The Cheat Sheet: Chef/Entrepreneur Marcie Turney

We chat with a (very busy!) chef about how she stays healthy and active, and what she most likes to eat from her restaurant kitchens.

Marcie Turney // Photograph via Barbuzzo

Have you visited 13th and Sansom lately—the block chef Marcie Turney calls home?  She and her partner Valerie Safran practically own the neighborhood, with shops and restaurants up and down the block. Examples: Lolita, Barbuzzo (previous Cheat Sheet here), Grocery, Verde, and their newest gem, Jamonera. With so much going on (how does she do it?), we wanted to know how Marcie finds time for herself and what healthy means in her crazy-busy world. Lucky us, she threw a few recipes our way , too! Read on for more.

Complete this sentence: “When I was 16 healthy meant … “

You did the latest gimmicks or diet. Well, that was 1986, so for me it was probably more about excelling at sports. I was on the field hockey, basketball and softball teams at my high school. But my mother, who always struggled with her weight, was eating Lean Cuisine, drinking TAB cola and working out with Richard Simmons.

To stay in shape I … “

Just got a personal trainer at 12th Street Gym. Like many other people, it’s easy for me to let work rule my daily routine; I don’t work out unless I treat it like an appointment.

What’s your favorite healthy kitchen tool?

Vita-Prep blender. This is a blender you would find in all professional kitchens. At home, I use it to make spinach, blueberry and apple juice or fruit-and-yogurt smoothies. You can put any combo into this machine and with a little filtered water you have yourself a custom blended healthy beverage that I might have paid $6 to $9 for at a cafe. Unlike a juicing machine, which separates the pulp from the liquid, you get all the nutrients and fiber. Also, for new mothers, you can steam veggies and blend to a super smooth puree for homemade baby food.

If I was an herb I would be …”

Mint. Mint can be used in a fruit salsa to top a piece of grilled fish, and it goes great with smashed fava beans and lemon for a crostini. Or you can use it in a watermelon agua fresca, which means “fresh water” in Spanish. Just puree watermelon with a bit of water, lemon, mint and a hint of sweetness like honey or agave for a refreshing drink.

Favorite healthy food growing up.

My mother taught me nothing about healthy eating. I grew up eating SPAM, folks!

“If I could only cook three vegetables for the rest of my life, they would be … “

Summer corn charred on the grill, mushrooms sautéed with a little olive oil and asparagus cooked on the grill.

“In my garden I have … “

Herbs—lots and lots of herbs! Herbs add so much flavor to everything.

Go-to healthy dishes at your restaurants.

Lunch is the vegetarian antipasti plate at Barbuzzo. It changes weekly and has eight different preparations of seasonal vegetables. At Jamonera, it would be the watermelon-and-beet salad with roasted and shaved raw baby beets, whole parsley leaves, valdeon (a Spanish blue cheese), sunflower seeds, olive oil and lemon.

Favorite comfort food.

A perfectly roasted chicken.

Best tip for creating a healthy dish.

Use parchment paper or foil. On one half a 15-by-11-inch piece of parchment or foil, add ½ cup of cooked quinoa, faro or rice, and sliced veggies (your favorites); put a half-inch-thick piece of fish or pounded thin chicken breast or pork on top; add minced garlic, sprigs of thyme and/or rosemary, the zest and juice of lemon/orange, sea salt and pepper and  a little vegetable/fish/chicken broth, plus maybe a tablespoon of white wine. Fold that up and put in your oven for 12 to 14 minutes or put on the upper rack in your grill. You will have an awesome light dinner that is full of flavor!

Katie says: If you follow this series regularly (hey, thanks for reading!), you probably know that I’m a huge fan of tapas and small plates, as that style of dining allows me to taste a little bit of everything without overdoing it. So you can imagine my excitement when Jamonera opened. Just be mindful and don’t over-order because many of the dishes contain more calorie-heavy ingredients, like a cheeses and fried components. But here are a few of my favorites:

Tuna Conserva: A plate of Spanish tuna with cucumber, celery, roasted pepper, egg and croutons with a sherry vinaigrette.

Mussels Escabeche: Radish, cucumber, piquillo peppers, a pimenton de la vera-sherry marinade and edible (!) shells.

• Aguacate: An avocado salad with salt cod carpaccio, shaved fennel and citrus.

• Judias Verdes: Favas, English peas, snap peas, sheeps-milk ricotta and jamon iberico (cured ham).

• Seared scallops: Royal trumpet mushroom, English pea and goat cheese croquetas, and spring pea-radish salad with tarragon-mint dressing.

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Have a restaurant or chef you’d like us to feature in the Cheat Sheet? Let us know in the comments!

Restaurant menus are reviewed by Phillies dietitian and owner of Healthy Bites Katie Cavuto Boyle. In most cases, the individual restaurants were contacted for specific ingredient and recipe information. Note: Many restaurants have seasonal menus and some items may not be available.

>> See Cheat Sheets for other Philly restaurants here. And for Katie’s healthy dining-out tips, go here.

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