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Italian chef and restaurant consultant Chef Davide Cananzi advises on making the right food choices

13 April 2018 , 0 comments / 1 likes
When Italian chef and restaurant consultant Davide Cananzi came to India in 2004, he was impressed by the healthy ways of eating and living followed in the country. But he feels that traditional practices are gradually fading away and are being replaced by unhealthy eating habits. There is a need to bring these back, he says, and it isn’t difficult to do. Speaking at the FBAI Dialogues 2018, Davide shared some simple practices to keep in mind while planning a healthy menu at home

The first step to good health is the desire to be healthier, says Davide Cananzi. It’s something he strongly believes in and according to him, being healthy is all about a mindset. It doesn’t matter whether you follow a diet or not; all you need is strong willpower to eat healthy. Educate yourself on what to consume and gradually, eating healthy will become a part of you.

Get your basics right
According to Davide, the focus should be on including the following five groups of foods in our diet – Vegetables and Legumes, Fruits, Lean Meats, Grains, and Dairy. Including various foods in our diet can help us fulfil our daily requirement of proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins. That is why it’s important to be careful about choosing the right ingredients. He says that we need to be conscious of what we eat, and the best way to do this is by preparing it ourselves. A strong believer of ‘less is more,’ Davide’s advice is to “use your secret recipe and put your soul in preparing it – it will work better than a diet!” He recommends having homemade food at least five days a week to remain healthy. Just remember the main five foods to have in your kitchen and then use your creativity to satiate your taste buds.

Not all fat is bad
Davide also shattered many food-related myths. For instance, not all fatty foods are unhealthy. A person who is trying to lose weight should focus on only cutting down saturated fats, and not all fats. Another notion is that a salad is healthier than a burger. “If you have a sedentary lifestyle, but have a salad rich in mayonnaise, you’re not doing any good to yourself,” says Davide. It’s wiser to walk for a while and relish smoked salmon instead. “You should know the balance,” is his top tip.

Healthy alternatives
Davide also rejected the notion that frozen food is unhealthy. He explains, “At times, farm fresh products undergo various processes before they finally reach our plate. But in frozen foods, the produce is immediately packed after plucking, which helps it retain its nutritive value.” He also suggested other simple alternatives such as using pink salt and olive oil for cooking, which can make a big difference to eating healthy.

What you must include in your diet
A seafood lover, Davide prefers having poached salmon and shrimps to keep himself healthy. He feels vegetarians should include spinach, potatoes, onion and garlic in their meals for their high nutritive value. Cereals, millets and quinoa are also some dietary must-haves.

Don’t forget your roots
Until two decades ago, people didn’t have access to enough produce, says Davide. It’s easy to get everything now, which also makes us susceptible to a new set of problems. Indians tend to follow trends, but are also forgetting their roots. He feels that traditional cooking and eating practices should be balanced with the latest trends. Techniques such as grilling and cooking over a wood-fire not only gives the food an amazing aroma, but also allows it to cook in its own time. “The sous-vide style of cooking has become very popular, but I feel it forces the meat or vegetable to cook too fast. I’m old-school and prefer poaching salmon in a muslin cloth instead.  Also, how many people can actually afford to buy a sous-vide machine and use it to its full capacity?” asks Davide. Avoiding preservatives and choosing organic food can also help us remain healthy. Davide points out, “You will notice that making these simple changes in your food habits will make you feel healthier than ever.”

Davide ended his chat with a quote by his friend, celebrity chef Vicky Ratnani, which perfectly sums up eating healthy: “Pay the farmer, and not the doctor!”
These were Davide’s top pointers to plan a healthy menu. What is your idea of a healthy diet? Share it in the comments section below.