Bringing Health Home
Have you ever wished you could peek into a nutritionist’s fridge? See what she (or he) really eats in a single day? Rather than make choices, wouldn’t it be simpler if you could just befriend a nutritionist, adopt that person’s style of eating, and be done with all thoughts of food? Not forever, of course, but maybe for a couple of weeks? Now’s your chance. Stefanie Sacks, a Montauk-based culinary nutritionist whose fans include Donna Karan, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and Dr. Oz, has just launched Reboot Food, a business that unites healthy cooking with good eating.
After teaching and lecturing around the country for three decades, Sacks, MS, CNS, CDN, the author of What the Fork Are You Eating? An Action Plan for Your Pantry and Plate (Tarcher/Penguin) has created a special line-up of programs for the East End community. To this end, in addition to the pantry rehab, dietary consultations, and private cooking classes that are the mainstays of her practice, she’s added bespoke food tours with a strong educational component, introducing clients to local environmentally-minded farmers, chefs, and food producers. Also on the Reboot Food calendar are cooking classes for adults and children at A Kitchen 4 Liam, a recently inaugurated community kitchen in Scoville Hall, the parish house of the Amagansett Presbyterian Church. Equal parts lecture, discussion, and hands-on food prep, each three-hour-class culminates with a shared meal. In this convivial way, Sacks teaches students not only to make better food choices but to create the habits that will help them to sustain those choices. Spa weekends and health-oriented cooking retreats are also in the pipeline.
“People say to me, “I love your new mission,” says Sacks, a lithe blonde who is a Natural Gourmet Institute alum and has a Masters of Science in nutrition from Teachers College, Columbia University. “Well, this is exactly what I’ve been doing for years. It’s just that now I’m doing it closer to home.” Part of what makes Sacks such an effective agent for change is her reluctance to hand out fiats. Which is to say, she’s no food bully. Instead, she deals in what she tactfully calls “gentle edible awakening.” At a recent class devoted to breakfast, for example, Sacks acknowledged that although breakfast really does set the tone for the day, not everyone feels like eating first thing in the morning. For the breakfast-averse, she whizzed up a food-based smoothie made with protein-rich whole foods and healthy fats rather instead of protein powder. She then talked students through a more filling breakfast while suggesting that most people do best by eating several small meals throughout the day, a practice that helps control blood sugar and which doesn’t stress the digestive system.
Sacks, who emits an air of well-being, is her own best advertisement for the benefits and pleasures of healthy eating. Naturally, we wanted to know how she does it. On a typical day, Sacks has a green smoothie for breakfast. Lunch might be a sardine salad and a piece of gluten-free flatbread. Because she has an auto-immune condition—successfully managed through diet—she avoids foods with gluten. An afternoon snack is a piece of fruit or vegetables with hummus. When asparagus are in season, her idea of a nice dinner is asparagus risotto and a big green salad. To keep the risotto dairy-free, she likes to whisk a spoonful of miso into the arborio rice just before serving. (The miso, she says, adds loads of umami, which is also present in parmesan cheese.) Though she’s not big on sweets, she’ll sometimes have a few dark chocolate almonds or a piece of perfectly ripe fruit or kimchi with gluten-free crackers after dinner. All very simple. Or not? The truth is, before you can eat like a nutritionist, you need to learn to cook like one. And with the birth of Reboot Food, now you can do both.