The New York Diet

Jessica Hecht Is a Soup Fanatic, Egg Fan, and ‘Arugula Freak’

“I’m 47, and you don’t want to be a skinny, skinny person at my age.” Photo: Melissa Hom

She was the lesbian life partner on Friends, Walter White’s wealthy ex-lover on Breaking Bad, and now earthy actress Jessica Hecht is the star of the critically acclaimed Harvey, on Broadway until August 5. Hecht, an inherently healthy yet plentiful eater, has lived near Hell’s Kitchen for several years. Fortunately, the “physically demanding” show is near all of her favorite fuel. “Ninth Avenue food is my passion,” says the poised, pretty New Yorker. “And although it seems a bit precious, my diet really goes with my neighborhood … my own version of macro.” Read about her obsession with “Thursday Pea soup,” her mommy-strategy at Bouchon, and the Pick a Bagel flagels in this week’s New York Diet.

Friday, July 13
I eat most of my food between eleven and four, which is really good for you. European style! And then I have two small meals: one before I do the show, around 6:30 p.m., and then again when I’m done, which is usually a salad, or sometimes I’ll have a little wine if it’s midnight and I really need to go to sleep. But that’s the only time I’ll ever drink, really.

Started off with a whole-wheat bagel with two poached eggs from Murray’s. I love Murray’s. My daughter is taking classes at FIT and there’s a good one around there. In my neighborhood, I go to Pick a Bagel. I love the flat bagels there; if you special order, you can get a flat whole-wheat everything.

Lunch was salad, tomato soup, and a baguette from Bouchon. This is the first entry in a long line of salad, bread, and soup combos to come. My daughter ate the grilled cheese that came with the unbelievable tomato soup there. The only reason I don’t eat that much cheese is because it’s not good for the throat while performing, too much mucus.

Snacked on dried fruits and granola. Did the show. After the show, I had a salad from Hale and Hearty and their mushroom barley soup. Ended the night with a little peanut butter chocolate frozen yogurt from Holey Cream.

Saturday, July 14
When I wake up, I drink a cup of coffee immediately. Sometimes I’ll eat sorbet for breakfast in the summer. I wake up warm because we don’t have good AC — plus sorbet soothes my throat. There’s a lot of screaming in this role!

Went to yoga and made myself another breakfast — a whole-wheat everything bagel, fruit salad, yogurt, and eggs. Such a fan of eggs, any kind. I’m starving when I perform. I very often eat at least three eggs in one sitting. I have low cholesterol — I’m lucky!

Then I bought an egg-salad wrap. I ate half before the show, half during intermission. I burn a lot of calories when performing, and this show is particularly physical. Jim [Parsons], who I absolutely love, and I were saying how we feel so skinny and pale right now! And to be honest, I’m 47, and you don’t want to be a skinny, skinny person at my age. You don’t want your face to look too thin. There’s a certain type of woman who’s trying to hold on to that; it’s not a good idea.

Postshow, I made the best arugula salad, tossed with just sea salt, olive oil, a little lemon juice, and a bit of Parmesan — because I’m an arugula freak, if I haven’t mentioned that. Then I had some really good ice pops from Trader Joe’s — had to cool my voice a little.

Sunday, July 15
I cook a lot of health food. That’s kind of boring to my family — baked tofu, chickpeas … all those old Moosewood and Enchanted Broccoli recipes. So I made a tofu scramble with mushrooms and spinach, and ate that with fruit salad and yogurt.

Lunch was rice noodle edamame with baked tofu, then a cashew ginger biscotti, all from Chelsea Market. I absolutely love Chelsea Market! Snacked on dried peaches, yogurt, almonds before the show.

Had a veggie burger and onion strings on a salad from the Counter for dinner. My kids love it there. Then some mango sorbet.

Monday, July 16
Day off! I used to do a lot of stuff on days off, but this play is so physical that it makes me need to do something purely curative, like a massage and yoga class, so that’s what I did. Then I hung out with my kids. Ideal Monday! I also love doing laundry; it takes you out of your head.

Ate some peanut butter on a rice cake and some watermelon. I cooked all afternoon, so there was a lot of eating and grazing … baked tofu, chickpea and avocado salad, veggies and brown rice rolls from Health Nuts on the UWS, plus some white-bean soup and, later, veggie soup.

I also had my all-time favorite peanut butter cookie called Goochies. They’re hard to find! When I find a place that has them, I buy, like, ten! I don’t ever pig out on really crappy food. I would maybe do it at a place with homemade pasta. My husband is Italian, so I have an affinity for good pasta. But I have literally no taste for junk food. I ate it as a teenager, of course. But I went through a vegetarianism period in college, with grains and stuff, and I think you can train your body to not have a taste for unhealthy food.

Tuesday, July 17
Yogurt, banana.

Mushroom soup for lunch with a pumpernickel bagel stick and an arugula salad. I’m a soup freak, as you can see. Especially Thursday pea soup, with croutons, from any good diner. It’s a very New York thing. The only place that serves it every day is Cozy Soup n Burger — heaven. But for the mushroom soup, you really gotta go to Le Pain Quotidien. Soup is the perfect food for actors because when you’re performing, you want something that’s not going to sit in your stomach for a long time.

Then, because I had taken a yoga class and was really hungry all day, I had lentil soup — ha-ha, I know — for dinner. Also some Greek salad, roasted potatoes. Finished off the day with a little black licorice. Black licorice and dark chocolate are the only sweets I really have a taste for.

Wednesday, July 18
Mango sorbet for breakfast.

I buy barley already cooked. The best is a company that sells pre-cooked Jewish food at Morton Williams. They make very simple old Jewish food. I added veggies and tofu for lunch.

Pineapple, lemon, orange smoothie from Edible Arrangements outside the theater — they actually make great smoothies! I brought the pea soup and an oatmeal muffin, which I baked from Dr. Oetker. I bake all things Dr. Oetker.

During the show, I snacked on arugula salad and artichoke pizza from Don Antonio’s; it’s this amazing, kinda elegant pizza but not fussy! Really wonderful food there — very affordable, lovely waitstaff!

Came home and, just like I do every night, I throw my stuff down, seat myself at the kitchen counter, make food, and call my husband — because he’s often on location. [He’s currently a director on Breaking Bad.] I gathered some tabbouleh and hummus with carrots and chomped in his ear, talking about the kids. And then I wondered, My goodness, how many hours of my chomping has he dealt with? But that’s life!

Jessica Hecht Is a Soup Fanatic, Egg Fan, and ‘Arugula Freak’