Cooking with Jean-Marc Fullsack

An artistic low-fat chef practices what he preaches when he fixes meals for his family

Pasta with Provençal Basil Sauce

What does a classically trained French chef who works with the guru of ultra-low-fat choose to cook on his own time?

"If people told me 10 years ago that I'd like brown rice, I'd have said they were insane," laughs Jean-Marc Fullsack. Today, his work with Dean Ornish is all about good flavor ― and healthful foods such as brown rice. (Ornish's program combines an extremely low-fat, low-cholesterol diet with exercise and reduction of stress.)

At home, the San Francisco Bay Area resident follows the same healthful principles when he prepares meals for his family.

"l translate classical techniques to nonfat. For example, instead of meat sauces, I use really fine vegetable sauces," says Fullsack, who accompanies Ornish around the country teaching low-fat cooking and lifestyle techniques to heart patients, hospital staffs, and professional chefs ― including the chef at the White House. Fullsack's ideas have been incorporated into several Ornish books, including his most recent: Everyday Cooking with Dr. Dean Ornish (HarperCollins, New York, 1996; $15, paperback).

Fullsack notes that many people ― even those without heart problems ― are beginning to adopt a low-fat lifestyle. "I've lost 15 pounds since working with Dean and feel much healthier. If I'm in a situation where I have to eat old-fashioned sauces, I feel full so quickly. I'd have trouble going back to my old diet."

The food Fullsack cooks for his family has to be fast to prepare, as well as healthful and good-tasting. One favorite recipe is based on a French pesto soup, but he uses white beans instead of oil to thicken the pesto. The soup becomes a sauce for whole-grain pasta (his choices often include pasta made from brown rice, quinoa, or spelt) with colorful vegetables.

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