The New Spa Cuisine

Spa food has come a long way from its sprout and millet beginnings. These days, resorts are bringing in world-class chefs to create haute healthy cuisine. If you can’t get to one of these luxe locations (we know we can’t), you can still use their tricks at home. We asked three destination spa chefs for smart ways to lighten up our plates.

Change One Thing at a Time

Your body needs time to adjust to anything drastically different, whether it’s forgoing an afternoon snack time or switching from whole milk to soy. Make changes gradually and pick either your daily schedule or your diet to alter. If you do both at the same time it’ll shock your body and the change won’t stick.

Measure Mindfully

Canyon Ranch’s corporate chef Scott Uehlein discovered that most olive oil bottle spouts pour about one tablespoon of oil per second. “Every tablespoon is 90 calories and 15 grams of fat before adding anything else,” says Uehlein. Instead of the standard three-second pour, opt for using oil in a squirt bottle and use just what you need.

Use Citrus Instead of Salt

Three out of three spa chefs agree: in most cases, citrus juice will add a kick to your dishes without adding a ton of sodium or fat. “Instead of fat for flavor, I use lime zest or a squeeze of fresh orange juice. That acidity helps brighten a dish,” says Chef Corey Shoemaker of Arizona’s Mii amo.

Try a Healthy Alternative With a Similar Taste and Feel

If you’re a die-hard M&M’s lover, you don’t have to give up your chocolate habit. Try a less sweet option like cocoa nibs, which are full of antioxidants and vitamins. Instead of potato chips, swap in kale chips or, even better, crispy nori sheets (available at Trader Joe’s) instead. “Snack pack seaweed sheets are roasted, so they’re super crunchy and will satiate that desire for crunch,” says Uehlein.

Upgrade Your Blender

They’re pricey, but a super powered blender like a Vita Mix can make a big difference in taste. “When you’re trying to mimic a creamy, savory mouth appeal, a high-end blender that purees well will give that same buttery texture,” says Kurt Steeber, Executive Chef of Ranch at Live Oak Malibu in Southern California. Blended celery root and turnips are great butter stand-ins, and mixing vegetable soups with produce like cauliflower will create a thicker base similar to creamy broths.

Image: Courtesy of Canyon Ranch

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