Anyone who has been a guest at Canyon Ranch knows that food is a big part of the program. Calorie counts and light, healthy fare are always at the forefront of the tasty Canyon Ranch cuisine.
Just in time for summer, the Canyon Ranch Resort in Lenox, MA, has opened The Café, a brand-new farm-to-table restaurant featuring locally sourced organic bounty from the Berkshires, with organic produce, humanely raised meat, sustainably caught or raised fish and artisanal cheeses.
Neighboring purveyors are listed as partners on the seasonal menu, which features homey dishes like Farm Soup with Seasonal Vegetables, Roasted Local Mushrooms, Grilled Artichokes, Seared Scallops, Ricotta Gnocchi, Daily Hearth Flame Pizza, Grass-Fed Hanger Steak, Sweet Blueberry Tart and more.
The Café, in the spa’s historic Bellefontaine Mansion, is open for three meals daily, and guests can also forage for light snacks there throughout the day, with abundant gluten-free and vegan options.
A couple years ago I had the opportunity to catch up with Canyon Ranch Corporate Chef Scott Uehlein at the Washington Spa Alliance Symposium in D.C., and had a chance to taste his food at lunch. Um, yum! Moroccan spiced lentils with (or without) lamb, avocado tartare with mango yuzu vinaigrette, but it was the decadent-sounding Dark Chocolate Zucchini cake—on the Ranch menu in Miami, Lenox and Tucson—that stole my heart, especially when I learned how healthy it is. I asked Chef Uehlein to share some tips, and we snagged his easy recipe.
How do you make healthy food taste so good?
We use fresh, local and seasonal ingredients, which taste better and may be better for you. Organic is very important to us. Equally as important are pasture-raised meats and sustainably-farmed or -fished seafood.
We also balance flavors with elements of sweet, sour, bitter and salty (meaning properly seasoned); balance textures (have elements of both soft and crunchy in a dish); and build layers of flavor.
What’s your strategy for people who want to eat more healthfully?
Just remember that it does not have to be an all-or-nothing type of thing – moderation not deprivation should be your thought process. View it as a journey and start with one step. Make small changes which will eventually add up to a healthier eating plan.
What are your top five kitchen pantry items?
• Extra virgin olive oil: a natural fat that enhances flavors and introduces that critical “bitter” element
• Kombu: seaweed, which helps to reduce how much sodium you need to add to certain soups and sauces
• A wide array of both fresh and dried spices: critical in layering flavors
• Citrus: for the “sour” element and for flavor enhancement
• Italian San Marzano Tomatoes: they have a far deeper flavor than domestic tomatoes
Canyon Ranch Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cake
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup evaporated cane juice
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large egg white
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsweetened apple sauce
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup grated zucchini
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
• Preheat oven to 325°. Spray an 8” x 8” square cake pan with canola oil and lightly dust with cocoa.
• In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
• In a large bowl, with a hand held mixer, beat together evaporated cane juice, butter and oil until well blended. Add egg white and continue beating. Beat in vanilla and apple sauce.
• Stir dry ingredients into wet adding the buttermilk half way through. Mix in grated zucchini and chocolate chips.
• Pour batter into prepared pan.
• Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in middle of cake comes out clean.
• Dust powdered sugar over top of cake and cut into 16 pieces.
Makes 16 servings, each containing approximately: 160 calories, 24 gm. carbohydrate, 7 gm. fat, 9 mg. cholesterol, 2 gm. protein, 108 mg. sodium, 1 gm. fiber