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Shed holiday weight with Army chef's tips

Jan. 12, 2013 - 09:41AM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 12, 2013 - 09:41AM  |  
Army Master Sgt. Rene Marquis stars in his own YouTube cooking show for the Café Mom online community dubbed "Dinner Bootcamp."
Army Master Sgt. Rene Marquis stars in his own YouTube cooking show for the Café Mom online community dubbed "Dinner Bootcamp." ()
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If eating better is one of your New Year's resolutions, a good place to start might be cooking better. For help with that, look no further than Army Master Sgt. Rene Marquis.

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If eating better is one of your New Year's resolutions, a good place to start might be cooking better. For help with that, look no further than Army Master Sgt. Rene Marquis.

A chef to the top brass over his 20-year career, Marquis is one of the military's top chefs and a member of the elite American Academy of Chefs, the special ops of culinary crackerjacks.

He's also taken top honors in cooking competitions across the country, most recently claiming the title in an "Iron Chef"-style Veteran's Day interservice cook-off in Cleveland.

Now he's starring in his own YouTube cooking show for the Café Mom online community dubbed "Dinner Bootcamp." The 10-episode series includes a slew of bite-sized how-tos designed to sharpen your kitchen skills.

"It's a crash course on economical, healthy cooking that can be done in anyone's home, if they put their mind to it," Marquis says.

Show menus include everything from beer-braised pork with tropical fruit salsa to Tuscan chicken pasta.

But Marquis says you don't need fancy foodie fare to eat healthier in the New Year.

"All these Atkins, grapefruit juice and other fad diets aren't much use, either," he adds. "You'll do a lot better if you just do most of your grocery shopping along the outside lanes of the commissary, where the fresh food is, and avoid those inside, processed-food aisles."

One of his favorite go-to meals for slimming down after the holidays is simple soup.

"It's perfect for leftovers, but it's also nourishing and satisfying," he says.

Start with a beef or chicken broth and add carrots, onions and celery for the basic stock. "Then just start adding whatever veggies you have in your fridge — green beans, cabbage, peas, corn, whatever you've got."

Starchy vegetables such as potatoes will help thicken it up. Add beans for protein. Season with thyme, sage, oregano, basil and maybe some chopped garlic for added zing.

Throw it all together in a slow cooker for easy all-day simmering, but be sure to add the more delicate vegetables — mushrooms, peas, tomatoes or spinach, for example, along with any fresh seasonings — only in the last 15 minutes of cooking.

"If you keep the ratio about 70 percent vegetables to 30 percent broth, it will be almost like a stew and feel like a full meal."

And if you avoid calorie-cramming temptations like cheese and high-fat foods, you'll be well on your way to shedding those holiday pounds.

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