Celebrating the Lessons of Julia Child

Young charming pretty woman is smiling while smelling the aroma of her fresh healthy breakfast being cooked.
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Our profession is full of trailblazers — men and women who have enjoyed helping individuals improve their self-image and health, reach the finish line, win the game and gain confidence and pleasure in the kitchen. And as we aim to continually improve the health of our nation through better nutrition, the art of cooking has played an increasingly important role. Yet, according to a 2010 Harris Interactive poll of 2,503 adults, 14 percent said they don’t enjoy cooking and 7 percent said they don’t cook at all; only 41 percent said they prepare meals at home five or more times per week.

Those numbers seem alarming considering the number of food magazines, television shows, social media accounts and celebrity chefs that not only celebrate the art of cooking, but make it seem so fun and entertaining. There are some food professionals that have certainly helped make our jobs a little bit easier — Martha Stewart, Ellie Krieger, Rachel Ray and Julia Child have helped show just how truly enjoyable and rewarding experimenting in the kitchen can be.

As this past Friday marked the birthday of the wonderful Julia Child, here are five lessons we’ve learned from Julia that I hope you can enjoy and share with your clients, too.

“You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces — just good food from fresh ingredients.” As the plate model suggests, the primary path to good health and good food is to focus on enjoying fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, quality proteins and healthy fats in reasonable portions. Delicious food can be as simple as a fresh peach or a sliced ripe tomato.

“Fat gives things flavor.” Thank goodness we can kiss the low-fat craze goodbye. From a culinary standpoint, fats add so much to a meal. Kale massaged with olive oil can tenderize those bitter greens to a silky salad. Avocado, mozzarella or hummus on a veggie sandwich can turn it from “blah” to “boom.”

“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook — try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless and, above all, have fun!” In a world of gorgeous food photography popping up all over the web, assure your clients that their masterpieces don’t have to be perfect. Sometimes the messiest end-products taste the very best.

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” Encourage your clients to get out of their cooking comfort zones and experiment with a new ingredients each week. It may seem intimidating, but take a note from Julia and forge ahead!

“Remember, no one's more important than people! In other words, friendship is the most important thing — not career or housework or one's fatigue — and it needs to be tended and nurtured.” The Okinawa Centenarian Study is a well-documented report examining that city's elderly population. What’s interesting about this population in particular is that they have the lowest rates of coronary heart disease, stroke and cancer  — the U.S.'s three leading causes of death — in the world. While research indicates that this is linked to genetics and other healthy habits such a physical activity and healthful dietary choices, their personal relationships, strong family ties and community belonging seem to play a key factor, as well.

Finally, in the spirit of trying new recipes, perhaps start with the one below. 

Roasted Vegetable Farro Salad

Recipe developed by Lisa Samuel, RDN, MBA, and McKenzie Hall, RD, of Nourish RDs

Serves 12-15

"It's hard to imagine civilization without onions." —Julia Child … Keep a variety of ingredients on hand (including onions) so you can easily assemble beautiful, balanced meals in no time, such as this delicious whole grain salad.

3 cups farro or other whole grain
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
2 onions, peeled and cut in wedges
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup hazelnuts, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 lemons
apple cider vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Place farro in a large pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 50 minutes or until farro is tender. Drain off excess water. Set aside to cool.
  3. Toss cauliflower, broccoli and onion wedges in extra virgin olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper. Place in oven and roast until vegetables are caramelized, about 20–25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
  4. To make the vinaigrette, zest and juice both lemons. Add lemon zest and juice to a glass measuring cup. Add apple cider vinegar to bring amount of juice and vinegar to ½ cup total. Season with sea salt. Add ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil and whisk to combine.
  5. To cooled farro add roasted vegetables, hazelnuts, cranberries, parsley and vinaigrette. Toss gently and serve cold or at room temperature.
  6. Farro salad will keep about 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator, covered.
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McKenzie Hall
McKenzie Hall and Lisa Samuel, registered dietitians and nutritionists, are co-founders of Nourish RDs. You can find more of their non-diet advice on their blog and connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!
Lisa Samuel on FacebookLisa Samuel on InstagramLisa Samuel on PinterestLisa Samuel on Twitter
Lisa Samuel
McKenzie Hall and Lisa Samuel, registered dietitians and nutritionists, are co-founders of Nourish RDs. You can find more of their non-diet advice on their blog and connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!