Thursday, February 26, 2009

Inspiration in the Kitchen with Tyler Florence!

It’s February, it’s freezing outside, our New Year’s resolutions have fallen by the wayside, and we’re in full-on comfort-food mode. So how do we manage to keep it healthful? So how do we realistically restore balance and health to the picture? I think it's all about a little 'kitchen inspiration' to get you out of that cold-weather rut. So recently I jumped at the chance to chat with super-cool Food Network celebrity chef Tyler Florence, who shares my enthusiasm for healthy — and delicious — eating. We agreed that playing around with new flavors and recipes — and making an extra effort to cook more from scratch — not only benefits your health and taste buds, but also your wallet. Tyler's doing his part to get us excited and revved up in the kitchen by partnering with Macy’s to kick-off the Macy’s Keeps America Cooking challenge. The contest runs through early April and asks entrants to make a short video depicting what inspires them to get cooking, whether it’s a favorite food, time of year, event, or whatever. The winner wins a $2,500 shopping spree accompanied by Tyler himself. I think it's a great way to promote food traditions, healthful cooking, and fresh ingredients. Here’s the scoop from my Q&A conversation with Tyler:
Q: What exactly does the “Keep America Cooking” challenge aim to do?

A: The contest is a great way to encourage people to get cooking back in the kitchen. We’ve put together a series of helpful podcasts on how to use different cooking equipment and how to prepare seasonal recipes perfect for this time year. We’re asking people to send in clips of what inspires them in the kitchen.

Q: I think it’s fantastic that you’re working to encourage us to get cooking again and not be afraid to get creative in the kitchen. Why do think this is so important?A: I think it’s all about helping others to understand that there’s really no “quick-fix” when it comes to good food. Quick fixes simply serve as immediate gratification — it’s like an empty promise. Food and cooking at home is really about reconnecting with who we are as a culture and a family. I always say a house should smell like good cooking — I really think it gives kids in particular a sense of comfort, family, and great memories around food. It’s important because food and home-cooked meals act as a vehicle of communication They bring about a sense of gathering.

Q: What can people do to make healthy cooking more fun, exciting, and inviting?

A: I don’t think healthful cooking is boring in the slightest, or it certainly doesn’t have to be. I'm a big proponent of curbing gigantic portions and zoning in on the idea about consciously watching calories and your overall intake. In my house, my wife and I really focus on protein and vegetables. Four or five bites of great food is really all we need to be satiated. Think about balancing out the scale when it comes to smart eating and making the most of indulgences. It’s all about making a conscious choice and sitting down to a great meal with the people you care about.

So the real question is...what inspires YOU in the kitchen!?

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