How many times have you eaten out and wished that you could rustle up dishes just like the restaurant chef did? While many chefs are supremely talented professionals and can creatively prepare the tastiest, healthiest meals, many of them pump up the flavour of the food to the detriment of you and your families health. So next time you think your food is less like that chef you aspire to, don't fear! You're actually making the right choice.
Soups, Chowders and Sauces
Chef's secret: Creamy soups, chowders, sauces and almost anything that tastes good in a restaurant is cooked in butter and / or cream.
Your secret: You don't want to be responsible for clogging up arteries with saturated fat. Instead cook with olive oil or rapeseed oil and keep butter and cream for special occasions.
Recipe: Chowder (Mixed Fish)
Chef's secret: If gravy tastes the same whether you have turkey, beef, lamb or pork then Mr. Chef has made his gravy out of a packet. Gravy powder or granules contain large amounts of salt and often monosodium glutamate.
Your secret: Make your own using the yummy natural flavour from the sediments of your roast meat and know you are protecting your families interest. High levels of salt are a no no and can be responsible for high blood pressure and heart disease.
Recipe:Roast Pork with Cider Gravy
Cakes, Pastries and Desserts
Chef's secret: Unless the chef is a pastry chef, I wouldn't be surprised if the pies, pastries, gateaux, muffins, frostings (toppings), ice cream and even cream are actually bought in and therefore more likely to contain hydrogenated fat.
Your secret: Hydrogenated fat (found in cheaper baked products) raises bad cholesterol and can lower the good cholesterol that protects you against heart disease. Make your own desserts for treats at home using olive oil or hydrogenated (trans fat) free spread (which is suitable for baking).
Recipe:Carrot Cake Muffins
Chef's secret: What? You don't think chefs are capable of a veggie trick? Often chefs plunge cooked vegetables into cold water to retain their colour and reheat before serving. However, vitamin B and C are water soluble resulting in goodness from vegetables leaking out if they are boiled or steeped in water.
Your secret: Steam vegetables or if boiling occasionally, use the water to make sauce or gravy. You'll make sure you get all the yummy goodness from the vegetables.
Curries and Stews
Chef's secret: Often the amount meat used by restaurants in curries, stews etc. is disproportional to the sauce. How many times have you fished around you bowl looking for the elusive piece of beef. This represents poor value for money and the lack of meat fails to provide the nutritional value required.
Your secret: Meat is a better source of nutrients than the sauce. Cooking at home provides better proportions of meat to sauce and you can also ensure you are buying a better quality of meat.
Recipe:Chicken Korma Curry
Rice and Pasta
Chef's secret: White and easy cook rice is used in restaurants because they are cheaper and quicker to cook than whole grain.
Your secret: Wholegrain pasta and rice will stop you snacking and the fibre keeps the digestive system healthy. No more mid morning snacks!!!
Recipe:Pasta with Bolognese Sauce
Chips (Fries) with Everything
Chef's secret: Restaurant eating could be called chips/fries eating. This is so wrong on every level, from the process involved in making the chips, to frying them in hydrogenated fat to the temperature of the fat used to cook the chips.
Your secret: New research reveal that fried food cooked in trans-fat is responsible for diabetes 2 and coronary heart disease. Instead, why not make potato wedges or boiled baby potatoes. With herbs and spices to make them more flavoursome, no one will miss the oil and grease.... Well, almost!
Recipe:Spicy Potato Wedges
About Sian's Plan
Sian's Plan is an online meal planner that helps busy people eat well. The service is named after its Founder Sian Breslin, a professional home economist who's taught thousands of families to cook. On the platform, Breslin has created hundreds of recipes to help families prepare healthy, affordable and fuss-free meals in under 35 minutes. More information can be found at www.siansplan.com.
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