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How Judy Joo Keeps a Healthy Kitchen

judy joo-nutrition-home cooking-kimchi
judy joo-nutrition-home cooking-kimchi
Judy Joo

As a chef, cookbook author, food writer, and television personality, Judy Joo is best known for bringing Korean food to the Western world. At a time when everyone is trying to improve their eating habits after a two-year pandemic, Joo shares how she stays on top of her nutrition at home and how her Korean heritage is incorporated into her home cooking. 

“I believe in balance in everything I do, and there are three pillars in a healthy lifestyle,” Joo says. These are: “food choice (diet), exercise and fitness, and sleep. All three of these elements are important in feeling your best.”

It sounds simple, but it’s not always easy to incorporate these three elements into the average American’s busy life. While it’s tempting to look for easy solutions, Joo says it’s more about lifestyle. She explains, “It is all about educating yourself, creating healthy habits, and changing your life. You cannot achieve this through fad diets and quick fixes. It is about maintaining a lifestyle that is sustainable, balanced, and joyful.” 

Remember that food is not the enemy. Food gives us energy, makes us strong, helps us grow, and helps us think clearly.

Judy Joo

When it comes to stocking your own kitchen, the TV chef says variety and nutritional value are key. “Eat plenty of vegetables, lean proteins, and good carbs,” Joo says. “Snack on nuts, seeds, fresh fruits, and berries.” And if you do need a rule of thumb, remember to “eat the rainbow,” says Joo. “Eating a rainbow of foods will provide you with a diversity of nutrients and help support a healthy gut biome. Fermented foods in particular help boost the amount of good bacteria in your gut which promotes overall health.”

The good and the bad

There is one Korean food staple in particular that Joo recommends: kimchi. This crunchy fermented cabbage condiment has a salty, sour taste like sauerkraut but with an extra spicy kick. “Kimchi is a superfood and most known for its probiotic properties — gut healing to the max,” says Joo. “Try to eat a bit every day!”

What to eliminate? “Cut out processed foods and sugar. Don’t eat or drink empty calories — meaning foods that provide little or no nutritious value,” Joo says. Maintaining a varied diet is good nutritional advice for everyone, but keeping on track of how much sugar you consume is especially important for anyone with diabetes. Joo recommends, “Try to just eat fresh, seasonal vegetables as much as you can. A good rule is to try to eat only colorful foods. White foods in general provide little to no nutrients or are highly processed.”   

It’s not always easy. Too often, healthy eating can be conflated with diet culture, which can be unhealthy. For those who have a difficult relationship with food, Joo says, “Remember that food is not the enemy. Food gives us energy, makes us strong, helps us grow, and helps us think clearly.” 

Anyone can improve their own nutritional habits in the kitchen, even if you’re not exactly the Iron Chef. “Spices and herbs are full of flavor and antioxidants,” says Joo. “Experiment and have fun in the kitchen, and you’ll enjoy the new vibrant tastes that you discover.”  

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