News__ RESOLUTION #10
RESOLUTION: "I Will Eat Better"
Expert: Monique Levesque, Personal Chef
How many times have we opened our refrigerators to see that punishing white light shining down onto empty shelves peppered with a few beer bottles, an apple and some mustard? Probably more often than we would like to admit. Cooking can be a big challenge for most of us who have fast-paced lives, multiple jobs or little to zero kitchen skills. Why is cooking such a challenge and why is it even harder to prepare delicious, healthy meals for one? Forget what bogus diets trash mags are offering you this month, healthy kitchen bliss can be found simply by following a few home-cooked basics.
Monique Levesque creates healthy meals for world renowned Vancouver-based artist (he did not want his name used). As a personal chef, Monique is responsible for creating unique options that follow the Paleo Diet restrictions his staff. The Paleo Diet or "The Caveman Diet" favors natural foods to achieve great health and a perfect physique. Using only game meat, fish, vegetables, wild fruits, eggs and nuts, Monique is always inventing amazing flavor combinations and says she learned every kitchen trick she knows from her mother who is also a chef.
Read our Help with 12 Resolutions for 2012: I Will Eat Better, Whatever That Now Means below.
When did you first learn to cook? Who taught you?
I've been cooking for as long as I can remember, my mother is a chef so food is important in our family. She had us kids in the kitchen helping her constantly, it was a very social thing for us. My father is also a very adventurous cook. My parents really love cooking which made it easy for us to love it too. They taught us how to be intuitive cooks.
Why do you think people are intimidated by cooking?
I think people think food has to be complex to taste good. When in reality food is usually better and healthier when things are kept simple.
What are some common misconceptions about healthy eating? What does healthy eating mean to you?
Packaged or processed "health" foods: Packaged foods are usually filled with preservatives and far from fresh even if they say they're healthy.
Healthy eating is expensive: It doesn't have to be, in fact processed foods are almost double the prices of fresh foods, ingredient wise and in season fruits and vegetables can be quite reasonable.
Takes a lot of time: A handful of nuts and dried fruit in the morning is the fastest breakfast in the world.
Dairy: I think dairy is the worst thing people put in their bodies, it is pumped full of hormones and it makes no sense for humans to drink cows milk. It thickens our mucus membranes and make it harder for our bodies to function properly. You need calcium? Eat some kale!
Eating healthy means eating fresh, whole un-packaged foods. Lots of fruits and vegetables (if they are in season they are usually cheaper) whole grains, and some good protein. I really think that the energy we take into our bodies from food effects our output of energy on more than a basic thermodynamic level. I think animals raised ethically, free run are probably happier, have more energy themselves and in turn when we take in their good energy, we are going to feel better because of it.
I also think how we eat is important to our health. Eating should be social! I live alone so I know this isn't always a possibility, but nothing makes me feel better than cooking good food for someone I care about. Also a meal should always be consumed at a table. This being said I do like eating in bed every once in a while.
What are some of your main rules you follow when cooking?
These are all straight from my mothers mouth. "If you can read, you can cook," "What grows together, goes together." When seasoning, "a little dab will do you" and remember to keep your food colorful! "If it doesn't look good who would want to eat it?"
Any suggestions for cooking healthy for one?
Make batches and freeze them for when you need something quick. In the summer I hit up the farmers markets and buy large batches of tomatoes roast them, then freeze them in serving size batches.
What are the essential cooking tools everyone should own?
Cast iron pan, a spatula, a hand blender, a good sharp chef's knife, micro-plane (looks like a mini-grater and can be used for anything from garlic to zesting citrus fruit) and a good cutting board.
What things do you always keep on hand in your kitchen?
Kosher salt, peppercorns, olive oil, honey or maple syrup (great alternatives to sugar), eggs (always organic free range, the thought of anything else grosses me out) and citrus fruits.
What is the smartest way to grocery shop for the week?
Honestly, I grocery shop every single day, which I know is not realistic for most people but I like my food to be fresh and I don't like forgetting that I have some beautiful vegetable in the fridge only to discover it a week later molding.
What are some of your favorite flavor combinations?
Salt and pepper, fennel and citrus, coriander, cumin and cocoa powder on roasted root vegetables. Maple syrup, balsamic vinegar and olive oil make an amazing salad dressing and I also like strawberries and pepper (my mom would add champagne here).
Read our previous resolutions here–Resolution #1: “I Will Dress Myself Better,” Resolution #2 “I Will Learn More About Wine,” Resolution #3 “I Will Travel More,“ Resolution #4 “I Will Be More Comfortable Nudie,” Resolution #5 “I Will Be More in Tune With My Aura” and Resolution #6 “I Will Feng Shui,” Resolution #7: “I Will Help My Friend Who Has A Kid,” Resolution #8: “I Will Write Down my Dreams, The Ones I Have At Night” and Resolution #9 "I Will Be More Arty."