‘HEALTHY MEALS IN MINUTES’: WCCH Hospital program outlines better way to eat

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, October 19, 2022

West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital Cafeteria Conference room filled quickly for a free, healthy cooking demonstration Tuesday.

Doris McKinney was one of about 40 participants. She was there re-learning how to cook. Her husband was the picture of health and recently had a heart attack. His doctor recommended she attend the classes.

James and Juanita Boullion have always been health conscious. Until the hurricanes, they ate fruit and vegetables James raised on their property. He’s 85. She’s 76 They only take one medication and they think their diet has a lot to do with it. In addition to the demonstration and getting healthy tips, they enjoy the fellowship with other class participants, Juanita said.

Frances Kothmann eats healthy now and wants to eat even healthier. She drags her husband Charlie to classes.

“Getting him to eat vegetables is like trying to get a child to eat vegetables,” she said.

“The Healthy Meals in Minutes program is our commitment to improve the health of our community,” said Fran Landry, WCCH Registered Dietician and Director of Nutrition. We get referrals from primary physicians and our diabetes education program.”

Landry started the demonstration by seasoning a pork loin and popping it in the oven. Next she mixed a salad dressing and diced apples for the brussels sprout salad with apples, pecan and blue cheese. Finally, she whipped up a completely plant-based dessert, chickpea cookie dough bites.

During the 20-minute demonstration, she reviewed portion sizes, affordability of ingredients, possible substitutions and other cooking methods. And, she did it all with style seasoned with good humor despite comments from a couple of broccoli-hating hecklers in the audience.

“I understand,” she said. “My husband won’t even let me bring brussels sprouts in the house because of the smell, but just try it. This salad dressing recipe calls for balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard, and when I see those two ingredients in a salad dressing, I know it’s going to be good.”

Landry admitted she wasn’t quite sold on the plant-based dessert, but it is definitely a sweet way to get more fiber, iron and protein in the diet.

“I think I like them refrigerated best,” she said, “creating the little balls of dough, and they can be refrigerated for up to four days.”

After the how-to and tips, participants sample the meal. The fall salad may not have won over brussels sprout haters, but the honey crisp apple made it as sweet as the dessert. The pork was moist, tender and perfectly seasoned, healthy food delicious and easy to make. Don’t believe it. Taste and see. Here are the recipes from Fran Landry’s Healthy Meals in Minutes at WCCH.

Mediterranean Pork Tenderloin. Preheat oven to 400.. Mix 1 tbsp. olive oil, 2 garlic cloves (minced) ½ tsp. oregano, ½ tsp. thyme, ½ tsp. paprika, ½ tsp. garlic powder, ½ tsp. onion powder, ½ tsp. black pepper, ¼ tsp. salt. Rub over 1.33 lb pork tenderloin. Bake 25 minutes. Let rest 5-10 minutes. Slice into 1-in. pieces.

Brussels Sprout Salad with Apples, Pecans and Blue Cheese. Whisk 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil with 1 tbsp. minced onions, 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard and 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar. Pour over 4 cups thinly sliced sprouts (can use grater device on food processor) in a lg bowl. Mix in one small honey crisp apple, diced smallish. Top with ¼ cup roughly chopped pecans and 3 tbsp. blue cheese.

Chickpea Cookie Dough Bites. Drain and rinse 15 oz. can chickpeas, shaking off as much moisture as possible. Add drained chickpeas to food processor. Pulse once or twice then add ½ cup peanut butter (or PB2 mixed with water) 2 tbsp. pure maple syrup or honey, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 2 tsp. vanilla extract and 1 tsp. cinnamon and pulse until mixture resembles cookie dough. Fold in ⅓ cup chocolate chips. Moisten hands to prevent sticking. Shape into 1-inch balls. Can store in freezer up to three months.