In the Kitchen with Kit Broihier, MS, RD, LD and Kimberly Mayone
In the Kitchen
April 29, 2012
What is the main focus of your cooking?
Mayone: Our home cooking tends to be easy, healthy and budget-friendly, and we really try to incorporate a lot of vegetables into our meals. My children and husband help with the meal planning with each person picking one meal per week. The remaining three nights are chef’s pick.
Broihier: My go-to weeknight menus are ones that are easily customized for the individual. My daughter doesn’t eat much meat, my son does, and I choose my carbs more carefully than the kids tend to do. Things like main-dish salads with a variety of toppings, or a slow-cooked dish with a supplementary salad or coleslaw and an add-on carb for the kids seem to work best for us.
Is there a particular nutritional focus of your menus?
Mayone: Obviously, if you’re gluten-free, then gluten-free is your focus. Beyond that, I tend to focus on whole foods and lots of vegetables. We eat meatless once or twice a week at my house.
Broihier: Protein and produce are my focuses at home, and like Kim’s family, we eat meatless twice a week or more. That means I give some thought to protein-providing, non-meat foods that my kids will enjoy, which means beans, quinoa, dairy, etc.
What are the major concerns today of your readers when it comes to making gluten-free meals?
Mayone: Home cooks are looking for ingredients that are easy to find and for meals that are safe to eat but also taste delicious. I try to approach gluten-free cooking with an enthusiastic “Look at all the foods that you can eat!” attitude.
Broihier: A couple of concerns among gluten-free eaters are availability of ingredients – which gets better every day really – and cost. Gluten-free foods and ingredients can be pricey, but they don’t have to be.
How are you addressing these concerns?
Mayone: When developing gluten-free recipes, we work hard to keep all home cooks in mind. Many of us city dwellers have easy access to gluten-free ingredients, but other folks may live miles from a grocery store and may have to rely on mail-order gluten-free ingredients, which ups their cost. We intentionally used every day, easy to find ingredients in our book.
Broihier: People who are new to a gluten-free diet have to become diligent label readers, but once they establish a repertoire of safe ingredients and recipes, gluten-free home cooking becomes much easier.
How important is sustainability?
Mayone: Sustainability is a very big concept that can be difficult to understand. The good news is that small steps can make a big difference. Simple things like making a proper space for recycling in the kitchen foster sustainability. Growing a small garden is also an excellent first step towards sustainability, even if it is only tomato plants in big pots and a potted herb garden.
Broihier: Shopping locally is getting easier all the time, now that many supermarkets label their produce and dairy products with tags indicating where they were grown – we love that because it gives the convenience of a supermarket with the local focus of a farmer’s market. We also love farmer’s markets, by the way, and this year I started going to a winter farmer’s market – something pretty new for Maine!
What steps do you take toward conservation in your meal planning?
Mayone: I try to incorporate ingredients from one meal into another. I often bake more potatoes than I need so I do not have to heat the oven twice. I also cook twice as many beans as I need for a recipe, then the leftover beans are turned into a spread or added to soup. Leftover vinaigrette is often turned into a marinade for grilled chicken.
Broihier: Buying seasonal ingredients, like fresh peas in the spring and squash in the late summer and fall, is a practice that’s worth incorporating into one’s life as it not only helps conserve fuel, it frequently means the products are less packaged, too. It also supports local farms, which is a conservation measure in itself.
Why do you think gluten-free eating has become so popular even for consumers that are not gluten intolerant?
Mayone: There is no question that gluten-free eating is on an upward trend. People who follow a gluten-free diet are more diligent about their overall diet. The focus becomes eating more vegetables and fruits and fewer sweets and processed foods. Many people, including my husband who does not have celiac disease, feel better and more energetic when following a gluten-free diet.
Broihier: When avoiding gluten, it is necessary to stop eating conventional bread, pasta and many desserts. These gluten-laden foods are often replaced with healthier choices that rely on alternative and whole grains and fruit. People make friends with potatoes again, which is great because they are highly nutritious and versatile. Switches like these become no-brainers for the gluten-avoiding crowd, and making them tends to boost the nutritional quality of most peoples’ diets. This, in turn, gives people a renewed interest in their overall diet quality, and that can also make them feel better about what they’re eating.
Since many gluten-free products available in stores are not enriched, how can gluten-free eaters ensure that their nutritional needs are being met?
Broihier: A good way to approach gluten-free eating is to consider it an opportunity to better one’s entire relationship with food. It’s a time to really examine what it is you’re eating day in and day out, and whether that is really doing your body any good in the long run. Beyond label reading, consideration to overall quality is essential. Simply switching gluten-free cookies for regular cookies will solve the gluten issue, but does nothing to improve the diet quality issue. One of the most basic but most effective ways to boost nutritional quality of a diet is to put the emphasis on whole foods – this alone is a major adjustment for some people. None of this has to be daunting, though it’s common to feel a bit overwhelmed initially. There are many great resources available for gluten-free eaters now, including books and websites.