Healthy Eating Month Interview With Shaun Dry

Chef Shaun DryShaun Dry
Profession: Executive Chef
Location: Rock’N Fish Manhattan Beach

What does healthy eating mean to you?
I try to keep my focus on fruits and vegetables. I’ll admit that in today’s society, it’s not that easy to do. There are all kinds of delicious food so it’s important to keep things proportionate. Instead of focusing on the better deal, keep your eyes on the prize of a more well-balanced meal full of nutrition. Good quality food is worth it when you are talking about the over-all health of the human body. The more processed the food, the more difficult it is for our bodies to digest. This may mean that we spend more time preparing something fresh, or splurge on the organic things in our produce isle but it is all worth it for a healthy lifestyle.

Why do you think it is important for children to learn about healthy eating?
Just as we struggle now, it was our parents who taught us our eating habits. If kids can discover healthy eating habits early, they are better equipped to make good decisions later in life. Our eating habits are formed well before we become adults and it is much easier to continue an established healthy eating lifestyle as we grow then it is to get rid of bad habits once they are established.

Children are very active naturally, so often we forget that they burn calories by simply playing. And once their playtime changes from skipping, running, and hopping to homework, hanging out, and video games they are no longer using the same kind of energy they did as a child. If they have already established a salty snack, candy, and junk food routine, this will be very difficult to break.

What can we do to urge children to choose healthy options?
Most importantly, we need to lead by example. Children will often follow your footsteps so if we eat well, they will see that they can too. There is much more awareness at schools about healthy eating so we can encourage them both at home and away. It will require an entire family and the team of adults that surrounds the child to lead them to better choices.

Also, make food fun! Find fun ways to include those vegetables into your meals. Carrots make pretty good Lincoln Logs after all.

What experiences in your childhood inspired you to cook and eat healthy foods?
I am from South Africa and food was not on every corner of every street. We had to cook as a family from scratch and learn what was good for you. My family had the wonderful opportunity to grow their own vegetables. For me as a kid, I saw where our food came from and it tasted so much better because I had to take care of the plants. I got to literally taste my hard work which was very rewarding.

First step was that our food had to be colorful and that meant eating veggies. Vegetables can be so good if you cook them correctly. Think about the last meal you made, what colors were on your plate? Find the purple cauliflower, the ripe red tomatoes, and the bright green asparagus.

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