Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Chef's approach to eating lighter, losing weight, and getting in shape .... Part 3

This is the conclusion of a three part post.
You'll want to read Part 1 and Part 2 before continuing here.

I discovered that I had already had the tools to eat well but healthier. I even used a related approach to incorporate exercise into my life. Yes that's right, you are going to have exercise in some fashion. Believe me, anyone who tells you that you can lose weight and especially keep the weight off without moving your body is lying to you. Don't stop reading though. Trust me, we are going to make this doable, even fun.

It was later though, after I had decided to merge my love for cooking with my interest in health and started a business specializing in preparing food and menu plans for people seeking to lose weight that I made some really startling discoveries.

First and foremost, I found out that I wasn't unique. I really thought that the situation of my career and associated lifestyle made me a special case when it came to the challenges of losing weight. Or maybe it was because Mama always told me I was special.

The truth is that we are all constantly surrounded by temptation. Whether it is the doughnuts someone brought into the office, the fast food places we pass by every day, the processed foods that litter supermarkets or the commercials on TV. Fattening, unhealthy food is waved in front of all of our faces all the time.

The truth is that most of us live and work with friends and colleagues who don't share our desire to lose weight. It's no secret that carrying a few or even quite a few extra pounds has become very common these days. Weight loss “buddies” can be hard to come by for many of us. In fact, as I'll discuss later, we may even be better off without one.

The truth is that we all have busy lives. Just about everyone has to at least occasionally “eat on the run” or “grab a quick bite” or have a “working lunch.” We often don't have time to seek out healthy choices and tracking the calories we eat just isn't going to happen.

The truth is, the need to eat quick, convenient meals is a primary cause for many people's unwanted weight gain. Fear not, this is another negative we are going to turn into a positive.

As time went on and I worked with more and more people who were trying to lose weight I began to see patterns emerge.
I realized that for many people, weight issues are not always so much about what they eat as much as what they don't eat, how they eat, where they get their food and how they schedule their meals.
If you are willing to be a bit more conscious about your eating habits you may just find that you are able to better food and often more food and begin to lose some of those unwanted pounds.

It may be as easy as doing a little fine tuning to your lifestyle to put yourself on the path of feeling better, looking better and living in a healthier body.

The question you need to ask yourself, are you ready and willing to give yourself a tune up?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I've been a busy boy

Such is the life of a chef during the holiday season. Although to be fair not all my time has been filled with work. I have had my own share of holiday events and celebrations that I've been attending as a guest instead of as the caterer.

Still, the holidays offer so much to talk about on the subjects of food & fitness, I feel bad for neglecting the blog.
Bad blogger, Patrick, bad blogger!!

I know many of us are concerned about the effect the holiday season has on our waistlines. All the celebrations, all the wonderful seasonal foods and worst of all is that most of us are running around with too much to do. When we have to "grab something quick" is when we tend to make the worst dietary choices. While home cooked dinners and party food may seem especially fattening, it's more often than not the fast food, convenience food and chain restaurants that account for most of the excess baggage we wish we weren't carrying around.

So during this hectic season, try to start your day with a healthy breakfast, try to keep good food around for the times when you have to grab a quick bite and above all enjoy the holidays. Savor the flavors of the season at holiday events and don't beat yourself up about it. While it's good to pay attention to how you eat between Thaksgiving and New Year; it's much more important to eat wisely between New Year and Thanksgiving.

Once the season calms down I'll have more to say and more pictures to post. I'm just barely getting started here after all. Until then, I hope you are enjoying the season, eating well and feeling great.

For now here is a sweet image for your holidays, Trophy Cupcakes' Candied Yam variety.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


It's been a crazy week with all the work, fun & deliciousness of Thanksgiving. Which of course was followed by the recovery, cleaning up, enjoying of leftovers and then hitting the gym hard to work off those extra Thanksgiving calories.

So I haven't posted in over a week, I need to get cracking on this. I still have the third and final installment of "A Chef's Approach..." to write. It's an introduction of sorts I want to complete before addressing various specific topics individually.

I intend to have that finished later this week.

Right now though the topic is photography. I've been looking at some of my shots that use spoons to add a little pizzaz (I'm throwing jazz hands when I say that) to the picture.
Here are three that I've taken recently in which I chosen a spoon shot to the the pic for that dish.

The one of a Masala Spiced Chicken Stew that I made is probably my favorite of the three. This was simmering on my stove when I took the shot and I had to hold the camera and shoot with my left hand while holding the spoon with my right. That was tricky.
There was a slight bit of pour coming off the spoon but I think what it really added was some depth to the basically flat surface of the stew and the shadow beneath it added some nice bit of contrast & texture.

This is an OK shot of some apple crisp I made. It's nice but doesn't wow me.
The focus in on the spoonful of crisp and it's really needed here to show the apples in the dish. In this one I had my lovely assistant hold the spoon for me. That was much easier.

This is my newest shot of the Quince-Cherry Cookies I made the other night. I used the spoon in this one to try to create an active sense of preparation with the Cider Glaze. I think I was marginally successful with that but what really makes the shot, in my opinion, is the red plate against the featureless black backdrop. Amazing what a macro lens can do with a dark wood table and the night sky outside the window behind it.

This was a new cookie recipe I worked out the other night. Since you have been so patient as to read all the way through this, I'll give you the recipe if you wish to have it. I hope you relish it as much as I. :)

Quince-Cherry Cookies with Cider Glaze

1 cup dried tart cherries
½ cup bourbon
½ cup butter or margarine
1 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar
1 egg
¼ cup milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon allspice
2 cups finely diced peeled quince

1 ½ cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons 1/6th apple cider reduction

1.Plump cherries in the bourbon over low heat until liquid is mostly gone.
2.In a large mixing bowl, cream shortening and brown sugar. Beat in egg, milk and any remaining bourbon. Combine the flour, baking soda, and spices; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Stir in quince and cherries.
3.Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees F for 8-10 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Remove to wire racks.
4.In a small bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar, butter, salt and enough cider reduction to achieve drizzling consistency. Drizzle over cooled cookies.