Tips from top chefs

Hey, looky there, I’m as smart as a top chef!

Yesterday, I talked about some new munchies I’ve been trying out here; mainly healthy dips and dippers. Turns out some renowned (and lean) chefs also suggest grazing as one of the ways they keep calories in check.

From the new book, Smart Chefs Stay Slim: Lessons in Eating and Living From America’s Best Chefs, by Allison Adato, here are three stay-slim strategies.

  1. Have a carpet picnic: (ok, that’s not what they call it, but it is what we do at my house). “I’m a nervous eater,” says Andrea Reusing, chef-owner of Lantern in Chapel Hill, N.C. “Some nights I’ve eaten my day’s calories in croutons.” Rather than curb her grazing, she stopped sitting down to a meal after a shift spent tasting sauces and meats and found she wasn’t missing anything. “Breakfast-lunch-dinner is not always the way to go.” agrees Marcus Samuelsson, chef-owner of Red Rooster Harlem in NYC. “A lot of people in the world don’t eat that way, and they’re in great shape.” Rather than cook a full dinner, we often make a meal of sliced fruit, cheese, and roasted veggies. Add in some popcorn or a few slices of bread and humus, and you’ve got a satisfying “picnic,” of healthy munchies. Just watch your portion sizes. It’s easy to snack mindlessly. 
  2. Mind portions: Hey wait, I already said that! “The most compelling portion of a dish is the first three or four bites,” says renowned chef Thomas Keller of New York’s Per Se and the French Laundry in Yountville, CA. The 10th spoonful of ice cream, the umpteenth tortilla chip with guacamole–none are as great as the first (or second or third). His advice: have less, savor more. To Keller, the perfect time to part ways with a plate of food is when you’re still wishing for one more bite.
  3. Use healthy foods to taste-test: In the kitchen, ” you can be tasting and feel like you haven’t eaten anything, but meanwhile you’ve already ingested 800 to 1,000 calories in sauces alone,” says Michelle Bernstein, chef-owner of Michy’s and Sra. Martinez in Miami. Her solution: “Dipping lettuce or a carrot means my body doesn’t trick my mind into thinking I haven’t eaten anything, plus it means I’ve had something nutritious [but not highly caloric] before the meal.”

So there you have it; a few great ideas from folks who are surrounded by the best food, all the time. It’s their job to eat, and many of them still manage to keep their weight in check, so they must be on to something.

I haven’t read this book yet, but it’s on my wishlist (along with ten thousand others).

Btw, this list (minus my comments, in italics), first appeared in a recent Parade Magazine article. Click the book link above for more details.

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