The Cheat Sheet: Aimee Olexy of Talula’s Garden

You'll never guess what herb Aimee Olexy thinks she's most like. (Hint: It ain't basil.)

Aimee Olexy // Photograph courtesy of Starr Restaurants

I’ve always been a fan of Aimee Olexy’s take on fresh, farm-to-table fare. I recently enjoyed an intimate evening and fabulous meal outside of her newest venture, Talula’s Garden (the garden is nothing short of magical, by the way), and had the chance to hear more about her take on healthy eating, moderation and, of course, cheese!  Yes, cheese can be included in a healthy diet; most foods can. The key? Use fresh, local ingredients that speak for themselves and need very little else to please your palate. That’s what Amy is all about.

Finish this sentence: “When I was 16, healthy meant …”

Running and enjoying the sun!

Are you more “sweet” or “savory,” and what’s your go-to guilty pleasure?

I am a savory, leaning towards a salty. I love my cheese and protein! I crave scrambled eggs with gooey cheese and a glass of champagne.

Another one: “To stay in shape I …”

Drink tons of green tea and water, and get off my ass as much as I can.

What’s your favorite healthy kitchen tool, and why?

The blender for delicious vinaigrettes, paired with fruits, veggies and herbs from my garden for lots of tasty salads.

If you were an herb, what would you be, and why?

I like sage. It’s warm and fuzzy and, when treated right, is very subtle and sophisticated. A few wonderful ways to use sage: with blackberries over whole-wheat hotcakes, crepes, or oatmeal; with roasted butternut squash and gruyere on toast; with organic chicken roasted on the grill and a walnut oil rub; and made into a simple syrup to be mixed with Bluecoat gin and lemon.

Favorite healthy cookbook?

Jamie Oliver’s simple and natural Jamie at Home: Cook Your Way to the Good Life, and Annie Somerville’s Fields of Greens.

“My mother taught be _________ about healthy eating.”

Mom taught me strong basics: have a nice garden and eat what’s in season. We always stopped and supported every farm stand we saw.

If you could only cook with three vegetables, what would they be?

I cannot live without jalapeños, lettuces and greens, and I would really miss corn if it ever disappeared from earth.

What’s in your garden?

Jalapeños! And cherry tomatoes, tons of herbs, lavender and roses.

What’s your go-to healthy lunch?

Avocado, herbs, nuts and cottage cheese.

You love cheese. What is your philosophy on incorporating it into a healthy lifestyle?

Use farmstead and artisan cheese in everything you make. It is expensive, yes, but you will use less and bring bigger flavor to the plate. Get satisfied by your cheeses—don’t go bland.

What’s your favorite healthy dish at Talula’s Garden?

Our chilled soups. Currently we have a chilled vegan and dairy-free cauliflower soup with eggplant, pine nuts and raisins. Great texture, fresh, new flavors. Our chilled melon is made with with spiced yogurt and mint—perfect with a cheeseboard. We’ve also got scallops and figs with corn and green pole beans. It’s soooo seasonal, satisfying and low carb, too.

Katie says: The lesson here? Eat your vegetables. The sides and the vegetable-centric starters are my go-to options at Talula’s. Aimee once told me they build each dish around the vegetable instead of the protein. I love that!  The seasonal ingredient should be the star of the show.


Have a restaurant or chef you’d like us to feature in the Cheat Sheet? Let us know in the comments!

Restaurant menus are reviewed by Phillies dietitian and owner of Healthy Bites Katie Cavuto Boyle. In most cases, the individual restaurants were contacted for specific ingredient and recipe information. Note: Many restaurants have seasonal menus and some items may not be available.

>> See Cheat Sheets for other Philly restaurants here. And for Katie’s healthy dining-out tips, go here.