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Functional Cooking

Functional Cooking

Simple Ways to Give your Favorite Recipes a Nutritional Boost

Healthy eating has become more important than ever, given our ongoing battle to control our waistlines and maintain health. Even if you don't have a lot of t ime to cook, nutritious meals are essential.

Gerard Viverito, a renowned chef who has prepared meals for numerous TV show audiences as well as his own catering clients, has some simple tips for adding all-natural, beneficial ingredients to foods that you may already be eating. "I like to blend traditional recipes with nutritional ingredients that can increase a meal's nutritional value without changing its taste or texture," says Chef Viverito.

This style of cooking, which Chef Viverito refers to as "functional cooking", is an easy way for people to eat healthier meals. "Some parents have trouble getting their children to eat healthfully, so masking important nutrients in their favorite meals is a good approach. Other people avoid taking nutritional supplements because they have trouble swallowing pills," he explains. "Functional cooking is a good way for these types of people to enhance their nutrition, in fact, it's great for anyone who likes to enjoy healthy food."

Chef Viverito recommends using five nutritional ingredients in your functional cooking. They are flax, fish oil and/or oats to help lower cholesterol; Phase 2 Carb Controller (a white bean extract) for weight management and blood sugar support; and spirulina for extra fiber and antioxidants. Here are his tips for incorporating these ingredients into your diet:

  • Flax: Flax seeds or flax oil can be added to virtually any recipe. You can also mix it directly into a carton of yogurt for a fast, heart-healthy snack."
  • Fish Oil: "Choose a high quality fish oil that does not have an unpleasant aftertaste or odor. Add it to a vinaigrette dressing to make your salads even healthier."
  • Oats: "Oats can be added to almost any baked good including muffins, pies, breads and cakes."
  • Phase 2: "Some people are just now becoming aware of this ingredient, which is derived from white beans. It slows the digestion of carbohydrates, potentially reducing the digestion of dietary starches. This may aid in weight control and support healthy blood sugar levels. I like to add it to breads, pizza crusts, muffins and coffee cakes. If you're in a hurry, look for Carbolina brand pasta that incorporates Phase 2 into its recipe."
  • Spirulina: "Sprinkling this into your vinaigrettes, guacamole or pesto is like adding an extra serving of vegetables."

"Always choose the healthiest foods available because these ingredients can't magically turn a plate of greasy nachos into a health food," advises Chef Gerard. "But when you're crunched for time, or your menu choices are limited, these may add some healthful bonuses to you meals."

To check out some of Chef Viverito's favorite recipes -- like Banana Muffins; Grilled Pizza with Sausage, Peppers, Onions and Ricotta; and Fresh Plum Tomato Sauce -- click here.

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