"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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Entries in cat cora (2)


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...






10-Day Smart Tips Countdown: How Not to Let Kids Upend your Best Eating Intentions

If it were up to my son, we would eat pasta most nights. I love pasta as much as he does -- probably as much as anyone-- but having it multiple times a week doesn't really fit into the way I want to eat anymore. Chefs who are parents have figured out a lot of ways to get the whole family onto the same food page: Serving the food they want to eat themselves, but making everything appealing to their children. Cooking with Muppets also helps, if you can arrange that. Image via Disney.

Iron Chef star Cat Cora is a mom of four young ones. She is a big fan of simply grilled meats, fish and vegetables and found that the act of presenting food on a stick got her kids' interest. "They love it," she told me. "We'll do a salmon skewer and romesco sauce, or lamb with mint-yogurt sauce and pita bread."

Who says kid food has to be bland? Romesco, a blend of nuts, garlic, olive oil and peppers, is an appealing shade of pink and delicious -- it need not be too spicy for young palates. Her family-friendly recipe for lettuce cup halibut gyros appears in Smart Chefs.

And as I encourage myself to eat more vegetables, I try to get my son to do the same. Another chef-mom Andrea Reusing, of Lantern in Chapel Hill, N.C., tipped me off to this trick: Put the vegetables out first, when they (and you) are hungriest -- during the cooking if necessary. After that, she says, "they can go to town on whatever they want."


Tomorrow: An excerpt from Smart Chefs featuring a Top Chef judge's family Christmas dinner.

Until then, happy holidays to all!