Inspire · Miss Mary · Recipes

Saute into Fitness

2013 hansen 3The burning question everyone wants to ask a chef is how do you cook X a healthier way.  Well Owner Operator, Hansen, of the Algonquin Fitness 19 actually can do that.  As a second career Hansen has taken over the Algonquin Fitness 19 and turned it upside down to make it a great place to work out.  Little did anyone know, he can cook.

Hansen’s formal training was at the renowned Culinary Institute of America in New York City.  He learned the intricate moves to creating amazing sauces, all the secrets to roasting meat, fish, and veggies, creating luscious desserts, and how to manage a restaurant.  He then set out to work in several restaurants till he became the Regional Chef for “The Chart House” Restaurants, five total in the State of Colorado.  He designed menus for all five  locations, tested out the recipes, decided on the meat fabrication and ultimately was the genius behind your dinner.

As a young man his uncle was his culinary influence.  He allowed him to cook beside him where he worked in Palm Springs.  He helped his mother cook too.

He found he wanted to do more than stay in the restaurant business or as a chef-for-hire and went into the health fitness field.  He was hired on at 24 Hour Fitness to sell memberships and rose up to be a manager.  It was there that he knew this was what he wanted to do when he came across a client who was really in need of a healthy lifestyle change.  He found a way for that person to obtain a membership and take training sessions on their budget.  The member lost 50 pounds in 6 months and came back to him to thank him for helping him to get on the path to a better lifestyle.

Fast forward to Algonquin Fitness 19.  Hansen took over about a year ago.  Recently many physical changes have been made to the gym.  It looks brand new; there are new floors, new bathrooms, all new paint, and a new entryway.  The TRX system was brought in about six months ago to provide more opportunities for members to exercise with leading equipment.  The gym prides itself with their bootcamps.  They recruit members to become weekend warriors to compete in local events such as Warrior Dash and Tough Mudders – Hansen participates many times also.  When the gym was closed for renovations they actually held classes in Lake in the Hills in one of their parks hauling all their equipment to the park for three crazy days of working out.

Here’s a few questions I asked the “chef”:

What’s your best dish?  A rack of lamb with a honey mustard glaze roasted with a rosemary breadcrumb crust and served with a merlot sauce and  baby carrots with snap peas.

Do you concentrate on making healthier dishes now?  When I cook I ask what’s the best food for my family and just make it taste phenomenal.

What’s your best advice for those whom wish to create healthy meals?  Many people are not educated about food.  Example eat a protein and a healthy carb with every meal and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.  What I recommend to people is to Google “Healthy proteins and Healthy carbs” and just pick one from each category for each meal, it’s that simple!  Add in a few veggies and fruits throughout the day and you are golden.

What’s your favorite kitchen gadget?  The kitchen meat mallet tenderizer.  It helps you to cook your meat evenly while keeping it juicy.

What’s your funniest kitchen incident?  It was Thanksgiving with all the trimmings.  I had prepared the potatoes but forgot to turn them on.  The entire meal was done except the potatoes.  I used a box of Instant Potatoes, added roasted garlic and butter and no one knew the difference.  They raved about the potatoes.

What’s your favorite food to cook with?  Simple foods that taste fantastic such as sweet potatoes.  It’s how you prepare them.

What’s a quick family meal that you prepare at home?  Here is a very simple recipe that my wife and I often have for dinner.  Amazing taste!

Turkey Taco Salad     Serves 4

  • 1 package of Jennie O Extra Lean Ground Turkey (20 oz)
  • 1  15oz can of reduced sodium pinto or black beans, rinsed
  • 1  4.5oz can of chopped green chilies
  • 4-6 tbsps. of your favorite salsa
  • shredded lettuce
  • tomatoes
  • 1 serving of baked Tostito’s corn chips

Brown the turkey with spices like black pepper, Mrs. Dash, crushed red pepper (no salt!).  Once cooked add in the beans (I only add about 3/4 of the can) and green chilies.  Stir.  Then add the salsa.

Serve over shredded lettuce and tomatoes, add more salsa to taste.  For that extra crunch, eat with 1 serving of Baked Tostitos Corn Chips

Nutritional information –  226 calories, 20 grams carbs, 30 grams protein, 2 grams of fat, 435 mg of sodium


Just FYI, I made this tonight for dinner.  Incredibly quick, tasty, plus LOTS of leftovers.

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