The Fish House Weighs in on Healthy Eating
Healthy eating is tasting better every day. Whether at
home or dining out, more people are beginning to think
outside the freezer aisle and off the menu. Special
dietary needs are a fact of life for many.
As a result of this increasingly conscious food
climate, Foodvancouver.com is launching a series of
articles spotlighting top Vancouver chefs and culinary
celebrities who have put healthy eating plate-center in
the minds of many.
This month, Foodvancouver.com stops by The Fish House
in Stanley Park to share the wares and wisdoms of
Executive Chef Karen Barnaby and chew the fat on
weight-loss. Everybody approaches the concept of healthy
eating from a different perspective, but weight loss is a
primary goal for many.
For Barnaby, the endlessly energetic author of multiple
fresh-focused cookbooks, it has simply become a way of
life that has flowed over to the dining room. While the
Atkins menu once offered is gone, special dietary needs
have remained a primary consideration for Barnaby and her
crew at The Fish House.
It wasn't always.
"About seven years ago, I made the choice to eat a
healthier diet. It was either that or die," said
Barnaby. "It was not so much about eating less, but
cutting out the garbage foods. I had no energy for years.
Things have changed drastically."
Those changes have benefited Barnaby, as well as
everyone who has visited The Fish House or followed her
recipes. Today, she has prepared a healthy menu to share
with Chef Marcus Von Albrecht, professional culinarian and
Chairman of the BC Chefs Association. Like Barnaby, Von
Albrecht takes a keen interest in his health. He too
champions quality ingredients and moderated indulgence as
the path to healthy eating.
"It ís never a matter of cutting out everything bad
at once. If you conceive of moderation as a possibility,
then damage control is a better way of looking at changing
over to healthy eating," said Barnaby.
An avid Atkins advocate with a keen eye for greens,
Barnaby has dropped over 70 pounds in the intervening
years and broken a cycle that posed considerable threats
to her quality of life.
|(left to right) Chef
Marcus Von Albrecht, Chef Karen Barnaby, Dietitian
Maria Thomas, and FoodVancouver.com's Kevin Freeman.
According to dietitian/nutritionist Maria Thomas of
Urban Nutrition, the hardest thing for people to change
about their diet is their way of thinking. "So much of
it is perception. People have this idea that for things to
taste good, they have to be bad. What Karen has done at
The Fish House by offering special dietary choices is
proof positive that good taste and good food are easily
As for weight loss, it ís just the icing on the
proverbial cake of healthy eating, according to Thomas,
Barnaby and Von Albrecht alike. Moderating intake, taking
some exercise and removing guilty pleasure processed
snacks will certainly shave the pounds, but the benefits
are far more internal than the scale will ever tell.
"It ís night and day in the energy department,"
Today, Barnaby has prepared a seared tuna loin (photo above) and
served it with a sesame-studded mix of kale and green
beans. To the side is cauli-fried rice (view
recipe), a truly fun and
delicious take on cauliflower grated raw and steamed.
Accompanying it is a bowl of manila clams swimming in an
aromatic broth of tomato, bacon, green olives and chilies.
A wedge of alcohol free tiramisu is to follow. THIS is a
Barnaby nods her head. "People get the wrong idea
about healthy eating. It does not mean depriving yourself
of flavour or variety. It just takes a bit of planning,
some basic cooking knowledge and fresh ingredients."
Chef Von Albrecht, who is putting the finishing touches on
a healthy eating menu planner to be distributed across the
country, is also a principal organizer of the annual
5-to-10 Healthy Chef Competition. Both a chef and a
fitness fanatic, he is used to eyeing a meal from many
"While the portions seem a bit much, this is a
delicious way to approach healthy eating. The kale is
delicious and we should eat more of it. The cauliflower is
incredibly creative and you can easily add all sorts of
flavour profiles to change it up," said Von Albrecht.
"What you can't see in the pictures is how well this
food is cooked. The vegetables have plenty of crunch left
and that's not only proper technique, but much
"What I like about this type of cooking is that you
see a lot more vegetables on the plate," echoed Thomas.
Barnaby maintains that the weight loss is secondary to
her improved energy levels and lower blood pressure, but
the change in her appearance has inspired many to take a
second look at their pantries. Barnaby has cleaned house
on her own: no wheat products, no sugars or artificial
sweeteners and no alcohol. Gone too, are the processed
In their stead is a daily regimen aimed at keeping her
energies up and diet balanced. Pilates three times a week
keeps her more flexible than ever in the kitchen.
Breakfast for Barnaby is a soup, usually with a barley for
energy, while lunch is most often something from the grill
along with a spinach salad. One signature staple requires
no cooking at all.
"My friends think it is absolutely gross, but it
tastes good and really carries me through,"said Barnaby
of her magic mixture of raw oats, blueberries, soymilk,
protein powder, dried curd cottage cheese, whole almonds
untoasted and shredded coconut. "Eating seasonally is
great, but really, it just has to be "good food" real
food. These days we put convenience before cooking and
that has to stop."
"Cooking well can enhance a lifestyle in so many
By Jason McRobbie (Photos:
Posted April 4th, 2006
About the Author:
McRobbie is a Vancouver resident, freelance writer and previous editor of BC
Restaurant news. You can contact Jason at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Photographer:
Tracey Kusiewicz is a Vancouver-based photographer specializing in food and beverage photography. You can contact Tracey at email@example.com, or go to www.foodiephotography.com.