Interview with Pablo Montoro about how to prepare healthier holiday menus
Christmas is coming and, thinking of these festive days, we inevitably associate them with large excesses of food. However, family gatherings and tributes to the palate don’t need to be at odds with our health and wellbeing, and our chef Pablo Montoro knows it very well. Therefore, we decided to interview him and with his experience we can help you to prepare healthier menus and recipes for Christmas without sacrificing originality or quality.
- Hi Pablo! What are the main premises for healthy eating at Christmas?
Clearly, Christmas is not a time to ban because people want to make the most with their loved ones and big meals are usually the main junction. However, it is worth following some general recommendations for healthier Christmas meals as using fish instead of meat, substitute sugar by rice syrup, maple syrup or other unrefined sweeteners in our traditional sweets, avoid animal milk and use better almond, rice or oats milk in place, and so on. You won’t hardly notice the changes in the results and, however, our bodies will thank us.
- Why fish instead of meat?
Our body has a hard time digesting meat more than fish so it is much healthier for us. In addition, with fish you can create many healthy and tasty dishes like tuna tataki, worthy in any celebration meal. The seafood can also be used, but always ensuring its quality and origin.
- And as side dishes?
Other typical ingredients of Christmas such as nuts, sweet potatoes or seasonal fruit and vegetables (pineapple, pumpkin, beets, cauliflower, broccoli) that can serve to enrich our healthy Christmas recipes.
- In some places it is very typical to use pickles as an appetizer. Can they be considered healthy?
The bestpickles are the ones traditionally homemade with healthy and quality ingredients. In our restaurant Shamadi we make our own preparations with Umeboshi vinegar and they are very successful.
- And the pastries? Because the majority we know are made from candy, sugar and flour…
Clearly, sweets and desserts play an important role in Christmas family gatherings. The biggest drawback of the classical pastry is their raw material, because refined flours and sugars represent “poision” for our body. However, as mentioned, you can cook very tasty sweets with other ingredients.
In many households it is traditional to prepare pumpkin, sweet potato or apple fritters and we usually made using wheat flour, refined white sugar and yeast. However, we can prepare some healthier doughnuts, balanced and better for our bodies simply substituting the wheat flour by spelled flour, the packed yeast by fresh yeast and the sugar by rice syrup or maple syrup.
The same applies to cocoa, we can do spectacular chocolate desserts using pure cocoa without added animal fat, they are much healthier.
How tasty sounds it all! Could you give our readers some easy Christmas recipe to make at home for this festive period?
For example, we can teach them how to cook healthy caramel-coated dried nuts. To make them we will need the following ingredients:
- 20g fresh almonds
- 20g hazelnuts
- 20g pistachios
- 20g pumpkin seeds
- 20g rice syrup
- 10g Maple syrup
- 20cl Water
- 10cl of extra virgin olive oil
For the preparation, we put all dried nuts in a pan with olive oil. Once browned, we add the maple syrup, the rice syrup and water in that order. We allow to caramelize over low heat for 10 minutes and, when ready, we take them out of the pan, dry on parchment paper, separating he nuts while hot. Ready to enjoy!
Thank you very much, Pablo! Any other advice to end the interview?
Do not cook more than you need. This holiday season we tend to think that the more food there is on our Christmas meals, the better. However, most of times people are just too full for the excess of food and leftovers might end up in the trash. Measure the amounts when preparing your favourite Christmas recipes and the number of plates is essential. There is no doubt that on a holiday we can afford to eat more than usual, but that does not mean we have to overdo with no reason.