With some of my hard-core meat-eating clients, I often have to be quite sneaky to get them eating their veggies. So I integrate vegetables in dishes rather than serving them on their own on the plate where they may be considered mere garnish. Cooking meat has been a big learning curve for me in the past four years, and I have to say I've become quite good at it. On my blog, I will be sharing some of my clients' favorite meat dishes, but I will definitely be leaning more toward whole grains, beans and vegan-type dishes. I believe there are many chefs out there who have worlds more experience and expertise than I do when it comes to cooking meat and perhaps not so many who are experts with whole grains, beans and vegetables, so I'd like to fill that void. I tend to stick more with fish and white meats if I am going down the flesh road, but I am not opposed to cooking lamb and occasionally beef.

I'm a great believer in the energetics of foods and believe we take on the energetic qualities of the foods we're eating. I explained to my basketball player client that I did not want to give him steak before a game because I felt it would slow him down. If we look at the nature of a cow—they're gentle, slow-moving animals who laze and graze all day long. Is that the energy you want to bring to the court? Instead, I recommended eating fish—fish are fluid, fast-moving creatures and this energy would be much more beneficial to take to the game. Fruits and vegetables in general give a lighter quality, and the broad range of fruits and vegetables creates more dynamic when combined in a meal.

Even though I like to listen to my clients and take their likes and dislikes into consideration, I don't always take it too seriously when they tell me they don't like a particular food. In fact, I see it as a wonderful challenge, and the foods they claim to dislike will often be the first that get served up to them. When I started out with a new client a few years ago, one of the first things he said to me is that he really dislikes fish but loves red meat. I decided to put this to the test, and off I went to my local fish market and bought a lovely fillet of opah, fresh from Hawaiian waters. I took it home, breaded it with some deliciously seasoned macadamia nuts, made a flavorful mango ginger salsa and served it up on a bed of wilted bok choy with teriyaki seasoned shitake mushrooms and a side of sweet potato and shallot.

I watched as he tucked into his meal, savoring every last morsel. He asked me what he was eating and when I told him it was fish, he responded "I'll eat this fish." I repeated the experiment several times, and it was always met with the same response. Finally, he came to the conclusion, "I guess not many people know how to cook fish." I don't believe this is the case, as I've sampled some delightful fish dishes, but perhaps he had an experience in his past that left him tainted.

So whether you're enjoying a two-legged, a four-legged or a leg-free Christmas Day, I hope you're having a happy one and have been blessed with gifts and the presence of loved ones to share nature's bounty with. Tomorrow will be a lazy day in the kitchen for me, but I'll be serving up my Day-After-Christmas Soup and turning the remainder of my Holiday Tofu Loaf into little patties to serve as appetizers with a dollop of my zesty cranberry sauce.

Until next week—bon appétit!


More of Aine's Holiday Recipes


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