Healthful Eating Tips from the Wellness Kitchen

For better health, eat the right foods, such as ones high in nutrition, antioxidants and phytochemicals, and make a few simple changes to your eating habits.

Dec 1, 2009
A couple learns how to make nutritious, healthy meals in the Wellness Kitchen at the California Institute of Health & Longevity.
A couple learns how to make nutritious, healthy meals in the Wellness Kitchen at the California Institute of Health & Longevity.
Photography Gary Moss

It’s not a secret. Eating more healthfully means getting more fruits and vegetables on your plate. No one disputes this, but it can still be hard for many to reach the recommended seven to 10 daily servings. Enter Director of Nutrition Paulette Lambert and her team of dietician-chefs in the Wellness Kitchen at the California Health & Longevity Institute (CHLI) within Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village. One-on-one consultations, hands-on cooking classes and workshops led by registered dieticians who are also skilled chefs create what Lambert calls a “food experience.”

“When you hear it, see it and do it, there’s more of an impact. It inspires people to say, ‘I can do it,’” says Lambert.

A registered dietician and certified diabetic educator with more than 30 years of experience primarily spent in private practice, Lambert specialises in the development of dietary plans that fit an individual’s lifestyle and medical needs. She recently shared tips for more healthful eating with Four Seasons Magazine.

Super Sustenance

In the Wellness Kitchen, Lambert promotes a “Revision of Plate” philosophy—25 percent protein, 25 percent carbohydrate, 50 percent produce. This means fewer calories and animal fat and more antioxidants. Get more bang per bite by loading up on superfoods. “A superfood has very high nutrient content and the ability to fight diseases. Most are plant-based. They have highly concentrated compounds of antioxidants and phytochemicals,” explains Lambert. “The best foods are dark or vibrant in colour—blueberries, tomatoes, oranges. There isn’t one magic food. You want to eat a variety in large quantities.” Such foods protect against free radicals, which cause cell damage resulting in premature aging and disease. This could mean a younger-looking and healthier you. So what’s on a day’s super menu?

Bolstering Breakfast: Oatmeal (not instant) with organic soy or organic non-fat milk and blueberries and walnuts on top. “A teaspoon of sugar or honey isn’t going to ruin it nutritionally—a teaspoon, not a tablespoon,” says Lambert who says it’s important to know when reading nutrition labels that 4 grams of sugar equals a teaspoon or 16 calories.

Lean Lunch: Salad with mixed greens and baby spinach, 1 cup of garbanzo beans (protein with no fat), tomatoes, carrots, avocado (a good fat), pine nuts and light Italian dressing. And for dessert—an apple.

Scrumptious Snack: 12 almonds and three or four pieces of dried fruit or any fresh fruit.

Dream Dinner: Miso-glazed salmon with roasted bok choy, roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli; arugula salad with chopped mixed vegetables and a light lemon vinaigrette.

Delectable Dessert:
Lambert recommends treating yourself to a dessert of your choice once or twice a week instead of every night so you stay within your calorie limits and you’re not deprived but you haven’t gone overboard either.

Quality Control

Organic food is worth the cost in many cases. Lambert stresses the importance of organic and grass-fed lean meats and organic dairy to decrease the amount of contamination in food. When price is an issue, Lambert points back to the Revision of Plate philosophy, which includes half the meat most consume at dinner. She recommends three to four ounces for a dinner portion for women and five to six for men—“And that’s being generous,” Lambert says. “The quantity is smaller, but the quality is higher.”

In the quest for quality produce, don’t dismiss the freezer department, particularly in the off-season for certain fruits and vegetables. “You don’t lose nutrients by freezing,” says Lambert. Many foods are flash frozen, which means they are frozen the same day they are harvested. When so-called fresh produce travels hundreds or thousands of miles to reach the local grocery store, they lose more nutrients than their frozen counterparts.

Variety again comes into play when considering cooking methods for produce. Lambert suggests eating both raw and cooked vegetables to reap the nutrient benefits of both. “Cooking breaks down some of the fibre and makes some nutrients more available,” Lambert explains.

Picky, Picky, Picky

Children and other picky eaters can also effectively revise their plates. Lambert says, “Flavour it. Make it taste good. It’s fine to purée foods for babies, but later on don’t hide them. They need to become accustomed to eating healthy foods, plus deception backfires at some point. Expose it, and children will learn to like it.”

That is what the Wellness Kitchen at CHLI is all about after all—making all foods taste great. Lambert says, “We want to make vegetables as exciting as entrees, fruits as exciting as desserts.”

Follow Lambert on CHLI’s Wellness Connection blog.


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