I had the great pleasure of being invited to attend the Healthy Chef Competition held at the Hyatt in Vancouver this Wednesday. This tasty event was put on by the BC Produce Marketing Association. Ten chefs and their teams competed to create delicious, fruit-and-veggie-packed menus, which were later judged by a panel of experts and gobbled up by the lucky guests, myself included.
There was music, there was wine, there were ladies in elaborate dresses adorning attendees with festive beads... it was an all-around great evening, the highlight of which of course was the incredible food!
We started off with a confit salmon roulate with fresh herbs, baby vegetable salad and citrus emulsion.
Then onto the braised sea cucumber, shitake mushrooms, pea sprouts, tiger prawn, garden pea puree, lily bulb, beet powder and chive oil... the best sea cucumber I have ever had! (er... and only....)
Next came the Rabbit's Feast - which made use of each part of the rabbit, featured alongside the foods the rabbit itself would eat. Brilliant! And absolutely mouthwatering.
Dessert number one was a caramella mousse hazelnut cake with apple tarte tatin and cranberry citrus sorbet.
... chased by a tropical pavlova with coconut sorbet, kiwi coulis, rum-glazed pineapple and tropical fruit salad.
Phew. I was full. And very happy. The servers were of the magical kind - the ones who float around, silently refilling your glass every time you turn your head. Or blink. You never see it happen, but your glass is always full and the servers always have a twinkle in their eye.
The evening was successful in showcasing that healthy food can absolutely be delicious food! Just look at the vibrant colours on the plates - including an abundance of fruits and veggies is a pleasure to the eyes as well as to the palate. And the Canadian Cancer Society, Heart and Stroke Foundation and "Fruits and Veggies Mix it Up" for Better Health Program were present to reinforce the importance of eating an abundance of produce every day.
I challenge you to make the effort to eat at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables every day next week. Here are some tips to make it happen:
- Plan some meals ahead the weekend. Planning really goes a long way on those nights when you come home from work exhausted and have your thumb already on the speed dial for your local pizza joint.
- Get in your kitchen and do some chopping for convenient work week snacks of veggie sticks and fruit salads.
- Have some greens washed, dried and ready to go for salads and to add to sandwiches.
- Keep oranges, apples, bananas, grapes and pears in the house for grab-and-go snacks.
- Buy frozen blueberries and/or raspberries, run under cool water to thaw a bit, then toss into your breakfast cereal.
- Mixed baby greens are a very convenient side dish - add some cherry tomatoes, maybe a few slices of red onion, and dress with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.
- Have frozen veggies on hand to amp your plate - even when you're having a mixed dish that has some veggies in it, try to do a side of veggies too!
- Learn to make greens taste grand, and it will never be a chore to eat them again.