My life on a plate
Kate ZimmermanSaturday Post
Saturday, April 10, 2004
When food is your livelihood, how do you keep from getting fat?
Kate Zimmerman asked five of Canada's leading foodies -- four chefs and a restaurant critic -- to keep track of what they consumed for one week to see how they reconcile eating well with staying relatively healthy. Here's what the chowhounds told her.
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JUD SIMPSON, 43,
Parliament Hill, Ottawa
"I've been obese all my life," says Ottawa chef Jud Simpson, who was on and off the diet treadmill for so many years that he now refuses to put diet food on the menu.
Simpson manages all food services on the Hill, including the restaurant, and says it would simply be impossible to accommodate MPs' pleas for Atkins, Weight Watchers or other diets. Rather, he offers heart-healthy selections and leaves it to Canada's elected representatives to choose judiciously. "It's not about cutting out carbs. It's about balance," he says.
The executive chef, who also manages Culinary Team Canada, went on a successful diet in 1995 under the auspices of a local weight-management clinic offered through Ottawa's Civic Hospital. The first 12 weeks consisted of consuming only milkshakes and spending two hours a week listening to experts. He lost 135 pounds and has kept off 100.
But it's a struggle. He recently flew with Team Canada to Germany, where the Culinary Olympics is being held this fall. He didn't eat "too much pig," nor did he drink a lot of the host country's legendary beer. He even exercised. Yet he gained four pounds.
"The problem with being a chef is you're busy," says Simpson, who usually grabs 10 minutes for lunch. Ten minutes isn't long enough for his brain to tell his stomach that it's full, so he drinks a lot of water.
He tries to eat his carbohydrates in the morning. Lunch is usually meat or fish and vegetables. Dinner always includes a head of lettuce in a salad. "I used to live to eat. Now I eat to live," he says.
He also works out, though he hates it. "The key, really, is exercise. If you don't exercise, you won't keep it off."
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SIMPSON'S WEEK ON A PLATE
Day 1: In Halifax for a Culinary Team Canada practice of our competition menu and a fundraiser. Morning: Two low-fat yogourts, fresh fruit, muffin, black coffee. Midday: Duck breast and leg, soya bean and mushroom saute, dessert tasting plate (cherry ice cream, lemon pudding cake, chocolate cranberry cake); two cans Diet Coke. Evening (at Halifax restaurant): Caesar salad, thin-crust barbecue chicken pizza, three glasses Wolf Blass Yellow Label; latte.
Water consumption: Three litres.
The day: Started at 5:30 a.m. after returning from a 26-hour travel day from Germany. In the kitchen at 6 a.m. preparing (with Team members) for a luncheon for 120 people (after one hour's sleep and fighting a "man's cold.") Finished service at 2 p.m. and had a bite to eat while analyzing the menu and its components.
Day 2: Morning: Two low-fat yogourts; three scrambled eggs,; fresh fruit; black coffee. Midday: Chicken rice noodle soup; bean sprout salad; beef and vegetable stir-fry; two cans Diet Coke. Evening: Nibbles and tastings of birch-syrup marinated Atlantic salmon; yellow beet and sprout salad; venison sausage; and one large Stella.
Water: Four litres.
The day: Went to the hotel fitness centre and spent 35 minutes on the treadmill and 15 minutes stretching. Prep for Team fundraiser for 210 at the
Day 3: Evening: In restaurant with Team. Sea bass starter; sorbet; lamb rack; chocolate tart and poached pear; two glasses merlot; cappuccino.
Water: Three litres.
The Day: Day off! Massage, packing to return home. No breakfast or lunch today -- not a good idea before a massage.
Day 4: Morning: Raisin bran muffin, Starbucks grande sugar-free vanilla non-fat latte. Midday: Two big bowls hearty homemade chicken and vegetable soup; raw veg with Renee's low-fat Poppy Seed Dip; two Diet Cokes; tea (black, no sugar). Evening: Two glasses Wolf Blass Brown Label Shiraz; penne with home-made tomato sauce; mixed green salad with apple-cider vinaigrette; warm peach custard with cherry coulis; another Starbucks latte.
Water: Three litres.
The day: Returning to Ottawa from Halifax.
Day 5: Morning: Two slices sesame spelt toast; two fat-free yogourts; black coffee. Midday: Two bowls turkey vegetable gumbo soup; sauteed vegetables (organic beets, green beans, mushrooms, Swiss chard, etc.); strawberries; Diet Coke. Evening: Sweet and sour pineapple pork; rice; asparagus; mixed green salad with apple cider vinaigrette; apples; tea.
Water: Five litres.
The Day: At gym: 30 minutes on the Elliptical and 15 minutes of stretches and crunches. Walked the pooch.
Day 6: Morning: Two slices sesame spelt toast; two fat-free yogurts; black coffee. Midday: Two bowls minestrone; spinach salad with marinated mushrooms and roasted walnut vinaigrette; Diet Coke. Evening: Veal chop; carrots; mashed Yukon potatoes; mixed green salad with balsamic vinaigrette; apples; tea.
Water: Five litres.
The Day: At gym, 30 minutes on the
Elliptical and 15 minutes of stretches and crunches. Walked the pooch.
Day 7: Morning: Two slices sesame spelt toast; two fat-free yogurts; black coffee. Midday: Two bowls minestrone; cold salad plate, Diet Coke. Evening: Chicken; broccoli and fusilli stir-fry with sun-dried tomatoes; green salad with balsamic vinaigrette; black grapes; tea. Nothing to eat or drink after 8:30 p.m. -- blood test tomorrow in support of a research study on "overweight."
Water: Four litres.
The Day: At gym, weights, stretches and crunches for 40 minutes. Lots of meetings and administrative duties. Walked the pooch.
CREDIT: Gerry Kahrmann, Vancouver Sun
Karen Barnaby says "low-carbing is the most luxurious way to eat."
KAREN BARNABY, 47
Fish House, Vancouver
Karen Barnaby is an evangelist for the low-carb lifestyle. Four years ago she had all the oomph of a collapsed souffle -- no energy, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, aching knees and numbness in her hands and feet. She also suffered from mood swings.
"My health was awful and I knew if I didn't do something I wouldn't live that much longer," says Barnaby, chuckling.
She went on an Atkins-like diet called Protein Power, in which carbohydrate intake is drastically reduced. A self-described "sugar junkie," Barnaby was impressed by the diet book's explanation of the negative effects of sugar and refined foods. "I just thought 'This is incredible.' It made so much sense to me."
After a hellish six months -- during which she learned to carry an emergency can of tuna in her glove compartment -- she was ready to give up most of her starchy obsessions permanently.
"What I figured was, I've eaten enough of stuff like that to last me the rest of my life. The way I felt was so remarkable that I thought that I never wanted to feel the other way again."
The low-carb path isn't exactly strewn with thorns. For every piece of cornbread Barnaby -- now 70 pounds lighter -- has relinquished, there's a large dollop of gorgonzola. Although mashed potatoes are off her personal menu, she finds pureed cauliflower lashed with goat cheese and roasted garlic a delightfully decadent side dish. "I mean, really, low-carbing is the most luxurious way to eat."
That's the gospel she preaches at her low-carb classes at various Vancouver-area cooking schools, and the one she'll share in The Low-Carb Gourmet (HarperCollins Canada), which is being published this fall.
Barnaby is a walking testament to her philosophy. Her blood pressure is now low to normal, her cholesterol is fine, and the pain in her knees vanished almost immediately. Her sinuses and skin cleared up and she no longer has mood swings.
"After four years, I'm totally committed to it," Barnaby says.
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BARNABY'S WEEK ON A PLATE
Breakfast is the same every day: Three cups unfermented Japanese green tea plus a protein shake flavoured with espresso or Japanese green tea. To make a protein shake, she takes plain whey protein isolate, adds water, stevia, whipping cream, ice cubes and the flavouring of her choice. She also takes supplements for B complex; calcium/ magnesium; alpha lipoic acid; co-enzyme Q10; Vitamin C.
She has a second shake every day between 4 and 5 p.m. Every day she drinks three to four litres of water.
Day 1: Midday: Salmon; mixed greens; cucumbers; balsamic vinaigrette; one ounce pork rinds; salsa. Evening: At a restaurant, with nine other low-carbers (they get together every few months). Saganaki; roast lamb shoulder; Greek salad; low-carb bread pudding with chocolate sauce and whipped cream.
Her day: A day off from the Fish House. Two one-hour dog walks with her two dogs. One hour Pilates with personal trainer.
Day 2: Midday; Prawns sautéed with butter and garlic;steamed broccoli; flax muffin. Evening: Tested some burger patties; also taught a Low Carb Breakfast Class and had two cream cheese pancakes and a few strawberries because it was Shrove Tuesday. Two one-hour long dog walks.
Day 3: Midday: grilled mahi-mahi; spinach, tomato and avocado salad; beurre blanc. Taught another Low Carb Breakfast class and had two Egg “Mockmuffins and a piece of asparagus frittata. Two one-hour long dog walks.
Day 4: Midday: Hard cooked egg; grilled wild salmon; broccoli; half a tomato; slice of low-carb cheese garlic bread baked for the nights dinner. Evening: small chunk of prime rib; gorgonzola; goat’s cheddar; pea sprouts; cherry tomatoes; low-carb chocolate cake.
Her Day: A long day that started with a meeting at the Vancouver Food Bank (one of several volunteer activities and ended with a special low-carb dinner at the Fish House (the restaurant does them every 6-8 weeks).
Her day: A long day that started with a meeting at the Vancouver Food Bank (one of several volunteer activities) and ended with a special low-carb dinner at the Fish House (the restaurant does them every six to eight weeks). Two one-hour dog walks.
Day 5: Midday: One prime-rib bone; grilled wild salmon; broccoli and asparagus. Evening: Two prime-rib bones; spinach salad with Caesar dressing; goat's milk gouda; raw cauliflower.
Her day: Another long day! Went in early to cook for a special low-carb lunch and acted as expediter, which involves keeping control of the flow and quality of the food. The prime-rib bones are left from the previous day's dinner. Big yum! Two one-hour dog walks. One hour Pilates with personal trainer. Active Release Therapy session (a chiropractic treatment).
Day 6: Midday: "Cobbish" salad, with chicken, romaine, spinach, avocado, blue cheese, tomato and ranch dressing. Evening: Poached prawns with asparagus, lemon and olive oil; tuna, wasabi mayonnaise and cucumber wrapped in nori.
Her day: Expedited online again in the evening. Two one-hour dog walks.
Day 7: Midday: Omelet with mushrooms and smoked cheddar; arugula salad. Snack: raw almonds and pecans. Evening: Grated cauliflower stir-fried with Italian sausage meat; green onion and tomato; slice cheesecake.
Her day: Sunday, my day of rest! Updated recipes on the lowcarb.ca Web site. Worked on a new low-carb cheesecake. Two one-hour dog walks. Snuggled with the dogs and watched three back-to-back episodes of Law & Order.
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MICHAEL SMITH, 37
Various television cooking shows
Michael Smith has a couple of attributes most foodies would kill for: an extremely fast metabolism and a height of six-foot-seven. In short, it takes a helluva lot of food to keep him going.
"I can't gain weight if I try," he says cheerfully.
And what's worse, he actually enjoys eating healthy meals. Is there no end to his treachery?
Michael Smith is the P.E.I.-based, pony-tailed host of such Food Network staples, past, present and future, as The Inn Chef, Chef At Large and the upcoming Chef at Home, slated to begin next January.
Rest assured, the new show isn't likely to include processed vittles. Smith and his mate, Rachel Leslie, keep those out of their country home on the eastern end of the island in Bay Fortune. Their diet is heavy on grains like spelt and bulgur and light on red meat. They prefer chicken, pork and lots of fish.
Smith says the couple isn't deliberately abstemious. "Our goal is variety and flavour."
He's also active -- biking, hiking and extreme windsurfing. He takes to his "sail" from April to late October.
"Actually," he jokes, "everything I do in my life is training for windsurfing."
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SMITH'S WEEK ON A PLATE
Day 1: Morning: Spelt waffles; homemade plum jam; large glass V8. Midday: Six mini homemade doughnuts. Evening: Grilled pork chop; 4 oz. roast pork belly, roast parsnips and carrots; brown rice and lentils.
Exercise: 30 minutes shovelling snow.
Day 2: Morning: Two thick slices whole-wheat raisin toast with butter; one glass O.J. Midday: Leftover edamame soybean; pork, jasmine rice stew; milk; ripe pear. Evening: Roast asparagus, mushroom and sirloin salad.
Activities: 90 minutes pool time with two-year-old Gabriel.
Day 3: Morning: Oatmeal with blueberries and maple syrup; tangerine juice; banana. Midday: Sandwich of salami, gruyere and alfalfa sprout on rye; V8; ripe pear. Evening: Tomato ragu with penne; homemade hot cocoa.
Activity: Two hours snowshoeing through 10-foot-high snow.
Day 4: Morning: Oatmeal with flax-seed oil; apple and raisins; orange juice; one slice oatmeal toast; banana. Midday: Can of kippers; leftover roast parsnips and carrots; anti-oxidant berry juice. Evening: Mussel scallop broth and Israeli couscous; steamed kale; milk.
Activity: 60 minutes in workshop installing ceiling.
Day 5: Morning: Oatmeal with bananas and maple syrup; orange juice. Midday: Braised pork chop with tomato basil ragu. Evening: Bulgur wheat dried tomato pilaf; steamed asparagus; strawberry rhubarb oatmeal crisp.
Activity: 60 minutes trail-bike riding.
Day 6: Morning: Red River Cereal; banana; anti-oxidant berry juice. Midday: Sandwich of havarti, alfalfa sprouts and tomato on whole wheat; V8. Evening: Roast chicken with roast celery root and steamed spinach; glass of cabernet.
Activity: Ran errands all day.
Day 7: Morning: Tangerine juice; kasha grains with maple syrup and flax oil; milk. Midday: Sandwich of prosciutto and emmenthal on whole grain bread; V8. Evening: Seared salmon; potato gnocchi; brown butter; steamed dandelion greens.
Activity: 90 minutes trail-bike riding.
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Restaurant critic, Calgary
Herald, and founding editor of
Calgary's City Palate magazine
Kathy Richardier spends most days in front of a computer tip-tapping about food. That is, when she's not "sitting at restaurant tables, stuffing my face."
Like most of us, she dines out once a week. "The difference is, when I go out to eat, I have to eat everything on the menu."
It would bore her readers if she only nibbled from the light side of the restaurant's offerings, so she saves her healthy eating for home, usually having her heaviest meal at noon.
To be a food critic, "You really need to be a person who has an iron-clad stomach and is just basically healthy."
So how does she avoid excess avoirdupois? "Middle-aged pudge has sort of moved in so it's a constant battle," says Richardier, a member of Canada's reigning competitive barbecue team, the Butt Shredders. "I see people my age and younger who are getting these huge spare tires, and I'm not doing that."
She works out at a Calgary recreation centre three to four hours a week. In the summer, she often drives 45 minutes each way to swim in the glacial waters of Ghost Lake. When she's not reviewing (which she calls "Heralding"), dinner is usually salad in summer and soup in winter, which, she points out, "is really just hot salad. I love salad almost more than anything." Long pause, and then she adds, "except chocolate, cake, pudding and custard."
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RICHARDIER'S WEEK ON A PLATE
Day 1: Morning: Homemade granola; yogourt; "wake me up and slap me upside the head" Mudshark Dark coffee. Midday: Half a pita stuffed with mayo, honey-maple smoked turkey slices; organic mesclun greens from California. Snack: Six squares dark chocolate with toasted almonds; one orange. Evening: About a pound and a half of pastitsio, a Greek pasta tower with layers of tubular pasta, feta, ground beef, tomatoes, bechamel and tomato sauce; overcooked lamb chop, both doggy-bagged from the previous night's Heralding excursion; large glass tomato juice; lashings of horseradish and lemon; six squares Nestle dark chocolate with toasted almonds; large glass fizzy water.
Activity: One-hour brutal and sweaty aerobic workout.
Day 2: Morning: Coffee. Brunch: Half-pound of Beaufort French cheese on a hunk of levain baguette with crushed raisins (levain is French sourdough bread); salad of greens topped with tofu; onion and fennel stir fry; glass soy milk. Evening: At friend Dave's, a large Daveburger with cheese, bacon, fried onions, roast-garlic aioli on bun; hand-cut fries; one-and-a-half Sleeman's Cream Ales. Snack: Two chunks Zero chocolate bar; large glass fizzy water.
Activity: No exercise.
Day 3: Morning: Coffee; homemade granola; organic raisins; yogourt. Midday: About four inches of baguette slapped with honey-maple ham, mustard, mayo, lettuce; Beaufort cheese (smaller than yesterday); glass soy milk. Snack: Stuffed my face with wine and food at the Fetzer appetizer challenge where I judged, in six hours, 28 professional and 16 student appetizers, accompanied by Fetzer Eagle Peak merlot; large Virgin Mary with lemon and horseradish apres aerobics. Evening: Dinner at the Fetzer gala, where winner was announced. Lentil and duck nibble; lamb lollipop on tian of chickpea puree and eggplant jam; three glasses of Fetzer fume blanc. Later: Bowl of salad; four squares Zero chocolate.
Activity: One hour aerobic workout, steps, weights, balls.
Day 4: Morning: Bowl mixed grainy cereals; blueberries; soy milk; coffee. Midday: At Wa's, a Calgary restaurant, tempura prawn sushi roll; small bowl miso soup; glass of water; green tea. Snack: Braeburn apple. Evening: Large slab Beaufort cheese; large salad of greens, tomatoes, onions, fennel; large glass tomato juice lashed with lemon and horseradish; two chocolate truffles; small carton dessert tofu.
Activity: One hour brutal aerobic workout, steps only.
Day 5: Morning: Coffee. Midday: Bowl of homemade soup of braised salad greens, potatoes, onions, fennel, topped with seasoned seaweed and sesame seed blend, chopped cilantro and nubs of Beaufort cheese. Snack: Yogourt. Evening: Heralding with Dave at new Greek restaurant called Piato. Meze plate of olives, oven-dried tomatoes with chile and oregano, roasted heads of garlic and roasted beets with savory, accompanied by olive bread crostini, barley rusks; breadboard of rustic flaxseed and white breads with olive oil and balsamic vinegar; grilled lamb sausages with braised fennel and red-pepper jelly; grilled radicchio with pancetta and warm roasted-garlic blood- orange vinaigrette; moussaka, made with veal, no bechamel; prawn and tomato topped with grated cheese; whole sea bream on wilted spinach, topped with a grape relish; trio of sorbets and ice wine sabayon with Turkish apricots with a lemon biscotti; shared one bottle of Blasted Church pinot noir.
Activity: No exercise.
Day 6: Morning: Two mugs coffee. Midday: Two smokies (hot dogs) with cheese in them, baguette and Beaver sweet hot mustard; two glasses Tinhorn Creek Cabernet Franc 2002. Dinner: Tacos with shrimp in a lemon chipotle mayo sauce, lettuce, corn tortillas, salsa, shredded Beaufort cheese; several glasses of Vineland Estates methode champenoise riesling, 2000. Cubes of Zero semi-sweet chocolate and milk chocolate.
Activity: No exercise.
Day 7: Morning: Coffee. Midday: Large omelet with fried onions and fennel. Snack: Two glasses riesling and rest of Beaufort. Evening: Large bowl homemade veg soup; several pieces of the levain baguette slathered with butter.
Activity: No exercise. Bad, bad; more bread with homemade Thai basil jelly.
Activity: No exercise. Bad, bad.
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CRAIG FLINN, 32
Chives Canadian Bistro, Halifax
At six-foot-six, Craig Flinn should be able to shovel in a lot of pasta without problems. But he readily admits he has a paunch and worries about his ticker. In addition, he says he is mildly hypoglycemic -- he used to work all day with a few cups of coffee sloshing around in his gut and would begin to feel dizzy around 4. But now this big-boned fellow, who weighs in at 270 pounds, has made the transition from a diet heavy on junk to a leaner kind of eating.
The main problem is an erratic eating schedule. "I don't have any type of regular intake." He says the last thing he wants to do after tasting his own kitchen's food all day is to make a meal of it. Instead, when he gets home late he prepares a couple of pieces of toast with peanut butter and a cup of tea.
Moreover, he's recently introduced breakfast into his life.
He has lost 20 pounds on his new starch-light regimen, and so far has kept it off, helped by the fact that over the course of a long hot shift a chef can lose three to five pounds.
"Yesterday I had a bran muffin and a plum. A plum! That's super-healthy -- for me."
Alas, in the week he logged his diet for the Post, he was back on the carbs. Again, he says it's his schedule -- eating while driving, for example, means he grabs an easy-to-hold sandwich instead of slurping soup.
To fight his food demons, Flinn goes to the gym or walks in the wintertime, runs five kilometres occasionally and hikes and plays golf in the summer.
"Dieting is bad," he's concluded. "You can't think of it as 'dieting.' You just have to think of it as 'avoiding really bad things.' "
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FLINN'S WEEK ON A PLATE
Day 1: Morning: Two slices whole-wheat toast with peanut butter; large coffee with cream and Sugar Twin. Midday: 4x5-inch piece of meat lasagne; whole-wheat roll; glass of 2% milk. Snack: Large coffee with 2% milk. Evening: Restaurant meal of two light beers; bowl of creamy seafood chowder; potato and shrimp cake with side salad; two slices bread with one teaspoon butter; piece of gingerbread with whipped cream.
Activity: 6.5 hours cooking in Chives' kitchen.
Day 2: Morning: Two slices whole-wheat toast with peanut butter; large coffee. Midday: Large grilled-cheese sandwich on sourdough; medium glass 2% milk; two gingersnap cookies. Evening: Average portion of chicken pot pie. Snack: Four crackers with aged cheddar; three beers.
Activity: 10 hours cooking catered dinner, which required a lot of carrying, setup, etc.
Day 3: Morning: Sourdough toast with jam, medium glass 2% milk, large coffee with 2%. Midday: Two bratwurst sausages with mustard and two slices whole-grain bread. Snack: Latte with one teaspoon sugar. Evening: One cup homemade baked beans; fish hash; green tomato chow; roll with butter; gingerbread and vanilla ice cream. Snack: Two low-carb beers; two small slices Salvatore's gourmet veggie pizza.
Activity: Busy day catering a wedding but not much else.
Day 4: Morning: Two eggs; two slices bacon; two slices whole-wheat toast; one tablespoon peanut butter; large coffee with cream and Sugar Twin. Midday: Homemade meatloaf sandwich on rye; two cups herbal tea. Evening: One takeout cheeseburger; baked low-fat fries; side salad with light vinaigrette.
Activity: Gym for 1.5 hours; 25 minutes cardio; free-weights, sit-ups.
Day 5: Morning: Large coffee with 2%. Midday: Chicken salad on oatmeal brown bread; cream of mushroom soup; four crackers. Snack: Large coffee with cream and Twin, medium oatmeal and raisin cookie. Evening: Chicken stir-fry on fried rice, two egg rolls with plum sauce, one can diet root beer. Snack: Four crackers with peanut butter.
Activity: Minimal. Office work.
Day 6: Morning: Nothing. Snack: Large coffee with cream and Sugar Twin. Midday: Salami-and-cheese sandwich with mayo on whole-grain bread; vegetable soup; glass of skim milk. Evening: 2x4-inch piece cottage pie (like shepherd's, but with beef); coleslaw; slice whole-wheat bread; large glass water. Snack: Small bowl corn and ham-hock chowder (from our menu); two buttermilk biscuits (a Chives trademark); one 1x2-inch piece aged cheddar; large glass water; tea with milk.
Activity: Minimal. Office work again.
Day 7: Morning: Bran muffin with peanut butter; large coffee with cream and Sugar Twin. Midday: Tuna-salad sandwich on whole-wheat bread with light cream cheese on bread; cream of broccoli soup; diet root beer. Snack: Tried a pasta special on our menu (a 4-oz. portion). Evening: Beef vegetable stew; two slices whole-wheat bread; light vanilla ice cream with fresh strawberries; glass skim milk; small cappuccino with one teaspoon sugar.
Activity: Minimal. Office work again.