Last night's Top Chef All Stars finale was quite exciting. No matter if you were rooting for Richard Blais or Mike Isabella, there's no doubt that when it comes to food, those guys can cook. While you generally think of high-end cuisine as food that's delicious yet heavy in butter, fat and cream, over the years Top Chef has shown viewers a few healthy tricks. While the cuisine on the show isn't always the lightest fare, there's still a lot to be learned about healthy eating from Top Chef. Below is a list of five tips that will have you cooking like a healthy Top Chef All Star in no time!
5 Tips to Cook Like a Healthy Top Chef All Star
1. Choose fresh, local ingredients. Ask any chef on the show, and they'll tell you that having fresh and quality ingredients — not something highly processed — is key to having a delicious dish. Hit up your local farmers' market, ask your grocery store's manager what items (produce and meat) are the freshest, or even consider growing your own vegetable garden. Buying local is not only good for the environment, but it also ensures that you have the best tasting — and most nutritious — foods.
2. Get out of the box (quite literally) for your grains. Top Chef contestants are always using exotic grains, spices and other ingredients from around the world — many of which are extremely healthy and full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Instead of sticking to what you know, why not break out of your healthy eating box by trying a new whole grain like quinoa or black rice as your next side dish? Or visit an Indian market and try some new spices? Or hit up the library for a new cookbook on international cuisine? There are so many nutritious and interesting options!
3. Get playful. On Top Chef All Stars the judges love it when the cooks have a little fun and get creative with their cooking. Bring this type of energy to your kitchen the next time you cook. Try to find ways to challenge yourself by making a new healthy dish with only the ingredients in your fridge or try turning a culinary normality on its head — like making a savory sorbet instead of a sweet one. Have fun with it!
4. Serve courses. You rarely see a one-course meal on Top Chef, but that's what most of us eat day in and day out. Turn your healthy fare into high-end fare by always starting with one or two small vegetable-based starter courses like a soup or salad and a main dish of lean protein. Spacing the meal like this allows you to relax and more likely to savor each bite. Also, because you're slowing down to eat, you may find that you need less food to fill your belly!
5. Make dessert simple and fruit-based. Most of the Top Chef contestants dread making dessert, so instead of making some heavy, sugar-laden dish, they create something simple and light. Follow their lead by using fruit as the centerpiece of your dessert. Whether it's fruit kebabs, some grilled peaches with a little crème fraiche or even a simple fruit salad, simple is good and usually better for you!
Jennipher Walters is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomedGirls.com and FitBottomedMamas.com. A certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and regularly writes about all things fitness and wellness for various online publications.