PW: How did the idea for The Healthy Kitchen originate? Were you interested in collaborating on a cookbook?
AW: The idea was suggested by Paul Bogaards [senior v-p and executive director of publicity for Knopf]. Rosie Daley and I have the same publisher, and all of my previous books contain recipes. Rosie is a professional chef and has the technical knowledge. She likes to show people that cooking can be fun, as do I. Rosie doesn't have the scientific background in nutrition, so I provided that. It was fun because we are both very different personalities.
PW: You and Rosie seem to agree on many aspects of a "healthy kitchen." In what ways do you differ?
AW: Rosie comes from the spa tradition. Until recently, spas have focused on cuisine that is low on fat and salt and, sometimes, low on flavor. I'm not afraid of fat. Also, in my earlier life, I was a vegetarian. I now eat fish. I use fewer animal products than Rosie does. Baked tofu and wheat gluten can be so satisfying. Cooking with them shows you how trying new foods can be fun and easy.
PW: There are so many books on diet, health and cooking. Why do you think yours are so popular?
AW: I offer a balanced view. People are totally confused about food and are easy prey for fads. I've got good credentials and the scientific foundation, and I'm willing to entertain new ideas. I think readers trust me and the information I give them.
PW: As your popularity has grown, have your books changed?
AW: I don't think so. I've tried to stay true to my own experience. My basic philosophy is that the body can heal itself. Lifestyle matters, and food is to be enjoyed. Essentially, what is wrong with the American diet is so much highly refined, processed food. The more you can get back to natural, healthy food, the better.
PW: You point out in your introduction to The Healthy Kitchen that food has become the enemy, and the dining table a minefield.
AW: Yes, I dealt with the psychological aspects of eating in my last book, Eating Well for Optimum Health. Eating can be simplified by paying attention to what you like and really emphasizing flavor and taste.
PW: Do you expect to reach a different audience with this book?
AW: My previous books appealed to a wide cross-section of people of all ages. With this book, I think the audience will be primarily female—housewives from middle America, the same audience that Rosie's first book [In the Kitchen with Rosie] appealed to, the Oprah audience. These women are motivated but confused and paralyzed by all of the conflicting information circulating about health and diet.
PW: You will be doing a 22-city tour in support of The Healthy Kitchen. Do you feel that touring is essential to the work you do as a physician, researcher and author?
AW: Yes, but it's not my favorite thing. It's work. It's hard to maintain my health routines, to eat healthy and to meditate. I'm grateful to have a coauthor this time. Rosie and I will do many appearances together.
PW: Is there one recipe from this book that is a favorite of yours—one that is the epitome of the philosophy behind the book?
AW: The tomato, corn and basil soup. It takes 15 minutes to make, and is full of flavor.
PW: Are you working on a new book?
AW: I'm about to start on a book about aging—how to increase your chances of maintaining physical and mental health into old age. I'm sure I'll put a few more recipes in there.