Hollywood insiders are no strangers to strict eating guidelines. Whether prepping for a role or just maintaining a camera-ready figure, plenty of those in front of and behind the scenes turn to personal chefs, food services and nutritionists to stay on track.
Now that spring is in full swing, the terms “detox,” “carb-free” and “cleanse” are on everyone’s lips. But extreme measures are not necessarily the key. Just ask the founders of Studio City-based Kooshi Gourmet and the Beverly Hills Kitchen Coach, who are go-tos for the entertainment industry.
Kooshi Gourmet is a food delivery service that Drew Barrymore, Salma Hayek, Jennifer Aniston, David Geffen, Bill Gates and many more boldfacers count on. Created and run by Le Cordon Bleu trained husband-and-wife team Albert and Amanda Melera, the service is known for a highly customizable menu to suit any dietary need — from a hearty comfort meal to a super-clean, free-of-just-about-everything plan. Registered dietician Sarah Mirkin, founder of Beverly Hills Kitchen Coach, offers the same customizable approach in her nutritional practice, which sees clients looking to address issues from weight loss to eating disorders and making permanent healthy lifestyle changes.
Here, the celebrity chefs turned culinary entrepreneurs and sought-after nutritionist address what to eat (and not eat) when trying to shape up for the warmer season.
What are the most common food trends, likes or dislikes people ask for most in Los Angeles?
Kooshi: Gluten-free meals have been trendy for a long time, but many clients avoid wheat gluten for a variety of reasons including weight loss, digestive conditions like Celiac and autoimmune health. Many also avoid dairy, with the exception of sheep’s dairy. We love to add a little goat’s cheese or French feta to our dishes, which works nicely to curb cheese cravings. For heart health, many clients shy away from red meat. We use Grade A, free range, hormone-free beef and try to limit red meat servings to roughly twice a week. So many clients, especially on the Paleo program, like to keep red meat in the mix as a special treat. Sugar, especially refined sugar, is on the “avoid” list for many of our clients. We stick to mainly natural sources of sugar (i.e. fresh fruit, honey and agave). Nightshades like tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, eggplant and potatoes, are another recent fascination. Many clients avoid these foods, which according to some can cause internal inflammation.
Kitchen Coach: When I talk to people about what to eat, and eating small frequent meals, they are frequently worried that it’s too much food and they may gain weight. I tell my clients to trust their bodies. Eat when they feel hungry, not “starved” and stop when they are satisfied not stuffed. Deprivation diets don’t work in the long run. Once people learn to eat to nourish and fuel their bodies, they don’t feel hungry and that’s when they see results.
As we go into spring, what is one food group or ingredient people can eliminate or cut down on to detox from winter?
Kooshi: If weight loss is the goal, removing sugar and starches (even natural sugars and low-glycemic carbohydrates like sweet potato, quinoa and brown rice) is the fastest way to achieve healthy, targeted weight loss. Don’t worry too much about fat from sources like whole milk, butter, meat and other healthy fats like nuts, seeds and avocados (as long as you enjoy them in moderation). Portion control is also key. When you cook for yourself, it can be really difficult to eyeball the weight of raw ingredients or avoid the allure of second helpings. If you go out to eat all the time, you’re never exactly sure what’s in your food.
Kitchen Coach: Cut out processed carbs and sugars. Focus on protein, vegetables, small amounts of healthy fats and small portions of high-fiber carbohydrates. Think color when it comes to fruits and veggies for a higher nutritional content. Eliminate sugary juices and sodas and all artificial sweeteners. Try to stick with whole foods. Eat small frequent meals to avoid overeating or making poor food choices. Include proteins in every meal or snack. Reduce red meat intake to once per week maximum. Avoid processed meats.
Do you ever consider and use ingredients that help skin and hair?
Kooshi: Omega-3 fatty acids, present in fresh fish and our signature Kooshi Super Green Smoothie, are a staple for many of our programs. These help promote shiny hair and glowing skin. We also cook exclusively with cold pressed organic olive oil and grape seed oil. These ingredients can help to regulate oil production in the hair and scalp and brighten complexion. Aloe, which we use in a number of our infused mineral waters, can promote hair growth, moisturize and restore a natural pH balance.
What are the best kinds of snacks to have on hand in order to avoid the temptation of the craft services table?
Kitchen Coach: Easy portable snacks are string cheese with baby tomatoes or baby bell peppers and whole grain crackers. A 100- or 200-calorie nut pack with a piece of fruit is another good choice. Greek yogurts with berries are popular. If you have a small cooler pack, fresh deli meat with lettuce wraps to snack on. Many of my clients wrap the deli meat and lettuce around a string cheese with mustard for a satisfying high-protein snack! Almond butter pouches are also popular. Tuna and salmon pouches are great with veggies. Cottage cheese with strawberries, cinnamon and slivered almonds is also popular.