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Janet Zappala on Voice America, and a Cookbook Giveaway

October 10, 2011

Janet Zappala’s television career has taken her many places, working as an anchor/host and reporter in several cities around the country and winning many awards, including six Emmys, a Golden Mike and the coveted Associated Press First Place prize.  While journalism continues to be a great passion, Janet’s desire to cook, nurture and educate has been simmering for some time and she has successfully managed to combine the two, on her new Voice America radio program, Food for Thought, airing Tuesday, October 11 from 5 PM – 6PM ET.

We had an opportunity to catch up with Janet and get further insight on what inspired her to “make the change.” (Also, there’s a giveaway involved at the end! Win yourself a copy of Janet’s cookbook: My Italian Kitchen, Home-Style Recipes Made Lighter & Healthier)

Jarlsberg USA: Janet, it’s a pleasure to talk with you.  We got to know you first, as a nutritionist and cookbook author.  Was there a moment of clarity that drove your desire to pursue a nutrition career?

Janet Zappala: Yes, I have been aware of how taking good care of yourself not only comes down to attitude and outlook but what we put into our bodies. It’s so important to maintain good health for a lifetime, and one of the best things we can do to help ensure a long, healthy life is by providing our bodies with the nutrients they need. Lots of whole grains, fresh organic fruits and vegetables, cold-water fish like salmon, and raw nuts including almonds and walnuts will help keep our bodies strong with endless amounts of energy. Lots of pure, clean water everyday is also extremely important. Our bodies are at least 80% water; keeping well hydrated will help keep our minds clear and sharp and our bodies working at optimum levels.

JUSA: What are your credentials?  How long was the process to become a nutritional consultant?

JZ: As you mentioned I earned my certification as a nutritional consultant through the Global College of Natural Medicine. It was a year-long course over 5-hundred hours, however I have been teaching myself for several years about the importance of eating more healthfully. It’s a process, and I’m learning something new all the time, which is why I love having the opportunity through my VoiceAmerica radio show to spread my healthful message. I want people to be able to enjoy their lives, eat the foods they love, finding healthier ways to make them as well as healthier options, such as using a butter alternative like Earth Balance in place of butter. The options are really endless.

JUSA: How did you manage juggling your journalist career and classes?

JZ: Work by day, and study by night and on the weekends of course.

JUSA: What was the funniest situation you experienced on air?

JZ: There have been many, but I think the most memorable was when I had to ride an ostrich on live tv, those birds can run, and one did with me on its back. I was on sitting on it when all of a sudden it fell to the ground, we were behind a partition, so one minute you see me and the ostrich, and the next we’re gone. It then pops back up again, at which time my hat is askew and hay is all over my head… before I know it the cowboy opens the gate and we’re off!! I actually got a standing ovation from the entire newsroom when I finally returned, still in one piece, but barely.

JUSA: The most inspiring story you covered?

JZ: A young woman who was a jockey. She had ridden for a few years and then during a race her horse stumbled, she went flying over his head and was so badly injured she was a paraplegic, but that didn’t stop her. She recuperated and eventually came back as a horse trainer. She may have been down but she was never out. Though she will spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair she has a great attitude and tremendous spirit, which inspired me to title my report, “Unbridled Spirit.” She is someone I will never forget.

JUSA: Is there a story you’re especially proud of?

JZ: A documentary I worked on with a great team when I was in Los Angeles. We investigated an area in Central California where many children were contracting cancer. The report was titled, “What’s Killing the Children?” We were never able to determine exactly what it was, but we dug a long time and were able to get the officials to really look into the problem and try to uncover what it was. It was a very sad story to cover, but one where I believe we helped to make a difference by shedding light on something that the public wasn’t really aware of. Public officials then were forced to make this mystery a priority.

My Italian Kitchen, Home-Style Recipes Made Lighter & Healthier by Janet Zappala

JUSA: Your cookbook, My Italian Kitchen, Home-Style Recipes Made Lighter & Healthier, has many wonderful comfort dishes.  What was your recipe source – your own?…family, friends…adaptations of favorites?  How did you decide which recipes to include?

JZ: My mother was not only my best friend, she was a spectacular cook, and when she passed away a few years ago I wanted to do something to celebrate her and dedicate it to her. I took many of my mother’s recipes, ones the whole family and lots of friends enjoyed over the years. I wanted to share them with people. Mom wrote very little down, but I was lucky enough to be around and learn from her. I also took some friends recipes that I love and changed them up to make them lighter and healthier, without compromising the taste. I’m very proud of the book.

JUSA: As a nutritionist, can you take us through some general steps of how to change a recipe to make it healthier? Any particular items you can automatically (safely) switch out or substitute?  

JZ: Butter substitutes like Earth Balance, Extra-Virgin Olive oil, raw sugar instead of processed sugar, whole-wheat pastry flour for baking which is a whole-grain, instead of bleached processed flour. Almond milk, pure maple syrup instead of ones that add all kinds of chemical sweeteners to them. The list goes on and on, it’s really about reading the labels, they can lead you to buying something or putting it back down on the shelf. It takes a little extra time when shopping but when it comes to your health it’s well worth it.

JUSA: What is your food philosophy?  You obviously consider nutrition a priority but, do you also limit yourself (no butter?).  Must we deprive ourselves in order to eat nutritiously?

JZ: Again just opt for healthier options, in some cases it takes a little time for your palate to catch up with your mindset, but it will come together.

JUSA: What are some of your favorite dishes?

JZ: Pasta, pasta, pasta. Pasta Puttanesca, Pasta with homemade marinara sauce, pasta with pesto sauce, pasta with garlic and olive oil. I also love a great salad, watercress, arugula, baby spinach, with lots of goodies, fresh peas, tomatoes, olives, red onion, blue cheese, sunflower seeds. The trick is to be creative.

JUSA: A favorite chef or two?

JZ: Mario Batali because he just loves to eat and fun to watch. I also enjoy Ina Garten because she has some terrific recipes and really seems to enjoy what she’s doing.

JUSA: What is your go-to (fail-safe) dish for entertaining?

JZ: Lasagna. My mother always made it for parties and people flipped over it. It’s a dish that I grew up with and still absolutely love to this day. I’ll couple it with a nice salad and some whole-grain garlic bread…mmm, molte bene!

JUSA: Breakfast is such an important meal and one that perhaps too many of us skip.  Can you offer some quick, nutritious take-along ideas for when we don’t have time to sit for breakfast?

JZ: Fresh fruit, whole-grain toast, and a fruit smoothie is always good for on-the-run. It’s chock full of anti-oxidants, calcium, and if you include flaxseed and wheat germ you’ll also get omega 3’s and folic acid along with a good amount of vitamin E. Or add low fat cheese to an egg white omlet with some veggies, or melt it on some toast for a delicious healthy breakfast.

JUSA: Tell us about your radio program.

JZ: Food for Thought will offer up not only great recipes, nutrition, the latest on what people should know concerning certain foods and vitamins and their effect on health, but plenty of stories, that will come from my personal experiences as well as our listeners. This is a call-in show and we will all be in this together. It’s about sharing and caring, helping one another. We’ll have great guests who will bring their expertise to the show as well. We’ll be talking about everything and anything that pertains to healthful living and believe me that covers alot of ground.

JUSA: We see your first program will focus on finding fulfillment and happiness in one’s life by eradicating negative thought patterns.  Will you be offering personal observances?  How does healthy eating fit into this philosophy?

JZ: We all want to be happy, that’s a given, but sometimes it’s not easy. My guest and I will offer up some really useful tips on finding your personal happiness, and yes I will be sharing some personal experiences of my own. I want my listeners to know who I am, where I’ve been and what’s on my mind, just as I want to know what’s on theirs.

JUSA: Thank you, Janet, and best of luck with the new show.  We certainly look forward to listening in and hope our visitors will, too.

As a matter of fact, visitors take note!

The first five callers to mention Janet’s French Onion Soup (below) on her debut air date, October 11th, will receive an autographed copy of My Italian Kitchen, Home-Style Recipes Made Lighter & Healthier, courtesy of Janet and Jarlsberg USA.  But, please, when you call, do have a related question to the topic being discussed.  We know it will be an insightful, helpful program to all.

For more healthy recipes and to sign up for Janet’s Wealth is Health newsletter, visit  Buona Salute! “To your health!”

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

This onion soup, developed by Janet, is lower in salt and fat, but full-flavored.  The recipe tweaks a classic by substituting half the required amount of beef broth with low sodium chicken and uses super tasty, melt-able Jarlsberg Lite cheese.

Onion Soup

Serves 4

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup buttery spread (such as Earth Balance)

2 large yellow onions, sliced

1-1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth

1-1/2 cups beef broth

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

½ cup V8 juice

¼ cup port wine

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

4 slices whole wheat baguette

4 slices Jarlsberg Lite cheese

Preheat oven to 350o.

Heat olive oil and spread in large sauce pot over medium heat, 1 minute.  Add onions and saute 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in broths, garlic and soy sauce.  Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.  Increase heat to medium, stir in V8 juice, wine, salt and pepper.  Bring to boil before reducing heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Arrange bread on baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and turn temperature to broil.  Ladle soup into ovenproof bowls, top each with toast slice and cheese.  Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts.  Serve immediately.

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 10, 2011 4:56 pm

    Thanks for this onion soup recipe :-).

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