Breana Lai, M.P.H., R.D., Test Kitchen Manager

Breana Lai

A Le Cordon Bleu–trained cook, dietitian and sommelier who loves dogs, classic cars and a cool glass of rosé.

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Culinary nutritionist Breana Lai develops healthy recipes and editorial and digital content for EatingWell in her role as Test Kitchen manager. She’s a recipe developer in the Test Kitchen, has been the editor of the “Morsels” Test Kitchen section of EatingWell magazine, and is a blogger for EatingWell.com. Breana also contributes all wine content and pairing suggestions for the brand, writes nutrition information for recipes throughout the magazine, assists with food styling on photo shoots and stars in Facebook Live instructional videos.

Breana has a master’s degree in public health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu London, a Wine Spirit & Education Trust trained sommelier and a registered dietitian. Before joining EatingWell in 2013, she owned a nutrition and catering business and worked as a culinary instructor at Southern Season and a diabetes self-management coordinator at the Orange County Health Department. Breana continues to enjoy teaching cooking classes and volunteering her time with the Vermont Youth Conservation Core and as the communications chair for the Vermont Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Recognized as the 2015 Vermont Young Dietitian of the Year, Breana has also served as a featured speaker at many industry events.

A transplant Southerner (from North Carolina) and Chinese Jew, Breana grew up thinking biscuits, matzo ball soup and Chinese roast pork all paired together perfectly for a meal. She started playing tennis at age 6, was at nationals by 12, and went on to become a two-time NCAA National Champion & Scholar Athlete. Before tennis took center stage, Breana also rode horses and played competitive softball and basketball. Fun facts: She has secret talents for flower arranging and jigsaw puzzles and a not-so-secret passion for classic cars.

My point of view:

What does “eating well” mean to me?
Eating well means enjoying all foods, especially foods that benefit my body and the earth. Vegetables first, then meat and fruit and dairy, with a hefty dose of good bread and pasta. And wine, of course.

The three ingredients I simply couldn’t live without…

•   Scallions: They’re tamer and sweeter than all other onions and the two sides—the whites and the greens—make them super-versatile in salads and cooking.

•   Eggs: They’re my favorite go-to ingredient whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

•   Miso: An umami ingredient that, when added to anything (sweet or savory), instantly boosts its deliciousness.

My go-to dinner for nights when there’s no plan…
Fridge clean-out ramen featuring leftover Test Kitchen vegetables, frozen dumplings and the Japanese ramen my dad ships to me by the caseload. Or takeout sushi.

The healthy habit I’ve committed to…
Exercising every day. This doesn’t mean daily 5-mile runs or intense weightlifting, but I try to move my body in some way so I’m never sedentary for long.

My favorite EatingWell recipe…
Paprika Chicken Thighs with Brussels Sprouts. I’d been making this recipe at home for years before I developed it for EatingWell readers. It went from being good to really good when we gave the Brussels an extra hit of acidity by adding whole lemon slices. I love that about working in the Test Kitchen. Just when you think you’ve made something good, it can be made better.

What I work on:

•  Spaghetti Squash Lasagna with Broccolini
•  Spanakopita Loaded Potatoes
•  Zucchini Noodles with Avocado Pesto & Shrimp
•  The Best Spiralizer for Making Vegetable Noodles
•  Facebook Live: Carb Swaps