Out and About

Durham chef shares tips for staying fit, healthy

Chef Ricky Moore of the Saltbox Seafood Joint talks about how he stays healthy and shares a recipe for one of his favorite breakfasts.

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Chef Ricky Moore
Jessica Stringer
DURHAM, N.C. — Chef Ricky Moore of the Saltbox Seafood Joint talks about how he stays healthy and shares a recipe for one of his favorite breakfasts.

Want to start your day like Ricky? Try his recipe for broiled grapefruit (at the end of this post) or make some oatmeal.

“In the mornings, I take steel-cut oatmeal and sprinkle on homemade granola and some flaxseed,” he says. If he’s really feeling creative, he’ll mix in something sweet.

“I make homemade apple sauce that I put in [it] as well. That’s good for me and it’s filling,” Ricky says. “It pretty much gets me through the day.”

If you spent your day serving up seafood fresh from the coast in a 205-square-foot shack, you’d need subsistence too. Throughout the workday, Ricky relies on quick snacks so he can keep up with the demand for catfish and crab grits.

When he’s not on his feet at work, you’ll find him walking the hills in his neighborhood or whipping up something easy in his own kitchen, like a one-pot meal.

Q: How has being a chef affected the way you think about food and nutrition?

A: I’ve always been a slim guy my entire life and had a huge appetite, so my metabolism seemed to be my best friend. I enjoyed a lot of good eats, in particular stuff that’s rich. Now that I’m a little bit older, I have to manage that. Not that I deprive myself, but I do manage what I eat and how much I eat of it. I don’t necessarily have a big appetite anymore either.

A lot of people outside of the business or outside of the kitchen don’t have the accessibility to [food all day]. You get to a point where you’re around everything you can indulge on but at the end of the day, I’d rather go home and eat a good open-face peanut butter and jelly sandwich with slices of bananas on it. I want simple eats when I leave the kitchen.

Q: What’s your favorite way to exercise?

A: I do a lot of running. I either run in my neighborhood or go to a fitness center and use the treadmill. I’m all about endurance so a lot of calisthenics. I do it three times a week and I’m pretty consistent. Sometimes I fall off – I’m not perfect.

I walk my neighborhood. My neighborhood is extremely hilly so you have what we used to call in the military a range walk or a really quick sort of walk. The hills are ultra-challenging. [It’s like having] a StairMaster in my neighborhood.

Q: What healthy meals or balanced meals do you like to make?

A: During the week I eat essentially vegetarian. [I probably eat] vegetarian meals four days a week and I’ll do some protein or meat three days. It works for me. I’m starting to enjoy more vegetable-focused dishes. I don’t need to get stuffed. I eat just enough.

[I make] a one-pot vegetable dish and I eat of a lot of beans or skewered vegetables. I enjoy lentils, olive bread and goat cheese. My wife makes a killer lentil stew that’s straightforward. It’s filling and it’s tasty. I make a goat cheese-lentil crostini thing too.

Q: What’s your favorite guilty pleasure food?

A: I’ve got a sweet tooth. Anyone that knows me knows I enjoy eating sweets. I really do. I enjoy cake, cookies and that sort of thing. I like cake and ice cream. I love custard, that really dense ice cream. I like the Toll House chunky cookies. I put them in the oven and cook them [until they are] medium rare meaning that they are just about gooey. Then I take them out and they continue to cool off. They get just about [that perfect] consistency. I have a mug that I keep inside my freezer like a beer mug and I pour milk inside of it. That’s my indulgence.

Q: Any advice for chefs starting out on how to combat stress and stay healthy?

A: Don’t deprive yourself. Our pleasure [as chefs] is cooking and serving people but also eating. [But you can] start to rethink how much we participate in the pleasure part of food. It needs to be sustainable for our bodies. We use that term ‘sustainable’ throughout a lot of our conversations as chefs. We talk about sustainability in this and sustainability in that.

How about sustainability in ourselves and our health? Because there’s a lot of us in the business who are not monitoring it and we are running on empty. I know colleagues out there who have gotten to a place where it’s become extremely unhealthy and challenging and it leads to people not living. This lifestyle, it generally doesn’t help anyway with late-night hanging out and overindulging, so you’ve got to find the balance. We have to rest and take care of our bodies.

Recipe: Broiled Grapefruit

Serves 2
  • 1 or 2 grapefruit
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon Banana, sliced

Prepare oven for broiling. Position oven rack on top.

Cut grapefruit(s) in half. Using a small serrated knife or grapefruit knife, loosen the grapefruit sections from the membrane. -Place the grapefruit halves on a baking sheet or shallow baking pan. Drizzle grapefruit halves with honey.

Place banana slices on top and fli[ once to coat both sides with honey.

Dust with ground ginger and cinnamon.

Place under broiler until bubbling and slightly browned in spots, about 4 to 6 minutes. Keep an eye on during broiling to avoid burning. Serve warm.

Editor’s Note: Catch Chef Ricky and dozens of other talented local chefs at TASTE 2017, a celebration of food and drink held April 20-23 in Durham.
WRAL Out and About is a sponsor of TASTE 2017.