Alton Brown Shares His Secret For Healthy Cooking At Home - Exclusive

For so many, a new year means another chance to renew your goals and start building healthier habits in the kitchen. That's also true for celebrity chefs like Alton Brown. This year specifically, Brown says he's been focusing on improving the diet of his pets (and is adamant about bringing focus to the important topic of pet obesity), which you can read more about in Mashed's exclusive interview with the Food Network host and cookbook author. 

But, during the chat, Brown also talked about his approach to maintaining healthy food eating habits for himself, and they're very approachable tips that anybody can easily adopt. As the creator of "Good Eats" and the longtime host of "Iron Chef," Brown has an intimate knowledge of ingredients and just how to make magic with them (so, you won't find his suggestions for how to make yet another desk salad seem more palatable). Instead, as Brown explains, his secret to healthy cooking is a little more practical (and frankly less exciting), but it gets the job done.

Focus on what you need to eat, not what you shouldn't eat

So often it seems that setting goals to cook healthier for yourself feels more like making a long list of all the delicious foods and ingredients that are strictly off-limits. No sugar, no bread, no pasta, no dessert, and on and on. That just sounds depressing! Instead, Alton Brown says the key to success with healthy eating is to change your focus. "It's not as much about what we don't eat," said Brown during an interview with Mashed, but rather about what it is we actually need to get onto our plates. 

As Brown explained, "It's easy to say, 'Well, I'm on a diet, so I can't eat this, and I can't eat that, and I'm not going to have this.' And that kind of diet almost never works because it's based on denial. So, for me, what works is concentrating instead on foods that I feel I have to get." What does that mean? For Brown, it's "making sure we get enough vegetables; that you're snacking on nuts instead of crackers or cookies; making sure that your protein sources are clean; and really paying attention to getting the right foods in." His logic stands to reason that, if you're focused on adding all the good stuff to your meal plan, there naturally won't be as much room for the bad stuff.

When it comes to healthy cooking, Alton Brown says to think about long-term goals

As with any other habit, it takes some time to make something stick. The same is true for developing healthier long-term cooking habits. "It's a long-term thing. It's not going to be over at the end of January, it's not going to be over at the end of February," Alton Brown said during the chat, and added, "If you want results that last, you've got to do it slow, and you've got to try to set up new habits for yourself."

Brown was also quick to point out, "That doesn't mean fad foods. That doesn't mean never being able to have the things that you really love." So, basically forcing yourself to make the grain bowl recipe you saw on TikTok when you're really just craving a bowl of pasta isn't going to cut it. "It means you prioritize the things that you love and decide what you can get rid of," said Brown. So maybe just go for a smaller serving of pasta, and whip together some steamed veggies on the side. Or, go with Brown's favorite indulgence. "For instance, for me, I will do without dessert, but let me have a martini every now and then."

Learn more about Alton Brown's live tour and his new book "Good Eats: The Final Years" on his website, and learn more about keeping your pet healthy by visiting