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GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn--Keeping New Year's diet resolutions can be tough in the midst of a Minnesota winter when what you're really craving is comfort food. Fortunately, Chef Mike Rakun, from Minneapolis,specializes in creating great-tasting, "nutrition-forward" fair. The following are some tips he uses that you can use at home to create your own great tasting, guilt-free comfort food.

Recipe Makeover Tips:

1. Use the right fats -- to cut back on cholesterol

a. Chef Mike uses a lot of EVOO in his recipes, along with a few other lesser known oils that are lower in cholesterol than butter, etc.

2. Sneak in more vegetables – they'll add nutrition and help fill you up

a. His "eggs benedict" uses corn, onions and kale for example.

3. Seek out "nutrient-dense" foods

a. Media like to refer to these as super foods, but for decades nutritionist have referred to them as 'nutrient dense.' Meaning foods that carry a lot of nutritional punch for their relative number of calories, such as quinoa, kale and farro.

b. For example: Marin's chicken risotto uses squash and farro and kale, and the restaurants pancakes and waffles both use quinoa for added nutrition/protein.

4. Use vinegars to pull out flavors without adding fat.

a. Fruit with a balsamic reduction can be a marvelous – virtually no fat "syrup" for pancakes and waffles

5. Roast, sear and grill versus fry or saute (in butter.)

a. Roasting meats and vegetables can bring out a lot of their more subtle flavors.

6. Add flavors with herbs and broths vs fat

a. One of Marin's most popular dishes is a pan seared sea bass with baby vegetables in a bowl of mushroom tea. (I'll see if Chef Rakun can bring a plating of that along to show as well.)

7. Use quality ingredients and intense flavors to satisfy your taste buds.

a. Artificial "diet" foods can leave you unsatisfied. A little taste of a great quality cheese is far more satisfying than a large chunk of some waxy, tasteless substitute.

b. Example: One of the most popular dishes on the menu is the Flatbread Pizza with Ham, Fig and Blue Cheese. Very intense flavors that will fill you up without filling you out, since they're all used in moderation.

Healthy Eggs Benedict

Serves 4

8 ea organic eggs, poached

1 cup kale, blanched and chopped

1 tbsp bran or grapeseed oil

1 tsp garlic, minced

1 tsp shallots, minced

1/2 lemon, juiced

to taste salt

4 ea whole grain English muffins

4 slices prosciutto or speck, cut in half

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tbsp corn sauce (recipe below)

· Fill a sauce pot with water and a splash of champagne vinegar for poaching

· Poach eggs to desired doneness

· In a sauté pan, sweat the shallots and garlic and then sauté the kale

· Season the kale with lemon juice and salt

· Toast the English muffins

· Warm up the prosciutto in the oven or in a sauté pan

· Place the English muffins open on the plate, top with prosciutto, kale and then the eggs

· Place a tablespoon of corn sauce over each benedict and dust with a cayenne

Serve immediately

Corn Sauce

3 ea corn on the cob

1 ea yellow onion, diced

3 ea cloves garlic, chopped

to taste salt

1 ea lemon, juiced

¼ tsp Tabasco

· Remove the corn from the cob

· In a sauce pan, cover the cobs with water and simmer for 45 minutes

· In a separate sauce pan sweat the onions and garlic until translucent

· Add corn and season with salt

· Cover the corn mixture with corn stock and simmer for 15 minutes

· Place items in a blender and process until smooth. Pass through a fine strainer

· Adjust seasoning with lemon juice and tabasco

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