Canyon Ranch Puts Award Winning MM Meals on the Menu

April 23rd, 2012

As Corporate Chef for Canyon Ranch‘s prestigious network of health resorts, Scott Uehlein knows quite a bit about creating delicious meals out of healthful ingredients. In addition to serving up unique menus at spas in Tucson, Lenox, Las Vegas and Miami, he has authored five health-conscious cookbooks and takes time to advocate for culinary and nutrition education. Recently, Chef Uehlein helped aspiring young chefs by serving as a judge in the Careers through Culinary Arts Program’s Meatless Monday Recipe Contest. The top three finalists were awarded a spot on the menu in one of the Canyon Ranch Resorts.
We had an opportunity to speak with Chef Uehlein about the C-Cap contest, the benefits of Meatless Monday and the art of building delicious, vegetable-focused dishes:
Why do you think it’s important to encourage aspiring teen chefs to learn how to cook vegetarian meals skillfully?
I believe that in an ideal world we will get back to building entrees around vegetables – with the protein not necessarily being the star of the show. As teen chefs learn how to make great vegetarian dishes, they can then hopefully learn how to incorporate more vegetables; even in a non-vegetarian dish.
Canyon Ranch is known for award-winning healthy, gourmet cuisine – how do you balance health with gourmet?
We start by purchasing high-quality fresh ingredients and preparing everything from scratch. And while we do factor in nutrition (our nutritional parameters are set by the nutrition department), as culinarians we have to be sure it is flavor first. One simple thing we do is to use less fat (fat is dense with calories), which is easily remedied by balancing flavors – sweet, sour, bitter and salty. By balancing flavor you do not need as much fat.
How do Meatless Monday meals support overall wellness?
Meatless Monday is a fantastic way to ease in to eating more vegetables – not a total commitment of a vegetarian lifestyle, but simply one day per week with the hope that you incorporate more vegetable-based items into the rest of your week too.

Black Bean Mole with Quinoa

How has the reaction to the roll out of your Meatless Monday promotion been so far in your three Canyon Ranch resorts? What have you been serving?
We are serving the winning recipes from the Meatless Monday/ Careers Through Culinary Arts Program high school student contest, which consist of the following: Black Bean Mole with Quinoa (on the menu in Tucson and Lenox at lunch), Stuffed Zucchini with Wild Rice (on the menu in Tucson and Lenox at dinner) and Red Curry Vegetables, which are on the dinner menu at our Miami Beach property. All have been adapted to meet our nutritional guidelines and are selling very well.
Your cookbook, Canyon Ranch: Nourish, offers simple meal solutions based on some of your guests’ favorite dishes. Is it really possible for healthy meals to be easy and quick to prepare?
Not only is it possible, it is of paramount importance. We make the vast majority of our recipes available in our cookbooks, on our website or at our resorts. We want guests to be able to take the Canyon Ranch food philosophy home and apply it to their daily lives. Our food is not overly complicated, but of course tastes great!
What are some basic tips you can offer our readers for healthy, satisfying meatless meals?
1. Shop the farmer’s market if you can – fresh and seasonal is the best way to start your meatless meal.
2. Use “umami” ingredients to build underlying flavors. This includes items such as mushrooms and soy sauce, which give you a depth of flavor in your meatless meals
3. Balance flavors – sweet, sour, bitter and salty (meaning properly seasoned – not excessively salty)
4. Lite coconut milk is a great substitute for cream in certain meatless dishes