Rarely do I watch television but when clicker is in hand, checking out a little “food TV” is a must. More often than not, I am utterly disappointed (low fat, low sodium and sugar-free do not necessarily equal health support) but as it turns out the Cooking Channel is now host to a new show, Food Hospital. A little inflammatory I know, but you get the gist. Basically the show is about using food as medicine. It’s about time! Speaking of food as medicine, almost every eat (in its most natural form) can be considered a medical edible. Knowing what to use, why to use it and how to use it is essential. That’s what my work is all about—in very basic terms, teaching folks how to make sure their food counts, in a good way and ensuring that delicious always meets nutritious (with the science to back it up).
Only until recently are doctors starting to talk about nutrition (and even food)—funny cause more often than not they don’t have much formal training in either (see The Good Doctor for more on this). That being said, the role of the nutritionist and culinary translator is essential in making medical edibles doable.
In the late 1990’s, at the tail end of my time in culinary school, I met Kathie Madonna Swift, MS, RD, LDN on a brief visit to Canyon Ranch in Massachusetts. Recovering from a terrible bout with food poisoning, I made an appointment with the in-house nutritionist. Swift didn’t talk macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fat) or micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) with me, rather she talked food—quality of ingredients, what to eat, how to eat and low and behold, we touched on cooking. I remember thinking to myself that this woman was onto something. Swift is the true Mother of integrative nutrition—she is the master of marrying integrative, functional and holistic medicine with nutritional genomics, whole foods, dietary supplements and natural healing modalities. And according to Swift, “Medicine is headed to the kitchen.”
In fact, medicine started in the kitchen and should never have left it. But sadly, it did and has. However, there is good news as there are a handful of people who tirelessly work to translate the science to the plate. A couple to note are food and healing pioneer Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D. and founder of the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts in NYC. And ofcourse Dr. Andrew Weil who was talking about the role of medical edibles in wellness long before now. You must check out his True Food Kitchen.
But the real question is how do you bring this healing home? You can hire me, you can take a class or you can pick up a book and do it yourself. Speaking of books, until very recently, there was no medical edible bible that I felt really good about suggesting. I mean there are some great books out there about the healing properties of food and their culinary uses like Dianne Onstad’s Whole Foods Companion. But nothing that drove the message home in a truly digestible manner with delicious culinary doables. Enter The Longevity Kitchen by Rebecca Katz, fellow culinary nutritionist and nationally recognized author (One Bite at a Time and The Cancer Fighting Kitchen are must reads too) and speaker.
In my culinary soul sister’s words:
Utilizing solid science is essential to understanding the impact food can (and can’t) have on health and wellness. Still, when we're talking about food, science can’t be the tail that wags the dog. The science intrigues, but the wellspring of motivation comes from engaging the senses on almost a primitive level. The sensuous tastes, the intoxicating smells, the vibrant colors…that’s the irresistible hook. After all, I’ve never seen a list of nutrients alone that made anyone salivate.
So here are some medical edibles where delicious and nutritious collide. And don’t forget to tune into Stirring the Pot on WPPB 88.3 FM on Saturday 3/16 at 5pm for The Culinary Translator with the one and only Rebecca Katz!
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 small yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 1 large sprig fresh rosemary, or 1T dried
- 2 large sprigs fresh thyme, 1 1T dried
- 1 pint grape tomatoes
- 1 small zucchini, quartered
- 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
- 1-28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
- 4 cups kale (packed), shredded
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Heat oil on medium low in a large sauté pan. Add onions and garlic and sauté until lightly browned.
- Add all other ingredients (including sprigs of herbs), mix well, cover pot and cook on simmer for 20 minutes checking every few minutes to stir. Once done, remove sprigs and discard.
CILANTRO PESTO SMOTHERED FISH
- 1 1/2 lbs. White fish fillet, Flounder, sole
- 1 lemon, juiced, for cleaning fish
- 1 teaspoon salt, for cleaning fish
- 2 cups cilantro, leaves and stems, coarsely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Combine all pesto ingredients in food processor and purée.
- Wash fish with salt and lemon juice, rinse under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Place fish in baking dish.
- Generously coat the top of each filet with pesto.
- Cover baking dish with tin foil and bake for 15 minutes; uncover and bake for another 5 minutes
All recipes © 2013 Stefanie Sacks
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