Heart-healthy Meals With Chef, Restaurateur and MasterChef Canada Judge Claudio Aprile
Education and Advocacy MasterChef Canada judge and restaurateur, Claudio Aprile, shares his passion for healthy home cooking.
Mediaplanet How have your careers as a restaurateur and MasterChef Canada judge allowed you to share your passion for food with Canadians?
Claudio Aprile MasterChef Canada has given me an amazing platform to share some of my greatest passions — food and mentoring. As I get older, I find myself wanting to give far more than I receive and I really enjoy being part of something that is greater than its individual parts, something that has the power to change the outcome of someone's life.
The opportunity to be a judge on MasterChef Canada came at the perfect time in my life. I was looking for a new challenge, I wanted to be the student. I now get the rare chance to express how I feel about food to millions of people — that is profound. Along with that comes a huge sense of responsibility and privilege that I don't take lightly.
"I never add salt to my meals when I cook at home. A great trick is using acidity such as fresh lime or lemon and fresh herbs to your food."
MP Food labels can often be overwhelming. What are the top 3 things that heart health-conscious shoppers should look for?
CA One of my rules when I read food labels is expiry dates. If the expiry date is longer than a few days, I avoid it. I always smell all my food before I eat it, that's a very chef-y thing to do. I don't trust that it's fresh unless I verify through smell. If I get any off smells, I won't go near it. The other thing is long lists of chemicals and stabilizers that I don't understand. If I can't spell it, I won't eat it. High levels of sugar and fat are also red flags for me. Never buy pre-made salad dressings, they are so easy to make at home.
MP How can home cooks make their meals more heart healthy without sacrificing flavour?
CA I never add salt to my meals when I cook at home. A great trick is using acidity such as fresh lime or lemon and fresh herbs to your food.
Adding fresh herbs and acidity elevates the flavour profile of all your food without the added sodium. I also try to eat more frequently.
Another great method is cooking vegetables for a long period of time. Cook your vegetables slow and low; allowing vegetables to caramelize increases the flavour.
"Reduce animal fats and eat more vegetables, fruits and grains. Cook with your kids, teach them how to prepare a meal."
MP What are some easy dietary changes that all Canadians can make?
CA Try to only use your freezer for ice cream and ice cubes. Reduce processed frozen meals.
Reduce animal fats and eat more vegetables, fruits and grains. Cook with your kids, teach them how to prepare a meal.
MP What words of wisdom do you have for aspiring home cooks across Canada?
CA Canada is the most multi-cultural country in the world, and we have one of the most exciting food cultures anywhere. Explore as many ethnic cuisines as possible. If you have a local restaurant that you frequent, ask the chef if you can spend time in the kitchen.
Experiment at home with flavours and techniques, there's no right or wrong. The word “perfect” has no place in a home kitchen. Don't be afraid to make mistakes – the most important lesson is to have fun. Practise moderation, and that includes moderation itself – every once in a while I think it's ok to cave in to your guilty pleasures.