The latest episode of Top Chef made healthy cooking look like a chore. One of the contestants even said “I never use grains in my cooking. I don’t know what I am going to do.” As someone who regularly experiments with whole grain recipes featuring quinoa, amaranth, millet and recently teff, it was a little difficult for me to understand why this was such a substantial challenge. Luckily, the producers brought sexy back to the episode with Sam from season 2 serving as the guest judge. (He has type 1 diabetes, which for some reason made him the de facto expert on healthy cuisine. )
Healthy cooking does not have to be as much of a struggle as the contestants might lead you to believe. A focus on fresh produce, whole grains and lean proteins makes it easy and quite delicious. Try this healthy fish recipe I recently made in a cooking class using whole fish rather than the fillet. It makes for a great presentation at a dinner party, though for a weeknight meal I will stick with fish steaks and fillets.
Red Snapper with Chimichurri Sauce
1 medium whole fish, about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds, cleaned and scaled (or one individual fish such as branzino for each person)
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt/sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
3 cloves crushed garlic
1 sprig fresh rosemary
Fresh thyme or favorite herbs to tast
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1/4 cup dry Italian white wine
1 1/4 cup packed flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper lfakes
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 garlic cloves
1 to 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit
In a large baking dish, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and spread around dish. Place fish in dish and coat with remaining tablespoon olive oil, salt, and pepper. Insert garlic, rosemary, thyme, other herbs, and lemon to cavity of fish. Pour white wine over and inside cavity of fish.
Bake until fish is opaque and skin is browned, about 10 minutes per inch of thickness of the fish.
While fish is baking, make sauce. Combine parsley, cilantro, vinegar, red pepper flakes, cumin, salt and 2 garlic cloves in a food processor. Pulse on high seed until garlic is minced, about 4 to 5 seconds. Transfer herb-garlic mixture into a small bowl. Stir in oil and mix until thoroughly combined. Set sauce aside.
To serve fish, lift the top of the fillet off the fish with a cake server or knife and place on a serving plate. Grab the head, tail, and backbone; remove and discard. Discard the herbs and lemon. Transfer remaining fillet onto serving plate and drizzle sparingly with chimichurri sauce.
If making individual fish for each person, follow the same steps, and instead of removing bones, serve each person the whole fish on a plate.
And as long as we are talking about fit lifestyles, I promised my friend Doug I would let the world know about the talent regularly appearing at the 91st Street New York Sports Club. Any ladies (or gentlemen) looking to enjoy a fine view of some very good-looking men can make their way over to this hidden gem of a gym. Do you have any tips for making healthy living a little bit more enjoyable?
Is there a restaurant or bakery you want me to check-out? A product you want me to review? Any other questions or feedback?
glutenguide at gmail [dot] com