Everything in moderation

If you have ever attended one of my cooking classes or cooking shows, you know that I am a big advocate for using fat in cooking.
You will always hear me chanting “Fat is Flavour; Fat is Moisture; Fat is your Friend.”
I even take it one step further by joking that “My title is not doctor, dietician, or nutritionist–my title is chef” . . . but, I always take a moment from this overindulging of fat celebration to mention moderation.
Moderation is truly the key. Just because I may demonstrate an incredible tasting recipe loaded with fat grams and calories, this does not mean that I expect you to eat like that on a regular basis.
These types of recipes are meant to be illustrated as your “go to” formula for a special occasion when you want to “wow” someone with your cooking.
Having a background myself of having to deal with being overweight as a child and young adult, I know that it is not the preferred way to journey through life.
Today, with a balanced diet and my best at a regular exercise routine, I have more energy and feel better than I ever did in my younger years.
The main difference, more than any time prior in my life, is that I now celebrate all foods, not just the fatty and calorie laden ones.
There is flavour to be found in all types of ingredients, recipes, and cuisines, and to find greatness in your regular diet is to rejoice in variety and moderation.
The focus of moderation in this column has a couple of meanings: restriction and portion size.
Eating forbidden foods (everyone’s perspective of “forbidden” is different so I will leave it up to you to define this term) does not have to be done on a daily basis (restriction) or should be of a small amount (portion size).
Whether you practice restriction and/or portion size will again depend on your lifestyle, beliefs, and ultimately what works for you to lead a healthy way of life.
This being said, there is a huge variety of recipes that I share with the public, not just the fatty ones.
Most menus I teach at my classes and shows tend to have a balance about them unless there is an obvious general menu focus on a certain technique or specific ingredient.
My opinion on life is a bit biased as a chef, but I believe that food helps us to celebrate and enjoy our daily existence.
We need food to survive, so let’s make it exciting and something to look forward to everyday.
Having influence from a chef in your life will help you in many ways to prepare restaurant quality food right in your own home.
By cooking from scratch you have the ability to control ingredients, cooking technique and also save money.
Honing this skill in the kitchen you already have, and with the daily requirement that you need food to stay alive, will prove to be invaluable.
So, blow some dust off your cookbook collection, watch some cooking shows, or take a cooking class . . . and consulting a doctor, dietician and/or nutritionist may not be a bad idea either.
Although eating fat in food has no direct correlation to drinking red wine, I do feel compelled to state the following in my argument of moderation: “Many studies have suggested that drinking a single glass of red wine everyday is good for you, but skipping the whole week and having seven glasses on Friday night . . . not so good.”
Chef Dez is a chef, writer, and host. Visit him at www.chefdez.com
Write to him at dez@chefdez.comor P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, BC V2T 6R4

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Everything in moderation

According to the World Health Organization, that glass of orange juice in the morning no longer is healthy.
Under its new guidelines for sugar intake, an average glass of orange juice exceeds the six teaspoons of sugar an adult should consume in a day.
The proposed recommendations would cut the sugar intake from 10 percent of your allowed calories to just five percent.
Joining the list is cans of Coke (or any other non-diet pop), two or more Oreo cookies, and any chocolate bar found in the candy counter. A can of sugar-sweetened soda, for instance, contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar.
Even healthy milkshakes are troubling, as are those caramel frappuccino coffees from Starbucks.
These new recommendations are aimed at reducing heart disease, obesity, and other serious diseases such as diabetes.
As a diabetic, I’m constantly watching my sugar intake, realizing that ice cream, cookies, cakes, and juices can spike my blood sugar levels.
Before I was diagnosed with the disease, I gave little thought to the two or three cans of pop I drank in the day, or the double sugar in my coffee, or the piece of cake that I ate.
Cookies, ice cream sundaes, chocolate bars, and other sweets never were given a second thought.
It appears everything that is good to eat is bad for you. Even in moderation, some items should not be enjoyed. In our household, we enjoy making baked beans from scratch and the recipe calls for a considerable amount of brown sugar and molasses.
Now a single portion under the new WHO sugar guidelines might exceed the normal allowable sugar intake.
We will make pulled pork but the mopping sauce, with brown sugar, molasses, ketchup, and spices that is mixed in at the end when the pulled pork is put on a bun, probably exceeds the allowable sugar levels, too.
A dietitian will tell you that a juicy hamburger (or ribeye steak or a slice of prime rib) is very high in fat and not really good for you, but you enjoy those items anyway.
Adding ketchup, mustard, and sweet pickle relish to a hamburger makes it doubly dangerous. That single serving of ketchup has one teaspoon of sugar.
Adding fries with ketchup is not great, either.
Even store-bought tomato spaghetti sauce may exceed allowable sugar levels. You also might be surprised to learn that healthy no-fat yogurt with fruit may exceed the new normal suggested levels for sugar intake.
Many of the sugars are hidden in the process foods we consume.
The WHO today tells you that you really shouldn’t wash down that hamburger and fries with a can of pop or a milkshake.
Even a healthy salad can be dangerous. By adding just a single portion of Thousand Island or Catalina dressing, you are consuming a teaspoon of sugar.
What does one make of all these rules? Everything should be done in moderation. An occasional piece of red meat, a single burger, a skinless chicken breast, a very small orange juice, pancakes and waffles without syrup, and cake without icing will have to make up our diets.
Then again, maybe we should be foolhardy and enjoy all the great foods we have grown to enjoy.