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As diners experiment with ‘clean eating’, so do Utah chefs

Healthy eating » Utah chefs veer from gluten toward vegetables and other local products.

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He also mines Whole Foods for vegan and gluten-free soups, then simmers them with chopped kale or other leafy vegetables. He snacks on handfuls of nuts and fruit.

Curtis Cameron, pastry chef at Stein Eriksen, opts for dark, leafy vegetables, too. He started paying more attention to his diet after medical issues dealt him a gluten intolerance a few years ago.

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Cameron usually tastes a small pastry or Danish during the workday, but tries not to eat much more if he’s gearing up for a trail run. The intolerance has diminished, he expects, but avoiding the wheat protein helps him feel lighter and run faster.

"I’ve been so happy and so healthy that I don’t see me falling back into eating a lot of gluten, even if I could," he said. It’s not all vegetables, though. Cameron specializes in making chocolates and bonbons, so he indulges in those, or an occasional bag of Sour Patch Kids.

Special accommodations » Cameron and the other cooks say they’re willing to work with guests when it comes to satisfying special diets, especially if visitors call ahead.

But conforming to zero-tolerance plans or needs can prove tough going: In traditional bakeries, flour inevitably lifts and lands on gluten-free mixes, and pans used for omnivores can impart traces of meat and dairy on vegan meals.

The trickiest part? The definition of a tasty, wholesome meal diverges from one diner to the next, said Holmquist. "When people say, ‘I want something healthy,’ that’s like the biggest trap for a chef."


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