Kitchen Confidential: 6 Secrets from Top Spa Chefs
Impress your guests and up your game in the kitchen with these six “secrets” from two of our favorite spa chefs!
Herbs on Ice
Freeze your fresh herbs for year-round enjoyment by making herbal ice cubes. Chop your fresh herb. Then sprinkle into the wells of one of those old-fashioned ice cube trays. (You can still buy them at stores like Target.) Into each well place about 1 tablespoon of herb. Then fill each well with cold water, and freeze. When your cubes have frozen, pop them out of the trays and place in a freezer bag. To use, simply melt in a sieve or plop into your sauce as it cooks.
Ginger in a snap
Peeling fresh ginger root is a pain not to mention time-consuming. Don’t bother with peeling unless you’re using your ginger for presentation purposes. Simply wash your ginger root, dry, and start grating. Ginger’s paper-thin skin is not only highly nutritious, it aids in digestion.
Green and Gorgeous
Green vegetables like kale, chard, and mustard greens are delicious and super nutritious, but often, unfortunately, their vibrant green hues fade in the cooking process. Help them stay green and gorgeous by adding a hint of baking powder or baking soda to the boiling water while cooking them.
Chef Karla Williams of Hilton Head Health:
“As a chef at a weight-loss and wellness resort, I am always looking for new ways to add nutrition, cut calories, and make flavorful tasty food. Over the past five years of working at Hilton Head Health I have learned and developed a few tips and tricks to make food nutritious without sacrificing any flavor or excitement.”
Bulk up your favorite foods with delicious and nutritious vegetables, aka volumetrics. When preparing every meal at Hilton Head Health, I always practice volumetrics. By practicing volumetrics your eyes will be pleased by the size of what’s on your plate and your bodies will be satisfied nutritionally. Everybody wins! Next time you prepare whole wheat pasta toss roasted vegetables with it and top it with a tasty marinara. The serving of tossed pasta will appear larger yet, it’s actually a good portion of vegetables. I recommend serving equal parts whole wheat pasta to roasted vegetables.
Slim Down Sauces
Sauces are traditionally thickened with roux, equal parts flour to butter. These two items are caloric and are not nutrient dense. Instead of using a roux to thicken sauces, I use a cornstarch slurry; equal parts cold water to cornstarch mixed. When making a traditional Italian chicken marsala, skip the roux addition and substitute two tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with two tablespoons of cold water. Once the sauce is at a low simmer, slowly add the cornstarch slurry, and stir. This mixture will instantly thicken your sauce, creating an indulgent gourmet sauce.
Tone Down Desserts
Desserts are sweet and indulgent and typically loaded with sugar and saturated fat. However, I substitute pureed 1% cottage cheese for oil or butter in popular desserts such as; chocolate cake, fudge brownies, or red velvet cupcakes. The addition of cottage cheese reduces the fat content yet, still keeps the tasty treat moist. When a cake-like dessert recipe calls for 1/2 cup of canola oil, substitute ¼ cup pureed 1% cottage cheese and add ¼ cup oil. Leaving a bit of the fat in the recipe will ensure the cake has a cake-like texture.
Do you have any secrets that help you out in the kitchen? Share them in the comments below!