Don't Worry Eat Happy
Bon Appétit|February 2017

Eight years ago nate appleman was an overweight and angry chef. Today he’s 85 pounds lighter and happier than ever. And it all started with a diet of moderation, not deprivation.

Carla Lalli

Nate Appleman got fat cooking for other people. As the executive chef at Pulino’s in 2010, his rustic Italian food was getting hammered by New York critics, a rude fall from grace after winning the James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year Award a year before. “I blew a gasket every day I was in that restaurant,” he says. “I was miserable.” He knew it was time to change. Appleman wanted to be an active dad to son Oliver (now nine), so he started running. A nourishing breakfast followed. And a proper lunch. Then, he stunned the food world by joining Chipotle. Today Appleman is about 85 pounds lighter than he was, which he attributes simply to “a good diet and exercise and not eating bad food.” As the director of culinary at Chipotle, he helps launch new concepts and oversees menu development, and gets home in time to cook dinner for Oliver. In fact, it was his almost-daily Instagram posts of their healthy, colorful meals that got us thinking about Appleman again—what he was making at home looked pretty incredible. (See for yourself by following @nappleman.)

Appleman’s philosophy is basic: “Everything whole fat, whole food, nothing processed.” He buys his meat skin on and well marbled. He prefers oily fish—think salmon, bluefish, and oil-packed tuna. His freezer is stocked with grains, dinner always includes “something green,” and everything is anointed with omega-rich olive oil, nuts, or seeds.

The key to pulling it off, says Appleman, is “striking a balance between healthy and delicious.” Each meal should be a mix of protein, produce, and grains, and the flavors should be balanced. Temper fatty cuts of meat with citrus or a vinegary dressing; add texture and zing to cooked grains by folding in chopped nuts and lots of herbs. Taste what you cooked. And eat with your family.

Charred Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Oranges

4 SERVINGS Remember that thing about not putting acid on raw meat? Appleman doesn’t abide by that rule, and now we don’t, either.

4 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs Kosher salt 

4 garlic cloves, finely grated 

3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, divided 

5 Tbsp. olive oil, divided 

1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed 

3 large sprigs rosemary 

1 blood orange, thinly sliced, plus wedges for squeezing 

1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed 

½ cup Castelvetrano olives, pitted 

3 oz. feta, crumbled (about ½ cup)

Preheat oven to 450°. Place chicken in a large bowl and season with salt. Add garlic, 2 Tbsp. lemon juice, and 2 Tbsp. oil and toss to combine. Let sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes or cover and chill up to 12 hours. Remove chicken from marinade, draining off any excess; discard marinade. Set chicken aside.

Prick sweet potato all over with a fork and roast on a small foil-lined rimmed baking sheet until tender, about 1 hour. Let sit until cool enough to handle.

Once potato comes out of the oven, start cooking the chicken. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high. Cook chicken, skin side down, until skin is very brown (it should get very dark; as long as you don’t smell it outright burning it will be all the better with some char), about 5 minutes. Transfer to oven and roast, keeping skin side down, until cooked through, 18–22 minutes. About 1 minute before removing chicken from oven, toss rosemary sprigs into skillet. Place chicken, skin side up, on a plate along with rosemary sprigs. Set skillet over medium high. Cook orange slices just until golden and slightly softened, about 30 seconds per side. Transfer to plate with chicken.

Toss chickpeas, olives, and feta with remaining 2 Tbsp. oil and remaining 1 Tbsp. lemon juice in a large bowl; season chickpea salad with salt.

Tear open sweet potato and arrange big sections of flesh on a large platter. Place chicken, along with any accumulated juices, around sweet potato, then top with orange slices, chickpea salad, and rosemary leaves. Squeeze orange wedges over everything when at the table.

Pork Shoulder with Pineapple and Sesame Broccoli

4 SERVINGS While pork rib chops would be fine, thin shoulder steaks or blade chops have more fat, meaning they’ll stay ultrajuicy even after a hard sear.

1 1 ½–2-lb. skinless, boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt) or 4 pork blade chops Kosher salt

1 1" piece ginger, peeled, finely grated 

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