Teresa Talks Healthy Menu Options

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This week, I sat down with the team from taste.com.au to talk all things healthy eating…

When it comes to the dietary demands of customers, chef Teresa Cutter has seen it all. She initially trained in the classics, with French chefs, but ended up running her own café. She now concentrates on creating food with recipes that use fresh and unprocessed recipes.

“At one stage I had three banana breads,” she says of what was on offer at the Avalon cafe, which she has since sold. “I needed to satisfy people who were vegan, people on gluten-free diets and people who just wanted a nice normal healthy one, which was my spelt and honey.”

The current fascination with the paleo diet, both at home and in cafes and restaurants, is an eating plan that harks back to the paleolithic era. Organic, grass-fed meat, poultry and line-caught seafood, along with vegetables, eggs and limited fruit are in. Dairy, grains, legumes, sugars and any processed food are out.

“I know that when I put out a recipe that’s paleo, it’s going to go through the roof, but that’s not what I’m about,” she says. “I’m more about a holistic and natural approach – it’s whole foods. Fresh fruit and vegetables are king.” Cutter, who studied nutrition and is a qualified fitness instructor, says while there is now a buzz around paleo, it’s not new.

“Paleo and that way of eating goes back to when I was doing it 25 years ago,” Cutter says of her time training for fitness figure competitions. “Paleo, sugar-free, detox; you can have all these diet terms but at the end of the day it’s making you more mindful f what you’re doing, so you’re actually thinking about your food. “You’re going to get healthy because you’re focusing on fresh fruit and vegetables.

When looking at any new diet, it’s important to be flexible, she says. “Paleo has strict guidelines but I use paleo as a template. Occasionally I love beans and legumes and yoghurt. I try and base my diet on what suits me and my body, and I think that’s what people should do. It’s not like if I eat a piece of bread I’m going to die — it’s being sensible and realistic and not fanatical.”

CSIRO Food and Nutrition associate professor Grant Brinkworth says we are yet to see proof in the paleo pudding. “You can see in the US, they’re not advocating these dietary patterns, but they’re starting to acknowledge there might be some legitimacy to them,” he says.

“But until we do a lot more systematic evaluation, you are never going to make that 
the guideline — guidelines are evidence based and until we have the science, we’re never going to be able to make recommendations about these sorts of patterns.”

Cutter says making healthy choices whether paleo or another diet, is now easier when eating out. “You could go to any really nice restaurant, and it will be paleo, but they’re not marketing it. It might be a beautiful piece of fish on a carrot puree, and that’s still paleo,” Cutter says. “You can’t go wrong with veggies and salads. I ask if I can have olive oil and lemon on the side. Olive oil is king and ask for cold pressed, and most cafes and restaurants will have that. “Then you look at protein sources and that can be a handful of nuts and seeds, or a nice piece of chicken and fish.”

Cutter says there’s no need to feel deprived it you’re determined to stick with healthy eating. “Anything can be made over in a healthy way,” she says. “You can give me whatever dish – lasagne, a burger, spaghetti bolognaise – and I can easily turn it into a healthy, paleo or gluten-free dish. It’s possible.”

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One Response to “Teresa Talks Healthy Menu Options”
  1. Mel says:

    Hi Teresa,

    I love your work! I have all of your cookbooks and was wondering if I could make a special request for your next one?

    More quick dinners with chicken/lamb or beef. My husband generally doesn’t see a meal as “complete ” unless theres protein.

    Thanks

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