Healthy Living on the Cheap

·Senior Writer

To many people, the concept of “healthy living”—organic food, daily pilates, tinctures—seems like something exclusively for the 1%. Fashion designer and nightlife director Lyz Olko grew up living a holistic lifestyle from an early age, and believes it can be simple, easy, and affordable. “It doesn’t have to be a completely organic or complicated approach,” says Olko, who hails from rural New Jersey. “I grew up eating really hippie-style vegan or raw foods without wheat or dairy. I’ve stuck with the lifestyle and I do it without spending a lot.”

Olko’s first tip? Save money by skipping organic produce. “I just look for good quality fresh vegetables and fruits,” she says, favoring her local market or Trader Joe’s over Whole Foods, where the prices are higher. She makes another good point: once you switch to a plant-based diet, you are cutting out the high cost of meat and dairy.

The Director of Nightlife at three nightclubs in New York, Olko also has a streetwear clothing line called Obesity & Speed. “Sometimes I only sleep from 4 to 8 AM, so I try to be extra careful about taking care of myself,” she says. “Just because you work in nightlife doesn’t mean you party or look like it. I get up early, which is easy to do when you cut out alcohol and Red Bull; I love having a full day.” That includes working out daily, and running marathons to raise money for Christy Turlington’s charity Every Mother Counts.

A full schedule also means Olko doesn’t have time to make a full macrobiotic meal every day. Instead, she’s focused on finding easy and fast recipes, often cooking for her O& S staff. “I try to find new ways to make vegetables exciting for them as half the team are teens and college kids who primarily love candy and pizza.”

Here are three of Lyz’s favorite healthy recipes:

Edamame, Spinach, and Miso Puree

This is so simple and easy to make. Serve with cut up raw vegetables or baked pita chips to dip

1 bag frozen edamame

1 bag frozen spinach (or 1 bunch fresh spinach)

Lightly steam both ingredients, let cool, and put into a food processor. Add a tablespoon of white miso paste and ¼ cup water. Blend, to whatever consistency you like best (the less water, the thicker puree). Pour into a bowl and serve! You can sprinkle edamame on top for a garnish, or add hot sauce for a kick.

Vegan Black Bean Chili

1 cup dry black beans

1 small white onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 chopped fresh tomatoes

4 cups vegetable stock

1 teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon curry powder

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 chopped chipotle peppers

Salt and pepper

I like to soak the dry beans overnight to soften them, and then rinse prior to cooking. Boil one to two cups of water in a large pot, add the beans, and let cook for 15 minutes. Then add everything else and bring it to a light boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for about 2 hours, until beans are tender. It’s best served over brown rice or quinoa.

Baked Squash with Miso Ginger Spread

1 acorn or butternut squash

2 tablespoons of mellow white miso paste

1 tablespoon of fresh grated ginger

Cut the squash in half and place it on a baking sheet.  Meanwhile, mix the miso paste, minced ginger, and a splash of water in a bowl. Spread the paste thickly over each slice of squash, put it into the oven, and bake for 45 minutes to an hour (until the squash is soft). Try not to spill the paste on the baking sheet—it will burn!

Sprinkle with gomasio (sesame salt) after taking out of the oven. Enjoy!