Since January is the month when most folks decide that they need to clean up their diets, I thought I would give you a few suggestions that I really love. Most you have already shifted your diets to less meat and dairy, no gluten, less salt and sugar and more vegetables. As your Personal Chef, part of my service is to create a total food experience. In doing so, I am constantly on the lookout for items that have loads of flavor and pair up with what I am featuring. Additionally, I spend countless hours testing and researching foods that may play an important role in your diet! These items may be store bought, semi-homemade or homemade. Give the below a try an see what you think!
Cassava Pasta so many benefits with this pasta it’s free from glutens, grains the top 8 allergens, legumes, gum and lectin. With an earthy flavor and fantastic texture this truly is the closet to the real thing. Check it out here.
Cauliflower Hot Cereal just when you thought there couldn’t be another item made with Cauliflower now you can replace your Oatmeal with this plant based power house. Check it out here.
Chick Pea Flour Tortillas Enjoy Taco Tuesday or Meatless Monday with these tasty tortillas. Roast off some cumin dusted sweet potatoes, add some smoky black beans topped with cheese or crema and fresh cilantro and you have the perfect dinner. Check it out here.
Oat Milk Ice-Cream I’m not a fan of sweets but I keep up on what is healthy and tastes like the real deal and oat milk ice -cream is delicious. Here is a link to several brands check it out.
A lot of planning goes into crafting the Weekly Menus, I work hard to keep on top what is happening in the food world so that I can continue to deliver healthy fun food experiences to my clients. One trend that isn’t going away is the amount of meals you will be cooking at home! Continue looking at the positives, like being able to control the ingredients going into your meals. Creating weekly menus of your favorites while trying new things. Many of you have even found clever ways to stretch my meals, impressive! After 8 months of quarantine you should also be reaping big savings from not eating out and becoming a pantry ninja.
I’m no different than you in that I get bored of cooking the same things so I usually take some time in January to get re-energized and improve my skills. For the last two years I visited Austin and came back with so many new ideas. I even put myself through boot camp. Unfortunately for me I will not be taking any trips in the near future so I must look for my inspirations elsewhere. I have recently spent countless hours reviewing what the experts are saying about 2021 food trends check out this link.
Planning your holiday meals in the midst of a pandemic may create a bigger challenge than in years past. The list below is a road map for any meal but even more important now so that you can spend more time with family and friends. Hopefully since everyone has been home for so many months you have had the time to a create a well-stocked pantry, freezer and fridge (see tips on stocking your fridge and pantry here), so crafting your menu and supplementing with the holiday extras should be a breeze. Don’t forget, I am here to help. The holiday sides menu will go out in 2 weeks, so if all the cooking and planning isn’t for this year, I have you covered!
- PLAN YOUR MENU AND GUEST LIST: Now you can create your grocery list including flowers and beverages.
- PREP AT THE BEGINNING OF THE WEEK: Make sure your fridge is completely cleaned out. When you bring home all your fresh produce take the time to clean, prep and label. I can’t emphasize this enough, if you are using an item for several dishes, prep it once. Items like potatoes, celery and carrots can be prepped up to a week in advance and stored in water. Stage an area for silverware, glasses, dishes, linens, slow cookers and warming units.
- HOLIDAY MEAL COOKING SCHEDULE: Working backwards, figure out what dishes can be made several days in advance, then either place in the freezer or the fridge depending on their shelf life. If storage is a challenge I use coolers to store vegetables and condiments. When I cater big events, I use large trash bags filled with big bags of ice and then place my platters and salads on top.
- OUTSOURCE: Delegating labor-intensive items like desert, appetizers and especially the turkey not only frees up space but gives you the time to prepare your signature dishes. *Never was there a better time to support your local restaurants. Many of them offer complete meals as do places like Whole Foods, Fresh Market even Bojangles.
- TURN YOUR HOME INTO A RESTAURANT: Set up stations for carving, beverages, deserts, appetizers and sides. Or carve the turkey at the table then pass. Place bread baskets at both ends of the table to complete the meal.
- HAVE CONTAINERS ON HAND FOR FOLKS TO TAKE HOME LEFTOVERS: If you want to take it up a notch from Ziplocs and plastic containers, check out these cute holiday containers or craft your own to go containers. This a perfect opportunity to package a holiday meal for friends and folks that can’t be with you or that are housebound.
- KEEPING SIDES WARM: This can be a challenge for many. We have found utilizing your grill is a great option for extra help when stove tops and ovens are full, but here is a link for other ideas.
Over the past few years many of my newsletters have featured diets to help my clients find a balanced healthy meal plan that best works for them! Paleo, Keto, Pegan, Anti- Inflammatory, Whole 30 and more! But ironically the diet that I most enjoy cooking, as well as trying to follow, is the Mediterranean Diet because there are so many benefits. Check out this link for more details
Funnily enough, I wasn’t that familiar with Mediterranean food until I got my first job out of culinary school at The Purple Onion. The Onion specializes in Mediterranean flavors and uses all organic products. From that experience, I have continued to expand my menus using the foundation of the Mediterranean diet for salads, soups, casseroles and entrees. Many of you have asked for my Greek Salad Dressing Recipe. I use it to marinate my meats as well as the base for pasta and potato salads.
Greek Salad Dressing
1 large clove garlic *more if you like garlic
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Measure all ingredients into a jar with tight fitting lid. Shake vigorously until well blended and emulsified. Taste and adjust seasonings. If doing a big batch place everything except the extra virgin olive oil in a blender than slowly add the extra virgin olive oil until emulsified. Store in a sealed container.
With so much information out there on what to eat and what not to eat it can be really confusing to make good choices! As a vegetarian, I struggle to maintain a balanced diet while managing my anti-inflammatory issues. Ongoing inflammation is problematic and can cause several chronic conditions. Food plays a pivotal role and filling your plate with more anti-inflammatory foods while dialing back on the ones that cause inflammation will improve your body’s ability to ward off future diseases and slow down the aging process. Check out Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Food Pyramid, very informative.
For me, diet isn’t the only issue that effects my inflammation. The heat is a big factor! I use cold pressed juices for their cooling effect and as another weapon to reduce my inflammation. A bonus is each bottle of juice contains a large percentage of my daily requirement of fruits and vegetables! I have added this anti-inflammatory elixir to my juice rotation from Mountain Juicery and have had amazing results. Ashley Covington co-owner of Mountain Juicery was nice enough to share the below recipe give it a try.
Inflammation and Skin Elixir
1 oz liquid Turmeric
Drizzle of honey
1 /2 Lemon squeeze
Dash of Water
Sprinkle Black Pepper
Orange Wedge (Eat after you finish)
One of the things that drives me crazy as a Chef is when you ask an owner of a cafe or a restaurant for a recipe and you get a resounding no. My reply each and every time is if every famous chef in the world in addition to magazines, several networks and countless informational sources can publish their recipes, then what’s the harm in sharing? I always come away with what in the heck am I going to do, steal their recipe and take over their business? It hurts my head!
For myself it is the ultimate compliment when one of you wants to know how I made something. There isn’t an original recipe out there, the trick is what you do to it to make it your own….
Also, check out this link on You Think You Know Umami that has some great information on what umami is and how it’s used in modern cuisine.
Soy Sauce is not just for Asian recipes it is a great substitute for salt. I use it in my beef based soups, darker gravies and caramelizing mushrooms it deepens the overall flavor.
Anchovies, I know most people can’t stand them and I was one of those folks, but not anymore! Now to be fair, I just could not use the whole anchovies in the glass jars so I compromised and starting using the tube. The smooth texture and the flexibility to use a few squirts then put back in the fridge made me a believer. I use it in several of my dressings, puttanesca and other tomato sauces, tapenades and crispy breadcrumbs. Here is a link to some great recipes.