You can have your cake and eat it, too.
That’s essentially the motto of “Food Swings: 125+ Recipes to Enjoy Your Life of Virtue & Vice” (out April 25, $32), the fourth cookbook by Jessica Seinfeld.
The first half of the book is devoted to healthy recipes (virtue), the second half indulgent (vice), for a modern reflection of how most people eat throughout the week.
“I’d say four nights a week, I cook from virtue, and three nights a week I’ll cook from vice,” said Seinfeld, who is married to, yes, that Seinfeld, and has three children, ages 16, 14 and 11, with the comedian.
amNewYork spoke with the New Yorker about her latest cookbook.
What was the genesis for the book?
I had planned on having “The Can’t Cook Book” be my last cookbook. I kept having conversations with people about how exhausting it is to go back and forth between what you want to eat and what you have to eat. I’m not great with somebody telling me to do something exactly this way, you can’t cheat in any way. Those programs don’t work for me. I need flexibility to enjoy myself. The reason I can stay focused is because there is leeway, there is enjoyment and pleasure somewhere. So I felt like creating a structure for myself that had lots of virtue in it, and of course not as much vice, but some vice.
What was your approach for the virtue recipes?
When you go to the cookbook section of a bookstore, you can see that there are so many issues cropping up for people. There are people who are vegetarian, people who are gluten free, people who are dairy free. With so many issues related to health these days, I wanted to create a virtuous section that had something for everybody. … What I love about the virtue recipes in this book are that I made them really super easy for weeknights because what I think people run into with healthier recipes is that they tend to be harder to make, or people are intimidated by cooking healthily. I try to make sure they are healthy enough and easy enough.
Does your household have any dietary restrictions?
It’s hard for me to be restrictive because of what I do — I like to create things, something for everybody. I try not to eat tons of gluten, I try not to eat tons of dairy. I try to stay balanced throughout the week. I think the book reflects that — it’s a moderate approach to eating.
How do you limit the stress of cooking every day for a family?
I have to admit it does take planning, and it does take being organized. It’s so much better for me not to be surprised by it, it’s better to look ahead and plan out the meals. It’s something that people hate to do, but it’s just one of those things that, if you planned the week well enough, you’re not stressed about making dinner, and it’s a time where you can get creative.
Is there anything you keep out of your kitchen?
I don’t buy tons of processed foods. I try to keep our pantry pretty wholesome, much to my children’s dismay. We keep everything moderate — there’s a lot of healthy foods, and a little bit of junk.
Do your kids cook from your cookbooks?
They cook from my cookbooks. But they love all these quick videos now on social media. I did a big shoot a couple days ago with one of those companies because I’m just trying to stay relevant to my own kids.
What are other ways your family stays healthy?
We’re really focused on doing something active. We really encourage our kids to do a sport every semester, for sure. Both days of the weekends we do an active family activity. The truth is kids like to sit there on their phones. We try to counteract those forces — let’s go for a family walk, let’s go play baseball. We play a lot of tennis together. We try to walk a lot in the city. That’s great and easy to do. They hate going for walks in Central Park, but we love it.
Popcorn is one area Jessica Seinfeld likes to get creative. She shares a recipe from the “virtue” section of “Food Swings” that uses chocolate, almonds and hemp seeds.
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1⁄2 cup popcorn kernels (10 cups popped)
1 cup sliced almonds
3⁄4 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp. hulled hemp seed hearts
Flaky sea salt or kosher salt
1. Line two rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper.
2. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the popcorn and cover tightly. When the popcorn starts to pop, shake the pot. Remove from the heat once it stops popping. Divide between the prepared pans.
3. In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the almonds for 3 to 5 minutes, tossing occasionally, until golden brown.
4. To melt the chocolate, fill a medium saucepan with 2 inches of water and bring to a low simmer over medium-low heat. Put the chocolate in a medium bowl and place over the simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water). Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate in the microwave — just be sure to do it in small time increments, stirring each time to ensure the chocolate doesn’t burn.
5. Dividing evenly, pour the chocolate over the popcorn, then add the almonds. Use two large spoons to toss so the chocolate is evenly distributed. Sprinkle with the hemp seeds and salt. Refrigerate for 5 to 10 minutes, until the chocolate sets. I like to serve this in individual bowls.
IF YOU GO
Jessica Seinfeld celebrates the release of “Food Swings: 125+ Recipes to Enjoy Your Life of Virtue & Vice” April 25 at 7 p.m. at Barnes & Noble Tribeca | 97 Warren St., 212-587-5389 | must purchase book at the location to attend