A bowl of oatmeal for breakfast is...sexy? When Fabio Viviani is serving it, we like to think so. Which is why he's the star of Quaker's new video in support of the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women movement. And on the day of love (Valentine's Day, in case you missed it), we had to get a piece of this Italian's mind. Here's his take on breakfast, and what you should be doing to spice up your love life.
Tell me about this steamy video! What made you want to get involved? It's a good cause. If you've followed me in the last few years, then you know I'm all about good food and what's good for you. As a chef, it has to be tasty. And well, let's be honest, sometimes something that's good for you is not necessarily delicious. But oatmeal is! So when I was approached by the Go Red for Women movement with Quaker Oats, it was perfect - we're talking about food, breakfast and ladies - it was a good fit.
Whose idea was it to make it a funny, sexy video? The good news is that it's easy for me to make things steamy because I have an accent! But if I'm going to do a video, it's got to be funny - food is fun!
Are you a breakfast lover yourself? When I came to the United States, I learned to love it. Back in Italy, I didn't really have it a lot. Now I like oatmeal and I like to make things different. Breakfast is something that can really change a lot about your day. We always talk about making the right choices, and something as easy and small as breakfast being done in the right way is huge.
Other than as a standard bowl for breakfast, how do you use Quaker oats? It's a staple for breakfast, absolutely. But I also use oatmeal powder as a thickening agent instead of using gelatin and other chemical-filled things when I work in the kitchen. I make an oatmeal gelato that is delicious.
Healthy eating is clearly a big part of strong heart health. What strategies do you like to follow? You're talking to an Italian guy, so you're never going to hear me say drop carbs or meat! A balanced diet is the one that makes you happy while keeping you healthy. Being miserable is not healthy; it's stressful. So I try to balance my diet with a lot of vegetables and good protein, but it's OK to have steak once a week or so. Fish, in general, is good too. Maybe avoid tilapia because it's really fatty, but others are great. And risotto - I love risotto! I'll eat it any day of the week. I mean that, sometimes I've done it. And I'll cook it in red wine instead of broth.
Do you have a favorite food? My favorite food is a homemade pasta made with good flour, without using a lot of sauce. A little goes a long way. I'll whip up some veggies to go with it, but I won't eat them raw - I'm not a goat.
So Valentine's Day just passed...what tips do you have for a perfect date night? For a perfect date on Valentine's Day, if you're a man, then you have no choice, buddy. All you can do is whatever she likes, and for one day, just be genuinely happy about it. I know sometimes it's hard because you're a man and you just don't get it. But that day is about her, so just do it. If you're a lady, it's your chance to ask for what you want! Red wine risotto, a hand massage, a whole night of sex, two bottles of wine - whatever you like! It's your day to celebrate with a loved one. It's a day of recharging the relationship.
Food can be very romantic on any day of the year. What do you think are the best romance foods? Try these meals throughout the day:
- Breakfast: make a standard bowl of oatmeal, add a touch of brown sugar and fold in 1 tablespoon of corn starch. Then put the oatmeal on a griddle, let it crisp, and add a tablespoon of cherry jam - not the cheap jam that's 100% sugar, though. Get a whole cherry jam, the really good stuff. Put that on top. Oh, it's so good.
- Lunch: Get a nice salad, something with a good protein. Avoid chicken and pork if it's a romantic day - get fancy! Think about lamb. That's a great one and something you don't typically have. So get a green salad with lamb and maybe use a lemon yogurt sauce. That's very sexy, it's romantic, it's perfect.
- Dinner: Red wine risotto. I'm telling you, it's a home run! Make the risotto like you normally would, but use red wine instead of broth.
- Dessert: I would say get either ricotta fritters with Nutella or tiramisu. God bless tiramisu. We're eating oatmeal every day here, dessert is the time to treat yourself!