Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Final Meal

On Thursdays I bring a knife to school. Not because I'm afraid the ND students will bully me for some lunch money but because I start my day with Therapeutic Cooking class. Taking an 8am class has been a challenge for me ever since I started college, strange considering that throughout high school I left my house daily before 6:30am. Maybe that's precisely why I cannoy seem to get to early classes on time anymore - there's no school bus sitting idly outside my house, no mother screaming to me that everyone is waiting, no pressure but my own guilt for walking in late, missing pop quizzes and appearing inconsiderate and irresponsible. But I'm Jewish so living with guilt is a way of life and certainly not enough to get me out the door before 7:30 in the morning.

Today proved no different despite being my last day of school. I was running a bit late to meet my classmates Haleh, JoAnne and Julie with whom I'd be presenting our "final" meal. At my school we take cooking very seriously, and despite the fact that my very last final of spring quarter was not an exam, but involved cooking a meal, it was still a formidable task and presented the last divide between me and my summer vacation. If this seems totally kooky, let me me explain a bit more of what the project entailed. My group was given a case study and was assigned to prepare a meal for our client that would meet her nutritional needs and appeal to her personal preferences.

Rachel, 37 yo female, preparing for conception in 3 mos. Had 1 ovary removed in early 30's d/t ovarian cancer. Lived for 35y on cancer alley in LA. Weak, sluggish constitution. Has struggled with depression but has made huge improvements with counseling. Difficulty with boundaries and expressing emotions. Very motivated to make dietrary changes to support pregnancy and lactation. Eats a relatively healthy diet. Loves comfort foods: burgers, fries, chocolate yet limits secondary to nutrition knowledge.

So here's what we made:

Salmon Patties with Cucumber Salsa
Zucchini and Yam Fries with Gomasio
Braised Greens
Chocolate Berry Mousse with Coconut Whip
Chai Tea

We tried to recast her love for comfort foods in a nutrient dense way, including lots of protein, omega-3s, sea vegetables and antioxidants. The menu was anti-inflammatory and fairly hypoallergenic - pescatarian, gluten-free and dairy-free, though there was tofu in the mousse and eggs in the patties. After making our presentation to the class we got to sit down and enjoy our final meal together, mostly just smiling, savoring, "mmmm"-ing and congratulating ourselves on an awesome meal. Afterward we packed up leftovers, washed dishes and cleaned the kitchen. Not quite the same end of year feeling as completing a final exam, throwing papers in the year and running out into the sunshine. But now I'm officially on summer vacation until the last week in September, and that tastes pretty darn good.


  1. wow! that menu sounds amazing - i feel like you really nailed the needs of that patient. i'm glad "she" gets to incorporate chocolate berry mouse with coconut whip. can you post the recipe so i can incorporate it, too? ;)

  2. Can you make some coconut whip for Benny?

  3. It's a PCC recipe:

    Yeah, I hear Benny is a fan of the coconut. Served on paper plates.