All About Balance

It’s OK to mix a little decadent comfort food into your healthy diet.  

To me, comfort food can take you back to childhood, to that amazing and innocent time when calories didn’t count. Decadent comfort food is rich food that is sooo worth the calories because it feeds your soul, your psyche and your happiness. 

I am primarily a pescatarian, meaning I incorporate seafood into my mostly vegetarian diet. But I love a double-stacked burger like my Patty Melt with Charred Scallion Chipotle Mayo once in a while. 

Most readers know that I’m a proponent of healthy eating and using organic ingredients, but I also feel that life is all about balance. Many have heard of the 80/20 eating plan, where you eat healthily 80% of the time and allow yourself to splurge the other 20%. That is where my Decadent Sweet Potato Parmesan Fries and Caramel Apple Semifreddo would round out the menu with the patty melt, which I make with healthy farm-raised beef. 

Part of achieving balance is being adaptable. With this decadent patty melt, for example, you could use less bread and cheese or cut it in quarters for light eaters or the young ones at the table.  

We often dine out here at home in Ocala and when we are in the Florida Keys, where we have a competitive professional fishing team. Even when dining out, you can balance a healthy meal with a bit of decadence, like when the chef prepares a buttery lemon sauce for the freshly caught swordfish steak, or if you have the ultra-rich dessert but eat only a couple of bites and then share the love with others.   

I think we are all programmed to feel guilty when we eat something with lots of calories, but I also feel the body needs a variety of calories to function optimally. I think moderation is the key. We can’t be strict all the time, but we can’t be decadent all the time either.  

Life is to be lived, so include a little decadent comfort food once in a while, then be sure to work out later! I want people to have fun and find balance because I feel that to truly live a happy and successful life, it’s all about balance. OS

Decadent Sweet Potato Parmesan Fries  

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1 teaspoon garlic powder 
1 teaspoon paprika 
1 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon black pepper 
Grated Parmesan cheese 

Heat the oven to 400. › Cut the sweet potatoes into sticks about ¼ to ½ inch wide and 3 inches long. › Mix the garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper in a small bowl. › Coat the potato slices with olive oil and the spices. › Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. › Spread the potato slices out over both baking sheets. › Bake until brown and crisp on the bottom, about 15 minutes, then flip and cook until the other side is crisp, about 10 minutes. › While they are piping hot, place the slices on a serving platter and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  

Patty Melt with Charred Scallion Chipotle Mayo 

1 pound 80% lean ground beef  
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cut into eight slices 
1 bunch scallions (6 to 8 scallions), root ends trimmed 
1 loaf of bakery white or rye sandwich bread, cut into 1/2-inch slices 
1/2 cup mayonnaise, divided 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chiles, plus 3 teaspoons adobo sauce from the can 
1 teaspoon of olive oil  
1 teaspoon, plus a pinch, of kosher salt, divided  
1 teaspoon, plus a pinch, of black pepper, divided  

Shape the ground beef into eight thin patties to match the size and shape of the bread slices and set aside. › On a plate, lay out the scallions and sprinkle with olive oil, then add a pinch of salt and a pinch of black pepper and coat evenly. › Heat a large skillet over medium-high. › Put the scallions in whole and cook them until they are a bit charred, turning as needed. › Put the scallions on a cutting board and give them a coarse chop. › Put the chopped scallions in a bowl and add 1/4 cup mayonnaise, chipotle chiles and adobo sauce, and mix. › Wipe the skillet clean and add the butter and melt it over medium-high heat. › Add four beef patties and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. › Cook for about two minutes, using a spatula to press down to keep them thin and flat. › When they are browned, flip them over and repeat for the other side. › Then cook the other four in the same way. › Place the patties on paper towels to absorb excess fluid. › Spread about one tablespoon of scallion-chipotle mayonnaise on four bread slices. › Top each with one slice of cheese, one patty, one more piece of bread, one more slice of cheese and one more beef patty, then another slice of bread. › You may need to use toothpicks to hold the sandwich together. › Wipe your skillet clean again and put it back on medium heat. › Spread one side of each sandwich with the rest of the mayonnaise mixture and put it, mayonnaise side down, in the skillet. › Cook until golden brown, using a spatula to press down as needed. › Carefully flip the sandwich over and repeat. › To serve, cut in halves or quarters. 

Caramel Apple Semifreddo

1 1/2 quarts vanilla ice cream, softened  
1 12.25-ounce jar caramel sauce 
9 whole cinnamon graham crackers 
6 tablespoons butter, melted 
3/4 cup plain apple butter 
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted 
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon  
1/4 teaspoon salt 
Nonstick cooking spray 
Chopped chocolate almond toffee, such as Almond Roca 

Preheat the oven to 400. › Lightly spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. › In a food processor, mix the graham crackers until finely crushed. › Add the melted butter and process until it resembles wet sand. › Press the mixture into the bottom of the springform pan and bake until golden brown around the edges. › Set aside to cool. › In a medium bowl, stir together the apple butter, cinnamon, salt and caramel sauce, and set aside. › Put the softened ice cream in a large bowl, add the caramel mixture and almonds, and fold everything together with a rubber spatula or whisk. › Pour the mixture over the crust. › Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the cake and put it in the freezer for at least 8 hours or overnight. 

To serve, put the frozen cake pan on a serving dish or cake pedestal and carefully remove the plastic wrap. › Run a thin knife around the edge of the springform pan and then release the sides. › You can drizzle more caramel if you wish, otherwise, just sprinkle with the chopped almond toffee before you slice and serve.

Posted in Living, Table

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