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The chef and dietitian: Make the best of both worlds

A chef and a dietitian walk into a bar ...

From the beginning of our relationship, which just so happened to start while working in a bar, Sean and I have always found a common interest in food. Our first date was spent picking berries at a farm outside Cortez. Twenty-three years later, we’re making heart-shaped grilled cheese sandwiches for our girls. Quality time is found in the comfort of the kitchen. I think there is a reason so many consider this room to be the heart of the home.

With quality time, comes conversation. You can probably imagine how it might go when a chef and dietitian talk about food. Let’s just say, it’s not all that far removed from the internal dialogue of each and every person faced with a food choice. A chef on one shoulder, the dietitian on the other.

Naturally, the chef’s end goal is to have flavor and texture perfected. Then, the dietitian pipes up to ask what substitutions can be made so it’s healthier. In your head, the conversation sounds like this, “I want the burger with bacon, cheese, sauce and an avocado, with a side of truffle french fries.” What I should have is “a veggie burger with a slice of avocado, tomatoes, and a side salad, dressing on the side.” Clearly, this is why everyone loves the chef!

The polarity of what we want and what we need can be a force to be reckoned with. Of course, it doesn’t have to be an either-or choice, it just tends to sound that way in our thoughts.

If you can bear the conversation between a chef and dietitian long enough, you’ll see there’s a lot to learn. It’s not just an argument between taste and health, it’s a deliberation of many tiny nuances that contribute to both. These nuances begin with seed genetics, growing conditions and processing that occur long before the chef, or the home cook, gets their hands on the raw ingredients. And, they carry on in the techniques applied during food preparation.

To the non-foodies out there, stop yawning. That’s as nerdy as I’ll get about what is essentially the science of food and nutrition. I’ll never deny the importance of this research, but my husband’s right. Most of the time, we care more about the immediate reward, and less about the long-term consequences, or the details.

My suggestion? Bring both your inner chef, and your inner dietitian to the table more often. Let the chef entertain your taste buds, while the dietitian sneaks beans into your brownies, or whispers friendly reminders to have vegetables, instead of fries, with the burger.

Your health does not ask you to give up flavor. It asks you to make all food groups a part of it; fruits, vegetables, grains/beans, dairy and protein. Honestly, it’s a concept the chef and the dietitian always agree on. We eat with all our senses. Your most satisfying meal is created with a variety of textures and colors. And the only way to do that is through a variety of foods. It’s a simple concept that tends to work well in many aspects of life; it’s called balance.

... and the chef orders a large salad, while the dietitian orders a burger. A meal they will split, for the best of both worlds.

Nicole Clark is the family and consumer science agent for the La Plata County Extension Office. Reach her at nicole.clark@colostate.edu or 382-6461.

Nicole Clark

Upcoming events

Culture Through Cooking – Northern Africa:

6-7 p.m. March 31. Travel virtually and explore new flavors in this cook-along. To register, email darcy@prlibrary.org.

Colorado Cottage Foods:

1-5 p.m. April 5. For registration details, call Nicole at 382-6461.

Get Money Smart!:

Noon Wednesdays. Colorado State University Extension-La Plata County Facebook Live.

Mar 12, 2021
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