Q&A with Frank Ardito, Author of The Self-Care Cookbook

After being in quarantine for so long, we’re all in need of some well-deserved self-care. The Self-Care Cookbook: A Holistic Approach to Cooking, Eating, and Living Well by health and wellness expert Dr. Frank Ardito can supply recipes to nourish whatever dimension of wellness you need to nurture — body, mind, or spirit.

Read what Dr. Frank Ardito had to say about his book and holistic wellness in this Q&A!

What inspired you to write this book?


From a personal standpoint, I have frequently struggled with both cooking and eating. Like most people, I am neither a chef nor a cook, I’m super busy, and my food choices are often made on the basis of convenience. Initially, the thought of a non-cook (me) writing a cookbook was a bit perplexing—until two things happened. First, I realized that there was a need for “a cookbook for the rest of us.” Who better to represent the middle of the curve than someone who falls smack-dab in the middle of it? Second, I consulted my dear friend, coach, and celebrated author extraordinaire, Stacey Ballis, and she generously agreed to serve as the senior culinary consultant and recipe developer for this book. With her support, guidance, and exceptionally delicious, off-the-hook recipes, we were able to create something truly special.

Professionally, I wanted a vehicle to promote health and wellness in a way that was not traditional. The market is inundated with books emphasizing dieting and exercise—don’t eat this and don’t do that. Enough is enough! I thought to myself: not everyone chooses to diet, meditate, or even exercise, but when it comes to eating, we don’t have a choice—everyone must eat! That was the moment—my epiphany—to write a cookbook that introduced its readers to ten dimensions of wellness through cooking and eating—the perfect way to bring wellness to the masses!

How is this book different than other health and wellness cookbooks?

First, this is not a diet book. It does not focus on exclusion. Rather, it focuses on inclusion in a way that supports one’s authentic life goals. It does so through creating an intersection between cooking, eating, and being well. Second, instead of simply providing a laundry list of recipes for creating meals, this book emphasizes how to cook and eat based upon whatever is important to you on any given day. For example, if you choose a recipe within the physical wellness chapter, you can expect to “get physically busy” in the kitchen preparing delicious dishes that will support your physical wellness goals. Or, if you are feeling the need to foster a connection or friendship, then the social wellness chapter provides tips and tricks on how to cook and eat in a way that nurtures relationships. And yes, this may include popping open and sharing one’s favorite adult beverage and/or calorie-rich desert!!

Do you have a favorite recipe in the book?

This question alone makes me hungry! There is no way I could possibly pick one recipe. Let me share a few of them. From the physical wellness chapter, I am a huge fan of the Classic Hummus. It is super easy to make (if I can do it, anyone can!) and provides an excellent base for adding your favorite additional ingredients. Customizing is empowering! From the spiritual wellness chapter, the Ultra Quick Cheese Ravioli Eggplant Lasagna is mouth-watering good, and it provides a dish that is equally satisfying to vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. Finally, I must confess that I have a sweet tooth larger than a truck. One of my go-to recipes is the Lemon Blueberry Pavlova with Dark Chocolate Shards. It provides a taste of healthy chocolate along with blueberries, which is one of nature’s superfoods. Talk about having your cake and eating it too—there is a way!

What advice do you have for someone who is new to the 10 dimensions of wellness? How can they identify their wellness needs and how should they start addressing them?

Having coached literally thousands of individuals, it has become clear that most people set unrealistic goals and try to accomplish too much too soon. It never works. Instead, someone new to the ten dimensions of wellness needs a simple strategy. I call this The Self-Care Cookbook’s 10-3-1 Approach.

First, take a few moments to wrap your head around each of the 10 dimensions and what they truly mean—there lots of myths and misconceptions that need to be dispelled. Each chapter introduction gives you the essentials. Second, stay healthfully self-centered and identify three of the dimensions that are of most interest to you. Take time to think of broad goals that you’d like to accomplish within each, and write them down being as specific as possible. Third, start with just one and start cooking and eating your way to well! The most successful health and wellness coaches attribute the accomplishments of their clients in large part to helping them set and achieve realistic goals. The Self-Care Cookbook can be used to do just that.

Is there one dimension people seem to struggle with the most? How can this book help with that?

Everyone has his or her own unique self-care struggles, so it would be difficult to single out one dimension over another. Having said that, let me provide a timely example. In order to be spiritually well, one must have the capacity to be mindful, meaning the ability to stay present and in the moment—something much easier said than done. Many people attend religious services or spend time in nature and by virtue of doing so, check it off their to-do list. Unfortunately, it’s easy to be distracted with life’s demands and are consequently the furthest thing from mindful. Simply being there doesn’t cut it!

How can someone develop the capacity to remain present and in the moment? Cook and eat! But not in the traditional sense. The chapter on spiritual wellness includes specific ways to practice mindfulness while cooking and eating. This allows you to do spiritual reps when you cook and/or eat and by doing so, you can become authentically well from a spiritual perspective. The most successful and happiest people on the planet have one thing in common: they are spiritually well.

What’s next for you?

My present focus is on getting rich quick, and I’ve got the perfect coach to help get me there: Stacey Ballis. She may very well be the richest person I know—talk about bling! Now, you might be thinking, what a shallow response! Not true. To me, being rich is the sum of living well and authentic happiness. For me, that includes continuing to make a conscious effort to cook mindfully and eat “wellfully” (not always healthfully). That means occasionally embracing the notion of, “everything in moderation—including moderation!”

On a more traditional note, I am looking forward to working on my next book, continuing to teach and speak to underserved and at-risk populations, embracing family and friends, and always, always taking time to smell the roses.

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