Techniques of Healthy Cooking
CHOOSING A HEALTHY EATING PATTERN is vitally important, as diet directly influences health.
Obesity causes at least 300,000 deaths a year, while the combination of excess weight and lack of physical activity are responsible for more than 400,000 deaths a year. The problem isn’t limited to the United States—it affects both rich and poor countries around the world.
Americans need to understand that excess weight and obesity are literally killing us. Each small step makes a difference: A healthy diet (combined with regular exercise and not smoking) can help prevent not only excess weight and obesity but also heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and other chronic diseases. A healthy diet can also help control many health conditions. The problem for most people is how to understand what constitutes healthy eating. It’s a daunting task, even for people who consider themselves nutrition savvy.
Dozens of new diet books are published each year, but few are based on solid scientific principles. An independent team, led by Dr. Walter C. Willett, chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, has been working to clear up the confusion by defining what constitutes a healthy diet according to the best scientific evidence available. Their work complements research from a range of leaders in the field of nutrition from all over the world. In many cases, this work is running ahead of government policy-makers’ ability to translate it into accurate, up-to-date public health messages.
The Culinary Institute of America’s first Worlds of Healthy Flavors Leadership Retreat was held in 2004 on our Greystone campus to address the needs of leaders in the food-service industry. We invited several internationally acclaimed chefs and cookbook authors to prepare meals and to showcase the healthful nature of their native kitchens. Aromatic, stimulating, and delicious beyond words, the lunches and dinners confirmed that the world’s cuisines abound in healthful ideas: from India’s spicy lemon broth with lentils to Mexico’s green mole with vegetables to a Spanish salad of greens, figs, and gazpacho vinaigrette.
As food experts from Mexico, Greece, India, and Vietnam displayed the riches of their native table at the Worlds of Healthy Flavors gathering, one point crystallized:
Americans still have a lot to discover. With the recipes and healthy cooking techniques in this book, and the drive to continue your study of how food and health are intertwined, the lessons of the world’s most intriguing cuisines can translate into healthier menu options both in your restaurant and in your home.
WHEN THE CIA FIRST APPROACHED the idea of nutritional cooking, we set out to prepare a manual for our students to use in the two courses we then offered in nutrition and nutritional cooking. That manual grew to become the 500-pluspage volume we are now proud to present in its Fourth Edition. Over the years and through each edition of this book, more information has come to the fore about healthy cooking. And with each passing year, our guests have continued to call for great-tasting food that is good for you in every sense of the word.
Our knowledge of nutrition continues to grow. Every day, it seems, the news features a newly released study on how the foods we eat affect our health. In addition, we have learned that the way foods are grown and distributed can also have a significant impact on our health and the health of our planet’s farmland and overall food supply.
People have become increasingly aware that, as part of a lifestyle that also includes such elements as proper amounts of rest and exercise, good nutrition is important in maintaining physical health and overall well-being. Consequently, the demand for products and services designed to help support the quest for good health has increased dramatically.
Chefs, restaurateurs, and other food-service professionals are rising to the challenge of offering foods that appeal to patrons’ desire for a healthy lifestyle. We now know that a healthy diet is based on eating a wide variety of high-quality foods that provide balanced nutrition. Chefs are in the vanguard of efforts to revitalize regional food systems and are urging a conscious evaluation of how we choose to buy, cook, and serve foods.
Chapter 1 covers some of the basics of nutrition by defining the various roles that foods play in sustaining life. This material is not intended as a replacement for more in-depth study of nutrition. We introduce a number of important concepts, including the importance of calories, and discuss dietary guidelines, healthy diets, and food guide pyramids. We know that a healthy, balanced diet plays a role in maintaining optimum health, along with regular physical activity. When we examine the diets and dining habits of cultures whose members exhibit low levels of heart disease, obesity, and other diet-related health concerns, we can begin to identify the foundations of healthy cooking.
Based on the combined knowledge of dozens of professional chefs, dietitians, and food-service professionals, and on the lessons of the pyramids, The Culinary Institute of America has revised its own set of principles for healthy cooking. These guidelines are an invitation to think about the foods you select, the cooking techniques you use, and the types of beverages you offer. They are not ironclad rules. Instead, they should be regarded as ways to explore the possibilities of flavor and healthy cooking.
To begin cooking for good health, we have to revise the way we think of meals and shift our focus to those foods that once were relegated to the side. The major challenge in such an undertaking is the preservation of flavor.
Our recipes offer practical solutions for putting healthy cooking into effect. The recipes in this book are written to help you learn, or relearn, how portion sizes and ingredient measurements look when using healthy cooking guidelines.
At first, it may seem cumbersome and time-consuming to measure out certain ingredients, but the extra time will pay off. As you grow familiar with the correct measures and portion sizes, using them consistently becomes easier. You will probably discover that it is always best to weigh or measure ingredients that could add extra calories, cholesterol, sodium, and fats not intended to be part of the dish. The analysis provided at the end of each recipe is based on the exact measurements supplied in the ingredient list. Adding a few more teaspoons of butter, an extra ounce of heavy cream, or another slice of bacon is likely to have a negative effect on the dish’s nutritional profile.
Not every component needs the same careful monitoring, though. Adding more basil to the pasta, for example, or increasing the amount of vegetable garnish in a soup will probably not make much difference, nutritionally speaking, but the flavor of the dish might benefit dramatically.
Many factors affect the nutrients in each ingredient (season, ripeness, soil conditions, etc.), and many factors affect the nutrients in the cooking process (how long, what temperature, storage conditions, etc.). The nutritional analysis we have provided for each recipe is a reliable estimation of the nutrients that are in that dish. The nutrients selected for analysis are based on the current food label and include calories, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrate, dietary fiber, sugars, and protein. To standardize the process and to ensure consistency in the nutritional analysis, the following standards were used:
Each analysis includes only the ingredients in the main ingredient list. Serving suggestions are not included in the analysis.
All ingredients were measured using the U.S. measurement system. Nutrient values were rounded using the FDA food label standards.
When a range of ingredient measures is given, the smallest amount is used in the analysis.
When an ingredient, such as pepper, is listed as “as needed” or “optional,” it is not included in the analysis.
When more than one ingredient is listed, such as “chicken or vegetable stock,” the first ingredient is the one used in the analysis
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