"All I want to do is eat food."
Chef Leah Cohen
Credit: Courtesy of Pig & Khao

We all want to eat healthier. Whether it’s limiting portion size or cutting certain foods out of our diets, almost everyone tries to set rules as to what they will and won’t eat. However, the majority of us aren’t professional chefs whose sole aims are to create delicious food.

For those that cook for us when we have no interest in doing it ourselves, how do they stay healthy when they’re around food all day? Chef Leah Cohen of Manhattan’s Pig & Khao shared some of her favorite tips for healthy living and eating when she dropped by our test kitchen to make her incredible pad cakes.

Balance out the eater and health nut within

“It’s a struggle because I’m a fat-ass at heart and all I want to do is eat food,” confesses Cohen. “Most recently, I’ve become obsessed with sweets, which is definitely not good for the diet. I work out a lot and then I eat a lot too, so it kind of balances out. I have no intentions of being stick skinny as long as I’m being healthy and maintaining that.”

More grazing, fewer meals

According to Cohen, sacrifices are necessary when you're constantly tasting and grazing in the kitchen. "I don’t necessarily eat real meals anymore, unless I’m out to dinner," she says. "If I know I’m going to be testing a lot of stuff that day, I’ll eat a salad and then eat whatever I’m testing. I try to balance it out and I try to eat a lot of vegetables, but somedays there is no way around it and you have to eat a lot."

A little discpiline goes a long way

"Before I got married, I did this kind of crazy diet and lost about 15 lbs," Cohen explains. "No sugar, oil, fat, carbs or nuts for an entire month and both my husband and I did it. That month was rough, especially because I’m also a rice addict and could smell it all day long at work. Luckily because of my cooking experience, I was still able to make stuff for the two of us that tasted good, all while trying to stick to a very restrictive diet."

Get creative with ingredients

When you change your diet, it's time to get creative. "I used a lot of non-stick spray and Stevia and then used a ton of acid in all of the food," Cohen descibes. "I also used a lot of chicken stock too to “sauté,” but it was crazy what I could still do, even with the restrictions. I made a great grilled pork loin that I smoked first and served it with kimchi and even with everything I left out, it was still awesome."

Indulge occasionally

For Cohen, one indulgence surpasses all others. “Chocolate babka from Breads Bakery is amazing,” Cohen says. “During the recent snow storm, my husband and I ate an entire loaf and then the next day, I worked out twice. The babka truly has a life of its own and even better, you can have it delivered with Caviar.”