By Laurel Kallenbach
Spa Chefs Lighten Your Favorite Meals
At spas around the country, you can have your cake and eat it too. That is to say you can eat healthfully and still enjoy some of your favorite treats. Long gone are the days when typical spa fare was a slice of tofu on a leaf of lettuce. Now it’s not unusual to find gourmet dishes on the menu—and surprisingly even some classic comfort foods such as french fries, pizza, and chocolate cake.
It’s all about satisfaction, says Kaye Sandford, general manager at Vista Clara Ranch and Spa. “Our guests want to eat right, but they don’t want a painfully bland diet,” she says. “We teach them to eat healthy versions of foods they love—from soup to dessert. When you enjoy small but flavorful portions of your favorites, you feel indulged and deeply satisfied—but not stuffed,” she adds. “Even sweets can be good because they provide comfort at the end of the meal.” Here are some redux recipes of classic comfort foods from the kitchens of four spas from around the nation.
Tortilla SoupMakes 8 servings
This southwestern favorite from Vista Clara Ranch Resort and Spa’s executive chef David Farrell is warming and chock-full of satisfying flavor. The only fat in this vegetarian version comes from heart-healthy olive oil and avocado.
1/2 ancho chile (dried poblano)
1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
8 corn tortillas, torn
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. Mexican oregano
6 Roma tomatoes, chopped
2 small zucchini, sliced and grilled
7 cups water or nonfat vegetable stock
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
Lightly roast the ancho chile in 350Ëš oven for 1 to 2 minutes to soften. Open the chile and discard seeds. Set aside. Heat olive oil in medium saucepan and sauté garlic until brown. Add tortillas until they become crispy. Add onions, jalapeño, ancho, and red pepper to tortilla and garlic mixture. Sauté over medium-low heat until vegetables start to sweat, about 10 minutes. Add spices, tomatoes, zucchini, and water or stock. Turn soup to a low simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Fill blender with two cups of soup. Add cilantro. Holding a folded dry cloth over the top of the lid, begin to puree by first pulsing the mixture on lowest speed, then allow to purée until smooth. Serve with Avocado Salsa and Tortilla Frizzles. Garnish with cilantro sprigs.
Avocado SalsaMakes 8 servings
2 avocados, diced
1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tbs. jalapeño, finely diced
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
1/4 tsp. salt
juice of 11/2 limes
Place all ingredients in bowl and gently toss.
Cut 2 corn tortillas in strips. Place on a cookie sheet, place in oven, and bake at 350ËšF until crispy.
Per bowl: 284 calories, 11 grams of fat, 0 mg. cholesterol