BY SCOTT UEHLEIN, CANYON RANCH CORPORATE CHEF
Eating healthy is easier than you think. If you start with the freshest ingredients and use all the right tools, you’re well on your way to a better body for spring. Maybe I’ll cook for you during a Canyon Ranch stay (Boutique opens March 29). In the meantime, here are some easy-to-follow-tips from my kitchen at Canyon Ranch to yours.
1. Buy local. At Canyon Ranch, we strive to purchase as much local product as we can. Shop your farmer’s market where you can focus on seasonal ingredients. Local produce is picked when it’s ripe, so it has more flavor and nutritional value. It’s a great opportunity to meet the farmer and “know the source” of your produce.
2. Can’t buy local? Buy organic where possible. Organic tastes better, has less of an impact on the environment, and is better for you, thanks to the absence of residual pesticides.
3. Prioritize your organic purchases. Concentrate on high-fat dairy and the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” (the twelve produce types with the highest amount of pesticide residue). We use resources like the Environmental Working Group, Consumer’s Union, and others to help keep us up-to-date on our organic purchases.
4. Switch to the healthiest fats. When it comes to liquid oil, use Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Expeller Pressed Canola Oil because they have the best profile of monounsaturated fat. Use the canola oil for high-heat cooking and the olive oil for low-heat applications or dressings.
5. When cooking with oil, “spray it” where you can. Pouring oil can lead to added calories, especially when sautéing. We only pour oil if we are following a recipe that calls for a specific amount.
6. Consider purchasing quality pots and pans. You will not need nearly as much oil when sautéing. Look for pans that have a thick bottom – they will conduct heat evenly and not stick as much as thin pans. Thin pans have hot spots and cold spots, causing foods to stick to the cooler spots. Our pans of choice are “induction ready,” which means they always have a thick bottom for even heat distribution. Even though the pans are designed for induction cooking, we use them on our natural gas ranges.
7. Buy a juicer. Not only does organic apple, tomato, or carrot juice made fresh to order taste absolutely amazing, but try playing with those and other juices in cooking. We use fresh juice in many preparations – we reduce fresh tomato juice with sage and lemon zest as a sauce for grass-fed beef tenderloin, and fresh pineapple juice cooked briefly with Thai Chili and a pinch of salt for Mahi Mahi.
8. Don’t skimp on a blender. A great commercial high-RPM blender will make your vegetable soups creamier and smoother (without adding lots of butter or cream), your homemade curry pastes zestier with less salt, and even allow you to grind your own grains into flour. We push our blenders to the limit. My Cream of Cauliflower Soup (without cream) wouldn’t work if I couldn’t get the simmered cauliflower smooth enough. I also wouldn’t be able to mill my gluten-free oats for our brand new recipe for gluten-free oat bread, or our gluten-free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Dried Cranberry Cookies.
9. Control your portions! Eat less – it really is a calorie game. Proteins should be 4 – 5 ounces (raw weight), and should be balanced with a high-quality carbohydrate (think long-grain brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato, etc.) and a vegetable. Eat slowly, allowing yourself to know when you’re full.
10. COOK WITH LOVE! You really can taste the difference! Nourish the ones you love, don’t just go through the motions. Cook at home and savor the experience, take in the smells, and enjoy the conversation and time with others.
Our Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Massachusetts Boutique opens March 29 at 11AM.