If you have ever attended one of my cooking classes or cooking shows, you know that I am a big advocate for using fat in cooking. You will always hear me chanting "Fat is Flavour; Fat is Moisture; Fat is your Friend". I even take it one step further by joking that "My title is not Doctor, Dietician, or Nutritionist - my title is Chef"... but, I always take a moment from this overindulging of fat celebration to mention moderation.
Moderation is truly the key. Just because I may demonstrate an incredible tasting recipe loaded with fat grams and calories, this does not mean that I expect you to eat like that on a regular basis. These types of recipes are meant to be illustrated as your "go to" formula for a special occasion when you want to "wow" someone with your cooking.
Having a background myself of having to deal with being overweight as a child and young adult, I know that it is not the preferred way to journey through life. Today, with a balanced diet and my best at a regular exercise routine, I have more energy and feel better than I ever did in my younger years. The main difference, more than any time prior in my life, is that I now celebrate all foods, not just the fatty and calorie laden ones. There is flavour to be found in all types of ingredients, recipes, and cuisines, and to find greatness in your regular diet is to rejoice in variety and moderation.
The focus of moderation in this column has a couple of meanings: restriction and portion size. Eating forbidden foods (everyone's perspective of "forbidden" is different so I will leave it up to you to define this term) does not have to be done on a daily basis (restriction) or should be of a small amount (portion size). Whether you practice restriction and/or portion size will again depend on your lifestyle, beliefs, and ultimately what works for you to lead a healthy way of life.
This being said, there is a huge variety of recipes that I share with the public, not just the fatty ones. Most menus I teach at my classes and shows tend to have a balance about them unless there is an obvious general menu focus on a certain technique or specific ingredient. My opinion on life is a bit biased as a Chef, but I believe that food helps us to celebrate and enjoy our daily existence. We need food to survive, so let's make it exciting and something to look forward to everyday.
Having influence from a Chef in your life will help you in many ways to prepare restaurant quality food right in your own home. By cooking from scratch you have the ability to control ingredients, cooking technique and also save money. Honing this skill in the kitchen you already have, and with the daily requirement that you need food to stay alive, will prove to be invaluable. So, blow some dust off your cookbook collection, watch some cooking shows, or take a cooking class... and consulting a doctor, dietician and/or nutritionist may not be a bad idea either.
Although eating fat in food has no direct correlation to drinking red wine, I do feel compelled to state the following in my argument of moderation: "Many studies have suggested that drinking a single glass of red wine everyday is good for you, but skipping the whole week and having seven glasses on Friday night... not so good."
Chef Dez is a Food Columnist, Culinary Instructor & Cookbook Author. Visit him at www.chefdez.com. Write to him at email@example.com or P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, BC V2T 6R4. Next "Chef Dez on Cooking" column will appear February 27, 2014.