While my BF is lost in the TV show, Lost, I really can't talk to him. He gets all zombie like and his eyes glaze over when I try to engage in conversation. I never followed the show, but it seems interesting enough. But I have to pretend I am not interested just to be funny.
I digress. I really want to talk about tonight, so lend me your ear for a minute will you? Ok, your eyes and your time, but who is really at their computer right now? You all are probably watching Lost.
Tonight I went to my first ACF meeting, I just joined the organization as a student member a few weeks ago. I have to say, I was really impressed how friendly and welcoming everyone was. I met chefs from several different local restaurants, the hospital, and the local college. I also met a caterer, a nutritionist/chef and another staff member from school. Talk about networking, I think I hit the jackpot!
We start off the meeting with dinner and social time. The meeting was hosted by the chef at the hospital and he prepared us a great feast! To begin, we had quinoa atop mixed greens with oranges and chevre (my fav!). Our main course was lamp chops (bone in!) with a yummy mushroom sauce, brussel sprouts, and mashed red potatoes (skins on - yum!). For dessert, we had panna cotta with a raspberry sauce, a raspberry, a blackberry, a blueberry, and garnished with fresh mint.
We then discussed where our next 3 meetings are going to be held and the potential guest speakers. Next month we are going to a winery, woo hoo! In April, our meeting is about 6 blocks from my house and the speaker is going to talk about buying local produce and meats. Excellent topic! In my restaurant project at school, we are going to "buy" local ingredients whenever possible. It really is a growing trend for restaurants, as it should be here in Michigan since we are crop diversified. Finally, we wrap up in May for the summer at a yacht club and we are hoping to have Fustini's, a local vinegar and oil company, talk to us about balsamic vinegars.
After the official meeting is the education portion. Today, the nutritionist/chef from the hospital talked about the health benefits of chocolate and we had a little chocolate tasting. My favorite, of course, was the darkest chocolate at 85% cacao. We learned that the reason dark chocolate is better for you is that as the cacao percent goes down, it is replaced with hydrogenous fats to bring flavor to the chocolate. What is hydrogenous fats, you ask? Oh yes, ones that are chemically bombarded with hydrogen. And no, I am not kidding.
Flavors vary in cacao depending on which region they are from. For instance, the Green and Black's Organic 85% cacao bar that was my personal favorite, comes from Trinidad. Cacao from Trinidad tends to hav complex fruitiness plus appealing spices such as cinnamon. No wonder it was a winner, I love spicy and cinnamon.
Tips on using chocolate as a health benefit:
1. Choose dark chocolate
2. The first ingredient listed should be cocoa or chocolate liquor, NOT sugar
3. Limit yourself to a few ounces per day and cut calories elsewhere to keep your wieght in line
We also had some bonus information when she started talking about "low-fat" and "fat-free" diets. This was by far one of the most important parts of her presentation. She said that those diets are not healthy for you because you don't know what you are eating. Example would be the fake "butters" or margarines. She said it's better for you to have real butter in moderation than to use the chemically made substitutes. In fact, she says she cooks in 1/2 butter and 1/2 lard!!! Basically you want to stick to natural sources of fat, like what is found in meat and dairy. Other examples of fat you can consume is olive oil and fish oil. It's all about portion control, people, and I tell you what - I can't wait to bring back my stick of butter!! YAHOO!
Let's talk about high cholesterol for a minute. There is no proof that any one type of food can cause high cholesterol, so break out those eggs and make an omelette! It is recommended that you buy farm fresh eggs too. Yes, they are more expensive, but better for you! Causes of high cholesterol: smoking, not exercising, and too much hydrogenated oils. It's basically a lifestyle thing, not a food consumption thing. Interesting!!
After the meeting, I mingled for a bit and spoke with the chef from the hospital. He said to come by anytime and he will give me a tour. He also told me about a really cool event that they put on for their high-rolling donators in August that sounds fabulous. They also have opportunities for local chefs to be the "guest chef" for the day in the "innovation station". They service around 250 to 300 meals in an hour and a half!! WOW!
What a great night! I am so excited that I joined this organization. Friendly, down to earth folks that all have a love of food. It's like I'm in Foodie Heaven.