Our Moving Towards Moderation
column, where nutrition expert Lisa Brefere explains the healthy eating and lifestyle choices that are leading to her spouse's significant weight loss, is on a little summer break this week. Check back next week to see how Joe is doing. But that doesn't mean we are taking a break from exploring how to stay healthy while still enjoying great food.
Next up in our summer book catch-up is Culinary Intelligence: The Art of Eating Healthy (and Really Well)
by Peter Kaminsky.
Like chefs, food writers are constantly surrounded by food. And like chefs, eating is literally in the job description. Recipes must be tested, dishes must be tasted and "sauce on the side" is very rarely an option. Storied and Beard-awarded writer Kaminsky is no stranger to good eating. He served several years as the Underground Gourmet at New York
magazine. He's written cookbooks with Gray Kunz, Daniel Boulud, and Adam Perry Lang. The man is so committed to good food that he once raised a pig while in search of the perfect pork.
I sat with Kaminsky a number of years ago at a holiday lunch hosted by a many starred chef. As the champers and foie flowed, a newly minted food writer among us asked how we all stayed healthy. The entire table paused with our forks mid-air as we stammered our responses. We pointed out that meals like this were by far the exception rather than the rule. (Totally true.) We explained how we ate healthily at home and off-duty to balance things out. (Slightly less true.) We boasted of exercise regimes. (Even less true.) Others admitted to cholesterol lowering drugs and then we all went back to our perfectly prepared boeuf with the question still not quite answered.
In the time since that lunch, Kaminsky has clearly come up with an answer. In the Fall of 2007, he weighed 205 pounds and found himself at an unfortunate impasse. His doctor had declared him prediabetic, and an application to renew his life insurance was denied. His path to reeling in his weight and restoring his health is chronicled in his new book,Culinary Intelligence: The Art of Eating Healthy (and Really Well)
. How did he do it?
His Culinary Intelligence (C.I) plan focuses on pleasure, not denial and something he calls F.P.C., or flavor per calorie. The idea is that by amping up the taste, you can satisfy your cravings with smaller portions. That smaller portions of quality ingredients will leave you more satisfied and sated than larger amounts of processed food or out of season produce ever will.
He advocates good fats and good foods — beer, bacon and butter are not verboten in his world, but the portions are curtailed. He banned the whites: bread, pasta, rice and sugar as well as all processed foods in favor of grains, and flavor and umami packed foods like olives, mushrooms, olive oil, and small quantities of good quality chocolate. In C.I. terms one good beer is much better choice than a six pack of flavorless “lite” beer.
He reiterates frequently that point of C.I. is not to deny yourself food or drink that makes you happy, but to to choose food with so much flavor that you don't seek satisfaction in overindulgence in sugary sauces. Sound advice mixed in with scary statistics about the nationwide obesity and smart stories, this humor-filled book is a primer for all who don't want to have to choose between good food and good health. But does it work? For Kaminsky it did — he now weighs 165 pounds, and his blood sugar has dipped back to normal levels.