Chefs share healthy diet tips

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Regional - posted Mon., Sep. 16, 2013
Chefs Eric Kalwarczyk and Wendy Garosshen brought their skills to a recent 'Your Body in Balance' class. Photos by D. Coffey.
Chefs Eric Kalwarczyk and Wendy Garosshen brought their skills to a recent 'Your Body in Balance' class. Photos by D. Coffey.

A crowd of 75 people was treated to some gastronomical specialties on Sept. 10, as part of Day Kimball Healthcare’s “Your Body in Balance” series. Chef Eric Kalwarczyk from the Inn at Woodstock Hill and Wendy Garosshen from Heirloom Food Company in Danielson shared some culinary secrets and passed around samples of healthful dishes at the Celebrity Chef night. The crowd had a chance to try ratatouille, a spicy tofu dip, a vegetarian sandwich and mock curry chicken.

"Your Body in Balance" is a series of interactive lectures and activities aimed at teaching people about the prevention and reversal of some chronic diseases. Pam Howell, RN, a certified diabetes educator with Day Kimball Medical Group, is the program director. She covers topics such as the causes of type 2 diabetes, weight loss, how to prevent and reverse high blood pressure and cholesterol, and how to increase your energy level.

One of the key ways to attack those chronic conditions is to eat a healthier, more balanced diet. The chefs were brought in to share some fairly easy recipes, and convince the crowd that, with some effort, they could be eating healthier meals.

“There is a strong emphasis on prevention and reversal of diabetes in this class,” Howell said. “Weight loss is important because that’s one of the things that can cause diabetes as well as lots of cardiac issues. Our emphasis is on eating healthy to prevent heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and also reverse those issues.”

Using food to lure people to the program worked well. Howell had to turn people away from the class after 75 signed up. For their troubles, attendees were treated to some insider information on tofu, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. Howell interjected nutritional information whenever she could, explaining why certain foods were good and others were good to stay away from.

“Our bodies were created to work properly,” Howell said. “We throw that balance off when we don’t eat right or don’t get enough sleep and exercise. This program is meant to get our bodies back in balance.”

Sometimes it’s a hard lesson to learn. Not everyone responded with the same enthusiasm to some of the samples or suggestions. Some in the crowd weren’t sold on Garosshen’s process of freezing, thawing and boiling tofu to give it a texture similar to chicken - or that given such a texture, it tasted sufficiently palatable. “I’m not convinced,” said one man who didn’t want to give his name.

Ann Lambert from Danielson found the dish delicious. She and her husband are recent converts to Garosshen’s recipes and the Heirloom Food Company, eating there weekly. “I always get the same thing,” she said, "Cranbusy with mock chicken. It’s the best salad with greens, walnuts, goat cheese and vinaigrette.” 

Kalwarczyk admitted to using lots of butter and cream in his work at the Inn of Woodstock Hill. “Fat is flavor,” he quipped. But he was able to suggest ways certain foods could be that would heighten their flavor. He roasted eggplant, onions, tomatoes, garlic and zucchini to create a ratatouille that he then used as a salad topping and in a sandwich. “Roasting changes the structure of the vegetables,” he said. “It intensifies their flavor.”   

Howell took every opportunity to share her wealth of knowledge, such as these tidbits: Tofu can be ground up for use in recipes that call for ricotta cheese. Beans have high iron and fiber content and are excellent sources of protein. Quinoa is high in protein and omega 3. Store-bought hummus can be high in sodium, so it’s good to check the nutrition panels before you buy.

"Your Body In Balance" is open to the public at no cost. For more information, call 860-377-9395.

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