LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Unhealthy habits don't just raise the risk for a number of chronic diseases, like diabetes and heart disease - they are also expensive. The annual health cost of obesity in this country is as much as $147 billion. But some simple changes in how you cook and eat can make a big difference in your waistline and overall health.
At their "day jobs" Eric Cormier and Brad Puckett write and shoot for the American Press. Eric's known around the area for his "Spice of Life" food column and Brad is his picture-taking sidekick taking in the flavors of Southwest Louisiana - that unfortunately can be less than healthy at times. "Historically, the food that we eat is healthy," says Eric, "it's what we add to it that sometimes goes a little overboard."
So to kick the taste and health of some favorite dishes up a notch, Eric and Brad are trying their hands at a new task: teaching healthy cooking classes at Pure Foods. "If you eat healthier, you're going to feel better," says Brad, "and you'll just have a better outlook on life."
These "chefs" say healthier choices start before you walk into the kitchen. "When I cook, it starts at the store," says Brad, "I pick out healthier ingredients, which leads to healthier menus."
For a dish like their veggie stir-fry, dashes of seasonings mixed with fresh vegetables give a sizzling, healthy addition to any menu. "We throw in some garlic powder, some ginger powder and some cayenne to kick it up a notch," says Eric.
Simple ingredient substitutions can cut calories and fat. "For a salt substitution, you can use citrus juices like lemon, lime, orange juice, grapefruit juice to get that acidic taste in your food. When it comes to cayenne, you can just about have all the red pepper you want, because red pepper is good for the digestive system."
After Jeanette Franklin's bout with breast cancer two years ago, she made the decision to start cooking healthier and has seen more benefits than her 30 pound weight loss. "I feel great, I have more energy," says Franklin, "I love my new life, I love the way I eat. People love to say, 'I live to eat,' and I say, 'I eat to live.'"
That's what these guys say it's all about: better eating, better living. "When it comes to life, if you add a little spice to it, it makes things great!" says Eric.
For more information on upcoming cooking classes at Pure Foods, call 905-9893.
Here's an awesome veggie recipe from Eric and Brad:
(Makes 4-6 servings)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
8 oz. white mushrooms, sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
2 c. vegetable stock
14 oz. canned stewed tomatoes
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 large green plantain, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp freshly ground red pepper
½ tsp sea salt
In large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, mushrooms and jalapenos and cook, stirring often, until vegetables begin to soften, about 7 minutes. Stir in vegetable stock, stewed tomatoes, carrots, plantain, potato and seasonings and bring to a simmer. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until potato and carrots are tender, about 25 minutes. Serve hot. Can be eaten alone or with rice.