Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Just What the Doctor Ordered!

Chef Instructor Bill Briwa of the Culinary Institute of America, Greystone in Napa Valley loves to share the secrets of adding flavor to recipes with a world of spices.

Imagine a day when your doctor hands you a recipe instead of a prescription and you’ll share the vision of physicians, dietitians and other health professionals gathered recently in the kitchens of The Culinary Institute of America’s campus in Napa Valley.

The “Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives” conference presented by researchers from Harvard Medical School brings medicine and menus together to illustrate the benefits of eating a healthy diet. “We need to practice what we preach” declared Dr. David Eisenberg, Director for Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies at the Harvard Medical School, “What doctors eat predicts their willingness and ability to advise patients about what they eat.” Eisenberg, who created the Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives conference, led a recipe demonstration on Asian stir fry techniques. An M.D. handy with a cleaver and a wok, Eisenberg was the first US medical exchange student to the People’s Republic of China in 1979, “That’s when I learned the significance of a teaching kitchen. If we’re going to get people to eat better we have to realize that taste trumps nutrition science every day.”

While there were plenty of grim diet related health statistics to review including maps revealing states with the highest obesity rates, the focus was on cooking up solutions. Dr. Robert Israel, an internal medicine physician with Providence Hospital in Mobile, Alabama leapt at the opportunity to exchange his doctor’s coat for a chef’s hat in a workshop on cooking whole grain side dishes, “This is wonderful. It’s what we should have been doing twenty years ago.” The CIA-Harvard conference was packed with nutrition knowledge and real life recipe advice. Here’s an overview of healthy highlights.
Robert Israel, MD of Mobile, Alabama joins Paige Martin, RD,
a dietitian from Atlanta for a CIA cooking class on Whole Grain dishes.

Recipes for Wellness

1. Eat lots of vegetables- Advice to eat more plant based foods was abundant. Harvard School of Public Health’s Dr. Walter Willett, a course co-director, emphasized “Populations that eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day live longer lives and have less heart disease, stroke and cancer.” Cooking up solutions: Cookbook author, Chef John Ash says, “Instead of steaming, try roasting vegetables such as cauliflower and Brussels sprouts- the high heat brings out naturally sweet flavors.”

2. Say yes to good fats- Not all fat is created equal. Trans fat is the most harmful. Avoid partially hydrogenated vegetable oils The preferred forms of fat intake include: olive
oil, canola oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, and fish oil. Omegas 3’s in seafood are beneficial. Eat seafood at least twice a week. Cooking up solutions: “Give bottled salad dressings the boot” says cookbook author Joyce Goldstein, “Save money and have fun making your own salad dressings with olive oils and vinegars. Add a splash of fresh orange or lemon juice.”

3. Upgrade your carbs – To help control swings in blood sugar and support a healthy heart and digestive system, minimize refined sugar and white flour products; instead eat whole grain breads, oats, barley, brown rice, quinoa, wheat berries and other whole grains and cereals. Eat Fewer Refined Carbohydrates: white bread, white flour, sugary cereals, pasta, jellies, sugar candy and soft drinks. Cooking up solutions: CIA chef instructor Tucker Bunch shares these tips, “Most all grains, such as quinoa, brown rice, wheat berries and faro, can be cooked ahead and then combined with seasonings such as sautéed garlic, fresh basil, olives, lemon juice and olive oil to make a delicious side dishes.”

4. Eat Mindfully - Grab and go eating might save time but, it’s not getting a doctor’s or dietitian’s approval. Advice to slow down to appreciate and savor flavors, aromas, colors and textures of foods is becoming just as important as nutrient recommendations. Eisenberg says mindless munching whether in front of the television or in the car must be addressed, “Mindfulness and intention affect all behaviors including what and how much we eat.” Cooking up a solution: Savor and really think about the pleasure of enjoying a square of dark chocolate or dollop of whipped cream on top of a bowl of fresh berries.

Mediterranean Grain Medley
Farro or Soft Wheat Berries, fully cooked 3 cups
Salt and Black pepper to taste
Quinoa, fully cooked 2 cups
Extra virgin olive oil 1/4 cup
Fresh lemon juice 1/4 cup
Crimini mushrooms, quartered 2 cups
Shallots, diced 2 Tsp
Garlic, chopped 1 tsp
Organo, chopped 1tsp
Chick peas 1 cup
Parsley, chopped 1 tsp
Cherry tomatoes, cut in half 1 cup
Mint or basil, minced 1/4 cup
Kalamata olives, cut julienne 2 Tbsp
Hot red pepper flakes 1 tsp
Heat a large saucepan over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the mushrooms. Toss so the mushrooms begin to brown.
Add the shallots, garlic, oregano and cook until aromatic. Season with S and P.
Add the chick peas, herbs, tomatoes and olives to the pan, tossing to mix well.
Adjust seasoning, adding salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes and lemon juice to taste.
Fold in the cooked grains to heat through.


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