Functional Fresco!

Functional Fresco!
Nutrition Class Cooks up Gourmet Deliciousness
By Michael Hollerbach, DC Student

On a quiet Thursday evening in April a few fortunate people were invited to an outstanding healthy meal cooked up by the Quantity Food Production class in the Nutrition Department. The meal was prepared in the Nutrition Department kitchen and served in the Nutrition classroom behind the large glass windows adjacent to the cafe. The guest list included Dean of Undergraduate Studies Michael Smith, Vital Source staff, the wrestling team and various other lucky guests. A total of fifty meals were prepared as part of the class requirement.

The event was titled Functional Fresco and was a delicious array of freshly prepared healthy foods. It was an outstanding six course meal which included an appetizer, soup, salad, entree, dessert and a scrumptious Miso-Creamed Kale dish. All ingredients were chosen to provide the guests with the most nutritious balanced meal possible. The main course was a Preserved Lemon Relish Cod entrée which was a flavorful mix of sweetness with only a hint of fish taste. The guests were served buffet style with the nutrition students doing the serving and answering questions.

Along with the delicious dinner each guest was given a detailed menu with a list of the ingredients along with copies of the recipes for them to take home to recreate the deliciousness if they choose. In addition, each guest was given a pamphlet titled Functional Fresco which had all of the ingredients from the meal listed and a description of how these ingredients have healing benefits in the body. For example it stated: miso aids in the prevention of radiation injury and cancer; also acts as an anti-hypertensive. The guests were not only given a delicious healthy meal but, they were also educated on the benefits of choosing the right foods for a healthier body.

In addition to the Functional Fresco title, there was also a powerful enlightening motto for the event printed on the pamphlet. This motto can be used to educate every person who chooses what foods they put in their bodies. The motto was “The food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.”

When asked about her thoughts on the dinner, 10th quarter DC student Penny Aviles said, “I loved how the menu included literature on each of the ingredients and their benefits to our health. I think every restaurant should include that as a glossary in their menus to educate people on what they are eating.” Ms. Aviles went on to say, “The food was delicious, especially the Gazpacho, it was amazing. The students presented healthy food in a very tasty innovative way.”

Dietetics student Laura Gerhart was asked how the menu was decided. Laura replied, “The theme and various components of the menu were decided upon collaboratively by the class. The first step in our planning process was to collectively brainstorm and pitch menu theme ideas that we felt reflected our department’s nutritional expertise and values related to food’s crucial role in health. We all loved the idea of showcasing how functional, fresh ingredients can be combined in synergistic ways that were not only tasty, but also provided remarkable health benefits via their nutrients. After developing our menu items, we then realized that our theme provided a unique learning opportunity for our guests to gain a deeper understanding of the unique functionality of the ingredients we used.”

The remainder of the menu included the appetizer which was a Quinoa-Nectarine Salsa served with Crispy Spiced Tortilla Strips- a multi textured fruit dip with seasoned herbs and a spicy kick. The second course was a cold soup, Green Gazpacho, which is a bit unorthodox but nonetheless extremely tasty. “A surprising twist from your ordinary gazpacho, this features green grapes, cucumber, avocado, and an assortment of fresh herbs.” In addition the salad was a very fresh Fava Bean Salad with Fennel and Radish mixed with arugula and accented with walnuts and Romano cheese. Although every item on the menu was delicious in its own way, the most popular item was the Lime Cheesecake on Coconut Macadamia Crust. It was so deliciously sweet and refreshing many people ate two helpings.

The professor of the course, Denise Pickett-Bernard PhD, RDN, LDN, explained the details of the course. “NTR415 Quantity Food Preparation is required by students majoring in dietetics. Any student could enroll in the class if they met the prerequisites or by permission of the instructor. This particular class is fully enrolled with dietetics majors. The class is offered once per year.” Denise went on to say, “When I teach the class, I structure the preparation component to allow for two quantity meal preparation days, or dinner parties and one Cupcake War. This gives the students the opportunity to cook for 50 under the pressure of time constraints. With the Cupcake War, the students not only have to cook 200 cupcakes per team within the allotted time period; but their teams’ production will be judged with a winner as the outcome.

In closing Laura was then asked, what is the basis of the class and what are the learning outcomes? She said, “The basis of the class is to learn the principles and techniques of quantity food production with an emphasis on recipe development. However, Dr. Pickett-Bernard has expanded the course parameters to include hands-on experience and opportunities to utilize our skills to design healthy meals and serve the Life community.”

The Quantity Production class is offered each spring quarter and they cook two six course meals for the Life Community. If you are interested in learning more you can contact the Nutrition Department.

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