Friday, December 6, 2013

Chefs' Wellness Series: Chef Marc-André Choquette

Marc-André Choquette is executive chef at Tableau Bar Bistro as well as the Homer Street Café and Bar. Chef MAC, as he's known, hails from Montreal and is an avid hockey player.

He shares a recipe for a dish that can only be found at Tableau and that combines abundantly healthy quinoa with fresh pan-seared trout.

Fit Foodie's Chefs' Wellness Series features top chefs from throughout B.C. discussing their take on health and healthy eating.

What do you do to stay physically healthy?
“I enjoy working out at a fitness studio three times a week under the direction of a personal trainer. During these sessions, I focus primarily on core exercises, cardio, and weight training. A huge fan of hockey, I also strap on my skates and play goalie three to four times a week, all year round. When the colder weather arrives, I try to make it up to a local mountain, Whistler, or Mt. Baker for a day of snowboarding. On the weekends, you'll find me taking long walks or hikes with my two dogs, LB, a Bernese mountain dog, and Jetta, a Great Dane. Every day, I try to stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water, I do my best to limit my consumption of alcohol and caffeine, and I make every effort to get proper rest whenever I can.”

What do you do to keep healthy mentally and emotionally?
“One thing I've learned over the years is to not over-hink or get too emotional regarding challenges I face on a daily or weekly basis. Whenever I find my stress levels rising, I now stop, collect my thoughts, and then take the time to reflect and discuss with a colleague or friend -- this allows me to find a suitable solution. Another key for keeping myself healthy -- both mentally and emotionally -- is allowing myself to "disconnect" by watching movies or TV shows. I find they are good distractions for me, whether it be the suspense that keeps me glued to the screen or the humor that triggers a laugh! Exercise, too, definitely helps me disconnect and re-charge, as it engages me mentally and makes me happy. And, of course, I can't forget my two wonderful dogs. Spending time with LB and Jetta grounds me and definitely keeps my mind and emotions on the right track."

What's your greatest challenge when it comes to health and well-being?
“My biggest challenge when it comes to health and well-being is finding the proper balance between work and personal time. In today's world, we are constantly connected by personal communication devices, making it easy for us to always be "on the clock" and aware of work related issues.  Consequently, work days seem to have become longer, which means it is more of an effort to balance my health with my career. I also have to be careful that vacations and other days off aren't bumped to a later date, as it is so easy to allow work to take priority over everything else.”

Why did you choose this dish to share with readers?
"Up until four years ago, I had never worked with quinoa, but since then, it has become quite the health trend here in Vancouver. As it is such an easy grain to cook, I came up with this warm almond and quinoa salad to pair with Steelhead Trout. It has since become a favorite item on our menu at Tableau Bar Bistro, and our regular diners come back for this dish at lunch or dinner. When preparing this dish at Tableau Bar Bistro, we use three different coloured quinoa to add visual appeal; however, the usage of one colour grain will suffice, particularly if you are looking to cut down on costs. This salad can be enjoyed warm or cold, on its own, or paired with any other protein that appeals to you."

Marc-André Choquette's PAN SEARED TROUT with

Serves 4

Trout:    4 x 6 oz portion of trout from your local seafood store

Quinoa Salad:

white quinoa      125 g
red quinoa          125 g
parsley (finely chopped)      ½ bunch
green onion (minced)      4 pc
toasted almonds  25 g
currant raisins      25 g
lemon juice      25 ml
olive oil      25 ml
salt & pepper to taste


Cook the quinoa in large amount of water until tender, set aside to cool down. Mix all ingredients together and season well.

Pan sear the trout, skin side down, over medium heat. Once cooked, serve on top of three tablespoons of the quinoa salad, slightly warm.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The good kind of blues

British Columbia Blueberry Council's Blueberry Breakfast Rice Bowl
Every year, my local Whole Foods has a one-day sale on organic blueberries. I stock up, buying as many cases as I can fit in my downstairs freezer. I use them mostly to make blueberry-based smoothies year-round. (The kids are happy with a simple mix of blueberries, strawberry yogurt, and ripe banana; other times I'll add kale, pineapple, and roasted and pureed beets.)

The berries are a great source of anti-oxidants, which I'm always trying to get more of (and more into my husband, who's a two-time cancer survivor). They're also high in vitamins C, A, and E as well as calcium, magnesium, and potassium. They make regular appearances around here in pancakes, muffins, and crumbles; atop French toast; and in a sauce to accompany salmon.

The British Columbia Blueberry Council has dozens of recipes on its website; here's one to kick start you into getting your blues.

Yields 3 cups
*    1 cup (240 ml) water
*    1½ cups (360 ml) milk or unsweetened almond, soy or rice milk, divided
*    1 tsp (5 ml) salt
*    1 cup (165 g) brown rice or quinoa, uncooked
*    1 tbsp (15 ml) chia seeds, whole
*    5 (10 ml) cardamom pods, whole
*    3 tbsp (45 ml) maple syrup
*    ½ tsp (2.5 ml) ground cinnamon
*    1½ cups (225 g) B.C. blueberries, fresh or thawed frozen, divided
*    1 tbsp (15 ml) flax seed, ground
*    1 tbsp (15 ml) hemp hearts
*    1 tbsp (15 ml) walnuts, chopped
*    1 tbsp (15 ml) unsweetened coconut flakes
*    In a medium pot, bring water, 1 cup of the milk and salt to a boil. Add the rice, chia seeds and cardamom pods. Bring to a boil, stir, then simmer, covered on a medium low heat for 40 minutes until cooked (or according to the package instructions)
*    Remove the cardamom pods.
*    Add the remaining ½ cup of milk, maple syrup, cinnamon and 1 cup of the blueberries, heat and stir until warmed.
*    Serve warm topped with the remaining blueberries, flax, hemp hearts, walnuts and coconut.