Jessica Seinfeld hates junk food. And no, she's not just saying that. The mom of three grew up with OG bohemian parents, the kind who grocery shopped at a food co-op and belonged to a garden share long before either was trendy. But even though she doesn't crave packaged snacks like chips and candy, Seinfeld can't survive off crudité and grain bowls alone - she is human after all! She needs dessert in her life. "I eat mostly virtuously," she says, "but I am a big fan of also eating food that makes you feel like you've treated yourself - that's what helps me eat virtuously and indulge in the vice."
But like any of us confronted with some 200 food choices a day, Seinfeld still struggles to find the balance. Her solution? To publish a book specifically structured to quiet those tiny voices in her head. "I wanted to end the conversation of I want to eat this, but I need to eat that to stay out of the doctor's office," says Seinfeld, 45. She calls her fourth cookbook, Food Swings: 125+ Recipes to Enjoy Your Life of Virtue and Vice, hitting shelves next week, "her bible". Whether you're feeling naughty or nice, there's a recipe for that: peanut butter-banana ice cream on a good day, chocolate fudge cake for when you gotta cheat ("I would marry that cake," Seinfeld says. "I want to be in a relationship with that cake forever").
WHAT SHE DOES TO STAY SO VIRTUOUS
Like her book implies, Seinfeld tries to live everyday with a mix of virtue and vice. "I'll never be successful at a juice cleanse," she says. "The minute someone tries to limit me, I rebel. None of this should be punishment!" To stay in mostly virtuous territory, Seinfeld has become a meal prepper. "I've accepted the fact that to stay on program, I have to do upfront prep," she says. "At the beginning of every week, I cut up tons of crunchy vegetables - celery, carrots, cucumbers - and put them into containers. This takes away my stress when I'm starving before dinner of having to make a good decision." She also keeps a big bowl of berries front and center when you open the fridge, in the hopes that her kids will see those first. "I just try to help them make good choices" she says. "Most of the time they still want chips and cookies." Unlike her kids, Jessica does find it easy to stay away from processed snacks -"I just don't have the tastebuds for it" - but still gets down with comfort foods like wings, meatballs, and chicken parm like the rest of us. "If I was dying in 30 days, I'd eat pizza every day for lunch and pasta every night for dinner," she jokes.
And even though she tries to do something active six days a week, she tries not to make working out a big part of her day. "I don't have a workout culture," she says. "I do something for 30 minutes to an hour just to get it done and be able to check off the box. As I get older, I just want to be one those people who's strong and not shrinking." She tries to do a different activity every day, whether it's riding her bike to work, a pilates or yoga class, or just walking around New York City.
ON BEING DECEPTIVELY DELISH IN REAL LIFE
Seinfeld, whose main gig is running the GOOD+ Foundation, first came on the food scene in 2008 with her breakout bestseller, Deceptively Delicious. Distraught over how little of anything nutritious her kids were eating, she came up with the brilliant concept to sneakily serve kids their favorite foods, only made over with healthy ingredients (ignorance = bliss). She still wields these stealth moves in her New York City home today, constantly trying to get her two sons, Julian, 14, and Shepherd, 11, and daughter, Sascha, 16, to open themselves to more than chicken nuggets and pizza. "Right now I'm testing chia seeds on them," Seinfeld says. "Jerry has been on me about revising our breakfast plan - he doesn't want the kids eating sugar - so I've been making frozen fruit compotes with berries and chia seeds as a way to top pancakes and waffles instead of maple syrup. They think they're chomping down on raspberry seeds, while I feel so much better about them getting more protein." But her kids are now old enough to mostly detect mystery ingredients, so Seinfeld limits her experimentations to a few nights a week. "Sometimes I get busted," she says. "Ten percent of the time they're like No way!"
SHE THINKS EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW HOW TO COOK
Seinfeld first started cooking as a kid because she had to. Her mom, a social worker, would get up at 6 a.m. to prep that night's dinner before work. Jessica would get home from school and find detailed Post-Its ("Put the garlic bread in the oven at 350º at 5 p.m.") to help finish it. "My husband can perform in front of 100,000 people and can't cook a piece of chicken," she says. "For me, not knowing how to cook would be totally debilitating. I look at it as a practical life skill." She kept up cooking in college, when she would have friends over instead of going out to save money. "I always cooked because it much more economical for me," Seinfeld says, "but it relaxes me. It's a chance for me to be creative."
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