I’ve always bought “healthy” snacks. My cupboards were full of GMO-free chips made with Himalayan salt and seaweed packets flavored with organic soy sauce. But at roughly $4 a pop, those packaged snacks added up—especially when my teenagers devoured a bag in one sitting. I was tired of the whining, “We don’t have anything to eat…” just a few days after I’d gone to the market. “Grab an apple!” I’d tell them, but they’d just shake their heads, rummaging through the shelves for a wayward packet of flaxseed crisps. They were addicted to the salt and the crunch of packaged snacks. And it had to stop.
I’m no stranger to junk food. After enduring years of healthy eating (brown-bag lunches with an oversized, barely washed carrot from my father’s vegetable garden peeking out of the top), I spent about a decade of rebellion indulging in a plethora of processed foods. But the (organic) apple doesn’t fall far from the tree: Despite the occasional foray into junk food, I always feel better when following these healthy eating habits.
From the time I learned to cook—in Italy, the year I turned thirteen—I kept a giant bottle of olive oil next to the stove. I mixed it into salad dressing, tossed vegetables in it before roasting, and used it as a base—adding garlic first, of course—to pretty much everything I sautéed. But that might all be about to change: I recently learned that coconut oil may be a healthier choice for some methods of cooking.