UP-CLOSE WITH CHEF DEVIN ALEXANDER

by / No Comments / 12 View / June 10, 2018

• How did you develop your love for cooking and when did that love turn into a fine art of healthy ‘n’ tasty cooking?

• I had an Italian Grandmother who taught me how to cook as a kid and made me fall in love with it.  I had planned to be a screen writer, but fell into cooking after moving to LA – some celebrities figured out that I could make amazing healthy food and wooed me to cook for them.

• What influenced you to break away from a regular cooking style and carve a niche for yourself?

• I weighed 200 pounds as a 15-year-old.  Desperate to lose weight when I was being bullied, I figured out how to cook my favorites better.  And shed the pounds.  I love helping others see that they too can be healthy AND happy!

• We are aware of your success in maintaining your 70-pound weight loss for so long. What has motivated you to pursue your long-term goal over all these years?

• I was so stuck when I was overweight.  I really believed that I’d be miserable forever because I’d either be overweight or extremely deprived.  When I realized there was a better way, it was EASY.  I wanted to reach as many people as possible with that understanding.  That’s why I so passionately do what I do!

• Eating healthy doesn’t mean completely depriving oneself of their favourite food. What do you have to say?

• “You Can Have It”!  🙂  You really can have your favorite foods.  You just have to be strategic about it, and I can help – and so can my book(s) and my website: www.devinalexander.com!

• What’s your secret tip to budding chefs when it comes to conjuring up some of the best healthy meals?

• It’s all about making sure you have proper (yet basic) cooking techniques and then using the right ingredients.  It takes work and a lot trial and error.  My life is glamorous…AND a TON of work!

• We live in Dubai – a city that’s a melting pot of world cuisines and cultures. There are a lot of quick service restaurant chains as well. People across cultures particularly the adolescents like fast-food. In your opinion what can we do to win them back to a healthy eating habit?

• All of the cooking shows in the U.S. have changed that in recent years.  A lot of people are cooking more, and both those and the delivery meal kits that are like cooking lessons in a box.

• Could your share some tips to make home cooked meals based on regional cuisines (Like Arabic, Indian or other Asian cuisines) healthier?

• A lot of people think that you need tons of better, salt, fat, etc. to make anything taste good.  When I’m making Indian dishes, I rarely use the jarred curries and when I do, I combine them with healthy ingredients.  When you use the spices and make your own curries, they can be out of this world and healthy.  Same with Asian cuisines.  Hoisin sauce is loaded with salt, sugar and, often, MSG, but you can get amazing flavor from using Chinese 5 spice powder.  Now, you have to combine it with other ingredients properly – it’s not like you can drop one for another, but it’s totally doable.  Again, it all comes down to ingredients and getting the right recipes.

• What smart cooking tips would you give people struggling to lose weight?

• Just Cook! 🙂  When you eat out you’re at the mercy of restaurants who do things like soaking green beans in sugar water to make them sweeter, put a wad of butter on top of your filet mignon (beef tenderloin) which is otherwise relatively lean, or when you get a burger or chicken sandwich they often load the bun with butter or oils that you won’t taste anyway after you add the ketchup, pickles, onions, etc.
• When you make salads at home, make sure you dry all the salad components well.  You’ll never have a restaurant quality chopped salad if it’s soggy!
• You only need about 1 teaspoon of oil per pound of meat (chicken, fish, steak) to make it amazing in a grill or nonstick pan.  Oil isn’t what gives that amazing caramelization you get in restaurants, it’s the (basic) technique of cooking at the right temperature and not overcrowding your pan!

• On the other side spectrum, what about those who are seeking ways to increase their weight in a healthy way?

• I wish I was one of those people! Ha!  They’re few and far between, but in those cases it’s best to eat foods that are high in calories and low in saturated fat and sugars.  Nuts, avocados, salmon are great examples.  Snacking on nuts, particularly pistachios and almonds, is great for anyone. However, some (including me) have trouble “stopping,” but if you’re trying to gain, that’s not a problem.  Dried fruit is another calorie dense item, but on that one you don’t want to overdo the sugar (though it is natural sugar if the dried fruit is unsweetened).

• Finally, how could people stay focused and motivated while trying to maintain their weight loss?

• Do it with a friend or get the whole family involved.  It’s really really hard to be a lone ranger in weight loss/fitness.  I have friends who love eating healthy and love working out.  If all my friends wanted to go to the pub and then a movie, I’d have a lot of trouble maintaining my weight loss. I’m part of a community of people who play beach tennis and my closest girlfriends all like to walk or workout. The thing that I most love about this new book is that it celebrates friendship!  You’ll note that there are photos of me and friends enjoying the food while socializing and playing beach tennis.  There’s a whole chapter of “Party Fare and Savory Snacks,” which people wouldn’t expect in a “healthy” cookbook, but it’s so important to me to deliver not just amazing food, but to create a community of love around food!  These recipes will be loved by fit people and by their loved ones who are struggling.  My hope is that the people struggling will suddenly realize, like I did when I starting losing weight, that health is MORE enjoyable than being overweight when you find recipes that satisfy your cravings!

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