It is not often that I am treated to lunch prepared by my own private chef. OK, it has never happened until this week when I was treated to lunch by Jennifer Bucko Lamplough, who also happens to be an accomplished chef. Jen, or “Fit Foodie Chef” and I met last summer at the Batavia Green Walk where she was sharing healthy recipes at her table. Jugging busy schedules, we finally arranged to sit down to talk about healthy eating over some Jalapeño macaroni and cheese, a low-fat recipe she was testing for the American Diabetes Association. Although I can’t share that recipe with you now, I’ll repost the link to it in April once it is released on the American Diabetes Association website.
Jen received her culinary training at the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago (now Le Cordon Bleu of Chicago), that is after receiving a BA in Journalism from Indiana University and an MBA from Robert Morris. If you’ve ever tried to interview a chef while they were cooking or eating across from you, it is one tasty challenge. The comfortable ambience of her home led to some interesting side conversations and even a recipe for the salad she served before the mac and cheese (featured at the end of this blog).
So why was I drawn to interview Chef Jen? First, Jen is open about her struggle to lose weight and that is utterly refreshing. As a culinary teacher at Robert Morris University Institute of Culinary Arts, she is constantly tasting her food and that of her students, so food is a work hazard of sorts. Her struggle to get fit was documented on the Food Network series, “Fat Chef,” last year where she lost 40 pounds through her diet and personal training regimen. Second, Jen is an advocate of eating healthy, not only to lose weight, but for medical reasons.
Side Note: If you have read my previous blogs, you know there is plenty of research that specifically calls out the correlation of being overweight and increased odds of getting breast cancer. Hitting home to me after finishing my treatment for DCIS is the higher chance of recurrence of breast cancer if you are overweight or obese. It is also worth a mention that recent research ties in a higher incidence of diabetes with having had breast cancer.
Back to Jen: Loss of mobility after an accident last fall meant the inability for Jen to exercise. She has lost a bit of ground on her overall weight loss plans and admits to losing momentum on her weight loss journey. But, Jen has the tools of knowledge of food and how to exercise, so when her body is completely healed, watch out! Her goal is still to compete in Batavia’s June Triathlon and I wouldn’t bet against her.
Chef Jen combined her love of cooking with her BA in Journalism when she partnered with her college roommate (and nutritionist) on their first cookbook in 2004 for the American Diabetes Association (ADA). She published again in 2007 and just published her third book, “Healthy Calendar Diabetic Cooking” in late 2012, the 2nd edition of her 2004 book. Jen continues to submit recipes for ADA website, teaches and lives in Batavia, IL.
Here is a healthy salad recipe Chef Jen served to me for lunch and one she is happy to share:
JEN’S SIMPLE AND SAVORY SALAD
4 Cups lettuce
1 avocado diced
1/4 cups shelled pumpkin seeds (peppitos)
Whisk together the following:
3 T Balsamic vinegar
2 T olive oil
1 t dijon mustard
1 t grated garlic
1 T honey
salt & pepper
I’ll finish off this blog with some insights that Chef Jen shared with me. She has learned a lot about nutrition as a chef, working with ADA and through her recent Food Network weight loss challenge. To follow Chef Jen, visit www.fitfoodiechef.com, “Like” her on Facebook at Facebook.com/fitfoodiechef, read her blog at fitfoodiechef.blogspot.com or sign up for free recipes from Chef Jen at diabetes.org/mfa-recipies. You can also purchase her newest book, “Heathy Calendar Diabetic Cooking” and “The Healthy Carb Diabetes Cookbook” directly from ADA or on amazon.com.
TEN HEALTHY INSIGHTS
#1 – Sugar is our downfall. More specifically carbohydrates, as your body turns them into sugar when in excess, which leads to weight gain. Jen says that sugar is hidden in many foods and you have to really look at recipes and ask the wait staff questions about how the food is prepared to control what you actually consume.
#2 – Read your labels. Chef shared a story with me about a student who was consuming an energy drink in class to stay awake; Jen was so upset that she showed that student the label and gave him quite a lesson on reading labels. That energy drink can actually contained three servings with each being 200 calories and 30 grams of carbohydrates. Do the math and you come out to a whopping 600 calories for the can and 90 grams of carbs. Yikes! Read the labels folks.
#3 – Prepare things ahead of time. Jen is more successful in her weight loss and healthy eating when she packs her lunch the night before. She also says she hard boils a dozen eggs at a time and keeps them in the refrigerator and they are ready for a snack or recipes.
#4 – Cut it up. Yes, those whole vegetables and fruits in the drawer are much more likely to get eaten if you take the time to cut them up and store them in plasticware in the fridge. It is much easier to make a healthy food decision if you do your prep work beforehand.
#5 – Don’t go crazy over fat. Chef Jen says that she doesn’t count her fat gram intake, but rather makes healthy fat decisions and avoids saturated fats. She sometimes replaces Greek yogurt for sour cream or cuts a recipe with half mayonnaise and half Greek yogurt to lower the fat content. Also, use canola, olive or nut-related oils or avocado for healthier fats.
#6 – Limit your alcohol. Or better yet, eliminate it altogether. There are two reasons from Chef Fit Foodie. The first is that alcohol is high in calories/carbohydrates. Second, drinking usually causes you to lose your inhibitions and ultimately eat (and drink) more. Britta’s comment: Research of a link between alcohol and breast cancer is suspect, but not definitive.
#7 – No carbs after lunch. When Chef Jen was losing the most weight, she attributes much of that success to this rule. At a minimum watch your carbs if you are looking to lose weight.
#8 – Work out hard and break a sweat at the gym. As long as you are medically cleared to work out, make sure your heart rate is in your appropriate cardio and fat burning range when you work out.
#9 – Use a heart rate monitor when you work out. This goes nicely with #8. If you wear a heart rate monitor, you’ll see why or why not you are breaking a sweat and can set new goals for yourself accordingly.
#10 – Do your best. Whether you are trying to eat more healthy or exercise more, do your best and results will follow.
Thanks to Jen for the interview and conversation and thank you to Chef Jen for the wonderful lunch.