This week I have been teaching the first week of the first clinical elective in culinary medicine in a U.S. Medical School (in Santa Barbara: I love it when students create special circumstances outside of their curriculum). Michael Roizen and I taught the first clinical cooking and nutrition 2 week course onsite at SUNY-Upstate, in winter, and we might have called it culinary medicine, but didn’t. What a blast!
Other than Des Moines University School of Osteopathic Medicine, I think only Tulane offers an elective in culinary medicine (to first and second year students: they have a super well-endowed teaching kitchen and a supportive dean…so glad they’re doing it.) My alma mater Baylor College of Medicine offers a CHEF elective (a series of cooking classes) to basic science students, as has the University of Maryland, the University of Massachusetts and Vanderbilt. There’s even been a culinary competition at Stanford among med students.
Culinary medicine means blending the art of cooking and the culinary arts with the science and practice of medicine, and aims to offer delicious menus, recipes, habits and research findings which prevent and treat disease.
So we’ve spent this week reviewing its basic culinary applications (cooking, shopping, eating, menu design, recipe planning, gardening and eating) with basic medical science (nutrition, physiology, chemistry…and plant and animal nutrition, physiology and chemistry, and their interactions).
We also looked at the impact of hunger in the community, and efforts to combat hunger, obesity, and their derivative illnesses, especially in underpriviliged and medically indigent populations. We’re using my ChefMD’s Big Book of Culinary Medicine as a primary text, and supplementing with many peer-reviewed articles, websites and recommended apps. I’d like to offer the latter on prescription slips for clinicians, if there is interest.
Here for example is Day 1: it started with Alice Waters giving a talk on the importance of integration of culinary skill at all levels (I moderated the dialogue afterwards, at UCSB’s Campbell Hall: also a blast); and then, as you can see from my day 1 handwritten curriculum, we moved to scientific paper and book analyses, seeing patients, and visiting the hospital gift shop, where we found food for sale.
We then met up with the hospital’s culinary director (with whom I arranged a rotation, to see what really goes on in a conscious hospital’s kitchen), and mentioned the treats, left: rice krispies, brownies, more.
They’re working on getting healthier food all around, he said, but people like them…he only had so much say-so. (Really? I thought)(The hospital has come a long way in a short time)(It used to offer cheeseburgers after coronary bypass)(Next month, maybe).
We then cooked for a full day, working on knife skills, the relationship between the garden, orchard, apiary and the kitchen, and creating an entire menu of beverage, appetizer and entree, largely from onsite organic produce. Below is the Rincon Hass Guacamole with Pink Lemonade Zest and Wild Radish Flowers (below, right).
There were no lacerations, I’m happy to report, and we’re entering week 2: stay tuned!
Balancing flavor in a dish; roasting, steaming and grilling; appropriate communication techniques with patients aiming to solve common problems such as obesity and hypertension; and an extensive farmer’s market tour with teaching about nutritional content are upcoming.
Now it’s off to speak to the Next Generation Summit on “The Biology of Weight and Why Women are the Key”: looking forward to these bright entrepreneurs and their ideas.
This short talk is a tad longer than my The Biology of Weight: What Men Need to Lose the Gut at SXSW which I gave in March.
I focus both of these talks down into a simple get strong and healthy plan for men in “Refuel”, coming at the end of the year: sneak peek: http://RefuelMen.com