Good-for-you food tastes better when you cook it yourself
Story by Amy Coyne Bredeson + Photography by Mark & Lisa Staff
Since opening in 1976, thousands of people from all around the world have sought the help of Hilton Head Health when trying to lose weight and live healthier lives.
Dietitians, chefs, health coaches and fitness instructors teach guests of the all-inclusive weight loss resort how to eat and exercise properly, and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
A big part of making healthy food choices is learning how to cook those foods in a way that makes people actually want to eat them. The organization’s Healthy Kitchen executive chef, Karla Williams, helps guests do just that.
“I think you build a much better relationship with food when you cook it,” Williams said. “If you are the person investing your money and time at the grocery store and preparing your food for you and your family, you get to enjoy it while it’s cooking — the scent of it, the sound of it sauteeing, the smokiness coming from the grill. That’s part of the eating experience. If you completely eliminate that, you don’t have an appreciation for what you’re putting in your body.”
With degrees in nutrition science and the culinary arts, Williams is able to cater to guests’ diet restrictions, teaching them how to cook for a vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free or gluten-free lifestyle.
Several classes are held each week, some specifically for in-house guests and others for the general public. Take a hands-on cooking class, or sit back and watch a cooking demonstration. Sign up for private lessons, or watch two chefs compete for best entree in the 2 Chefs. . . 2 Stations class. The Healthy Kitchen will even host private events, such as birthday parties and rehearsal dinners.
The state-of-the-art Healthy Kitchen features gourmet ranges, six cooking stations for hands-on classes, and two monitors so guests can see up close what the chefs are doing.
Williams said the resort’s nutritional philosophy is overall health. It recommends eating 1,200-1,400 calories a day, with whole foods, plenty of vegetables and everything in moderation. The kitchen serves dessert to in-house guests twice a week.
“Let’s eliminate elimination diets,” Williams said. “If you eat more vegetables and use portion control, you can include all your favorite things into your lifestyle.”
To people who don’t like cooking, Williams recommends starting small and trying out one new recipe either every week or once a month. The time commitment and lack of experience with a recipe can be overwhelming, and the last thing she wants is for frustration to discourage people from cooking.
For those who want to ease into healthy cooking, Williams suggests meal services, such as Plated, Blue Apron or Green Chef.
After taking one of the many classes offered at the Healthy Kitchen, ask for a tour of the resort; get a massage, facial and mani/pedi at the Indigo Spa; then have a meal at True, where in-house guests eat during their stay at Hilton Head Health.
“We don’t feed them four cups of kale eight times a day, and we don’t feed them cheeseburgers,” Williams said about program participants. “We know you’re going to go this way one day, maybe more this way one day, but if we can keep you relatively down the straight and narrow, and find a lifestyle within that you will maintain forever and ever, and enjoy, that’s what we’re looking for.”
DIY: Recipes from H3’s healthy kitchen
Coconut carrot curry soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups onion, peeled and diced
2 cups carrots, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon curry powder
3 cups water or vegetable stock
1/4 cup low fat canned coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
In a large soup pot; heat olive oil on medium heat. Add onions and carrots, sweat for about 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water, coconut milk, curry, salt and pepper. Turn heat down to low. Cook until carrots have softened, about 10 minutes. When the carrots are soft, allow soup to cool. Blend soup in batches in blender until smooth.
Serving Size: ½ cup
Fat: 3 grams
Sodium: 90 milligrams
Carbohydrates: 8 grams
Protein: 1 gram
Fiber: 2 grams
Spaghetti squash lasagna bowl
2 small spaghetti squash (about 1 1/2 pounds each)
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz. fresh spinach
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, dry
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 pound ground turkey breast
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut each squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds; discard. Place squash halves, cut sides up, on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes. Scrape inside of squash with a fork to remove spaghetti-like strands. Place spaghetti strands in a separate bowl. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan. Add garlic, turkey, marinara, and Italian seasoning. Cook turkey through. About 10 minutes. Add spinach, cook until it wilts. Add ricotta cheese. Remove from heat. In a large bowl combine; squash and ground turkey mixture. Evenly scoop mixture into squash halves.
Top each squash half with parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese. Bake at 425 for about 20 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.
Serving Size: ½ of spaghetti squash
Fat: 9 grams
Sodium: 630 milligrams
Carbohydrates: 28 grams
Protein: 25 grams
Fiber: 7 grams
Slow cooker coconut oatmeal
2 cups steel cut oats
1 can full fat coconut milk
8 cups water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup flax seeds, ground
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup shredded coconut flakes, unsweetened
In a slow cooker combine; oats, coconut milk, water, vanilla extract, flax seeds, and maple syrup. Turn slow cooker on low heat and allow to cook for 4 hours, or until oats reach a creamy consistency.
Serving Size: ½ cup
Fat: 12 grams
Sodium: 10 milligrams
Carbohydrates: 26 grams
Protein: 5 grams
Fiber: 4 gram