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Walnut Week: Google Chef Charlie Ayers Talks Healthy Cooking

All this week, I’m dedicating my blogs to walnuts. If you’ve missed the content so far, be sure to catch up. You can find out what fitness guru Petra Kolber thinks you should do to stay energized this summer, and read about the latest research on the health benefits of walnuts.

This interview is with chef Charlie Ayers, former chef at Google, author of the book “Food 2.0” and member of the California Walnuts Chefs Council, a group working to make restaurant meals healthy and delicious at the same time. Read what he has to say about healthy cooking and check out his healthy recipe using walnuts: Walnutty Egg and Bell Pepper Gratin.

1. As a restaurant chef, what is essential for creating healthier menu options? Whether it is swapping out butter for a healthier oil, or lower fat dairy, etc., how do you keep high-taste intact while still offering healthful options?

It is important to give your guests compelling flavor profiles, so that they are satisfied and not missing the added fats that are normally associated with restaurant foods. We tend to use a lot of ingredients that are versatile and can be either applied to Latin American or Asian cuisines. We make all of our own dressings; our ketchup is made in-house with no high fructose corn syrup, and instead use an organic brown sugar in small amounts as a sweetener. I try not to use added fats when working with product that already has a naturally high fat content, and I try and bring out the flavors of the foods with the combination of using fruit and vegetable juices instead of adding additional fats.
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