Vivian Howard’s Tips for Healthy Eating in 2019


The new year brings New Year's resolutions. A perennial favorite for many is to eat healthier.

Chef Vivian Howard, star of the PBS show, “A Chef's Life,” has been thinking a lot about her healthy eating routine while writing her next book, a part-cookbook, part-memoir exploring her body image and weight loss ups and downs.

“I did Weight Watchers in college. I learned that there are foods that will take you far and there are foods that will just take you around the block,” she says.

Vivian came away from that experience knowing she should eat fewer mashed potatoes, potato chips, white rice and rich creamy sauces. She needed to eat more vegetables and lean proteins, like fish and turkey, plus any ingredient loaded with dietary fiber. As a chef, she notes, “My cooking and healthy eating has always been geared toward: How can I use these foods that will take me far, but how can I make them taste good?”

Here are a few of Vivian's tips for healthier eating habits in 2019.

Drink more water. Vivian starts each day by drinking three glasses of cold water as soon as she gets up. “Whether I'm in a hotel room or in Deep Run or wherever I am, it's the only thing that I always do,” she says.

Eat more fruits and vegetables. Vivian constantly looks for ways to pack more fruits and vegetables into her diet – and her family's diet. She will add pureed spinach and carrots to her ground turkey spaghetti sauce, which she enjoys over roasted broccoli instead of pasta. She adds shredded carrots to her taco meat and finely chopped cooked broccoli to her meatloaf. On most mornings, she makes smoothies for Ben and the twins. She uses spinach, frozen berries, Greek yogurt, Omega 3 oil and either a probiotic juice or kombucha. She adds ice and blitzes it in the blender and then sends Ben and the twins out the door with a healthy drink.

Prep healthy ingredients ahead of time. It's easier to make healthy choices if your refrigerator is packed with ready-to-go ingredients. Vivian will cook lean proteins, like salmon filets, to enjoy one night as an entree and then uses the leftover fish to top green salads. She roasts broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus or other seasonal produce. Those roasted vegetables are enjoyed as a side dish one night, as a snack with hummus or other dips the next day or turned into a new meal. “For example, this past Sunday, I roasted cauliflower and broccoli and we had some of it with our dinner,” she explains. On Monday, she chopped up the leftover roasted vegetables to add to a coconut curry sauce and serve over brown rice.

Soup is a go-to meal. On weekends, Vivian will make a big pot of soup with lots of leafy greens and protein, like leftover roast chicken, ground turkey or both. It’s her version of a soup her mother would make with ground beef and all the vegetables put up from the summer garden, like corn, okra and string beans. Vivian adds pureed beans to make the soup extra rich and creamy, adding another source of low-fat protein.

Substitute leaner meats. In the last decade, Vivian discovered that she enjoys ground turkey as much as ground beef. “I save my beef eating for steak. Ground turkey has become my ground meat of choice,” she says. Ground turkey has as much protein as ground beef and ground pork but fewer calories and less fat; plus turkey is a great source of potassium, selenium, and a full range of B vitamins, most notably niacin. Vivian uses ground turkey, preferably Farm to Family by Butterball, which is raised without antibiotics and hormones, to make the veggie-packed spaghetti sauce mentioned above, turkey burgers or sweet potato and ground turkey shepherd's pie. Ground turkey tacos are also on the regular meal rotation in the Howard household. Vivian sneaks those finely shredded carrots into that taco meat and best of all, parents and children can dress the tacos as they like.


For her new cookbook, Vivian developed a twist on Szechuan Green Beans and Pork using sliced cabbage and ground turkey instead. So if you're looking for a more adventurous healthy recipe, this is the one!

Get Vivian Howard’s Szechuan Ground Turkey and Cabbage Recipe