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Chef Z is incurably passionate about the subject of FOOD!

healthy food artfully presented...after all, without our health little else matters!

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                       Chef Suzan "Z" Gray
                        NRAEF ServSafe Certified


Healthy food artfully presented…
after all, without our health little else matters
 

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Let me be the "Dear Abby" of YOUR culinary world......
 
This section is reserved for those inquiring minds who just NEED TO KNOW!
 
PLEASE email your question to me below, and I will post both your question and my answer....assuming I have one! And remember, no question is too silly or too small for me to answer!

 Can you ship food out of state?
Q: I have a sister who has just moved to the Atlanta, GA area and I know she would love to utilize your Personal Chef Meal Plan Service. Is there any way you could ship her prepared foods once a week or so? Is it cost prohibitive to ship  already cooked food? I'd surely love to let her know since she loves your food.
Kelly O., Glenmore, VA

A: Kelly, actually, I am suddenly having this question posed to me more often so I have begun to do some cursory research. Actually, I was surprised to learn it's less costly than I had thought. Insulated boxes are available for about $25 each for about 3 meals worth of product. USPS has Express Mail which gets the package there the following day and if you ship online, it's approximately $3 per pound. As an example, a 3 MEAL PLAN would way approximately 15 pounds, so the shipping would be around the $65 mark, all inclusive. This is just a quick quote, but I think it's doable to ship her meals once a week without breaking the bank! Food for thought...Chef Z


Do you cook for staff at a business location?
Q:  Chef Z....do you provide staff lunches for businesses? What is the minimum number of guests you will cook for and what is the maximum? Do you have menus on your site for these types of events?
Mark G., Charlottesville, VA

A: Mark, I absolutely provide food for business venues. From awesome boxed lunches to buffet affairs, I can create any appropriate lunch (or dinner or breakfast for that matter) to suit the event. If you are hosting a work lunch, I would suggest boxed lunches. If the event is a bit more of a social affair or there will not be "working" going on during the event, a buffet might be more appropriate. We just need to customize your event so it best suits you and your guests or co-workers.
As far as menus, each event is customized to meet your needs, but I can am happy to give you an example of each now: BOXED LUNCHES would contain a gourmet sandwich such as roasted vegetable - provolone - grilled organic chicken with herb mayonnaise on the side, plus an individual gourmet pasta salad, homemade dessert such as pine nut crusted lemon bars, a piece of fruit (apples are great as a natural teeth cleaner). BUFFET LUNCHES might have a hot pasta dish such as Alfredo & Marinara Penne Pasta, plus a hot or cold meat such as grilled organic chicken or grilled shrimp or even a grilled and stuffed pork tenderloin, a beautiful homemade salad (which the guests could top with meat) and two dressings, dessert such as pineapple-rosemary upside down cake with cinnamon whipped cream or brownie pops.
And of course, vegetarian AND VEGAN menu items are available! Chef Z


Do you have any good vegetarian recipes?
Q:  Hi Chef Z....I hope you can help me out a little! My wife is a vegetarian and I am always looking for recipes to make for her. I always default to eggplant something or other. I'd love a couple new things to try!
Ken M., Charlottesville, VA

A: Ken, It's a great idea to buy a good vegetarian cookbook. I like ALMOST VEGETARIAN, which gives the vegetarian and the meat variations on each recipe.
Try roasting a big tray of root vegetables and onions at 425F for about 30 minutes until caramelized, they are so sweet. If you don't know how to roast, just peel and cut vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, butternut squash, red and yellow bell peppers, red onions, zucchini into similar shaped sizes and drizzle with a little olive oil in a bowl, then dump onto a sheet tray and roast in the middle of the oven. Use in soups, in sandwiches, with pasta, etc. To die for! Add warm roasted veggies and some sliced provolone to Italian bread, then wrap in saran and weigh down in the refrigerator overnight. Cut into 3" slices for the most awesome sandwich ever! Chef Z


How do I best save leftover soups?
Q: Chef Z, what do I do with too much soup if I don't intend to eat it all before it goes bad? Maggie, Charlottesville, VA

A: I like to freeze food that can easily be portioned out into individual portions, then frozen for later use. For example, you can freeze portions of soup in an icecube tray, then when it's frozen, transfer into small ziplock bags in portion sizes of 3 or 4 cubes in each bag. Defrost as needed. The same can be done with excess pesto or sauces. Chef Z


ENER-Z-Bars?
Q: "Chef Z, where and when can I purchase those delicious ENER-Z-BARS you make? Daria, Charlottesvillle, VA
 
A: ENER-Z-BARS are currently available by mail order through Chef Z. Please submit your order by using the information on the ENER-Z-BAR tab on this site! Chef Z
 

Wheat intolerance?
Q: "Chef Z, why is wheat so bad for us? It seems that a lot of people are wheat intolerant. Can you suggest other grains as a good substitute to wheat? Nida, Charlottesvillle, VA
 
A: "Great question, Nida. Wheat intolerance is one of the BIG 7 food allergens, and is directly related to the overprocessing of this grain. The inherent nourishment is eliminated from the grain due to the processing method, even with whole wheat. Unless it's organically grown and stone ground, wheat has little to zero nutrition and has become such an allergen because we eat so much of it in our American diet. Hence, people become allergic to it.
 
Good alternative grains are some of the oldest grains known to mankind, such as amaranth, quinoa, and millet and spelt. There are lots of new products arriving on the scene that contain these grains. Pasta is an especially large group of products that are now being made of Quinoa (pronounced "kin-wa"). They are very delicious, surprisingly so, and they won't fill you up and make you feel bloated like the wheat variations. Also, I suggest a product called HEIDI'S GRAINY DAY Pancake Mix. It is just fabulous. I add chopped nuts, organic oat milk, a little grapeseed oil or coconut oil, a ripe mashed banana and powdered Green Vibrance (found in health food stores) to make green pancakes. These are now my alltime favorite pancakes, especially when served with loads of freshly sliced fruit macerated with Raw Organic Blue Agave Syrup (healthy and vitamin beneficial natural sweetener that does not cause a sugar spike and can be eaten by diabetics) and cinnamon. Wow, what an absolutely dynamite breakfast! So healthy and full of protein and you won't get tired after eating them or feel bloated either." Chef Z
 

One person cooking suggestions:

Q: "Chef Z, please help me. Now that I'm single again and have to cook for myself, I've been doing a lot of steamed vegetables. Can you make a suggestion as to something else to do with veggies so I'm not bored with what I'm eating all the time?" Dave, Charlottesville, VA
 
A: "Thanks, Dave, sure! I love to roast vegetables. It's easy, non-laborious, and the high heat adds a sweet taste to vegetables that you won't experience through steaming. The reason for this is that the high heat allows the natural sugars in the veggies to mature. It is a nutritious way to cook your veggies. You can roast almost any veggie, so it's a great way to experiment as well. Try roasting root veggies (washed, peeled, seeded) and cut into big chunks in a roasting pan with a little grapeseed oil drizzled over the top.
 
Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated 450F oven for about 30 minutes, then remove the foil and continue to roast until knife tender, about 15 additional minutes depending on the veggies you are roasting and how small you have cut them. I love to do this with carrots, parsnips, butternut squash, jerusalem artichokes, brussells sprouts, apples, pears, onions, bell peppers, and acorn squash. Then, use a blender to make the veggies into soup, or cut the cooled veggies into smaller chunks and throw over pasta or into cooked rice, or slice them and slather on some nice bread for a sandwich. You won't believe how sweet they are when roasted!" Chef Z

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