My Visit to the California Health & Longevity Institute
By: Chef Mark Allison, Dole Director of Culinary Nutrition
January always seems to start slow, and before you know it the calendar is full. I have been keeping busy with recipe development at the Dole Nutrition Institute in Kannapolis, and was recently asked to co-host a cooking demonstration at the renowned California Health & Longevity Institute (CHLI) in Westlake Village, California—right across the street from Dole Food Company’s Headquarters. It was my pleasure to work alongside Paulette Lambert, R.D., CDE, who is the Director of Nutrition at CHLI who, with over 30 years as a nationally recognized expert in her field, is someone I have greatly admired for a number of years. We hosted a public class on how to make healthy eating easy and fun, using fresh, delicious and nutritious ingredients that even the pickiest eaters would find hard to refuse. The class was a great success, the food was enjoyed, and everyone left with new and interesting ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
The rest of the week was full of meetings at Dole HQ, along with a two-day conference held at the Wellness Kitchen within CHLI. Paulette ran the informative, practical and fun program. We talked about chronic disease prevention through diet and lifestyle, and how the foods you eat can help sustain your life—more fruits and vegetables and less of everything else.
Something I found interesting was the food trends for 2016. Trends can be a mixed bag. Remember when everyone thought the cabbage soup diet was a good idea? Thankfully this year is looking brighter! Here’s a sneak peak at what we will be talking about and eating in 2016:
- “Healthification” of traditional comfort foods. You can use healthy ingredients and cooking techniques to reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar in traditional comfort foods, making them more nutritious, yet keeping that homey and satisfying taste.
- Bold flavors from using more fresh herbs and dried spices. Sambal sauce, which gives heat but more flavor than sriracha, will be an ingredient to look for. We’ll also see turmeric in everything from entrées to drinks and desserts.
- Plant-based proteins like beans and lentils. These foods provide both protein and carbohydrates and are high in fiber. Research suggests plant-based proteins can increase satiation, help lower cholesterol, and produce a lower glycemic response, all factors that can help in the fight against obesity.
- An increased number of flexitarians, a term describing people who eat a mostly a plant-based diet with minimal inclusions of animal foods. People are eating more meatless meals each week or downsizing the use of animal protein to a side or garnish.
- Complete meals in one bowl: grain, protein and vegetables with intensely flavored sauces.
While the discussion was lively and inspiring, getting in the kitchen for hands-on experience was the highlight of the day. Here is one of my favorite dishes we made and enjoyed at lunch. Find more delicious recipes in Paulette’s book The Wellness Kitchen: Fresh, Flavorful Recipes for a Healthier You.
Comfort recipe for 2016:
Cauliflower Soup with Truffle Oil
from Paulette Lambert, R.D., CDE
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- ½ onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 small fennel bulb, chopped
- 6 cups cauliflower florets
- 1 quart organic, reduced-sodium vegetable broth
- ½ cup fat-free half-and-half
- Pinch sea salt
- Pinch freshly ground black pepper
- 4 teaspoons truffle oil
Calories per serving: 105
- Heat olive oil in a large soup pot.
- Add garlic, onion, celery and fennel: sauté until tender, about 4-5 minutes.
- Add cauliflower and broth. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes or until the cauliflower is very tender.
- Puree soup in batches or use immersion blander. Return the soup to the pot to reheat.
- Add fat-free half-and-half, and season to taste with sea salt and pepper if needed.
- Serve in soup bowls, drizzle each bowl with ½ teaspoon truffle oil.