Tuesday, 1 April 2014
Never trust a thin chef?
Taste of the Med @ The Minnis - new seafront tapas restaurant
Healthy menus helped chef to lose 3 stone
Kent chef patron Jason Freedman is to open ‘Taste of the Med @ The Minnis’, overlooking the golden sands of Minnis Bay in Birchington, which nestles between the fishing ports of Whitstable and Ramsgate. The new menus draw heavily on the same dishes which have helped Jason lose 3 stone in weight over a two-year period.
Inspired by a cuisine which helped him achieve the sustained weight loss, Jason is to rebrand the first floor dining area of The Minnis Bar & Restaurant, with seating for 50 customers, which is normally reserved for private functions, with tapas and mezze style menus featuring dishes from countries that fringe the Mediterranean.
“Our olive skinned friends have their eating habits just right and because of this they have better cardiovascular health, lower levels of cancers and longer adult life expectancy,” said Jason, who believes there is also strong evidence that those eating a Mediterranean diet have a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, lesser risk of strokes, lower risk of Parkinson’s Disease and, reduced risk of Alzheimer’s.
The diet in southern European consists of mainly beans, lentils, plants and whole grains, supplemented with fish, seafood, pasta and a small amount of red meat. A typical meal would be salad and vegetables with a small amount of meat or fish, a small side dish of pasta and maybe a slice of bread
They avoid processed foods and dine on home grown and locally sourced produce.
They drink wines and water rather than spirits and sugar-laden carbonated drinks. A glass and it is a proven fact that a glass or two of red wine is good for the Heart and also aids digestion but too much wine can have a negative effect on the body, so drink sensibly.
“Whilst losing weights I always enjoyed a glass of good quality wine – which aids digestion and is good for the heart – but I did cut back on the chocolate, which is my weakness,” said Jason, who reminds us that we should not overlook the social life aspect of the Mediterranean way.
“They don’t sit down for meals in front of a television set, they usually sit in groups with friends and family, they relax and enjoy their food at a leisurely pace and this is just as important as the food on the plate.” He added.
Jason opened a small 26-seater tapas restaurant, Café Bee, in Minnis Bay ten months ago, but it proved so popular it was regularly turning away customers. Bringing it in-house will allow him to expand and develop the menu, whist satisfying more diners. The new restaurant will open in May.
On offer there will be an average of 30 hot and cold, classic and modern dishes priced from £3.50 at Taste of the Med @ The Minnis.
“There’s a growing trend for casual dining, with sharing platters and small plates, with greater demand for healthy-eating options which are common to Southern Europe and North Africa,” said Jason, adding, “With fantastic sea view and spectacular sunsets, the ambience suits this style of eating perfectly.”
The Mediterranean menus and paella will also be available on the outside terrace on the warm summer evenings,
Many of Jason’s home cured dishes, produced the same way as his Curiously Kentish brand, utilise the food preservation methods brought to Britain 2,000 years by the Roman invaders. The Romans introduced many new culinary techniques - curing, drying, smoking, pickling and preserving – that not only kept food from spoiling, but greatly enhanced its flavours and textures.
The new seafood tapas menu features a wide selection of items including; Poached & Smoked Mackerel Croquettes with Tartar Sauce, Fresh North Sea Cod in Tomato & Lemon Sauce. Half Shell Green Lip Mussels served cold with Lemon & Cracked Pepper, Steamed Mussels with Homemade Chorizo & Tomato, Steamed Mussels with Kentish Cider & Cream, Pan Fried Butterfly Sardines with Tomatoes & Olives and Grilled Rock Oysters with Homemade Chorizo.
Meat options include, Skewers of Free Range Chicken with Mediterranean Vegetables, Fruit Fed Pork Marinated in Spanish Spicy Paprika, Chilli & Red Wine, Homemade Chorizo with Sautéed Potatoes & Onions, Plate of Homemade Charcuterie with Homemade Pickles & Chutneys, North African Spiced Lamb Meatballs with Spicy Tomato Sauce, Sliced Homemade Chorizo Pan Fried in Red Wine and Homemade Chorizo & Black Pudding Pan Fried with Spiced Tomatoes.
Vegetarian selections feature Kentish Ashmore Cheese & Red Onion Croquettes, Goats Cheese & Sweet Red Pepper Kiev, Char grilled Aubergines, Courgettes & Peppers with Virgin Olive Oil, Artichokes, Olives, Sun Blushed Tomatoes, Garlic Fresh Herbs & Olive Oil, Roasted Sweet Potato, Parsnip & Onion “au gratin” and Wild Mushroom & Potato Risotto with Truffle Oil.
Jason’s tips for adopting a healthy Mediterranean lifestyle:
1. Always eat breakfast. Fibre rich foods are very good for starting the day, eat fresh fruits and whole grains, they will give you slow release energy and fill you up for longer.
2. Eat Meat? Although there are fewer vegetarian in Europe than the UK, we should cut down on meat, try and choose leaner cuts, switch some of the red meat diet to chicken, game, fish and seafood. Fish such as Omega -3 rich sardines, salmon, tuna are ideal. Shellfish such as mussels, oysters, cockles and clams are good “brain foods” and rich in minerals, trace elements and vitamin A and E.
3. Fats. A healthy diet should contain 30 percent fat. It is vital for good health, transporting nutrients round the body. It boosts moral and helps keep you satiated for longer. If you do not consume enough fat in your diet, your body will go into shut down mode and use less energy. Processed low fat and fat free products usually have high levels of salt, sugar and artificial additives to replace the flavours lost from fats. Nuts, sunflower seeds, avocados, extra virgin olive, sunflower and rapeseed oils are excellent sources of healthy fats in your daily meals. Use them for frying foods, instead of butter.
4. Veg. Eat Fresh fruits and vegetables with all meals if possible, and choose them for snaking.
5. Snacks. Chose fruit salad, crudités, dips, olives and nuts, instead of biscuits, sandwiches, cakes and chocolate. Root vegetable crisps are a delicious alternative to potato based snacks.
6. Carbs. Opt for whole grains and healthy breads in preference to those pastas and breads using refined wheat. Instead of eating sandwiches made with bread, try wraps with whole wheat tortillas.
7. Dairy. Be mindful of your dairy intake. Reduce full fat milks, cream and cheese. Goats and sheep milk are more widely consumed around the Med. Cows get to be that size for a reason.
8. Hunger pains. Don’t get hungry – you will over eat. Eat less, more often. Tapas style portions are ideal. “Grazing” will help boost your metabolism and aid weight loss.
9. Enjoy your food. Feed the palate, not your stomach. When you are cutting down, have better quality foods. Treat yourself.
10. Do not set weight targets or times scales. Most diets don’t work because they are seen as a quick, short term fix. Most dieters put back all the weight they lose – and more. Serial dieters end up on a cycle where their weight increases over time.
“My advice for people who want to lose weight is not to go on a diet, but change the way you eat and what you eat for good,” said Jason. “If you aren’t prepared to make a permanent change to your lifestyle, don’t go on a diet as you will end up putting on weight in the longer term.”