Extended Interview with Tia Mowry

Web Exclusive: Here’s more from contributing editor Chris Mann’s interview with actress, TV host, and cookbook author Tia Mowry
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After being diagnosed with endometriosis, actress, author, and Cooking Channel  host Tia Mowry embraced an anti-inflammatory diet and gained a new lease on life

BN: Why was it important to share your health quest and discoveries in cookbook format?

TM: The number one challenge is: How do I start all over in the sense of relearning how to eat, relearning how to cook? When you’ve been eating and cooking a certain way for years, it’s almost like someone trying to tell you to put your pants on differently. I wanted people to feel like, “I can do this because the recipes and tips are right in front of me.” I didn’t want readers to gain all of this knowledge about making sure you eat healthy and learning about probiotic foods and gut flora and all of that and not know where to start.

And I thought, let’s also give them recipes they are familiar with, because if you just put miso soup in there—which is a great food that I include—it could be foreign. During my journey, I was like, “I can’t have a cookie or drink a glass of wine or have pizza or spaghetti?” It was a little bittersweet for me. I’m a foodie. I love food. I love pasta! So I got really excited about turning comfort food into a healthier alternative that doesn’t lack the flavor.

BN: Which comfort-food recipes with anti-inflammatory swaps are good starters?

TM: I love my turkey meatball recipe with zucchini noodles. And instead of a dough-crust pizza, I feature a fresh tomato and basil-topped, cauliflower crust pizza with dairy-free mozzarella. It’s so yummy. And my peach raspberry crisp is incredibly healthy. It’s dairy-free and made with oats, almonds and coconut and filled with whatever fruit that you love or is in season. I love to put strawberries in mine.

BN: Speaking of summer fare, what’s your favorite main dish for a picnic?

TM: My alternative fried chicken. I like to make mine with rice flour so it’s really nice and crispy—but gluten-free! You can also use spelt flour. I love using buttermilk but you can also substitute with unsweetened cashew milk. You don’t notice these (changes) when eating the food. If I was making the full-on southern fried chicken like I grew up with, it would be with buttermilk and regular flour. But just changing those two ingredients gives you a healthier option that won’t give you flare up. Also, safflower oil is a healthier alternative than canola oil.

BN: Any tips for keeping whole-food recipes handy while on the go?

TM: In the book I list ingredients that are great to have for on the go. Include these on your shopping list. Then do a meal plan. If I know I have a busy day or two ahead, I’ll sometimes make one to two extra servings of a meal that I store in a freezer-safe container you take with you on the go. And I like to snack on popcorn, so I throw on my amazing non-dairy Parmesan cheese recipe and take it with me on the road, too.

BN: How are you incorporating “whole eating” into your cooking show?

TM: In one episode in particular I have dedicated a lot of my recipes to just making healthier choices. I make this delicious cauliflower fried rice. In the first season I featured lamb chops that I grilled with herbes de Provence and mint and some agave. That was one of the first recipes I tackled on this diet. Lamb is a healthier (protein) choice because it’s lower in saturated fats and fats in general, and it’s one of the dishes I fell in love with and mastered. I’ve also put my dairy-free smoothie recipe in the show. So I’m constantly talking with the execs on the show and the culinary producers I work with on the show because it’s a part of me and who I am.

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