For some restaurants, it’s not easy being greenDiabetic Chef teaches restaurateurs not to be afraid to put a little green on the menu
What meal appears healthier: tater tot hotdish or an oriental salad? Well, reality doesn’t always match appearances, at least not in the case of two local restaurateurs’ offerings. Chris Smith, known as The Diabetic Chef, made that case Tuesday during the second of a two-day stay in Roseau to teach locals how to eat healthier. Local restaurant cooks were the students Tuesday.
By: Ryan Bakken, Grand Forks Herald
ROSEAU, Minn. — What meal appears healthier: tater tot hotdish or an oriental salad?
Well, reality doesn’t always match appearances, at least not in the case of two local restaurateurs’ offerings. Chris Smith, known as The Diabetic Chef, made that case Tuesday during the second of a two-day stay in Roseau to teach locals how to eat healthier. Local restaurant cooks were the students Tuesday.
Smith’s breakdown found that the Brickhouse Bar and Grille’s oriental salad had 1,032 calories, more than twice that of the tater tot noon special at Nelson’s Café. The perceived healthier option also had more carbs, more fat and more sodium.
The readings of the Brickhouse’s most popular menu item didn’t take head cook Henry Shepard by surprise. “It’s pretty much sugar and mayo,” he said.
Shepard was attentive because he was diagnosed as diabetic five years ago, when he also suffered a heart attack. He has lost more than 100 pounds since then.
Smith, a 45-year-old who was diagnosed as diabetic 18 years ago, specializes in healthy eating. But his first complaint was about the name of the salad.
“A noodle does not make something an oriental salad,” he said. “If you want to have an Asian salad, you’d better have stuff in it that’s Asian.”
Julie Nelson, the Brickhouse’s catering manager, used humor as a defense. “It’s a Scandinavian oriental salad,” she said.
Smith revised the ingredients, including nixing the Chinese noodles and adding cabbage, almonds, mushrooms, green onions, green peppers and red peppers.
“We found all of the ingredients at the local grocery store and now have something that goes with the name,” he said. “We lowered the fat, lowered the carbs significantly, lowered the sodium significantly and raised the flavor.”
Larry Rose, owner and chief cook at Nelson’s Café, noted that local appetites don’t always trend toward healthy foods. “The more green you put on something, the less people in this area like it,” he said.
Smith responded that restaurants should lure customers into healthier eating by providing free samples. He also had high praise for the two restaurants after eating two meals at each during his stay. He said the Brickhouse’s steak was outstanding and that Rose’s “chicken vegetable soup brought me back to my grandma.”
Smith was brought to Roseau by LifeCare Medical Center. In addition to training local cooks, he spoke to about 250 people Monday night. He told them that 26 million Americans have diabetes, with one-third of them unaware they have the disease.
Reach Bakken at (701) 780-1125; (800) 477-6572, ext. 125; or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.