An Interview with Yara Shoemaker
As a chef, I am always intrigued by new cookbooks. I am a sucker for cookbooks, mostly for the inspiration they provide, but mostly for the new ideas and innovative ways they work with ingredients to create new and wonderful dishes. I have had the opportunity to read a cookbook lately by former model, Yara Shoemaker called “Health on Your Plate: Shop and Cook with Yara”.
To call Health on Your Plate a cookbook would be inaccurate, as Yara takes the reader on a health and lifestyle journey. The guide is the result of the observations and experiences she had upon her arrival in the US from her native Syria. Navigating the big box food culture of North America and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle was a challenge for her, but Yara shares with us her tips, recipes and insight into keeping it simple.
I had the pleasure of talking to Yara Shoemaker about life, eating right, and staying healthy. Here’s what she had to say:
1. What is your definition of “beautiful”?
Every person has something beautiful in them; many times it’s just a matter of
accepting your uniqueness and emphasizing it. In my opinion, becoming healthy
should be our priority before becoming “beautiful.” You’ll often see someone who
doesn’t look like the glossy magazine standard of beauty, however the person is
healthy with a happy spirit, which shines through to everyone around them. So, beauty
is a combination of looks, health and a positive attitude!
2. What is your favorite simple weekday go-to meal?
Shot Glass Salad! It’s so versatile that I can use the same formula any day of the week
to come up with a fresh, satisfying healthy meal. And if you’ve already got seasonal,
organic produce on hand, you can create a balanced meal in minutes.
3. What would be your best advice to people that don’t seem to have enough time to
cook at home?
If you know how much of an impact your food makes on your quality of life, it will
become a priority. Food is much more than pleasure – it’s our life source!
To simplify it, just shop once a week for fresh, seasonal, organic produce (from a local
Farmer’s Market, if you have the opportunity) and wash it right away to cut down on
prep time later in the week.
Realistically, you’ll still eat out sometimes and that’s okay. It’s just a matter of following
a few smart tricks when you order:
• Skip the bread and butter – save your appetite for something nutritious!
• Start with salad – a small plate of leafy greens will help you with portion control when
the entree comes.
• Get salad dressing and any sauces that come with your food on the side.
• Ask for your meal to be cooked in oil, not butter (especially for proteins).
• When the dessert menu is offered, plug your ears! At least most of the time, but go
ahead and indulge when you know you really deserve it.
• Slow down! It’s more to your advantage to be the last one chewing – it gives your
digestive system the opportunity to absorb every last nutrient and also helps you pay
attention to your body’s full feeling.
4. Do you think that North America is getting better at knowing where their food comes
Yes, it’s really encouraging to see the health trend in this country! People are taking
serious steps to improve their health, including teaching their kids healthy habits, which
is so important. The only problem is: who to listen to? There is a wealth of information
out there and it can be confusing, so people need access to the right information to
make good food choices. That’s what my book is about, getting back to basics – the
essential facts that our ancestors have known for ages: focus on fresh vegetables and
whole grains, minimize the rest and you have the easiest guidelines that anyone can
follow! I hope this trend is lasting and that everyone will be more active in pursuing a
5. What is your fondest food memory?
I spent most of my childhood summers on the sunny Mediterranean coast in my
grandmother’s village in the mountains. She was always cooking up something
delicious in her tiny kitchen, and I remember her weekly ritual of making flatbread. I
watched her knead huge balls of dough and take it to her traditional tannour oven. She
made flat rounds and stuck them to the sides of the hot stone oven, waiting until they
bubbled and browned just right to remove them. Those warm pieces of bread dipped
in dark, earthy olive oil, covered with chopped ripe tomatoes from her garden and
sprinkled with salt is a memory I can almost taste even now!
Yara Shoemaker is an ordinary woman with an extraordinary appetite for knowledge
about healthy living. She decided to dig deep into the facts of nutrition and health to
learn how every bite would affect her and her loved ones. As a result, she created an
ideal lifestyle centered on natural nourishment with real flavor, detailed in her new book,
Health On Your Plate; a complete resource for the optimal healthy lifestyle! It’s the quick
guide to everything you need to know, from the healthiest cookware and appliances, to
essential spices, produce, and ingredients every kitchen should have and how to shop
for them. This essential resource uncovers eye-opening, little-known food mysteries that
will help keep you and your family healthy and safe. And you can look forward to easy,
versatile recipes, like the unique Shot Glass Salads that help you get creative in the
kitchen to make incredibly healthy and delicious meals!
Find mouthwatering recipes, healthy advice and more at her blog: Yara’s Way!