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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, June 25, 2009

Top chefs talk about simple, healthy meals

By Charles Stuart Platkin

What would you say is the most perfect health food and your simplest healthy meal?

Chef Cary Neff, author of The New York Times' best-selling cookbook "Conscious Cuisine" (Sourcebooks, 2005): Miso soup with tofu, wakame and julienne vegetables. Its high temperature forces the diner to slow down, to enjoy, to take notice of the nutritious sea vegetables and the interesting contrasting textures. It's super simple to make and a wonderful example of healthfulness and mindful eating.

What is your favorite healthy ingredient?

Chef Billy Strynkowski, executive chef for Cooking Light magazine: Sauces are a great way to liven up even the blandest of meals. I always keep a supply of flavored mustards, flavored vinegars, fresh herbs and fresh citrus (oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits — for the zest, pulp and juice). Add those to any base, and you've made a restaurant-worthy glaze.

What's the simplest healthy meal you know how to prepare?

Chef Dean Rucker, executive chef of the Golden Door spa and author of "Golden Door Cooks at Home" (Random House, 2009): Vegetable fried rice. I do it at home all the time for a quick meal. All you need are garlic, ginger, scallions, mushrooms, shredded cabbage, one or two egg whites, a few cups of leftover steamed rice, low-sodium soy sauce and a hot sauté pan with a few teaspoons of grape seed or peanut oil. In 10 minutes or less, you're eating. You can also add whatever vegetables or lean meat you may have on hand.

Are there tricks to cooking healthfully?

Pam Anderson, chef and author of "The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight and Eating Great" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008): Use evaporated and 2 percent evaporated milk in place of heavy cream. Instead of butter, whisk a little cornstarch dissolved in water into pan sauces to give them body. Substitute one egg and 1/4 cup of liquid egg whites for two whole eggs in omelets and crustless quiches. Drizzle or sprinkle sweeteners over foods rather than stirring them in. (They taste sweeter that way, so you can get away with using less.)