Functional Cooking

July 7, 2009 Chef Gerard Viverito, Director of Culinary Education for Passionfish ( advises taking one step at a time. That's the basis for "Functional Cooking," in which you add all-natural, beneficial ingredients to foods that you may be already eating. These ingredients can actually increase your meal's nutritional value without changing its taste or texture, the chef adds.

Try adding these ingredients to your dishes, Chef Gerard says:

Flax seeds or flax oil can be added to virtually any recipe in place of olive oil. It nature's richest of mega-3 fatty acids and has 50% more omega-3 oils than other oils such as olive oil, the chef says.

Spirulina: Sprinkling this algae extract into your vinaigrettes, guacamole or pesto is like adding an extra serving of vegetables and an extra source of protein.

Agave sweetener: is a natural sweetener made from the nectar of fruit. Great alternative to sugar especially people following the Gylemic index.

White Kidney Bean extract: It slows the digestion of carbohydrates, potentially reducing the digestion of dietary starches. This may aid in weight control and support healthy blood sugar levels, the chef says.

Apple Cider Vinegar: The vinegar contains a host of vitamins, beta-carotene, pectin and vital minerals such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, chlorine, sulphur, iron, and fluorine. Pectin in the vinegar is a fiber which helps reduce bad cholesterol and helps in regulating blood pressure, the chef adds.

Whole Grains: adding whole grains give you extra serving of the grains.

Here are two of his favorite recipes to get you started: Tomato Shrimp Panzanella and Blueberry Crisp.

About Chef Gerard Viverito

Chef Viverito is the Director of Culinary Education for Passionfish, a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching and promoting environmentally sound alternatives to endangered seafood species. He travels around the world educating, consulting and demonstrating cooking using sustainable seafood products to ensure fish for our future.

He is a dedicated chef who has spent many years as an Executive Chef in San Diego, California, and the Virgin Islands. Gerard has a well-honed understanding of Mediterranean cuisine as well, which he developed while spending three years in Spain, France and Italy.

Chef Viverito has taught at culinary schools and is very active in the community of local farmers and his commitment to sustainable food practices extends to his role as the director of his true food based catering company Savour Fine Catering.

Chef Viverito has dedicated a large part of his career to what he terms "functional cooking". This is where he adds nutritional ingredients to dishes to gain healthful results. He is well known for his ability to lower the glycemic index value of food, add omega fatty acids, and whole proteins to dishes without compromising the texture or taste. He appears regularly on radio and television programs demonstrating this as well as consulting clients on their dietary needs.

Grilled Shrimp and Heirloom Tomato Panzanella

Blueberry Crisp with Amaretti Topping

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