In the May 2011 ADA Journal article "How Accurate Are Your Nutrient Calculations? Why Culinary Expertise Makes a Difference," the authors say that this is an excellent time for nutritionists, registered dietitians specifically, to step up their culinary expertise and assist manufactureres in product development and nutrition knowledge. However, they caution eager experts from rushing in and providing incomplete information. There are challenges intrinsic to recipe writing and nutrient calculations, and nutrition experts must know the recipes well and the quirks to cooking, such as volume change and unused portions of ingredients (like marinades).
While it is a great window of opportunity for nutrition and diet experts to assist food manufacturers and restaurants with nutrient label development, those embarking on this type of work should be sure to develop competencies in culinary nutriton. This is the core of the thesis of these authors, and this is one of the biggest reasons that I chose to attend culinary school. I knew how to cook, and I was comfortable with reading recipes and entering nutritional data. But now that I have developed an understanding for restaurant prep cooking and line cooking, I see how it can change and how the knowledge has enhanced my understanding in utilizing the nutrient databases more effectively.
Powers, Catharine H., Mary Abbott Hess, and Mary Kimbrough. How Accurate Are Your Nutrient Calculations? Why Culinary Expertise Makes a Difference. May 2011 Journal of the American Dietetic Association Supplement. S8-S11.
According to the summary of the debate, saturated fat might be wrongly accused of increasing heart risks. For the last thirty years, fat and saturated fat have been emphasized as the components of food that are dangerous and should be limited. One might think that if people were taught to avoid those foods, the population would decrease their overall saturated fat intake and lower their risk of chronic disease. That doesn't seem to be the case, and over those same decades the incidence of obesity and diabetes have increased markedly. Apparently, the reduction of overall saturated fat has led to the increased consumption of refined carbohydrates. This, the debate hosts suggest, is more likely the culprit for the obesity and chronic disease issues in America.
This theory has been supported for a while with natural and alternative medicine advocates. When I worked at the Vitamin Cottage, many of the customers I met and many of the health professionals with whom I worked agreed: we need to eat more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and less fat.
As a current culinary student and intern at a food lab, it's really hard to say no to fat. When I'm preparing a dish, and it seems to lack just a touch of something, I'm learning that we should first reach for the salt crock or the butter dish. I used to briefly cringe when I did that, but I'm started to get desensitized to it. That's probably not actually a good thing.
Well, if restaurant food isn't going to be my source of healthy food, then I need to plan to eat more healthfully when I'm not in the lab. Lately, I've been sort of lazy at maintaining my healthier eating. Back to eating oatmeal for breakfast (and not hitting the snack bar at work).
|Mom and me in Grandma's kitchen...oh a few years ago|
Thanks, Yoplait and MyBlogSpark!
|Courtesy of the General Mills trip 2011|
The authors of the article say that vegetarian diets result in healthy weight loss and can result in healthy weight maintenance over the long term. They also said that even if the vegetarian diet isn't completely adopted, increasing the fruit and vegetable content in a diet has "value beyond weight loss goals."
One of my culinary classmates has been a vegetarian for years. He follows a virtual vegan diet at home, but at school he mostly tries to avoid meat products. He allows for butter and accidental cross contamination from meat, since we are students preparing meals.
You can check out Lyle's blog here, and keep checking back for vegetarian recipes as the quarter goes along. Lyle and the rest of my cohort entered the 4th (of 5) quarter in class, and they'll be doing fine dining. Should be fun! One really great feature about fine dining is that vegetarian meals can be absolutely excuisite and gourmet!