Wednesday, January 19, 2011

11 Cooking Secrets From a Spa Chef

This 2011, I pledge to eat healthy and live healthy. I have always been a meatlover ever since, but now that news around me regarding how some relatives and friends suffer because of unhealthy eating habits, my diet needs some mean "makeover".

Ever heard of Spa Cuisine? Here are some tips shared by Spa Chef Cary Neff that we can try to do for a better and healthier 2011. These simple, healthy solutions for everyday meals are part of Oprah's 2011 Feel Good Challenge

1. Shift Your Focus
Make vegetables and complex grains—not meat—the meal's centerpiece.

2. Vote With Your Pocketbook
If those tomatoes or melons that you buy out of habit consistently look good but taste awful, reject them. If other customers do the same, the grocer will have a compelling economic reason to change his wicked ways.

3. Treat Yourself to Better Meat
Buy a little bit of good meat rather than a lot of cheap meat. Naturally raised meat requires less fat-trimming and has more marbling, making it fulfilling even in small amounts.

4. Think Fresh
Whenever possible, buy local, seasonal, and organic. (We love making our own carrot juice, something I never expected I would actually like. You can check out my carrot-pipino juice recipe here)

5. Choose a Healthier Stock Option
Use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

6. Get a New Roux
Use potatoes, rice, cornstarch, or barley—not cream, butter, or flour—to thicken soups and sauces. (My mom then would use smashed potatoes when cooking the red sauce for her spaghetti)  

7. Fresh Flavors
Add flavor to a dish with fresh herbs and spices rather than fat. (Basil is my favorite, the most used herb in our kitchen)

8. No! More! Hydrogenated! Oil!
Substitute applesauce or prune puree for oil in cakes.

9. Yolks Be Gone
Use egg whites rather than yolks as much as you can.

10. Small Potatoes
Don't change a thing on your mother's mouthwatering holiday menu—except the portion size.

11. If It Gets Sprayed Out of a Can, Don't Eat It
Instead of whipped cream, try organic yogurt with vanilla beans and maybe some fresh mint. If, on occasion, you feel like treating yourself to whipped cream, by all means do so—but don't go near that ghostly, greasy white stuff that's sold as whipped topping.

Want to get hold of delicious and nutritious recipes? You can try cooking certain dishes inspired by Paleo Diet. Download the cookbook here.

Chef Cary Neff is the Executive Chef at Miraval Life in Balance Resort in Catalina, Arizona and author of Conscious Cuisine. Follow Chef on Twitter at

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