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"Many top chefs have discovered some surprisingly tasty ways to keep the pounds at bay. [Their] tantalizing suggestions [are] put forth in Smart Chefs Stay Slim, a new book detailing the eating strategies of today’s culinary superstars." -- OPRAH.COM

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Monday
Dec312012

10-Day Smart Tips Countdown: Cheers!

Taking a break from New Year's Eve dinner prep in L.A. to share the last countdown tip of 2012. Since drinks will figure into most people's evening, this is a particularly timely tip from chef Ming Tsai: Along with your alcohol, have some water.

"If I'm out partying, I will drink a full glass of water with every beverage I drink," the Blue Ginger chef and Simply Ming host told me when we spoke for my book.  Doing so creates a pause in which to consider whether you want that second or third drink (and the second and third glass of water that will come with it).

With that, I raise a glass to you, and thank all the people who have been incredibly supportive of Smart Chefs in the past year, and also those who might be considering picking up the paperback edition, out today.

More smart tips, recipes and other ideas to help you keep your resolutions to eat well and stay fit. Happy 2013!

-- Allison

 

 

 

Sunday
Dec302012

10-Day Smart Tips Countdown: Don't Drop the Acid

A microplane grater makes fast work of citrus zesting. "If you've followed a recipe and it didn't turn out quite so good, it probably needs salt and acidity," says chef Rick Moonen of RM Seafood in Las Vegas.  It's an easy trick to up the flavor of a dish -- without adding calories or fat. Rick Moonen - king of seafood, sustainability... and acid!

"If you want to brighten something up," he advises in Smart Chefs, "try taking the zest off any citrus that catches your eye: lemon, lime, grapefruit, tangerine—all good. Those oils are amazing!"

Why is a bit of lemon or vinegar so essential? Chef Michael Psilakis explains, "acid helps us experience food on a palate at different times, so you have an evolution as opposed to a uniform flavor profile throughout the process of chewing. When you add acidity, you experience the food as a sort of roller coaster, with peaks and valleys, which is a lot more fun than driving on a flat plane."

It's the eve of New Year's eve: Resolving now to use more acid to perk up my food!

 

Saturday
Dec292012

10-Day Smart Tips Countdown: Enjoy Local Specialties Only in their Place

Greetings from L.A.!  Since I'm away from home, today's post is about eating while traveling. Especially traveling back to the place in which you were raised if you, like me, now live far from your roots. Those foods you associate with a childhood hometown can have a special pull over you. For me: tamales, guacamole, and my mother's cheese blintzes with cherry preserves -- I love them all (though not all together). You should certainly enjoy your favorites during a vacation, even if they aren't part of your normal diet at home.

 

 Blintzes with cherries, and corn tamales are two of my at-home favorites. Hmm. Maybe I just like things wrapped in other things?

Cat Cora and I talked about this idea during our Smart Chefs interview. She lives here now, in California, but was raised in Mississippi, where some of her comfort food favorites were fried chicken, biscuits and grits. Though she rarely eats them in her day-to-day life, when she goes back to Mississippi "I'll definitely stop for a great biscuit or a big bowl of grits. It's food you can't eat everyday."

Not to pick on Southern cuisine; California, too, has its once-in-a-while indulgences. Locals who have a problem with In-N-Out Burger addiction should probably leave those to visitors. But infrequent travel can give you a pass to eat in a way you wouldn't normally. I will never go to New Orleans and not eat a beignet at Café du Monde; for that matter I'll never go to Disneyland and not enjoy the seriously substandard "New Orleans fritter" they sell next to the Haunted Mansion—environment is everything, and sugared dough fried in oil and nostalgia is hard to pass up. Do I ever eat fried dough in New York? No, never. But if you're visiting during the San Gennero festival, try the zeppole...

 

 

 

 

Thursday
Dec272012

10-Day Smart Tips Countdown: Move Your Fruit

Here's an easy thing to do: Relocate your fruit from the kitchen to the dining table. If you’ve resolved this year to eat better, including more fruit as a dessert or snack, it isn’t enough to buy the fruit; you must actually eat it. If it is right out there where you can’t miss it, you might be more inclined to pick up a piece after dinner, or when passing by during the day. Kefi chef Michael Psilakis told me his mother always kept fruit out, and he does too — choosing fruit as a snack was part of what helped him lose about 80 lbs.

Chef Sue Torres of Sueños in NYC admits to a sweet tooth, but trained herself to appreciate the sweetness of fruit in place of a sugared dessert.

Citrus right now is really terrific, so I have a big bowl of clementines and blood oranges on the table. More refreshing than roses, and just as beautiful.
 

Wednesday
Dec262012

10-Day Smart Tips Countdown: Dine with a Strategy

The two months from Halloween to New Year's can feel like one long meal. (Getting my son a costume is such a small price to pay in exchange for his going out and collecting chocolate for me to enjoy after he goes to bed.)  In between Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year's Day there are parties and leftovers and, often, too much muchness.

A good solution is to go into these situations with a strategy. New York restaurateur (and Iron Chef judge) Donatella Arpaia has learned this from experience. "I make a mental plan when it's Christmas and my mom has a 20-course feast with the meatballs and the chicken cutlets," she told me. "I says, 'Okay, what are my most favorite things? I'm going to eat that, and that and that. And that's all.'" The rest, she says, "is a feast for the eyes."

On Iron Chef, she has to at least try a bite of everything. But in real life, we don't have to eat it all -- eat only the food you really love.