Photo: Jonny Valiant
Rosie, a big black labrador, is doing her best to cadge a handout in the sunny kitchen of the Oz family's suburban New Jersey home. It's hard to blame her, given the aroma of cumin and cardamom toasting in a skillet and the scent of fresh cilantro being chopped by Lisa, Dr. Mehmet Oz's wife, on a cutting board next to the six-burner stove.
"Don't feed her—she's a flabrador," says Dr. Oz. "She's flabby. She loves to eat everything. I told Lisa we have to put her on a diet."
One of the most respected cardiothoracic surgeons in the country, Dr. Oz has spent much of his career dealing with the consequences of his patients' unhealthy lifestyle choices. To teach people how to control their medical destinies, he launched The Dr. Oz Show and has published nine blockbuster books on everything from losing weight and eating right to staying young. No wonder he holds the family dog to such a high standard of health.
Simply put, Dr. Oz lives and eats the way he thinks everyone should. He exercises every day (a four-mile run and ten minutes of yoga, plus basketball in his basement court whenever he can), assiduously avoids simple sugars, and eats tiny "meals" at 60-minute intervals. His standard breakfast is yogurt and blueberries; he snacks on almonds and walnuts in the afternoon. Dinner is vegetarian because Lisa, who has not eaten meat since age 15, does almost all the cooking in the house. "I'm usually the person peeling or cleaning," Dr. Oz says.
Vegetarian food has a reputation for being bland—more good for you than just plain good. But in the Oz household, the emphasis is squarely on taste. Lisa is liberal in her use of aromatics like onions, shallots, scallions, and garlic, along with olive oil, herbs, and spices, which enable her to make delicious vegetarian dishes ("without using a ton of salt," as Dr. Oz points out). And most of her recipes—like quinoa with zucchini and herbs, and Turkish-style eggs scrambled with tomatoes and red peppers—don't require a lot of prep time.
While he and his family are vegetarians at home, Dr. Oz does occasionally eat fish and meat. He loves what he describes as "undercooked" fish and admits to a weakness for barbecued ribs—perhaps because he grew up on meat and potatoes. Lisa, on the other hand, became a vegetarian when her mother brought home Frances Moore Lappé's classic 1971 book Diet for a Small Planet and announced that henceforth meat would no longer be served in their home.
Lisa runs her household pretty much the same way, and she makes sure her dishes are delicious enough that the family doesn't miss meat. "You have to massage the kale," she says, demonstrating at the 12-foot-long kitchen island how to make her vitamin-packed, no-cook salad. "Put the lemon juice and salt on and really rub it in. That's what makes the leaves tender."
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