Actress Bellamy Young
On ABC’s hit drama Scandal, Bellamy Young plays the ambitious First Lady, Mellie Grant, a woman with a saccharine sweet smile and collected exterior. Instead of spending time in the kitchen, the character spends her day conniving and plotting. Off-screen, Young, a Yale graduate, spends as much time as possible in the kitchen when she’s not pursuing her love of acting.
“Healthy nutrition is very important to me,” says Young, who adopted a vegan lifestyle in college. “Eating right is especially important at the holidays because it’s easy to over-indulge.”
“I didn’t grow up vegan and there weren't any family influences. In fact, my mom is an incredible cook, but all her recipes start with “take a stick of butter..." and you go from there. And that's not the healthiest way to cook every day.”
Instead of family influences, a mass-produced college meal proved to be the springboard to veganism. As a sophomore in college Young says a turning point was a meal in the cafeteria. “A piece of chicken breast looked so unappealing; it sent me to the other side of the curtain which is the right side for me.”
Young says the change in eating habits improved her health.
“I’ve never felt healthier or lighter. I used to have terrible acne, and once I got dairy off my plate, it cleared up. Cheese used to put me to sleep and eggs never liked me, so becoming vegan wasn’t that difficult,” she says."
Young took us inside her kitchen to share some healthy cooking secrets and tips to makeover favorite holiday dishes to prevent packing on extra pounds and maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout the holidays and beyond.
Young says a variety of veggies deserve a spot on her must-eat list. But there are a few winter favorites her shopping cart and kitchen are never without. They are:
“That takes the prize,” she says. “I love to shave it off to add to salads with w lemon olive oil dressing or bake with it because it’s so hearty.”
“They’re so fortifying and feel good in my body. They really nourish me and have such wonderful flavor,” says Young.
“I’m always so happy to see them in the store. They’re so big and grand. It’s easy to love them roasted or steamed,” says Young. She frequently whips up a Brussels sprout hash recipe given her by a close friend. “It has glazed onions, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, sautéed sprouts and a tiny bit of water added at the end.”
Young says whether you’re vegan or not, upping the healthy quotient in favorite meals isn’t hard. “It’s a matter of taking a moment and thinking. Not just reaching for old standby staples.”
For instance, one of the jewels of her mom’s holiday table is twice baked potatoes. “That’s costly in terms of calories so I make them with smart balance or olive oil, soy milk instead of cream and low-fat cheese. That version is just as delicious,” she says. “Sometimes I’ll also use sweet potatoes. They’re beautiful and you can’t mess up a roasted sweet potato.”
“When I go home my mom and I make a beautiful buttercream-like frosting. It’s so good.”
In addition to vegetables and veganism to eat healthy, Young relies on spices, not fats, to flavor her foods. And says spices are one of her biggest guilty pleasures. “I’m a spice girl,” she laughs. “My cupboards are loaded with them since I love to binge on spices at the store. I experiment with them and taste a lot of them,” she says.
Her current spicy passions are cumin, herbs de Provence, cinnamon, and garlic. “I can’t be without them."
Good thing, since studies have shown cinnamon may be able to help keep blood sugar in check and help prevent from developing diabetes.And while it's tough on breath, garlic has been found in studies to help manage blood pressure.
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