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Developing Accessible Recipes

The importance of a healthy diet cannot be understated.  We sometimes take for granted how difficult it can be to eat healthy on a regular basis.  Think for a moment about your own diet.  Do you regularly make healthy choices when it comes to your meals?  How often do you go out to eat each week?  Do you know where to shop for healthy options?  Do you feel comfortable making at least a few healthy meals for yourself and loved ones? I know I can certainly improve on my own habits.

As physicians, we are lucky to spend more than a few minutes with our patients speaking about what constitutes healthy food choices- and even then, we usually only scratch the surface.  What we think of as healthy foods may not always resonate with certain geographical, cultural, or personal preferences.  With all these things in mind, I thought it may be helpful to create a list of healthy recipes using ‘staple’ food items- products that can be easily obtained regardless of location.

Staple foods are such that are eaten routinely in large quantities by a significant portion of any given population as a main source of calories.  I spent some time investigating the staple foods all around the world, and I was surprised to find a good amount of overlap.  In the end, I selected 10 total ingredients to use as the base ingredients: rice, milk, eggs, bread, fish, edamame (soy), potato, chicken, corn, and fruit (banana, apple, orange most common).  These are all readily available in and around our community, and many of us already have these ingredients in our homes.  As part of the NJHCN grant, we are developing a cook book with ‘food maps’ that will pinpoint locations for purchasing fresh but inexpensive staple items. This will reinforce the nutrition education and allow families to see options for healthy eating on a budget.

Over the last couple of months, I have been developing a list of recipes using several principles: 1.) at least one of the staple ingredients should be the main ingredient, 2.) the recipe should be simple and healthy, 3.) it should taste good!  In the end, the goal is to create streamlined, affordable, and healthy options for program participants and our community partners to utilize to reinforce the concept of healthy eating.  It has been exceptionally fun, and I look forward to sharing more!

The program is supported by funding from Atlantic Health System as part of the New Jersey Healthy Communities Network.

About the Grantee

Overlook Family Medicine - Family Promise Union County Health Education Partnership

The Overlook Family Medicine-Family Promise Union County Health Education Partnership began in 2016. It aims are to meet identified community health needs, improve screening for preventable illnesses, & provide education that empowers the community to achieve their health goals. This blog post is courtesy of Dr. Charles Becker, a 3rd year Family Medicine Resident at Overlook Family Medicine.