NAKANO! {Interview + Giveaway}

by Jenn (eating bender) on July 24, 2010

It’s Saturday! In these parts, that means relaxation in the form of being a bachelorette. While Bobby is attending a bachelor party this weekend – not his quite yet, but one of his friends – I am looking forward to some fun in the city with girlfriends. You know me – the ultimate party animal. 😉

I’m really excited about today’s post. A few weeks – OK, more than a month – ago, I had the opportunity to work with the great people from NAKANO. I’m long overdue for sharing all of this with you, but then again, life has been a bit crazy lately, if you couldn’t tell!

Having not used rice vinegar for many recipes before, I was interested in finding out more about NAKANO. You may remember that I used it to create the Tofu with Peanut-Ginger Sauce when Sarah came to visit. I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor it added to the dish!

My friend Kate also connected me with Holly Clegg, a cookbook author and foodie known for her “trim&Terrific” line of cookbooks. I hope you enjoy the interview below – and stick around for the giveaway at the end of this post!

Q&A with Holly Clegg

Thanks for chatting with me today! I’d love to hear all about your new cookbook.

It’s called Too Hot In the Kitchen – Secrets to Sizzle at Any Age and is from my trim&Terrific line. With these recipes, you have all of the ingredients in your house. It’s very pantry friendly, user friendly and time friendly. It’s a woman’s lifestyle book that is fun and whimsical and follows my philosophy. I believe it’s so easy to eat healthier and include good foods with anything you’re making.

Can you talk a little bit about how you found your love of food?

The most important thing about my background is that I love to eat and, as a result, I love to cook. When I was young, my parents and I went to a lake house with friends and I remember being upset that the food wasn’t in my cabin. I’ve always loved to cook, I went to Tulane and took advantage of cooking classes, then went to Le Cordon Bleu cooking school.

Is all of this what led to your desire to write cookbooks?

Yes! I’ve been around for a long time – I do all of my own recipe testing and make sure it works. I always call myself a cookbook author, not a chef. I like to be personable, like your next door neighbor. I’m not an icon that you strive to be, I want to be real and something that everyone can do.

What are your favorite ways to use rice vinegars?

I think rice vinegars are very multi-functional. A lot of people think about them only in one way. They’re as good in a marinade as they are on a salad dressing or on fresh fruit. I love the variety of flavors, but sometimes the plain is great, too.

I have worked with many products in the past and the great thing about all of them is that they become staples in my kitchen. When you use vinegars in a recipe, it really makes it pop. I love the red pepper and roasted garlic varieties from NAKANO. I also just made a watermelon salad last night and sprinkled on the natural one. Absolutely no oil and it tasted so good.

I think what people don’t realize is that especially with summer here and all of the fresh produce, you can really intensify the flavors. Take roasted vegetables, for example – just add the garlic version on top and it adds flavor without making it heavy, so you can still really enjoy the taste of the vegetable itself. I use it a lot on my salads – it kicks it up a notch. You can even use the garlic instead of minced garlic itself – a great lazy way out. I use them in marinades and for overall flavoring without the fat.

Speaking of summer, what are tips for entertaining guests when the weather is hot?

I always say keep it simple. Take fresh ingredients and add convenience and it’s still homemade. If you’re making a dessert trifle, for example, I just throw all of the ingredients in because I think we put too much pressure on ourselves to make it look perfect. If you don’t have an ingredient, just leave it out – you don’t have to go back to the grocery store.

You can always take shortcuts, too. Any time a recipe calls for a wine, you could always substitute chicken broth. Sour creams and yogurts are interchangeable. In the summer, I love rotisserie chicken – I love to grill chicken breast. Use a jar of marinara sauce instead of creating sauce from scratch. You don’t have to have fresh garlic, you can used minced garlic. The list goes on and on.

I think the secret to 30-minute cooking is keeping it easy, making it affordable and having a well-stocked pantry. If you stock your pantry with options that stay for long periods of time, you will always have what you need on hand for dinner.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I often look at websites and then try to recreate something myself. I may also be at the store and looking at ingredients and come up with something to put together. Sometimes if I’m at a restaurant, I’ll find a great combination. Or I might be at a party and see a recipe and then tell them I’m going to adapt it and make it trim&Terrific. I’m fortunate that cooking is my passion.

In my world, I don’t think you should ever have to eat something that’s not trim&Terrific because you can make anything taste good and have it be good for you, too. From appetizers to desserts, just because you’re entertaining doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice health.

Anything else we should know about you?

My books are great for graduates, newlyweds and people on the go. We also have a mobile app called Mobile Rush Hour Recipes where you can create a grocery list for yourself – and I have a blog called The Healthy Cooking Blog that is more recipe driven.

Now I have three precious kids and have been married almost 31 years, but I feel like I make a difference in people’s lives. I used to be the queen of whipping cream and butter. I didn’t want to sacrifice good food, so I trimmed the recipes down and kept them terrific. I love to surround myself with good products, good people and good food.


Thanks so much to Holly and the NAKANO team for allowing me to share such a fun interview with my readers! I hope you found it as interesting as I did.


Guess what? NAKANO has offered to give away 2 bottles of product, a coupon booklet and a $25 Visa/AMEX gift card to TWO of you! I am so excited about this giveaway because I really think you will enjoy the recipes – and the gift card is just plain fun. :mrgreen:

There are several ways to enter, so you can pick and choose what works for you:

  • Sign up for the NAKANO SPLASH Recipe Club to receive a free monthly e-newsletter featuring great recipes and tips – and leave a comment letting me know that you did:
  • Become a fan of NAKANO on Facebook and leave a comment letting me know one exciting thing you found on their page:
  • Leave a comment with a link to your favorite NAKANO recipe:

The giveaway will end at 12:01 am on Wednesday, July 28. I will randomly select two winners to receive the gift card, product and recipes. Good luck!

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend! What are your big plans?


1 Jordan P July 24, 2010 at 10:03 am

Those tasty sloppy joes look like my boyfriend would LOVE THEM!

2 grandgiveaways July 24, 2010 at 10:35 am

My kids would love this Asian Chicken Nuggets recipe:

mami2jcn at gmail dot com

3 Alexa F. July 24, 2010 at 10:44 am

These recipes look really good:
Stir-Fried Broccoli –
Patatas Bravas –

But, I think my most used and favorite uses for Nakano (Original) would be simply dipping carrots in it or using it as my salad dressing. So good!

We go through a lot of Nakano: :)

Weekend plans include another coat of stain on a farmhouse table/desk we’ve built from scratch, BBQ with friends and some yardwork.

4 kbwood July 24, 2010 at 11:02 am

Signed up!! never tried this before!

5 kbwood July 24, 2010 at 11:02 am
6 Lisa July 24, 2010 at 11:25 am
7 Angela @ A Healthy Fit July 24, 2010 at 11:28 am

The Asian Crunch Salad looks right up my alley!

8 Allison July 24, 2010 at 12:21 pm

This Asian Crunch Salad looks delicious! Vegetarian and, of course, I’m all about summer time salads!

9 Erica July 24, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Great interview- couldn’t agree more with this: “I think the secret to 30-minute cooking is keeping it easy, making it affordable and having a well-stocked pantry”. So so true!. I signed up for the recipe club

10 spabettie July 24, 2010 at 12:55 pm

I signed up for the recipe club – YUM :)

11 Stacey July 24, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Signed up for the recipe club – apricot chicken sounds yummy!

12 Alex F July 24, 2010 at 3:36 pm
13 Ashley July 24, 2010 at 6:26 pm

I signed up for the recipe club newsletter!!

14 Ashley July 24, 2010 at 6:28 pm

I’d like to try the Broccoli Beef Stir-Fry here:

15 Natalie (The Sweets Life) July 24, 2010 at 9:14 pm

awesome giveaway! would love to make the asian crunch salad!

16 Run Sarah July 24, 2010 at 9:48 pm

I love Nakano rice wine vinegar and use it SO much! I’d love to try the Asian slaw recipe.

17 luckytastebuds July 24, 2010 at 9:56 pm

The Asian crunch salad looks awesome!!! The baked seafood in parchment also sounds delicious.

Plans for this weekend? FLy back to Chicago!!!!! ;D

18 grandgiveaways July 25, 2010 at 6:09 am

I became a Facebook fan of NAKANO (Mary Happymommy). One exciting thing I found was that NAKANO can be splashed on on as a low cal fat-free substitute for mayonnaise.

mami2jcn at gmail dot com

19 Marcie July 25, 2010 at 6:29 am

Signed up for the newsletter!

20 Carol July 25, 2010 at 6:30 am

I signed up for the Nakano newsletter

21 Ashley S July 25, 2010 at 6:35 am

My fav recipe is fabulous fajitas!

22 Lucy July 25, 2010 at 6:52 am

What a great product, I’ve seen it but never bought it, but that stir fried broccoli recipe may change my mind, I definitely plan on buying and trying it for dinner this week, thanks for the giveaway!

23 CaSaundra July 25, 2010 at 6:58 am

I love the sounds of that cookbook–I love when authors try to keep the ingredients limited to things people would have in their kitchen so you are not out running around buying extra things–great interview!

I signed up for their email club…what a fun giveaway!

24 Lori July 25, 2010 at 9:36 am

Broiled Coconut Chicken:
I don’t think my grocery store carries this. I will be on the lookout!

25 Emily July 25, 2010 at 11:06 am
26 Brittany July 25, 2010 at 1:50 pm

I love Asian salads so the Asian Crunch Salad looks and sounds fantastic.

27 spabettie July 25, 2010 at 3:02 pm

mmm – I AM going to make the Far East Edamame, Roasted Corn, and Poblano Chile Salad !!


28 Will July 25, 2010 at 3:17 pm

That Broiled Coconut Chicken looks amazing, would love to try that recipe with Nakano!

29 Beth July 25, 2010 at 3:23 pm

My hubby and I would definitely try the Asian Crunch Salad, looks like one of our faves from a restaurant and it would be cheaper and healthier to try and use this recipe at home–definitely a fun date night! Congrats on your engagement!

30 Kristi B July 25, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Black Bean, Corn and Red Pepper Salsa sounds great!

31 Mandy July 25, 2010 at 4:57 pm
32 Katie R July 25, 2010 at 8:44 pm

I became a fan of Nakano! I love how Nakano’s wall has grilling tips. I never realized that I should only use tongs to flip meat (not a fork). Maybe that’s why my meat has been a little drier than desired…

33 Katie R July 25, 2010 at 8:48 pm

The Black Bean, Corn and Red Pepper Salsa recipe sounds great!

34 Katie R July 25, 2010 at 8:49 pm

I signed up for the newsletter!

35 Astrid July 25, 2010 at 9:20 pm

I really like the sound of the broiled coconut chicken. It looks amazing!
Awesome giveaway!

36 andionthego July 26, 2010 at 12:10 am

I would love to try the baked goat cheese w/tangy spinach:
it basically sounds like perfection to me. thanks for a fun giveaway!

37 Jenn July 26, 2010 at 7:56 am

Great post, Jenn! Thanks for the giveaway opportunity. This Baked Goat Cheese with Tangy Pesto Spinach sounds like a great and tasty new appetizer!

38 bubblegumgymkat July 26, 2010 at 8:13 am

I signed up for the recipe :)

39 bubblegumgymkat July 26, 2010 at 8:13 am
40 bubblegumgymkat July 26, 2010 at 8:13 am

I am now a fan on facebook!!

41 Noel July 26, 2010 at 9:46 am

Cool prize, would love to win, my fave recipe is the stir fried broccoli, looks healthy and delish, thanks for the giveaway

42 Kate July 26, 2010 at 11:30 am

I just signed up for the newsletter!

43 Kate July 26, 2010 at 11:33 am

I learned on their facebook page that you can use the Seasoned Rice Vinegar in place of mayo in macaroni salad! I can’t wait to try it!

44 Kate July 26, 2010 at 11:34 am
45 Pharmacy technician book July 26, 2010 at 11:41 am

My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

46 Ilene July 26, 2010 at 12:46 pm

My favorite recipe would probably be the baked cheese grits :)

47 Katelyn S. July 26, 2010 at 9:07 pm
48 victoria lester July 26, 2010 at 9:40 pm

I signed up for Nakano’s monthly newsletter.

49 victoria lester July 26, 2010 at 9:42 pm

I’m a facebook fan of Nakano and learned that you can use Nakano as a substitute for Wine, Cider, or distilled vinegar. I’m victoria lester on fb.

50 Laura E July 27, 2010 at 9:52 am

Thanks for the opportunity! I signed up for their recipe club. I’m excited because if I win I can try those recipes out!

51 Laura E July 27, 2010 at 9:53 am

I checked out their recipes and my favorite is Tuscan Tuna and Bean Salad!

52 Julia July 27, 2010 at 7:50 pm

I love the Asian Slaw recipe! You could top it on turkey burgers or serve it with grilled chicken.

Good interview with Holly Clegg. She gave helpful tips on how to make cooking easy, fun and healthy!

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