SALEM — If the thought of figuring out what to make for dinner tonight doesn’t exactly get your heart racing, cookbook author Nina Simonds understands.
“Even though I’ve written 11 books, cooking dinner is drudgery,” she said. “We’re all under pressure. Nobody wants to cook every night.”
Nevertheless, you have to eat. And Simonds thinks it should be something delicious, satisfying and — especially important given the rise in obesity — healthy. So, the award-winning writer recently started a new business, opening up the kitchen of her Warren Street home for small classes and one-on-one counseling, with a special emphasis on wellness.
“I’ve always had a particular interest in food that’s delicious and healthy,” said Simonds, a longtime Salem resident. “I don’t say ‘food as medicine,’ I say ‘food as health-giving and disease-preventing.’”
The classes generally run on Wednesday or Thursday evenings and are limited to 12 people. In addition to learning new recipes, participants are able to sample each dish. The classes cost $100 each, or $90 if you sign up for more than one. She writes a blog on her website, spicesoflife.com.
Simonds’ life has been a whirlwind of cooking, traveling and fine foods, starting when she moved to Taiwan to study Asian cuisine at age 19. “I was naive and young,” she said, “and it was probably one of the best decisions I made in my life.”
Along the way she’s written about cooking for Gourmet magazine, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, among others. Then, there are the books she’s authored, recently including “A Spoonful of Ginger” and “Spices of Life,” both of which earned her James Beard awards.
Though she studied in Paris at Julia Child’s suggestion, Simond specializes in Asian cuisine, with an emphasis on health that was formalized when she completed a one-year program offered by the National Institute of Whole Health. She also studied Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine in China, India and Singapore.