Nutritionist and best-selling author Ellie Krieger inspires people to make healthy choices
By Suzanne Guillette
Once, when Ellie Krieger (M.A., ’94) was conducting a book signing, a woman admitted that despite being biased against “healthy food,” she had become intrigued after watching Krieger cook up a tasty looking dish on television.
“Everyone wants delicious food,” Krieger says.
That’s one reason why Krieger is among the nation’s most listened-to voices on practical nutrition. As the host of Food Network’s “Healthy Appetite,” she spends five days per week introducing simple, healthy recipes to her ever-expanding television audience. She’s also the author of three bestselling books, with a fourth on the way, and a contributing editor and monthly columnist for Women’s Health, Fine Cooking and Food Network magazines. Not to mention that she’s been invited to the White House as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s fight against childhood obesity.
“I have the same goal for everything I do: to inspire people to make positive decisions about food and nutrition,” she says.
To that end, Krieger brings several complementary assets to the table. First and foremost, as a graduate of TC’s nutrition education program and a registered dietician, she knows her stuff.
She’s also a skilled communicator who took classes at the Columbia School of Journalism and interned at CNN, and a former model who’s a natural in front of the camera. “I always enjoyed the culinary, social and educational aspects of food,” she says. “The fact that I was able to focus on communications made all the difference.”
With television, Krieger says, it’s possible to reach a large number of people and pique interest in healthy eating by presenting sumptuous visuals of easy-to-make comfort food. Writing gives her the chance to provide a more in-depth understanding of nutritional issues.
But no matter the medium, taste is Krieger’s bottom line. On any given day, it’s not unusual to find her perusing produce stalls at the local farmer’s market or teaching a class at her daughter’s elementary school, introducing healthy versions of coleslaw and roasted vegetables.
More than half of the students at the school qualify for free lunch, so Krieger is working with school administrators, parents and cafeteria staff to marry the classroom and cafeteria experiences. In addition to workshops, she has helped create a set of snack guidelines for parents and brainstormed with administrators about ways that the cafeteria, with just two burners, can feed 700 students using locally-sourced foods with a minimum of processing and preservatives.
This past April, Krieger testified before the House Committee on Agriculture about nutrition, healthy eating and the growing epidemic of childhood obesity. She recommended using the “whole food” approach in all schools, as well as increasing funding for school food and hiring more nutrition professionals to work in schools.
No matter how hectic her schedule, Krieger enjoys nothing more than experimenting in her own kitchen and cooking with her family at the end of the day. She often comes home from the farmer’s market with her arms full of scallops, succotash and radishes. Her seven-year-old daughter reminds her of what makes food so exciting. “Food is about discovery and sensory exploration,” Krieger says. “Cooking and eating with her is one of the highlights of my life.”