Chef Jordan Wagman

Jordan Wagman

Meet award-winning chef, teacher, advocate, husband, dad, musician, hockey coach, sales person, manager and psoriasis conqueror — Jordan Wagman. He wears each title as a badge of honor and takes on each role with precision and tremendous passion.

Jordan’s unique culinary journey began over campfires in Northern Ontario’s Algonquin Park and progressed to the kitchens of some of the top chefs in the culinary world. The demands on his physical health combined with his desire to be a very present father and husband challenged him to take a road less traveled. It is a journey that has inspired so many people to look up, listen and follow him along on his wild food ride.

At the age of 12 Jordan was diagnosed with psoriasis, an often debilitating autoimmune disease. He was hospitalized, medicated and forced to follow extensive diets during the defining years of his life. No medicine and no diet gave Jordan the relief he was so desperately seeking.

Jordan discovered that if he removed certain ingredients he could still eat the food he has always loved to cook, share and serve. He set out to create healthy and delicious recipes that look and taste like restaurant quality dishes. Whether a novice in the kitchen or a seasoned at-home cook Jordan’s recipes are accessible. This approach is why his baby food cookbook currently sits at #2 on the Amazon bestseller list and his other publications continue to garner rave reviews.

Having taken this unique road on his culinary journey, Jordan has a renewed focus on food and wellness. His cooking classes for adults and kids alike are sold out and the demand is real. He is ready to share his passion, his story and each amazing recipe in hopes of changing a few lives while people continue to enjoy indulging in all the goodness each ingredient has to offer.

 

1. When did you make a change in your diet and what made you make the change?

I made the change to eating clean about two years ago. I have suffered with Psoriasis since the age of 12 and outside of living by the Dead Sea in Israel, this is the closest thing to a cure I have ever found.

I was fed up with my skin and refused to entertain conventional medications.  Having tried them, they scare me. The side effects can be worse than the disease I suffer with. That led me to an appointment with a naturopath and the rest is history.

2.  What are some benefits you noticed from your change in diet and how long until these benefits started to kick in?

After two months I noticed a huge weight loss. After twelve weeks, I lost 25 lbs and have not gained a pound since. It took four months before I noticed a huge change in my skin. My Psoriasis was not as inflamed and irritated. Although I was still aware of it every moment of every day ( I still am), I am less aware and less irritated by it now.

Almost two years later, my Psoriasis is a fraction of what it once was; even when it flares it’s not as red, thick, or scaly as it once was. I used to wake up with blood on my sheets or scales everywhere, every day. I haven’t awoken that way in a year.

3. How can people adopt healthier eating habits into a busy lifestyle?

We are all busy. We all get home late from the office forgetting to have purchased something at the grocery store or having pulled something from the freezer for dinner. All of us. Even those who have been trained in a kitchen. Yes, me.  What I’ve done to avoid ordering sushi or going out to my favorite rotisserie chicken place is to always have a few key basic ingredients at the ready in my refrigerator. This way, even if I have forgotten to buy a main ingredient for dinner, I can still create something for my family and I in a pinch.

Top Three pantry Items

A. Cooked quinoa is my number one go-to pantry ingredient. I always make sure to have a few litres of quinoa cooked which can easily be added to soups, eggs or just to a hot pan after having seared a piece of fish or chicken breast, creating a risotto-like texture. If it’s cooked, I’ll use it, I will think twice if it’s not (AKA ordering in). Quinoa will replace rice or pasta in most dishes.

B.  Chopped Kale is another ingredient always found in my refrigerator. Way more versatile than Romaine lettuce or spinach, kale is a hearty green that lends itself to omelettes, soups, salads or simply sautéed. Here’s the trick; when your kale comes home from the grocery store, soak in a bowl of ice water removing the dirt but also re-hydrating the kale, giving it some life again. Remove from the water, gently shake off the excess water and finely chop. Store in an airtight-container for a week to ten days. This method of ‘shocking’ your greens can add days to its shelf life.

C.  I love pesto and make it all the time. I make all different kinds which are either frozen in ice cube trays or waiting for me in my refrigerator. From a roasted poblano pepper pesto to the more familiar basil and garlic to the amazing caramelized green onion, I always have a pesto of some sort on hand. Instead of a store bought salad dressing, I squeeze the juice of a lemon into a few tablespoons of pesto and instantly have an amazing, flavourful vinaigrette. Simply toss steamed carrots or asparagus in a tablespoon of pesto and your veggies are transformed. Although I don’t eat pasta made with wheat flour, I do enjoy a quinoa or legumes pasta right from the pot and into a bowl of pesto. Instant meal. It can also be a marinade for fish and meats. It’s uses are endless.

4. What are some of your favourite low cost options for people on a tight budget wanting to eat healthy?
Great, healthy food doesn’t have to expensive. Here are three low cost, very versatile ingredients:
 
A. If you have only opened a can of beans and never cooked with dry beans, you are really missing out. Not only do they have multiple uses, you can control how soft the bean is when you eat it. If you treat beans like pasta, pairing it with a chicken Parmesan, for example, you may choose to leave the beans slightly ‘al dente ‘, if making a bean salad, perhaps you want to cook them through just a little more. Dips, salads or just on their own with olive oil, salt and pepper, beans are an amazing, inexpensive ingredient.
 
B. Corn meal is one of my favourites. Not only does it bloom to five or six times its original size, it can be be used for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can make a quick cornmeal cake for breakfast topping it with maple syrup, or serve it soft like porridge, with chopped kale and basil for dinner or even turn the leftover cornbread into croutons for salad or a cornbread pudding for dessert.  The possibilities are endless.
 
C. Spices are inexpensive, especially when purchased in bulk, and can transport your meals from Mexico to India and from Israel to Japan. My pantry is stocked with all sorts of curry powders, whole spices like cumin and coriander seeds, smoked spices like Paprika or Chipotle powder and even dried rosemary and thyme. The food I create is simple and typically only involves just a few ingredients. Take, for example a boneless, skinless chicken breast and quinoa. We can create a curry inspired dish using curry powder and coconut milk, a southwest dish, perhaps similar to the flavours of a chili using smoked paprika, chipotle powder and cumin seeds. The world of spices is your sandbox. Have fun and go play in it!
 
5. How can people make healthy cooking more fun?
Cooking shouldn’t cause you stress.  Add more of what you like and less of what you don’t to a recipe. Don’t pay too much attention to recipes and ingredients. Be creative and most of all, have fun with it.

Posted by Lorne Marr.
Lorne Marr is a Toronto-based fitness enthusiast and lifelong advocate of healthy living. He is on a journey to discover the best methods of training and nutrition for athletes and weekend warriors over 45. Connect with Lorne on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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