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Healthy Cooking with Chef Tara Black

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It’s January, and the gym is a total writeoff thanks to everyone’s renewed passion for fitness. I’m tired of waiting in line for the squat rack and stationary bikes, so until it all blows over in February I’m looking to my diet to stay healthy. I’m not talking about the latest weight-loss craze — I mean a new philosophy for eating, taking the things I eat day in and day out and trying to make better choices about how I fuel my body.

I’m no nutritionist, but to my mind, it all starts with fresh ingredients and honest home cooking, things that are attainable no matter how much time or money you’ve got. “It’s funny, when you grow up with parents that are on a tight budget, it’s easier to cook from scratch. It kinda got stuck in there a long time ago,” says Chef Tara Black, Cook Culture instructor and owner of Origin Gluten-Free Bakery. “It tastes better, it was cheaper, it’s just healthier in a lot of different mindsets.” Chef Tara teaches our Hungry Vegetarian course and is a healthy food pro, which is a little suspicious given her pastry chef background. “It’s important to me!”

If you are braving the dreaded gentle breezes of our West Coast winter, say, training for the Sun Run or Times Colonist 10k, eating healthy can keep you going when Hamburger Helper falls flat. Chef Tara’s daughter Sabine is a competitive swimmer, her sister Aurora “goes hard” at soccer and dad Tyler coaches and plays as well. “We’re all very active, and the moment we eat something that’s kinda crappy, everybody loses their energy,” says Tara. “It’s gone. So the healthier the food, the longer it’s gonna hold.”

Chef Tara and her family stormed the Cook Culture kitchen this last week and put all hands on deck making a deceptively simple one-pot chili (and cornbread!) She also shared with us a few of her favourite kitchen tools that make healthy home cooking a real pleasure.


  • Miyabi Birchwood SG2
    “The worst accidents from using knives come from using dull knives, because with a tomato or pepper that has a really slick skin, the knife 
    doesn’t pierce it - it slides off and ends up sliding into you! So these Miyabi knives are beautiful because they just stay so sharp for so long. The birch SG2 has nice light wood handles, really even.”


  • Staub Cookware
    “The Staub cookware, I like the conductivity of it, I like that it holds its heat. Cast iron is one of the most even heats all the way through.”


  • Foxrun Stainless Steel Bowls
    “They don’t transfer any flavours. You can use ceramic bowls but they etch easily and that worries me; stainless doesn’t transfer, and they’re super easy to clean, basically like a non-stick.”


  • French Beechwood Wooden Spoons
    “I love wooden spoons, I think they make me think of my grandma. I think it’s nostalgia to tell you the truth. I like the way they sound when you’re stirring, they’re nice and gentle.”


  • Fissler Vitaquick Pressure Cooker
    “You can cook your chili for ten minutes and it tastes like it’s been cooked for ten hours! Pretty impressive. You can make a stew and have melt in your mouth beef in 15-20 minutes. I love these.”


Chef Tara’s got one final healthy eating tip. “Shop around the border of the grocery store. The closer it is to its raw origin, the better it’s going to be for you… If you have to break it down yourself, you’re gonna be in a better space.” - Sol

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