Fast Food, Good Food

More Than 150 Quick and Easy Ways to Put Healthy, Delicious Food on the Table


By Andrew Weil, MD

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Delicious, nutritious, quick, and easy recipes from bestselling author Dr. Andrew Weil’s own kitchen.

These days, fewer people than ever are cooking meals at home. Convincing ourselves that we don’t have time to cook, we’ve forgotten how fast, simple, and wonderfully satisfying it can be to prepare delicious meals in our own kitchens for the people we love. In Fast Food, Good Food, bestselling author Dr. Andrew Weil reminds us, with more than 150 easy-to-prepare recipes for delectable dishes that are irresistibly tasty and good for you.

These recipes showcase fresh, high-quality ingredients and hearty flavors, like Buffalo Mozzarella Bruschetta, Five-Spice Winter Squash Soup, Greek Style Kale Salad, Pappardelle with Arugula Walnut Pesto, Pan-Seared Halibut with Green Harissa, Coconut Lemon Bars, and Pomegranate Margaritas. With guidance on following an anti-inflammatory diet and mouth-wateringly gorgeous photographs, Fast Food, Good Food will inspire the inner nutritionist and chef in every reader.


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Table of Contents


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Sales of cookbooks are at an all-time high, as are the ratings of cooking shows on television. Yet fewer people than ever are cooking meals at home. What gives? Apparently, for book buyers and followers of the Food Network, cooking is nothing more than entertainment.

People say they don't have time to cook. Many also say they don't know how or lack the skills to reproduce dishes pictured in books and made by celebrity chefs on television. I love to cook, but I don't care to knock myself out in the kitchen. I enjoy simple meals that are quick and easy and use fresh ingredients of the best quality. I want those ingredients to shine, not be lost in fussy preparations. I go for bold flavors and visual appeal. Forget complicated recipes; cooking should be fun.

Popular Food Network shows portray cooking as competitive. I'd rather it be contemplative. That's why I got into it when I was a medical student. I discovered that imagining a wonderful meal and then making it for myself was the perfect way to get my mind back in balance after long stretches of working in depressing hospital wards where the only available food was wretched. Chopping vegetables became a welcome meditation. Getting a meal to come as close as possible to the way I imagined it was an exercise in practical magic.

Later, I learned the principles of good nutrition and the science of dietary influences on health, and I found it easy to apply that information to my cooking. I have always believed that delicious food and food that's good for us can be one and the same. Like most people, you have probably been served unsatisfying, possibly inedible "health food." Maybe you think that eating healthy means giving up everything you like. I assure you that is not so. The recipes in this book conform to cutting-edge nutritional science; they also yield dishes that taste great. As a practitioner of integrative medicine, which places great importance on lifestyle, and as an author of books on health, I want to see eating habits improve. But I know that, first and foremost, food has to taste great.

For at least ten years now I have recommended an anti-inflammatory diet for its power to optimize health and reduce risks of serious disease. (See here for more.) Inflammation is useful, a cornerstone of the body's defensive and healing systems. It is also so powerful that it can be harmful if it persists or serves no purpose. A great deal of scientific evidence supports the idea that chronic, low-level, purposeless inflammation is the root cause of coronary artery disease, Alzheimer's disease, and many other conditions that kill or disable people prematurely. It also increases the risk of cancer, because inflammation and abnormal cell proliferation are closely linked.

Diet influences inflammation, and the mainstream diet in North America is clearly pro-inflammatory. The fats and carbohydrates that predominate in it favor inflammation, and it is deficient in the protective compounds found in vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices. The first principle of the Anti-Inflammatory Diet is to eliminate refined, processed, and manufactured food. Do that, and you are well along the path to eating right for optimum health.

I used the Mediterranean diet as a template for my eating plan, because strong research data correlate it with longevity, good health, and the lowest overall disease risk. I added Asian influences to the basic Mediterranean diet—spices like ginger and turmeric, for example, which are potent natural anti-inflammatory agents. And I tweaked it in other ways to increase its potential to contain inappropriate inflammation.

Look at the Anti-Inflammatory Diet Pyramid here to get an overview of the nutritional philosophy underlying this book. Note that vegetables form its base and dark chocolate is at the very top. Olive oil has a strong midlevel position. I assure you that following the guidelines illustrated in the pyramid is not onerous, will not detract from the pleasure of eating, and will protect your long-term health and wellness.

The recipes in these pages are not difficult. They can be prepared quickly and they give results you will love. Keep in mind that recipes are made to be tinkered with. Feel free to experiment with them, changing ingredients to suit your taste. Above all: keep it simple. You will find many suggestions in the Pantry and Quick Tips and Basics sections to make your cooking easy and fun.

Note that recipes are designated veg for vegetarian, v for vegan, and gf for gluten-free. Those marked veg*, v*, and gf* can be prepared as vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free by substituting or omitting specific ingredients.

This book is about fast food in the best sense—real food that takes little time. Many recipes can be made in just thirty minutes. Some need more cooking time, but the preparation is quick. Others may require a lot of chopping but little cooking time. None are complicated or difficult. But do take time to enjoy your meals. One aspect of the good health associated with the Mediterranean diet is that people of the region do not eat mindlessly or on the run. They take pleasure in excellent food eaten without haste in the company of friends and family. I try to follow their example.


I like to keep a well-stocked pantry. It allows me to pull together a meal quickly and efficiently. Some of the ingredients I use may be unfamiliar, but I assure you that all can be found in supermarkets, Asian groceries, farmers' markets, or online.

ALMOND FLOUR: Made from raw, blanched almonds, this gluten-free product is useful in baking and a good source of protein and minerals as well as fat. It goes rancid quickly, so always give it a sniff test before using to make sure it's fresh (there should be no odor resembling that of oil paint), and store it in an airtight container in the freezer. Bob's Red Mill makes a good product; go to

ASIAN INGREDIENTS: If you do not have a nearby Asian grocery store, it's easy to find all of the Asian ingredients called for in these recipes online. Look for sites selling specialty groceries, such as (Korean foods), (Thai), (Japanese), and (Chinese).

BEANS: Canned beans allow you to make bean dishes quickly. Look for brands packed in water and salt only, with no additives, organic if possible. Trader Joe's has excellent organic canned great northern beans. Look for good-quality canned black beans and garbanzos in natural-food stores; I recommend Eden Foods brand.

BLACK PEPPER: Buy whole black peppercorns and grind them as needed in a pepper grinder. Some grinders allow you to adjust the particle size of the grains.

BREAD CRUMBS: Homemade bread crumbs are superior to packaged ones, although in a pinch, you can use Japanese-style panko bread crumbs, made from bread without crust. See Basics here for directions on making your own.

BUTTER: The latest research on the health effects of saturated fat indicates that it's not as bad as we used to think, and dairy fat may be the safest kind. Butter is used in this book in small amounts for flavor. Look for unsalted butter made from cream from grass-fed cows. A good brand is Kerrygold, made in Ireland and widely available in the United States and Canada; see

CHILIES: Many recipes in this book call for fresh or dried chilies. Pay attention to how much heat you and the people you cook for like and can tolerate; more chili can always be added at the table. Handle fresh chilies cautiously—use gloves if necessary—to avoid getting their juice on your skin or in your eyes. The greatest concentration of capsaicin, the compound responsible for pungency, is in the white pith to which seeds are attached. Removing it wholly or in part will tame a hot pepper. Choose fresh peppers with shiny, taut skin that is free of blemishes such as dark or soft spots. Dried chilies should be red or reddish brown.

CITRUS ZEST: The outer peel of citrus fruits—the zest—is rich in highly flavored oils that can brighten the taste of many dishes. Use zest only from organic oranges, lemons, and limes; conventionally grown citrus is likely to have agrichemical residues in the peel. The zest is best removed with a tool designed for that purpose or with a Microplane grater, but you can use a vegetable peeler too. Try not to take any of the bitter underlying white tissue.

DIJON MUSTARD: This strong condiment should be a light yellow-brown, with a pungent aroma. The best brands come from France. Once opened, a jar will keep in the refrigerator for a long time.

EDAMAME: Green soybeans, edamame are usually steamed in the pod, salted, and eaten hot or cold as a snack or appetizer. They are widely available, both fresh and frozen, either in the pod or shelled.

FARRO: Farro is an ancient variety of wheat. Pearled farro is partially hulled, and this greatly shortens the cooking time of the whole grains. It is available online and in many grocery stores. Farro contains gluten, but those with gluten sensitivity may find it more tolerable than common forms of wheat.

FISH: Omega-3-rich fish like salmon, sablefish, sardines, and mackerel are staples of the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Sockeye salmon is a particularly good choice because it cannot be farmed and is less likely to be contaminated with toxins. The Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch website (seafood is a useful consumer guide that rates fish and shellfish for both sustainability and toxic load.

FISH SAUCE: A staple of southeast Asian cooking, fish sauce is an intensely flavored condiment made from fermented fish (anchovies especially), salt, and water. The Vietnamese product, known as nuoc mam, is best, and Red Boat is a preferred, chemical-free brand, available in Asian food stores and online.

GARLIC: Choose heads of garlic with large, firm cloves. All the recipes in this book that call for garlic instruct you to mash the peeled cloves with a garlic press and let them sit, exposed to air, for at least ten minutes before adding them to a dish. This allows for the formation of allicin, the compound responsible for garlic's many health benefits. Store garlic at room temperature in an open container (such as a mesh basket), preferably in a dark place away from other foods.

GINGER: Select roots that are plump and firm. Peel what you need with a vegetable peeler and grate the root lengthwise with a Microplane grater or rasp. Store unpeeled ginger in a zip-top bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.

GRAPESEED OIL: When you want a neutral flavor, grapeseed oil is best for sautéing. Buy expeller-pressed grapeseed oil. Once a bottle is opened, keep it in the refrigerator.

KASHA: Also known as buckwheat groats, this cracked grain comes raw or toasted. Buy the toasted variety.

KOMBU: A type of seaweed (kelp), kombu is used to flavor soups and broths, especially in Japanese cuisine. Do not rinse or wipe the dried strips before using them. Remove and discard them after simmering in liquid.

MAPLE SYRUP: This is my preferred sweetener, for its flavor and low fructose content. Many recipes in this book call for grade B maple syrup, which is best for cooking. When the syrup is used in small amounts, the maple flavor is not detectable. Store syrup in the refrigerator after opening. Grade A maple syrup is produced earlier in the season and has a lighter color and fewer minerals. It also has a more delicate maple flavor, which is why I recommend it for the flavored syrups here.

MEAT: Meat is used sparingly in the Anti-Inflammatory Diet, more as a special-occasion food than an everyday one. A few recipes in this book call for bison, which is preferable to beef and increasingly available. Choose grass-finished bison (that is, from animals that have foraged all their lives and have not been fattened on grain in feedlots before slaughter) raised without hormones or antibiotics. Grass-finished beef, raised without hormones or antibiotics, is an alternative.

MIRIN: A naturally sweet, traditional rice wine used in Japanese cooking. Look for hon-mirin ("true mirin") with an alcohol content of 12 percent. Takara is a good brand, available online from and other sites. Eden Foods brand is also acceptable ( Common commercial products are low in alcohol and sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup; try to avoid them. Mirin is great in marinades, dipping sauces, and Japanese-style soups and broths. If you don't have any, substitute a mixture of sake and sugar (about a tablespoon of sugar to a cup of sake).

MISO: A fermented soybean paste, miso is used as the basis of soups and sauces in Japanese cuisine. There are many types; recipes in this book specify red (aka) or white (shiro) miso. Miso keeps for a long time in the refrigerator.

MUSHROOMS: Fresh shiitake and oyster mushrooms are widely available. Avoid any that look dry or shriveled. Do not wash mushrooms; they already have a high water content. Brush them or wipe them with a dry towel if necessary. Store them in the refrigerator in waxed paper or in a paper bag, not plastic.

NORI: Nori is a processed form of seaweed widely used in Japanese cuisine as a wrapper for rice balls and sushi rolls and a garnish for soups and salads. Buy toasted nori sheets (or toast raw ones by waving them back and forth over a gas or electric burner for a minute or two until they turn green). You can buy flavored nori snacks and precut nori strips.

NUTS AND NUT MILK: Buy raw, whole nuts without any additives and store them in the refrigerator or freezer. Once nuts are roasted, they quickly go rancid, within a week or two if they are exposed to air, light, and heat. Make nut milk from raw cashews or blanched almonds by grinding them fine in a blender, then adding cold water and blending on high speed for several minutes. You can make nut milk rich or lean by varying the ratio of nuts to water; start with a 1 to 2 ratio. Store nut milk in a jar in the refrigerator for up to a week and shake well before using.

OLIVE OIL: Olive oil is the best general-purpose oil for sautéing, dressing salads and vegetables, and most cooking. Buy only extra-virgin olive oil, which has a rich flavor. And buy only oil that is packed in dark bottles or cans to prevent exposure to light, which hastens oxidation. Use it up quickly or store it in the refrigerator. (It will slowly congeal but you can easily liquefy it by placing the container in warm water.) Very good olive oils have a peppery "bite" or aftertaste, which comes from oleocanthal, a potent anti-inflammatory compound that is easily destroyed by exposure to air, light, or heat. Heat your pan first before adding olive oil to it.

PARMESAN CHEESE: Genuine Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is a kitchen essential. Grate what you need on a Microplane grater and store the unused portion in plastic wrap in the refrigerator, where it will keep well. An acceptable, cheaper, but less flavorful substitute is grana Padano. Other good grating cheeses are aged Asiago, aged Gouda, and Swiss Sbrinz.

POULTRY: Because poultry—especially duck—is high in pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid (AA), it is used sparingly in the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Turkey is a bit lower in AA than chicken. Buy organic, free-range poultry if possible to avoid residues of antibiotics and other chemicals added to conventional feed.

QUINOA: A quick-cooking, grainlike seed native to the high Andes of South America, quinoa is gluten-free with a higher protein content than many grains. Red and white varieties are available.

RICE-PAPER WRAPPERS: These thin, usually round sheets are used in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine to wrap various unfried rolls like fresh spring and summer rolls. They soften quickly in room-temperature water.

RICE VERMICELLI (NOODLES): Commonly used in Thai and Vietnamese cuisines, these gluten-free dried noodles come in a variety of thicknesses.

SAKE: Japanese rice wine. For cooking, inexpensive brands like Gekkeikan or Sho Chiku Bai will do; they are sold in many liquor stores and supermarkets. Refrigerate after opening.

SALT: Use a fine-grain sea salt with no additives.

SESAME OIL: Toasted sesame oil, often used as a garnish in Asian cuisine, is dark brown with a rich flavor. Store in the refrigerator.

SHALLOTS: More often used by professional chefs than home cooks, these onion relatives add great flavor to many dishes. Choose large, firm bulbs that do not appear dry or shrunken.

SHAOXING WINE: This is a traditional wine, originally from the Shaoxing region of eastern China, made from fermented rice. It is both a beverage and a cooking wine, available online and in Asian grocery stores. Dry sherry, such as a fino, is a good substitute.

SHICHIMI: Literally "seven spice," this is a ground mixture of various seeds and spices, including hot red pepper, roasted orange peel, hemp seeds, and nori. Shichimi is a great seasoning to keep on hand and is good sprinkled on soups, vegetables, fish, and more. See Basics (here) to make your own.

SHIITAKE: Shiitake are meaty, strong-flavored mushrooms commonly used in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cooking. Soak dried shiitake in water to reconstitute them; cut off and discard the tough stems. Fresh shiitake are now widely available. Look for thick, firm ones with rounded caps; cut off and discard the stems before using them.

SICHUAN PEPPERCORNS: The dried outer husks of the tiny fruits of a tree native to China, Sichuan peppercorns have a lemony flavor and a pronounced numbing effect on the tongue. They are readily available from Asian grocery stores, spice dealers, and online sites.

SMOKED PAPRIKA: Imported from Spain, this spice adds a rich, smoky flavor to soups, stews, beans, and other dishes. Store opened jars or cans in the refrigerator.

SOY SAUCE: A universal condiment in Asian cooking, soy sauce is known as shōyu in Japan. Look for naturally fermented brands with no additives that are low in sodium. If you are gluten-intolerant, use wheat-free brands. Store soy sauce in the refrigerator.

SPICES: You can buy an inexpensive electric spice grinder and grind whole spices as needed (see the next section for recommended brands). Most people like the convenience of ground spices, but they must be fresh. Once opened, they quickly go stale with exposure to air, light, or heat. Buy small containers of ground spices and store them in the refrigerator.

SRIRACHA SAUCE: A hot sauce made from ripe red chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt, Sriracha is named for the coastal city of Si Racha in Thailand, where it may have originated. It has become very popular in North America and is easy to find in Asian sections of supermarkets as well as in specialty stores and online. Look for products without artificial color or preservatives, such as Shark brand from Thailand.

SUGAR: Small amounts of sugar are used as seasoning in some recipes in this book to balance salt and sour tastes. Unless otherwise specified, evaporated cane sugar is best. It is made from fresh sugarcane juice that is concentrated and crystallized and has a bit more color and flavor than white sugar. Muscovado sugar is an unrefined sugar that is used in place of brown sugar. It has a deep caramel flavor with notes of vanilla.

TAHINI: This sesame paste is ubiquitous in Middle Eastern cooking. Buy raw tahini, stir it well to mix in the separated oil, and store it in the refrigerator, where it will keep for a long time.

TEFF FLOUR: Teff is a tiny grain (the smallest in the world) native to the highlands of Ethiopia and Eritrea, where it is used to make a traditional spongy bread. Recently popular in North America because it is gluten-free, teff and teff flour are now available in natural-food stores and online from Bob's Red Mill ( Teff has a mild, nutty taste and is rich in minerals.

TOFU: Made from soy milk through a process similar to making cheese (heating, coagulating, separating liquid from and then pressing the curds), tofu is a high-quality vegetable-protein food eaten daily in Japan and China and now popular here. Buy organic brands. You will want firm or extra-firm varieties for most tofu recipes in this book. Drain off the packing liquid and replace with fresh water to store tofu that you don't use at once. Flavored, baked, pressed tofu comes dry-packed and refrigerated. It has a meaty texture and can be eaten as a snack right out of the package or used in many recipes in place of meat or poultry.

VEGETABLE BROTH: Cartons of good commercial vegetable broth, both with and without salt, are sold in natural-food stores and in supermarkets. Trader Joe's Organic Hearty Vegetable Broth is excellent.



  • "Andrew Weil has done it again! His recipes are informative, easy, nutritious, interesting, and fun. I love this book; it is a must for anyone who wants to eat delicious food that is healthy too." —Nora Pouillon, owner of Restaurant Nora and author of Cooking with Nora and My Organic Life
  • "While I often appreciate pushing the envelope as it relates to technique, we must never lose sight of why we cook: to nourish and make people happy. Dr. Weil's Fast Food, Good Food will help you and your family make food memories by balancing nourishment with joy and excitement."—Thomas Keller, Chef/Proprietor, The French Laundry

    "Andrew Weil knows how to bring people into a new relationship to food: If you eat simply and deliciously, using local, organic ingredients in season, the natural outcome will be good health for the rest of your life." --Alice Waters
  • "Andrew Weil is a rare member of a special class of diet gurus: he appreciates good food. This shows in every recipe." --Marion Nestle

On Sale
Oct 20, 2015
Page Count
304 pages

Andrew Weil, MD

About the Author

Andrew Weil, MD, is the author of numerous bestselling books, including Spontaneous Happiness, Spontaneous Healing, Eight Weeks to Optimum Health, and Healthy Aging. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School, he is professor of public health, clinical professor of medicine, and the Lovell-Jones Professor of Integrative Rheumatology at the University of Arizona as well as director of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. He is also the editorial director of, the leading Web resource for healthy living based on the philosophy of integrative medicine. He authors the popular “Self-Healing” newsletter and columns for Prevention magazine and is a frequent guest on numerous national talk shows. He lives in Arizona.

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