I picked it up recently during a Costco excursion and decided to bring it home. More a lifestyle book for young women in their 20s and 30s, than a cookbook, it was the food photography and recipes that grabbed my attention. Just five of the book’s thirteen chapters are devoted to food: Breakfast, Lunch Break, Cocktails, Dinner and Dessert.
Relish by Daphne Oz
The remaining chapters cover a range of topics, from navigating the supermarket to fitness, beauty, decorating, travel and relationships. It’s a lot of territory for a 27-year-old to cover, but Daphne Oz displays wisdom beyond her years. I would loved to have had a book like this when I was in my 20s and 30s.
The recipes appear fun and easy to make. And the first one I tried - Watermelon Gazpacho was a winner with everyone who tried it. Some of the other recipes I can’t wait to try: chile jam chicken with caramelized sweet potatoes and peaches; veggie, bean and cheese enchiladas; chocolate chip oatmeal cookies; Persian brown rice pudding and coconut pecan pound cake.
What I found interesting – in addition to the recipes – were the strategies Daphne used to lose 30 pounds in college and keep it off ever since, while still enjoying all the foods she loves. I’m more than a little impressed that she was able to figure out in her 20s what it took me several decades to figure out, confirming once again that I’m a very, very slow learner (or as I prefer to see it, late bloomer.)
At 17, Daphne weighed 180 pounds because she let food have control over her. She was stuck in the struggle so many of us have experienced: She loved the comfort and connection that food provided while fearing it because of the power it had over her.
She tried fad dieting over and over in high school and then gave up on herself for a time, resigning herself to being fat, which couldn’t have been easy for the daughter of Dr. Oz.
While in college she developed a healthy lifestyle that led her shed 30 pounds permanently without giving up any of her favorite foods. She took back control, and stopped thinking of food as ‘good’ and ‘bad,’ instead adopting the philosophy that the difference between healthful and unhealthful is really the difference between moderation and excess.
She learned that by paying attention , savoring bites and portioning appropriately , she never had to feel deprived, saying, ”We seem to be stuck on the idea that to be healthy, we have to be struggling, deprived, and constantly absorbed by our pursuit of the size 0. This is not the case. Balance is the key.”
She went on to explain that the freedom to eat whatever she wanted came with the responsibility to moderate herself. She stopped eating based on instinct and emotion and began eating with awareness. “Once I stopped letting it have control over me, food and I could get back to loving one another.”
I love her refreshingly simple philosophy: “Eat Happy!” which means eating food that provides vitality, experience, joy or all three. The purpose of food and eating is to enrich her life.
When she eats happy, health is a priority, not an obsession: “I’m letting go of all the neuroses, confusion, and anxiety that plague people who think about food in terms of isolated nutrients or specific numbers (grams of fat, calories, sodium). I’m also letting go of being controlled by food, the way that people who are addicted to fast, processed junk food become slaves to caffeine, sugar and simple carb fix. I’m letting go of the desperation of being ‘stuck’ in a situation where there’s ‘nothing I can eat’ because of how restrictive my eating guidelines are.”
She is enjoying food as part of her life, rather than letting it define her life. And it’s working for her. Her inspiring message encourages us to take a big, juicy bite out of food and life and relish it!