Amanda & Merrill

What Amanda Hesser Cooks After Two-Too-Many Cookies

January  4, 2018

We're asking real people for the little things they do to stay sane and feel good amidst an overload of often confusing health-related information. And who better to start with than our co-founder, Amanda Hesser? (Check out Merrill's answers, over yonder.)

Could you summarize your approach to health in a sentence or phrase?
You live once; try to make it joyful and lasting.

What does "living a healthy lifestyle" mean to you? It's fine to be broad/vague/funny or totally unsure.
For me, it means not thinking too much about being "healthy." Most of us have a pretty good sense of what's good for us and what's not, and we also understand that embracing one or the other in any extreme won't last. So I try not to get too worked up about health—I like to stay informed and remain open to new ideas, but mostly I rely on my common sense.

You live once; try to make it joyful and lasting.
Amanda's go-to meal after a day of one too many cookies. (Scroll down for recipe links.) Photo by James Ransom

What's one health/wellness trend you wish would go away immediately?
Anything involving "dust."

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And what's one that you're glad is here?
Bowl food—because it's made so many grains suddenly seem more appealing, and because there are no rules, cooks feel freer to put together flavors they might not in some other format. Also, who doesn't like to eat out of a bowl? It's innately comforting.

How has the way you've thought about health and well-being changed since you were growing up?
In many ways it's come full circle. The seasonal cooking and calisthenics that I grew up with are back in vogue. Basically we've returned to the good things about the 70s and 80s and left behind the smoking and drinking and no seat belts. Now, I think of how I eat and exercise, and even how I spend my down time, in a more holistic way. Moderation and relaxation are also essential components of good health, and these are things I never considered when I was growing up.

I try not to get too worked up about health—I like to stay informed and remain open to new ideas, but mostly I rely on my common sense.

What's something "healthy" that you've been doing (or eating) since before it was cool/popular/mainstream?
I always drank a lot of water and got a lot of sleep. The latter is because I can sleep pretty much anytime, anywhere, and it just happens to be "important" now.

Where do you get your information about health/wellness? What sources do you turn to and who do you trust?
I probably get most of my information from news sources like the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Slate, or the New Yorker. If I'm curious about a particular issue, I might find myself down an internet rabbit hole, but these forays often result in conflicting or dubious information.

What's one thing you do to make yourself feel better when you're feeling down or just sort of bleh?
I love walking. It clears my mind and makes me feel better. I often have fresh ideas when I walk, so if I need to write a story or figure out a business issue, I'll make sure to incorporate a walk into my day. Another bleh-antidote is a hot shower. And lately, I like to meditate when I'm feeling anxious.

Photo by James Ransom

What do you cook to make your body feel better? After you've eaten one-thousand cookies or had a series of very rich meals?
A poached egg and toast with salted butter is my go-to soothing meal. If, however, I've been eating a lot of rich food or the like, I love to make an assertive salad—a quasi-Caesar or spicy greens with poached tuna, beans, and a citrus dressing. I falsely believe the anchovies and acid will cut through the butter and cream in my system.

Any little remedies you swear by?
Mint tea before bed. A large glass of room temperature water as soon as you wake up. And stretching before you take a shower in the morning.

This post originally ran in May 2017, and we thought it was especially fitting to run again to help kick off the new year.

What do you do to remedy feelings of bleh-ness or blah-ness? Tell us in the comments below.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Amanda Hesser

Written by: Amanda Hesser

Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.


Peter H. January 5, 2018
I read cookbooks. I often do thisin the bathtub where I can’t jump up and actually cook something. It is very soothing to lie among the bubbles and go on a culinary fantasy tour. After having cooked for well over sixty yeats, it is also nice to test my ability to taste recipes just by reading them. If I find one I can’t actually taste, I mark it as a candidate for actually testing. An hour in the tub soothes the soul and takes my mind off of any “to do” list I might be fighting with.
BerryBaby January 4, 2018
For as long as I can remember our mothers rule was ‘When you come inside from playing, school or whatever, you go into the bathroom and wash your hands. Then into the kitchen fir a glass of water.’ And our dad would direct us to the ever full fruit bowl on the table. Water and fresh fruit, two staples that remain a part of my daily routine.
Natalie C. May 17, 2017
Yoga! Sometimes when I'm feeling blah at work I will just bend over in a forward fold and breathe for a 5-count!
Chetna G. May 17, 2017
Add a couple of cloves, 4- 5 holy basil leaves and fresh ginger(grated)to a cup of water. Simmer for a few minutes. Strain- can add some honey. Keep sipping this warm concoction as much as you can- my go to remedy.
Deborah R. May 15, 2017
The New York Times for health info ?
702551 May 16, 2017
Yeah, not so sure about that.

You'd be better off reading the Yomiuri Shimbun instead. The Japanese have much longer lifespans than Americans, or basically any other industrialized nation on this planet.

But hey, many Yanks only know about 'merican media.
Caroline S. May 22, 2017
Yes! Click on Health, just below the masthead in the online edition. And if you read print, the columns appear on Tuesdays in Science, and of course the Food section every Weds.