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Chef's Kitchen

Each month, a guest chef gives us a tip that elevates their cooking or simplifies things in the kitchen; something a home cook might not know. They also provide a recipe that uses the tip so you can practice at home. Our guest chef this month is Personal Chef Corie Cameron, a certified Health and Wellness Coach, and professionally-trained chef. She is working as a nutrition coach, and private chef doing weekly meal prep for busy families using as much local, organic produce and grass-fed or wild proteins as possible.

Corie grew up in the Pacific Northwest, then attended the Culinary Institute of America, spending 10 years in New York City. After the Culinary Institute, she worked in restaurants and the wine industry for years and saw firsthand how healthy cooking made a dramatic improvement in people's lives. She enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to gain education in nutrition and health coaching. She helps people learn to prepare healthy meals and lunches for their kids, shop, and coach them on health and wellness, stressing that simple changes earn big rewards. Knowing that no diet works for everyone, she helps find a food and lifestyle plan that works for the individual. Rather than focusing on what not to eat, she coaches on increasing the good foods and creating a lifelong plan that works.

How to make healthier meatballs, by Corie Cameron

People often ask me how to make comforting, delicious food healthier. Meatballs are a perfect example of comfort food that can be done in a juicy, delicious, healthy way! Very often, meatballs become tough, dry, over-cooked, and under-seasoned. These are all simple issue to fix with a few small adjustments! Some chef tips for making meatballs include:

1. Using a cookie scoop to measure out the balls - this ensures that each ball is the same size and will cook for the same amount of time. There will not be any drastically overcooked balls or raw bites in the middle of others.

2. Only using 2 eggs - the more eggs you put into the mixture, the denser the balls will be. You want enough egg to act as a binder, but not so much that they become hard.

3. Being sure not to overwork the meat mixture - the more you handle the meat and squish it between your hands, the tougher it will become. It's very important to make sure it's mixed thoroughly, but just be sure to stop handling it as soon as it's a homogenous mixture.

4. Testing a ball in a frying pan before you bake all of them - There's no way to test the meat mixture raw, so very often people just guess on the seasoning level in their meatloaf and meatballs. A simple trick for this is to cook up a tiny piece and taste it fully-cooked. Does it need spice? Salt? Pepper? Adjust and try again! A good place to start is 1 teaspoon of salt to one pound of meat.

5. Making sure you use meat with a high enough fat content to keep some juiciness and moisture- don't use the 97% lean meat. I prefer the 80/20 meat blend when making meatloaf and meatballs. This means that 80% of the meat is lean and 20% is pure fat. The fat content is important, both for flavor and moisture. The more fat you have, the juicier the finished product will be. Think of it as the difference between a cooked chicken breast (lean) and cooked chicken thighs (juicy); the fat helps keep everything moist.

With these tips, you are sure to make delicious, juicy, perfect meatballs every time!

Click here to see Chef Corie's recipe

Corie Cameron

August/September 2017

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