Cover of The Wellness Lifestyle: A Chef’s Recipe for Real Life.

Cover of The Wellness Lifestyle: A Chef’s Recipe for Real Life.


In the introduction to The Wellness Lifestyle: A Chef’s Recipe for Real Life, Chef Daniel Orr, owner of FARMbloomington, talks about his struggle to keep weight off. Conversely, his co-author, Kelly Jo Baute, a wellness coach who suffered many complications after breast cancer surgery, chemotherapy, and reconstruction, struggles to keep weight—or more precisely, muscle—on.

Their response is The MyTendWell Lifestyle Plan, which focuses on healthy eating and lifelong fitness in an age of quick fixes. The plan has five steps. Steps one through four include assessing your readiness to change, writing out goals, recording what you eat and your physical activity for at least 30 days, and assembling exercise equipment and setting up a pantry. Finally, you begin scheduling your physical activity like an appointment and plan your meals for the week ahead.

It may seem overwhelming, but Orr and Baute break it all down and enliven the book with tips and personal stories. And they are realistic. “As we age, we need to think less about exercise and more about healthy movement,” Orr writes. “It is less about trying to get a six-pack and more about not having a heart attack.” He has worked with Baute to develop a handful of basic exercises using simple equipment.

Their comprehensive lifestyle advice ranges from how to create a compost pile to how to get a good night’s sleep. One especially useful box divides produce into two groups—those you should buy organic and those where it’s okay to buy conventionally grown crops. For example, the authors counsel buying only organically grown soft-skinned fruits like peaches and raspberries because farmers use the most pesticides on them. But you can safely buy conventionally grown produce like mangoes and onions because their thick, inedible skins protect them from pesticide contamination.

Orr and Baute carefully explain which foods will help you meet nutritional requirements. And while Orr cooks with lean meats, he is also a friend of tofu, “the ugly stepsister in the world of protein,” which can be “absolutely breathtaking” if well-prepared.

But you want to know about the recipes. Here, as throughout the book, the emphasis is on healthfulness. There are recipes for Japanese tuna fish salad and West Indian leg of lamb, for instance. And if you want to finish your meal with a bang, take a look at the frozen grape sorbet bombs.