The Champagne and Caviar Cure: Healthy Gourmet Foods

Live a longer, healthier life by indulging daily in your favorite gourmet foods.

By Kristyn Kusek Lewis
(Photo: Reinhard Hunger)

Greek Yogurt

Forget those sad little plastic cartons of artificially sweetened glop. Greek yogurt is thick, rich, low in sugar, and high in protein, which we need to keep our muscles strong and blood-sugar levels even. In addition to full-fat, it comes in low-fat and fat-free varieties. "A sublime way to eat yogurt is to toast some walnuts and sprinkle them on top with a drizzle of honey," Krieger says. "Or use it to lighten up dips and salad dressings. I combine Greek yogurt with two tablespoons of mayo, some beautiful blue cheese, and a splash of white-wine vinegar, then whisk it all together lightly with a fork. Delicious."


These salty little jewels need not be reserved for New Year’s Eve. A tablespoon contains just 40 calories and is a rich source of protein, iron, and magnesium, all essential for proper functioning of the blood and cellular, muscular, and nervous systems. It also contains vitamin B12, which we need more of as we age because our bodies stop absorbing it as efficiently. (Yes, we said it — you need what’s in caviar.) It elevates your Saturday scrambled eggs and is an elegant garnish for a bowl of creamy bisque.

Specialty Salts

It used to be that Americans knew only two varieties: Morton and kosher. But specialty salts, including gray salt harvested off the coast of Brittany, Himalayan pink salt, and Sicilian sea salt, have won the hearts of foodies with their delicate, complex flavors. At California’s famed restaurant the French Laundry, customers who ask for salt are presented with a tray of three to five types to choose from. "The tastes are so distinct from regular table salt. They really add a luxurious element to the simplest foods," says Connie Guttersen, RD, author of The Sonoma Diet. While specialty salts have only minor nutritional advantages over standard salts, their larger grain and heightened flavor allow you to use less per dish than you might normally.

Sprinkle some over a batch of hot and gooey chocolate chip cookies just out of the oven, or over dulce de leche ice cream.


One of the sexiest foods around, figs are also high in heart-healthy fiber. Their overall essential mineral profile is the best of all the common fruits, Krieger says.

Figs are also a good way to satisfy a sweet tooth. For an afternoon snack or a luscious dessert, try slicing a couple of Black Mission figs and nesting a bit of gorgonzola or goat cheese and an almond inside each, then drizzle with honey. For a morning treat, sprinkle chopped dried figs over your breakfast oatmeal or yogurt.

Wild Copper River Salmon

All salmon is chock-full of omega-3 fatty acids, and the wild sockeye from Alaska’s Copper River is touted as the best tasting in the world, Guttersen says. (If you’re worried about contamination from toxins in the fish you’re buying, it’s best to ask the seller how it was raised. Salmon farming techniques are currently changing and improving.) The fishing season for sockeye is just two months long, but you can get your hands on it frozen or canned all year. Wild salmon contains a more generous portion of natural astaxanthin than does the farmed variety. (Astaxanthin is an antioxidant similar to beta-carotene that some say contributes to health by slowing the aging process.)

For a quick, impressive dinner, season a piece of sockeye with salt, pepper, and fresh herbs, and sear in a little olive oil; serve it over a salad or rice pilaf. Or poach it: Simmer the fish in a broth made with water, white wine, and seasonings such as dill, lemon, and bay leaves for about 10 minutes, until the flesh is opaque and flakes easily.

Organic Grass-Fed Beef Filet

It can cost more than $25 a pound, but it’s worth every melt-in-your-mouth bite: Grass-fed beef is leaner and more tender and contains more omega-3 fats than its grain-fed counterpart, Kimball says. It also contains high levels of vitamins A and E; these antioxidants are essential for a healthy immune system, and vitamin E is associated with a lower incidence of breast cysts. Because both nutrients are fat-soluble, the fat in the meat helps your body absorb them. A 3- to 4-ounce portion per person is ideal. Simply rub it with a little salt, pepper, and olive oil, then grill it to let the natural flavor come through.

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