Q & A with Former ABC News anchor, host and lifestyle expert Christianne Klein
Former ABC News anchor, host and lifestyle expert Christianne Klein is thrilled to introduce her acclaimed first cookbook, Christianne's Herbal Kitchen: Fresh Herb Recipes for Body and Soul. Christianne believes in a fun, delicious, healthy, and balanced approach to cooking. "Fresh herbs will liven up any dish and elevate it to a whole new level. My cookbook shows you how easy it is to add a great nutritional, healing component to your meal while still making it taste fantastic." In addition to her amazing recipes, the "Fun Tip" and "Beauty Tip" segments located throughout the book share lifestyle ideas on how you can use the same ingredients in Christianne's recipes in new ways to help improve your health and skin.
For more information about Christianne's Herbal Kitchen, check out TheHerbCookbook.com
Q: What made you decide to write a cookbook?
A: I’ve been cooking and sharing recipes with friends, family and television viewers for years; so compiling my recipes into a cookbook was a natural progression. Every single recipe in my cookbook has a special meaning for me—I started to perfect my recipe for the Rosemary-Thyme Cabernet Peppercorn Sauce when I was still a teenager, and I was inspired to create the recipe for the Herb Chimichurri Sauce after spending a day cooking alongside Chef Emeril Lagasse. The cookbook includes personal introductions to each dish so home cooks understand why I've included that particular recipe. But, I have to say that this is much more than just a cookbook; it’s a lifestyle book. It’s filled with delicious recipes for healthy meal planning, and it's loaded with health and wellness information about the herbs I use in my dishes. Plus, it shows you how you can use some of the natural ingredients in your kitchen to create beauty treatments as well.
Q: What made you decide to focus on fresh herbs for your first cookbook?
A: Fresh herbs bring incredible flavor and depth to your meals and provide the body with amazing health benefits as well. Over the years, I started noticing that all of my favorite recipes contained fresh herbs and that I'd intuitively create these delicious and healthy dishes. When I was feeling under the weather, I'd make a fresh mint tea with ginger, lemon and honey, or cook up a batch of roasted chicken soup with fresh rosemary and thyme. I didn't know at the time that the fresh herbs and other ingredients I was using contained strong antioxidant, antinausea, and antimicrobial properties. Some are even natural decongestants and detoxifiers that were helping to boost my immune system. To me, the amazing flavor of fresh herbs is just part of their appeal. They taste great, but they're also great for your body.
Q: What type of information is contained in your "Focus On" segments?
A: The "Focus On" segments highlight six popular herbs and discuss their history, chemical composition and health properties. I also share some helpful growing tips. Did you know you can grow rosemary, mint, thyme, oregano and basil almost anywhere? I grew all of those herbs in my apartment in New York City. Plus, you can grow your own herbs for free from cuttings, which is great in this economy. I want people to know how easy it is to incorporate great flavors, health and freshness in their meals without a huge cost.
Q: What do you mean by holistic and balanced approach to cooking?
A: I don't believe in extremes of any kind. It's always good to cut back on the butter and oil, but you don't have to eliminate them completely to still eat healthy and stay fit or thin. It's surprisingly easy to find a balance that works for the dish and for your whole body. One of the beauty tips I share in the book is to switch out a small amount of olive or other oil for flaxseed oil when you're making a salad dressing. Flaxseed oil is packed with Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, which are incredibly healthy, although the oil doesn't have the same delicious flavor as olive or sesame oils. But, by switching out half the oil for another, you're getting the health benefits of both oils while still getting a great flavor.
Q: What made you decide to include beauty tips in your cookbook?
A: I really wanted to show people how they can promote health both on the inside and the outside of their bodies through the use of natural ingredients. I have extremely sensitive skin, so I've been making my own natural facial products, masks and serums for years. People are always asking me what I use on my skin, so I wanted to share some of those tips in this book. To me, there is very little difference between cooking with herbs and healthy ingredients to nourish the inside of your body, and using them as a beauty treatment for the outside of your body—for your skin. You can drink fresh mint tea to help detoxify your body on the inside or chill it down and use it as a facial toner on the outside. The properties are the same; it's just how you use the herbs and natural ingredients. Once you realize that, you open up to a whole new world of lifestyle possibilities.
Q: Your book also contains dozens of fun tips. What kind of tips do you offer and how did that come about?
A: I wanted to create a cookbook that was fun and encouraged people to play and be creative, so I decided to add "Fun Tip" segments, which contain both health information and suggested recipe changes. The "Fun Tip" segments allow people to modify the recipes to create dozens of new dishes or variations on a particular dish. By switching out a few ingredients in a meal, you can create an entirely different feel and taste. For example, if you see cilantro, lime and jalapeno in a recipe, you're probably going to think of a Mexican dish; but add lemongrass and you're instantly transported to Asia. Or, if you love heat, you can switch out the jalapeno for Thai peppers. I love making those simple ingredient changes, and I wanted to share fun ways for home cooks to do the same.
Q: What are your favorite recipes in the book?
A: That's so tough! The book has so many incredible recipes if I do say so myself. All of the recipes introduce different and exciting flavors to the palate, so you can choose the perfect dish to fit your mood. I love the Basil Chicken Piccata dish because it has a delicious, rich yet healthy lemon, white wine, caper and garlic zing, along with a spicy basil kick! When I'm in the mood for a steak that's full of robust flavors, I make the Steak with Rosemary-Thyme Cabernet Peppercorn Sauce. This dish has a beautiful burgundy-colored sauce and an amazing taste, which combines the heat from black peppercorns with complex herb flavors. And, for a surprising cocktail-dessert experience, I like to serve the Sangria Granita with Candied Orange and Mint. The mint-infused candied oranges add a sweet and tangy note to this incredible cocktail-dessert fusion.
This book offers a variety of recipe combinations and possibilities. Plus, I kept the recipes fresh and easy so people around the country could replicate them or change them to suit their individual needs. This is a cookbook that truly suits any busy lifestyle.