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Written by Stephanie Bertholdo Photography by Michael Coons

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Paulette Lambert sears salmon in the Wellness Kitchen. The Institute hosts cooking classes year ‘round.

It’s no secret that eating well is a key to good health. But the time it takes to shop for ingredients, then prep and cook a healthy, delicious meal after a long day at work can be daunting—so much so that many of us resort to serving processed or fast food packed with fat, salt, additives and extra calories.

There is another choice.

Paulette Lambert, director of nutrition for the California Health & Longevity Institute (CHLI) in Westlake Village, says that anybody can master the dinnertime blues and create delicious, family-pleasing meals with a repertoire of 10 simple, healthy recipes.

To get us halfway there, Lambert and her crew of expert sous-chefs created a week’s worth of healthy dinners (and one yummy dessert) even a beginner can prepare in under 30 minutes, with delicious results.

Granted, CHLI’s opulent kitchen that opens to the courtyard garden is an inspiration unto itself. Fresh zucchini, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, Swiss chard, beets and a seasonal, fragrant herb garden ready for harvest make Lambert’s job a tad easier, but a carefully stocked home fridge with basic herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano and parsley is enough to start anyone cooking fresh. (Check out Lambert’s Pantry List on page 45.)

A private nutritionist for more than 30 years, Lambert knows a thing or two about the emotional pull of food and how it can be transformative or destructive. She developed gestational diabetes when she was pregnant with her son, revealing a genetic predisposition to Type 2 diabetes. But through healthy eating and exercise (she jumps horses, rides mountain bikes and skis), Lambert has suppressed the potential for the disease.

BlackBeans Guinoa Bowl

Black Bean and Quinoa Bowl
with Herbed Harissa

“My ‘aha’ moment in the kitchen was realizing that I didn’t need to use so much olive oil in cooking,” Lambert says.

As director of nutrition at CHLI for seven years, Lambert has changed the way countless people shop and cook for their families. And she hopes to influence many more with her upcoming cookbook, which includes her favorite fast recipes that even an inexperienced cook can create in no time flat.

Lambert knows that food has far more significance in our lives than simply filling the body with healthful nutrients. When she was just 2 years old she would help her mom cook.

“I used to make pies in mayonnaise jar lids,” she recalls.

That experience and others like it eventually led to a career as a nutritionist focusing on helping people with eating disorders and teaching people with diabetes how eating right can stave off the consequences of the disease.

Men and women face different diet and nutritional challenges, she says. Kicking the sugar habit is traditionally a woman’s toughest hurdle, while men generally eat too much meat and drink too much alcohol.

“An average drink has the same amount of calories as a bowl of vanilla ice cream,” she said. “You may diet on one hand, but if you have two glasses of wine, you don’t go anywhere. If you think you are going to lose weight by having two drinks a night, good luck. That’s about 30, 40 pounds a year difference in your weight.”

Men, Lambert said, should not eat more than 10 or 11 ounces of protein a day. Meals can be just as satisfying with a higher volume of vegetables and whole-grain side dishes. The key is to use fresh food and “intense” flavoring through fresh herbs and just pinches of salt, she says. Our idea of proportion needs to be turned upside down, with plant-based foods making up the bulk of each meal and just a small portion of meat served alongside.

“You just need a little bit of smarts in the kitchen,” Lambert said. “You don’t have to be an artist or major chef; you just have to be able to read. The point of the Wellness Kitchen is to teach people to cook quick and really tasty, healthy food. Healthful and delicious can go together.”

For example, when cauliflower is pureed and served with pan-seared salmon with a honey mustard glaze, people—men especially—are shocked that it tastes so delicious and is as satisfying as that T-bone steak, she says.

Even Lambert has her food weaknesses. Thanksgiving dinner, with turkey, cranberries, mashed sweet potatoes and all of the other delectable holiday favorites are irresistible to the Westlake Village resident. But that’s really not a problem for Lambert, who eats whatever she wants but sticks to reasonable portion sizes.

Although she’s not a vegetarian, Lambert is a believer in a plant-based diet for health and longevity. Animal protein does not need to be eliminated from a diet, just reduced in favor of flavor-packed fresh fruits and vegetables as well as whole-grain carbs. She eats fruit with each meal of the day.

Lambert’s cookbook, the title and release date to be announced soon, will be filled with everyday meals as well as delectable recipes that are deceptively simple to prepare for the holidays. The book will provide portion sizes for men, women, children and teens and nutritional guidelines and priorities for those with chronic conditions. Cooking tips will be included on every page.

“It’s a book to live with,” Lambert said. “It’s meant for beginners and will have 125 recipes.”

Chicken Parmesan Marinara Over Pesto Pasta with Roasted Broccoli

Serves 4

chicken parmesan copy4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 1¼ lb. chicken cutlets

3 pieces of whole grain bread (or ½ cup packaged Italian breadcrumbs)

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

1 Tbsp. fresh basil, finely chopped, or 1 tsp. dried

½ tsp. sea salt

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 egg or 2 egg whites, beaten well

Organic olive oil cooking spray

Roasted broccoli

8 oz. high-protein or whole-grain spaghetti or penne

2 cups marinara sauce, homemade (see below) or a

good-quality jarred sauce

4 slices low-fat provolone cheese or mozzarella cheese

2 Tbsp. pesto (homemade or store-bought lite)

Preheat oven to 350° F.

If using whole chicken breasts, pound chicken very thin (⅛-inch) between two pieces of plastic wrap.

Add bread to food processor or to blender and process into breadcrumbs.

Combine breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, basil, salt and pepper in a large shallow bowl. Mix well.

In medium bowl, whisk egg with fork. Dip each chicken breast in the beaten egg and transfer to the breadcrumb mixture, patting breadcrumbs on lightly to coat. Transfer breaded chicken to 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Arrange breasts in a single layer. Spray breaded chicken with organic olive oil spray. Bake chicken 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.

Prepare roasted broccoli and place in oven with chicken.

While chicken and broccoli are baking, boil water for pasta and cook pasta 7-8 minutes, just until al dente. Drain and toss with 2 Tbsp. lite pesto. Set aside.

When chicken is golden, remove from oven and top each piece with ½ cup marinara sauce and 1 slice of provolone cheese. Bake 5 more minutes, or until sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted. Serve immediately with pesto pasta and roasted broccoli.

Calories per serving: 520 (including chicken, pasta, and broccoli) Calorie equivalent: 5 oz. protein, 2 carbo­hydrates, 1 fat, 2 vegetable

Garlic Roasted Broccoli

Serves 4

1½ lbs. broccoli florets

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. finely chopped garlic

¼ tsp. red pepper flakes

½ tsp. sea salt

2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray.

Toss broccoli with olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and salt on baking sheet. Spread broccoli in single layer. Roast in oven 25-30 minutes until broccoli is slightly browned on edges and tender.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with Parmesan.

Calories per serving: 80 Calorie equivalent: 2 vegetables, 1 fat

Basic Marinara Sauce

Makes about 6 cups

1 Tbsp. olive oil

½ large onion, diced

½ cup shredded carrots

1 Tbsp. garlic, minced

½ tsp. dried red pepper flakes

2 28-oz. cans diced plum tomatoes

¼ cup basil leaves, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. thyme leaves

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in medium saucepan over medium heat.

Add onion, carrots, garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté 2-3 minutes.

Add tomatoes with juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes until sauce has thickened slightly.

Add half of the basil and all of the thyme. Carefully blend sauce in blender or food processor in batches.

Return to saucepan; season with salt and pepper and garnish with remaining basil.

Calories per serving: 40 per ½ cup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Serves 4

totilla soup2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 medium red onion, diced

1 Tbsp. garlic, minced

2 tsp. ground cumin

2 Tbsp. ground chili powder

6 cups reduced-sodium, fat-free organic chicken broth

1½ cups frozen corn kernels

1 15-oz. can Mexican-style chopped tomatoes

2 15-oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained

Organic canola or olive oil nonstick spray

4 corn tortillas

2 medium zucchini, ¼-inch diced

2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped

½ cup low-fat Jack cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 400° F.

To poach chicken, place chicken breast in saucepan, cover with 3 cups of chicken broth and place over medium heat until just boiling. Turn heat down and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove and place on cutting board to cool. Slice or shred into bite-size pieces. Reserve poaching liquid.

Meanwhile, in large soup pot, heat olive oil. Add onion, garlic, cumin and chili powder, and sauté until onions are soft (add 1-2 Tbsp. water if necessary).

Add the poaching liquid plus the remaining chicken broth, corn, tomatoes and beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, stack tortillas together and slice in ¼-inch strips. Place in a single layer on baking sheet. Lightly coat with canola or olive oil spray. Season lightly with salt. Bake 8-10 minutes or until crisp. Set aside.

Add chicken pieces, zucchini and cilantro to soup and simmer for 2 minutes.

Ladle soup into serving bowls, top with tortilla strips and shredded cheese.

Serving size: 2 cups Calories per serving: 490 Calorie equivalent: 4 oz. protein, 2 carbo­hydrates, 1 vegetable, 1 fat

Black Bean and Quinoa Bowl with Herbed Harissa

Serves 4

BlackBeans Guinoa Bowl2 15-oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained

2 tsp. garlic, minced

1 tsp. cumin

Juice of ½ lime

4 cups quinoa, cooked

1 cup reduced-fat shredded Mexican cheese blend

1 head of romaine lettuce, shredded

2 medium tomatoes, diced

4 green onions, chopped

1 avocado, diced

Herbed harissa

In a small saucepan heat the black beans, garlic, cumin and lime juice. Keep warm.

Add the beans and quinoa to four serving bowls. Top each with ¼ cup cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, green onions, avocado and 1 Tbsp. of Herbed Harissa.

Herbed Harissa

Serves 16

1 cup cilantro, large stems removed

1 cup baby spinach leaves

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. chopped garlic

2 scallions, roughly chopped

2-3 jalapenos, seeded, roughly chopped

¼ tsp. ground coriander

¼ tsp. ground cumin

¼ cup olive oil mayonnaise or nonfat Greek yogurt

Sea salt

In a food processor, combine the cilantro, spinach, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, scallions, jalapenos, coriander and cumin. Pulse until combined.

Add mayonnaise and process until smooth. If needed, season with salt to taste.

Note: Will keep in refrigerator, covered, up to 3 days.

Calories per serving: 20

Pasta with Spinach, Egg and Parmesan

Serves 4

Pasta Spinach8 oz. high-protein or whole-grain spaghetti

1 Tbsp. olive oil

¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

2 bags baby spinach

2 tsp. garlic, chopped

2 medium vine-ripe tomatoes, ¼-inch diced

1 tsp. sea salt

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 whole eggs plus 4 egg whites, well beaten

⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese

2 Tbsp. fresh chopped basil or 1 Tbsp. dried

Cook pasta al dente, drain and keep warm.

Add olive oil to sauté pan over medium heat; add crushed red pepper flakes and spinach, sautéing for 2 minutes until spinach is just wilted.

Add garlic, diced tomato, salt and pepper, sauté for another minute.

Add spaghetti and stir until heated through. Add beaten egg and toss until egg is set.

Add parmesan cheese and fresh chopped basil, tossing well.

Divide pasta among four pasta bowls, top with extra fresh chopped basil if desired.

Calories per serving: 395 Calorie equivalent: 2 oz. lean protein, 2 carbo­hydrates, 1 vegetable

Lime Glazed Salmon with Wilted Spinach

Serves 4

salmom2 Tbsp. no-trans-fat margarine

½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

½ tsp. garlic, minced

¼ cup brown sugar

½ cup lime juice

¼ cup reduced sodium soy sauce

1 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tbsp. water

1 Tbsp. canola or grape seed oil

4 5-oz. salmon fillets, 1¼ lb.

2 6-oz. bags baby spinach

Frozen sweet potato fries

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Heat 1 Tbsp. of the margarine in a saucepan over medium heat. Add crushed red pepper and garlic. Sauté for 1 minute. Add sugar and whisk until melted and bubbly, about 1 minute. Add lime juice and soy sauce. Increase heat and boil until reduced to about ½ cup. Add dissolved cornstarch; boil until thick, about 1-2 minutes. Set aside.

Heat oven-proof sauté pan over high heat for 2-3 minutes until very hot. Add oil and swirl pan to coat. Add salmon fillets (presentation side down) and sear on each side for 3 minutes (do not move around in pan).

Spoon 1 Tbsp. sauce on each fillet. Roast in oven for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, wipe out any oil left in sauté pan. Add remaining 1 Tbsp. of margarine. When melted, add spinach and toss until wilted, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, place wilted spinach on platter and top with roasted salmon. Drizzle with remaining sauce if desired. Serve with baked sweet potato fries.

Calories per serving: 370 (salmon and spinach) Calorie equivalent: 4 oz. protein, 1 fat, 1 vegetable

Note: Salmon fillets can be seared earlier in the day, then covered and refrigerated until ready to roast in oven. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before placing in oven to bring to room temperature.

Sweet Potato Fries

Serves 4

4 cups frozen sweet potato fries

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

½ fresh lime

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Arrange frozen fries in single layer on baking sheet, being careful not to crowd. Season with salt and pepper. Bake 15-20 minutes until lightly browned and crisp.

Remove from oven. Squeeze lime juice over the top and serve immediately.

Calories per serving: 120 Calorie equivalent: 1 carbohydrate

Apple Blueberry Crisp

Serves 8

AppleBlueberryCrisp copyOrganic canola oil cooking spray

6 Granny Smith or Fuji apples, cored

and sliced thin

10 oz. frozen blueberries, not thawed

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

¼ cup sugar

2 Tbsp. flour

1¼ tsp. cinnamon

1 Tbsp. orange zest

Topping:

1 cup rolled oats

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup flour (or ¼ cup all-purpose flour plus

¼ cup whole-wheat pastry flour)

⅓ cup no-trans-fat margarine

1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Spray a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Toss apple slices with blueberries, lemon juice, sugar, flour, cinnamon and orange zest in baking dish. Bake 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix all the topping ingredients in small bowl with fingers until crumbly. Set aside.

Remove baking dish from oven and sprinkle topping mixture over hot fruit. Bake 30 minutes or until topping is lightly browned and crisp.

Serve warm with lite whipped topping or lite ice cream or frozen yogurt.

Calories per serving: 250 Calorie equivalent: 1 carbohydrate, 1 fruit, 1½ fats

Wellness Kitchen Pomegranate Iced Tea

Serves 6

A delicious iced tea with the antioxidant power of both the pomegranate and green tea, this is an all-natural thirst-quenching delight and only 25 calories per serving!

chli-foodshoot-beyond-mdc-2116 cups water

5 green tea bags

1 cup Pom juice

Sliced orange and

mint leaves (optional)

Heat water in large saucepan to a rolling boil. Turn off heat, add tea bags and steep 10 minutes. Cool tea to room temperature.

To serve: Add ice to large pitcher; pour in green tea and Pom juice. Add sliced orange and mint if desired.

Calories per serving: 25 Calorie equivalent: ½ fruit

Pantry Basics

Cold Cereals Choose brands with 6+ grams fiber

• Fiber One

• All Bran Buds, 51% fiber

• Kashi cereals, Good Friends, Heart to Heart, Go Lean, Autumn wheat, Island vanilla

• Bran flakes

• Shredded wheat with bran Hot Cereals

• Oatmeal, plain

• Oat Bran

• McCann’s quick-cooking (or microwavable) steel-cut oats

• Kashi Heart to Heart

Bread Choose bread products with 3+ grams of fiber per serving

• Rye

• 100% whole grain

• Whole-wheat sourdough

• Whole-wheat/high-fiber English muffins

• Corn tortillas

• La Tortilla Factory 12-gram fiber tortillas

• Whole-wheat pita bread

• Oroweat Double Fiber bread and English muffins

Pasta & Grains

• Barilla Plus, high-protein pastas

• Whole-wheat pasta

• Brown rice

• Whole-grain couscous

• Near East lentil pilaf

• Quick-cooking brown rice

• Pearl barley

• Farro

• Quinoa

Crackers & Snacks

• Reduced-fat Triscuits

• Ak-Mak crackers

• Rye Krisp

• Kashi TLC crackers

• Kavli

• Wasa Crispbread

• Reduced Fat Wheat Thins

• Geni-soy Crisp

• Fat-free graham crackers

• Orville Reddenbacher or Pop Secret mini, lite popcorn bags

• Tostitos Baked tortilla chips

Mayonnaise & Salad Dressings

• Light mayonnaise

• Olive oil mayonnaise

• Paul Newman’s Lighten Up salad dressings

• Girard’s Light, lite Caesar & Champagne

• Follow Your Heart low-fat dressings

• Flavored vinegars, balsamic or champagne

Margarines & Oils Choose brands that have no trans fat

• Brummel & Brown

• Earth Balance

• Promise Light

• Smart Balance Omega or Light margarine

• I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Light

• Extra virgin olive oil

• Pam organic olive oil or canola oil cooking spray

Nuts & Nut Butters

• Unsalted nuts, almonds, peanuts, walnuts, pecans, pistachios

• Emerald 100-calorie nut packs

• Seeds: pumpkin, sesame

• Natural peanut butter

• Soy, almond or sunflower seed butter

Dairy Choose organic when possible

• Nonfat or 1% milk

• Nonfat light yogurt, sugar less than 22 g total carb

• Nonfat or low-fat cottage cheese

• Nonfat Greek yogurt, less than 20 g total carb

• Alpine Lace, provolone, mozzarella or parmesan, feta, low fat cheese with less than 6 g fat per ounce

• Laughing Cow reduced fat cheese

• Light string cheese

• Reduced fat mini Bonbel cheese

• Land O’Lakes fat-free half-and-half

Dairy Alternatives

• Yves Good Slice or Daiya soy cheese

• White Wave, Silk, EdenSoy, Westbrae or 8th Continent organic soy milk

• Almond milk, (low protein)

Soups

• Progresso 50% less sodium, 98% fat-free

• Campbell’s Healthy Request

• Amy’s reduced sodium soups

• Bean Cuisine soup

• Swanson Natural Goodness chicken, beef or vegetable broth, reduced sodium

• Healthy Valley soups, any variety

• Fat-free, organic, reduced sodium broth, vegetable or chicken Proteins

• Canned beans, garbanzo, kidney, black, cannellini

• Canned or foil-packed wild salmon

• Canned or foil-packed light tuna Fruits & Vegetables

• Boxed diced tomatoes

• Sundried tomatoes, not in oil

• Marinara or tomato-based pasta sauce Frozen Foods

• Boca, Morningstar Farms soy-based veggie burgers

• Frozen unsweetened fruit, any variety

• Frozen vegetables without sauce

• Steam Fresh vegetable packs

• Frozen edamame beans

• Frozen shrimp & other seafood

Frozen Entrées Choose ones with less than 10 g total fat and less than 4 g saturated fat

• Healthy Choice

• Lean Cuisine, clean eating

• Weight Watchers

• Amy’s Organic

• Gardein

Condiments & Seasonings

• Kosher or sea salt

• Ground black pepper

• Honey

• Pure maple syrup

• Dijon mustard

• Chopped garlic

• Chopped ginger

• Dried herbs and spices, oregano, basil, thyme, nutmeg, cinnamon, etc.

Desserts

• Fat-free pudding cups

• Dreyer’s light ice cream or frozen yogurt blends

• Healthy Choice low-fat fudge bars

• Haagen-Dazs frozen yogurt or sorbet bars

• Skinny Cow fudge bars