• Nicola Zaina

Myth Busting - Never Trust a Skinny Chef

The skinny chef is often depicted as mean and unfriendly with a pinched pained expression unlike the jolly plumb chef. Skinny doesn't always have a very positive connotation but what about the healthy chef, slim, energetic and passionate?

And do you really want to trust the fat chef, a person who cooks food that makes them fat and more than likely unhealthy too? Give me a chef who can cook delicious healthy food and I will follow them to the ends of the earth.

I find eating out in restaurants is often far from healthy. The focus for the chef is on the main ingredient usually meat or chicken or the same boring line fish - yellowtail. They then present this surrounded by some intriguing sauce and other delightful taste additions but nowhere on my plate do I find the vegetables I so desperately crave. Where did all the vegetables go?

They either land up as small decorative features on the plate or as an afterthought side dish. I want a chef who knows how to marry the right vegetables with the star ingredient. From my days in restaurants the head chef never fussed over the vegetables he focused on the star ingredient and left the vegetable preparation to the salad guy. I think chefs don’t like to focus on vegetables because let's face it vegetables can be tricky.

As the home cook knows it can be a bit of challenge getting perfectly cooked vegetables onto the plate and coordinating everything. They end up getting overcooked. That is why a tray of baked vegetables or a vegetable stir fry is what many of us feel comfortable with cooking.

Do any of you remember the days of getting creamed spinach and butternut or a properly baked potato as the side dish? It was so delicious but I can’t think of the last time I found this as an option. And if you do find a plate of vegetables, you often have to pay extra for them.

Eating out is often seen as an indulgence a chance to have something special and then who wants vegetables spoiling that special meal. It’s like your mother got gagged, how often have we heard her say “eat your veg” but now they aren’t any to eat. The most common vegetable that appears along with the star ingredient is, of course, the humble potato. So easily pliable and it behaves itself so well.

The lack of vegetables starts to impact on us when we have to travel and eat out. My clients do great when they can prepare their own food, but when they have to travel and eat out in restaurants, things start to unravel. It becomes very tricky to eat as many good healthy vegetables when the only options are French fries or a very sad side salad.

When we were in England at the beginning of the year I did love the Sunday roasts we had at pubs in Devon and Cornwall. It just feels like a home cooked meal that someone else cooked for you. A few slices of your choice of meat and then a plate full of vegetables. Granted there were potatoes done two ways (mashed and roast) but there was also cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. I was so happy!

I am not saying that when we eat out we want food that is this simple but I would love to feel inspired by the way my plate of food is presented to me, a plate with vegetables having a place.

So what has made some chefs overweight, the delicious indulgences they prepare and eat every day. Sounds wonderful but it tends to lead to an ever growing belly. It’s hard being a chef, stressed and overweight, on their feet in a hot pressure cooker kitchen, staying healthy takes a certain dedication.

Find the healthy chef, the ones who know how to balance work and life, as well as they, do a plate of food, these are the chefs worth supporting those that aren’t afraid of putting a healthy serving of vegetables on a plate. A chef who can make vegetables the star, who can help us appreciate and inspire us to eat a plant dense diet.

Some of my food heroes that have helped to inspire me with vegetables are Yotam Ottolenghi, Tom Hunt, Jamie Oliver and Donna Hay (she is good at sneaking vegetables into meals) Any others out there that you love, then let me know and let’s share and support these healthy "skinny" chefs

#onlytrustaskinnychef #skinnychef #healthychef #restaurantfood #vegetablesonmyplate

Health is about the food you eat, and the way you move your body.
It's about stilling the mind and connecting to others and nature.
Health is about living a meaningful life that brings you joy & fulfilment.
Find ways to be healthy every day, have fun & don't get stressed or obsess about it.
Health may not look the same for everyone but being healthy is worth striving for.
Nicola Zaina     
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