June 4, 2012
BOSTON — Chef Ming Tsai says that given the growing obesity problem, it’s important to watch the ingredients we put in our food. The renowned owner of Wellesley’s Blue Ginger has a few gadgets up his sleeve to help with that.
“Cooking at home,” he explains, “some people are daunted by it. But I think if you have the right gadgets that are easily accessible, you can make tastier food easily, and at the end of the day, very healthy.”
One gadget Tsai recommends for easy cooking is the T-Fal ActiFry, a countertop electric cooker primarily designed for low-fat recipes. (T-Fal is one of the sponsors of Tsai’s television show "Simply Ming.") The bladed electric pot combines hot air and a small amount of oil to make a crunchy stir-fry out of, for instance, tofu and vegetables.
“You can make risotto, you can make stir-fries,” Tsai says — and it’s so simple, you can multitask while you’re cooking.
The other gadget indispensable to Tsai is his blender, especially in the summer. “Fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, boom, season it, you have a gazpacho. Mangoes and pineapples, you can make smoothies. You can get fruits and veggies to your kids without them realizing they're eating fruits and veggies,” he says.
Then there's the mandoline, which makes it easy to evenly slice vegetables: “If you don’t like to use a knife, you can get a perfectly sliced cucumber.”
Some of his tactics, however, require no gadgets at all. The biggest obstacle to healthy living, Tsai believes, is the portion-size problem. “You go to some restaurants and the plates are twice the size of my head. And people are wondering why there are so many obese children around,” he says. With children often told to finish what’s on their plates, it’s easy to lose sight of just how large portions have grown. Tsai’s advice is to resist the temptation of filling up by limiting meals to smaller plates.
Tsai is also a strong advocate of mindful eating: “When you’re eating, eat. It takes 20 minutes before your stomach is full, before your head registers that it’s full. Eat more slowly, mindfully. Think about the food. Think about that apple.”
Or, in the sing-song words of his famous mentor, Julia Child, “Bon appetit!”
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