Toronto-based young professional (YP) Briana Santoro bares all with a sexy new cookbook that undresses the food we eat, appropriately called Get Naked in the Kitchen. The former business strategy consultant come holistic nutritionist, along with a collaboration of food experts, offers an assortment of recipes that use whole, natural foods that have not been disguised by confusing labels, artificial ingredients and misleading marketing messages. This means healthy but delicious and easy-to-make recipes that include everything from morning smoothies and shakes and mid-day snacks (like sour cream and onion kale chips and cauliflower popcorn), to hearty soups and salads, and both vegetarian and omnivore mains. Of course, we can’t forget the desserts, with things like chocolate pudding pops (once you try them, you will crave more) and coconut banana bread among many other favourites. Each recipe is accompanied by a blurb on its nutritional benefits, along with the story behind it. We caught up with Santoro to hear a little more about it…
Can you recall the moment you decided that you wanted to create this cookbook?
I am extremely passionate about cooking. I am always in the kitchen experimenting with food and making up new recipes. I noticed that my friends and family were always asking me to share my recipes with them. They were excited about them because they were surprised that healthy food could taste so delicious! It was at this time I decided to put together a cookbook. I am on a mission to show the world that eating healthy can taste amazing. I also want to inspire people to get in to the kitchen, have some fun with food, and share it with their friends and family. I think that food is a fantastic way to create incredible relationships. Nothing pulls family and friends together around a table better than food!
Do you have a favourite recipe? What do you make the most often?
I am a huge fish taco fan! When I go to food markets, I often seek out the fish tacos. However, most of the time the fish in these tacos is deep-fried. I wanted to make a fish taco recipe that was healthy for me and also tasted delicious. The Fish Taco recipe in Get Naked In The Kitchen is now my new favourite. I like to think of myself as a fish taco connoisseur and I would say that these tacos are the best I’ve ever had!
The recipe I make most often is probably the Goat Cheese Dip. It is an easy appetizer to put together. I would say it is my go-to when I need to bring an appetizer to a friend’s place for dinner or when I am having company over. Everyone LOVES it!
What are five things that are always in your fridge?
Ingredients to make fresh juice in the morning (e.g. celery, cucumber, romaine, kale, spinach, carrot, lemon, ginger); hummus (I have deemed this my desert island food); coconut water; nut/seed butter (tahini and almond/hazelnut are my favourites); salad dressing (I make a big batch at the beginning of the week to use on salads).
What was the most difficult part about leaving the corporate world to go back to school and subsequently pursue a career that stemmed from your passion?
The most difficult part about leaving the corporate world and going back to school was the unknown. I knew I wanted to pursue my passion for healthy food and inspire millions of people to have the health they want and deserve. However, at the time, I had no idea how I was going to do that. I used to say that I jumped on the passion train and have no idea where it’s going, but the fact that it’s going is what gets me fired up and excited.
What is the biggest misconception that people have about the food we eat?
Thinking that we can trust food companies and the government regulatory organizations is the biggest misconception people have about food. Many people think that if a product/ingredient was really unhealthy for us, then the company wouldn’t use it and the regulatory organizations wouldn’t allow it. Unfortunately this is just not the case. Food companies have used many harmful ingredients regularly over the years. Think about trans fat as an example. Research started to show that trans fat was extremely unhealthy. The government wanted to have food companies label foods that contained trans fat and reduce the amount of trans fats in food. Companies fought back because they knew this would impact their profits. Eventually, after many years of disagreement, food companies lost and now have to label trans fats on products. The point is that many companies do not have our health in mind; they are more concerned about making money. We as consumers need to educate ourselves about what is in the food we eat and then vote with our fork for the type of food we believe in.
You have some pretty well respected contributors; how did you get these people involved?
I wanted to create a book that pulled together a number of incredible experts to show off their talents and provide a safe space for people to explore food and their inner expert, to determine what feels right for them. This book is unique because it consists of recipes from 15 natural health experts. There is a wide range of experts, including holistic nutritionists, naturopaths, documentary filmmakers, and natural health-focused dieticians. I wanted to show the world that, while we may approach food differently, our collective wisdom can live harmoniously in one book because we share a foundational focus on whole, natural foods. Once these contributors heard about the idea, they were really excited to be a part of the book. They are all passionate about helping people get excited about food.
What was the most resonating thing you learned in the conception and creation of this cookbook?
The most resonating thing was how incredibly different each of the contributor’s recipes are in terms of taste, ingredients, method, etc. This is one of my favourite things about the book. One person creates most cookbooks, so you just get their view on food. This book allows you to explore food through the eyes of 15 different health experts. It’s exciting and delicious!
What is the main point you want people to take away from the book?
I want people to realize how incredibly delicious healthy food can taste, have some fun in the kitchen, and get excited about good food!
Stripped down and delicious. You can order the book online here.
#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)