Healthy Food: The Chef vs. The Nutritionist

9/24/2007 09:11:00 AM

This may be stating the obvious, but one of the things I've noticed about the healthy recipes I've been collecting lately is that the majority aren't particularly inspiring to read, and can taste a bit boring. Conversely, the gourmet recipes that I love so much tend to be expensive, difficult, and fattening. Eating exclusively healthy recipes would leave me bored (and possibly depressed), whilst eating only gourmet recipes would leave me fat and broke.

As always, it is a fine balance. Whenever I find a healthy recipe that happens to be gourmet, or a gourmet recipe that happens to be healthy, I just have to try it.

Balsamic Pork

This recipe, from the latest issue of Diabetic Living, was part of a 'Meat-a-licious' feature. Apparently, meat recipes don't feature heavily in the magazine, in general, because lean and healthy cuts of meat are expensive, and thus not suitable for everyday family cookery. Aside from this, the recipe was easy to make, and delicious.

So, you get a fillet of pork, and marinate it in balsamic vinegar, a touch of olive oil, garlic and rosemary. Then you grill it! Once it's cooked, you brush the fillet with reduced balsamic vinegar and let it rest. It is served with a mixture of vegetables - eggplant, capsicum, onion, Swiss brown mushrooms and tomatoes - which are grilled with the least amount of oil possible, and doused in a herby, vinegary dressing. The judicious use of herbs and spices is a good way of preventing healthy food from becoming disappointingly bland.

No matter what Diabetic Living says, 100g of meat per person doesn't seem like enough. Portion control may be depressing, but it is important. However, with the vegetables and some multigrain bread, it felt like a complete meal. And it tasted great!

Seared Salmon with Cucumber and Mint Salsa

Next up we have a fish recipe from Neil Perry's latest book, Good Food, which I am really enjoying at the moment. This particular recipe is healthy and tasty, and far easier than the impressive result would have you believe.

Salmon searing. Stove protected by Tempura Screen purchased at Japanese grocery store.

The dish consists of quickly seared salmon, served with a salsa made of cucumber, herbs, and various vinegars, some olive oil and mustard. I followed Neil's serving suggestions, and served it with boiled green beans, and (shhh!) a potato gratin.

Having made a proper, sliced-potato gratin once before, this time I wanted to try something a bit easier. Bring on Nigella's gratin (Nigella Bites). There is no nervewracking measurement of cream-to-potato ratio, no finicky slicing, no worrying about the dish dimensions à la Jeffrey Steingarten. Rather, simply cut the potatoes into approximate 1 cm slices, boil with cream and milk until tender, then tip into a dish and bake in a superhot oven until brown and bubbling. The liquids become absorbed into the potato, which themselves become delightfully tender. Easy.

Al fresco fabulousness. Yay for the warmer weather!

The relish

The entire meal was wonderful - the acidity of the relish complementing the rich oily fish. And, incidentally, oily fish are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are, I'm told, vital for brain function and heart health. I have no health-related justification for Nigella's fabulous gratin. It just tasted good. Perhaps some plain boiled potatoes, or roasted sweet potatoes would be more appropriate for healthy eating.

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  1. Anonymous5:24 PM

    Sarah, this all looks superb, I will absolutely try it all, yum. I wanted to tell you there is a recipe for brownies using pomegrante molassis on a blog, I think it was chocolate chipped or something like that (I will look it up and tell you asap), which looked gooey and interesting, syrup is sour and is used to tenderise meat in a lot of Moroccan dishes so I wonder what it does to the brownies, might be worth trying? Vida x

  2. That all looks yummy. I use skimmed milk for the Nigella style gratin because that's what I keep in the house and it works perfectly well (I still add the butter though!).

    Gemma x

  3. wheres my blog about the food you made me :P!!!

  4. Patience Kevin, patience!!

    xox Sarah



My email address is sarahcooks [at] hotmail [dot] com.