Paleo, spiralizers, zoodles, gluten-free, juicing and root-to-stem are just some of the latest culinary trends to hit our kitchens. Talise Wellness Executive Chef Gabi Kurz is Jumeirah’s resident expert and is constantly whipping up clever creations to offer guests healthy dining alternatives. Claire Hill reports on what’s hot for 2016.
Traditionally followed by sufferers of celiac disease (that’s an intolerance of the gluten protein in wheat, barley and rye), rightly or wrongly, gluten-free has become something of trend in recent years. Chef Gabi says this diet is healthy for anyone who actually has an intolerance to gluten and it can be a good idea to go gluten-free for a few weeks as part of a detox plan. “Wheat has been genetically modified a lot over the years and is different to what we had hundreds of years ago – some people do have a problem digesting it.”
Sometimes referred to as the ‘caveman diet,’ this is based on foods similar to those eaten by early humans in prehistoric times such as lean meat, fish, fruit, root vegetables, eggs, full-fat options and nuts. More of a lifestyle than a diet, it shuns low-fat varieties, cereal, dairy, grains, sugar, legumes, processed oils, salt, alcohol and coffee. Chef Gabi explains. “The idea of natural, pastured, organic, unprocessed ingredients is very beneficial for our health and wellbeing. Often the Paleo lifestyle is misunderstood as a meat heavy diet which may cause health problems with today’s society. We don’t move enough outdoors to hunt for our food, and we live in abundance and constant availability of any food hence we miss the natural “starvation periods”. I endorse mindful use of meat.”
- Low carb
For anyone confused about carbs, Chef Gabi has some simple advice to follow. “An easy way to determine good carbs vs bad carbs is to simply look at the colour. White varieties of flour, sugar and rice are considered bad, whereas brown varieties or wholegrain are considered good. All carbs are converted into sugar but brown carbs and potatoes with the skin on take much longer for the body to digest and process. They also include fibre which helps digestion and may help to control blood sugar levels. Did you know that only 5% of the population meets the daily requirement of fibre?”
Taste the trend
Cauliflower rice and zoodles have taken social media by storm and the internet is bursting with novel recipes. Take one cauliflower, blitz in a food processor and either pop the shredded veg into a microwavable dish, cover, cook for a few minutes or fry in a pan with shallots, garlic and chopped veg. Served with a curry or stuffed into peppers, it’s a fantastic alternative to rice. Zoodles (zucchini noodles) which I’m yet to try making, can be created with a spiralizer and are currently on the menu at Talise Spa, Madinat Jumeirah.
No I can’t say I’d ever heard of it either but Chef Gabi says it’s one food we should all try. “It’s a gluten-free grain sold in organic shops and can be sprinkled on muesli raw or added to smoothies or even used to make a risotto. There’s also millet flour. It’s massively underestimated and is one of the few grains that is alkalizing to the body. It’s a smart carb with lots of fibre and low simple sugars.”
Taste the trend
For all those who are not specifically ‘breakfast persons’, not really hungry in the morning but keen on getting those worthy minerals and vitamins in in one shot Chef Gabi’s liquid muesli recipe is the perfect meal.
Take 1 tablespoon millet or wild millet
1 small cucumber
½ lemon, peeled
½ apple, with skin
1 celery stalk ½ bunch parsley ¼ green papaya with skin, top with a dash of olive oil
Crush the millet in a mortar and pestle. Add a short of water and soak for 30 minutes. Meanwhile juice the remaining ingredients, mix with the soaked millet top with a dash of extra virgin olive oil. “It works equally well if it contains beetroot or banana, maybe some chia or flax seeds too. I love the slightly savoury version, and the millet is a must for strong nails, bones, teeth, skin and hair.”
- Coconut oil
Chef Gabi says organic, cold pressed, extra virgin plant oils are very
beneficial for good health. “For example, we need (good) fats to make the fat soluble vitamins available. However it is amazing how little fat is necessary to ensure our bodily functions run smoothly. In one day, it would be sufficient to eat ¼ avocado, or about eight almonds, or 2 tablespoons of flax seeds. The best oil is when fresh pressed with our teeth by chewing nuts and seeds this is because it’s untouched by the oxidation process that starts immediately after pressing and unfortunately affects all bottled oils. For cooking I recommend olive oil and coconut oil. Use it sparingly as heat always affects the benefits of any fat. This is why at Talise Nutrition we endorse steaming or poaching food and adding fat after the cooking process. Oils can add enormous flavour to food. There are many to be explored however these oils are too precious to be heated: macadamia oil, pistachio oil, almond oil, flax seed oil to name a few. I highly recommended making a herb oil which can be drizzled on to finish dishes – it’s an aromatic delight. Find Chef Gabi’s recipe here.
- Acai berries
Another highly rated food said to be extremely high in anthocyanin, a form of plant antioxidant associated with the ability to lower cholesterol levels in the blood stream. “The berries are one of the planet’s highest sources of antioxidants and consuming acai can lead to an increased overall level of energy and stamina, and may aid to combat fatigue and exhaustion. They are a great addition to smoothies or can be mixed with yoghurt. This antioxidant-rich fruit has been heralded for centuries as a healing, immune-stimulating, energy-boosting fruit.”
A popular choice for anyone looking to detox, juicing although healthy, can be very high in sugar if made with just fruits. Chef Gabi has a simple rule of thumb to follow. “For every one piece of fruit you use, use two vegetables to keep the sugar levels balanced.”
Taste the trend
A personal favourite of Chef Gabi’s is beetroot juice. The health benefits are aplenty – from lowering high blood pressure, preventing acne, to even boosting the performance of athletes. It’s recommended to mix this ‘powerful tonic’ with the juice of other fruit and vegetables to prevent the body from being detoxified too quickly.
- The savory side of yogurt
Commonly found throughout Middle Eastern cuisine, Labneh is now growing in popularity around the world. It’s slightly more salty than yoghurt but very similar in texture. At Burj Al Arab Jumeirah it’s on the menu in the form of ‘zuchini parcels’ and will be also be incorporated in the next Talise Spa menu. “This light, balanced and colourful dish makes a lovely starter or light meal in summer. It doesn’t make you feel heavy or tired and is still nourishing with protein, vitamins and good fats.”
9. Swiggable soups
These cold-pressed juices in the form of chilled soup are beginning to catch on and are perfect for warm weather. “We serve a lovely avocado soup at Talise and I recommend everyone to make a good vegetable stock which can be consumed as a soup. For best results ensure you never bring the vegetable stock to a heavy boil and don’t hesitate to throw away the soaked out vegetables. The liquid is what you are after to create a great alkalizing soup, perfect mineral supply and mild detox. I often also use the stock as base for soups, poaching lean meats or fish, cooking rice or other grains and for sauces. You may want to experiment with other vegetable or herb flavours and add fennel or thyme to your stock occasionally. The stock can be kept refrigerated for 2-3 days or frozen, if you wish to prepare in advance.” Find Chef Gabi’s soup recipes here
10. Root-to-Stem dining
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,’ and it’s now time to apply it to your potato peel, broccoli stem and carrot tops. A concept Chef Gabi calls ‘very smart.’ “I recommend using leftover peel from vegetables such as carrot and parsley stems to make a vegetable stock. Or for anyone who’s into juicing, then the leftover pulp can be used to make vegetarian burgers. The beauty is once they have been made, they can be frozen and taken out as and when required.”