Healthy Eating


Chefs from some of the leading resorts in North America share their secrets for making healthy food irresistible.

Pin it Victoria Pearson

Canyon Ranch, Tucson, Ariz.

Use umami for flavor with less fat Canyon Ranch’s executive corporate chef, Scott Uehlein, helped redefine the phrase “spa cuisine,” which was once synonymous with “bland.” Uehlein is fascinated by umami, the Japanese term that translates, roughly, as “meatiness” but doesn’t actually require meat. In vegetarian dishes like Risotto Cakes with Roasted Vegetables, Rucker’s cooks create umami with juicy portobello mushrooms, eggplant and a shredded mozzarella— with only 210 calories and seven grams of fat.

Why it’s so good for you: This dish brims with fresh produce and contains minimal animal fat. The onions and eggplant are packed with the powerful antioxidant anthocyanin, which Tallmadge says helps rid the body of free radicals that can be a source of inflammation and premature aging.

Take-home trick: “It’s easy to build flavor around animal protein, but that means saturated fat and inevitable health problems,” says Uehlein. Satisfy your craving for umami with juicy vegetables, such as eggplant and mushrooms; they can be as satisfying as, say, a chicken cutlet.


Risotto Cakes with Roasted

From Canyon Ranch: Nourish
(Viking Studio)
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 70 minutes
Serves 4

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1∕3 cup diced yellow onions
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2∕3 cup Arborio rice
1∕2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1∕2 cups vegetable stock
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1∕4-inch
1 large portobello mushroom, cut
into ¼-inch strips
1 cup peeled and sliced eggplant
(1∕4-inch thick)
1∕2 cup sliced red onions
1 red bell pepper, cut in half
1 teaspoon garlic granules
1∕2 teaspoon dried basil
1∕4 teaspoon freshly ground black
1∕2 cup shredded mozzarella
1 cup marinara sauce

1. Heat the olive oil over medium
heat in a large sauté pan. Sauté
the onions and minced garlic until
translucent. Add the rice and sauté
for 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1∕4 teaspoon
of the salt and begin adding
vegetable stock to the pan 1∕2 cup
at a time, stirring constantly until the
liquid is absorbed and the rice is
creamy. Allow the risotto to cool for
15 to 20 minutes.
2. Preheat a griddle or electric skillet
to 350° F. Lightly spray the griddle
with canola oil.
3. For each cake, use 1∕3 cup risotto
formed into a ball and flattened to
1∕4-inch thickness. Cook on the
griddle, flipping once, until crisp on
each side. Place the cakes on a
baking sheet. Set aside.
4. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
5. Spread the zucchini, mushrooms,
eggplant, onions and bell peppers
evenly on a separate baking sheet.
Lightly spray with canola oil.
6. In a small bowl, mix together
the garlic granules, basil, remaining
1∕4 teaspoon salt and the ground
black pepper. Dust the vegetables
evenly with 1 teaspoon of this garlic
seasoning mix.
7. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes,
or until slightly browned. Remove the
skin from the bell pepper and slice
the pepper into strips. Mix with other
8. Evenly divide the vegetable
mixture over each of the 4 risotto
cakes. Top each cake with 2
tablespoons mozzarella. Dust with
a pinch of the remaining garlic
seasoning mix. Bake for 5 to 10
minutes, or until the cheese melts.
9. Ladle 1∕4 cup marinara sauce on
each plate and top with one cake.
PER SERVING: 209 calories, 7 g fat
(3 g saturated), 7 g protein, 31 g
carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 607 mg