of feeding fruits and vegetables. That means I don’t start them with sugary processed foods like cereal but start them with actual natural fruits and vegetables. I don’t want their first bite of food to be processed food, but natural food and nothing can be more natural than Wild Blueberries.
However, if you are in a situation where you need to hide fruits and vegetables in food to get children eating more of the good stuff, smoothies are a great way to do it. In some cases, children may not necessarily be resistant to the flavors of the new fruits and vegetables but to the texture. Smoothies are sweet and creamy and more similar to the texture they enjoyed as babies. So give them that familiar texture. Just change one thing at a time for them.
Why do you choose to eat Wild Blueberries?
AFT: Wild Blueberries happen to be my favorite fruit not only because of their health benefits but also because of their incredible flavor.
In baked goods, Wild Blueberries are amazing because they are so small they distribute well which means more blueberry in every bite. And, these little berries are extremely flavorful. I love when I put a fork into a hot pancake or muffin and I have a hot blueberry. There’s something about heating up a Wild Blueberry that makes that delicious and potent flavor come through even more. It’s like liquid blue. It’s the manifestation of blueberry – the ultimate blueberry flavor.
Wild Blueberries are so accessible. Even though I don’t live in Maine or Canada, I can always find frozen Wild Blueberries in the freezer section of my local grocery store. And because they are frozen I can use them for the next couple of months. I don’t have to be prepared to use them right away.
Wild Blueberries are also a local regional food and I love that they are wild. When you purchase Wild Blueberries – even frozen ones – the fruit is in its natural state and hasn’t been created or manufactured. I like foraging and eating what is seasonal. I like to see what’s growing naturally. Most people don’t know this but Wild Blueberries are frozen at their ideal state of freshness so when you pick up a bag you are still eating that naturally growing indigenous ingredient.
My preference is always a frozen Wild Blueberry from Maine or Canada than a fresh cultivated blueberry from Chile that’s been shipped all over the country. Think about it: How would you feel coming off a plane from Chile – not great.I would rather have my blueberries be the Wild frozen ones because they are frozen and preserved at their state of peak freshness.
When is the best time to add a Smoothie into your daily diet? Snack time, breakfast, etc.?
AFT: Smoothies are great anytime but for me I like to encourage my clients, friends and family to add a smoothie in at breakfast or the end of the day. On hot mornings, starting your day with a healthy smoothie full of protein and antioxidants is a great way to help you stay cool and refreshed on your commute to work.
A lot of people come home and have a cocktail and a snack. A smoothie offers snack and beverage combined. A delicious smoothie – especially one made with Wild Blueberries – can help you relax after a tiring and stressful day. A healthy smoothie will also help cool you down. You have to cool down from the outside and the inside. Smoothies are a great way to do that.
Pictured above is Wild Blueberry-Ginger Juice. Visit Wildblueberries.com for this refreshing summer beverage recipe (pg. 125 of Chill).
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