Has your New Year’s resolution to eat healthier already fallen off the proverbial table? Do you still have the will – but not the proper insight and plan?
Registered dietitian Benjamin Glurich can help. The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County community nutrition educator – an adjunct professor at Trocaire College – will teach three “Healthy Lifestyles” cooking classes in the coming weeks, starting this weekend. Register for the three-hour classes at Trocaire.edu/WD or stop in to the first class, “Eat Right 101,” Saturday in the school’s teaching kitchen at 6681 Transit Road, Lancaster. “The classes will be fun, interactive and hands-on,” said Glurich, 37, of North Tonawanda, a graduate of the Niagara County Community College culinary program who has worked in the industry for almost two decades.
Q. What will the first class be like?
It will be a basic overview of nutrition. We’ll talk about the My Plate, the food groups, why it’s important to get a good variety of foods in your diet, what healthy eating is. I’ll answer questions about current diet fads that are out there and teach the basics of nutrition and cooking. We’ll talk about knife skills, food safety and basic techniques. We’ll focus on that so that it’s not just recipe-based, so those who take the class will be able to apply what they’ve learned to whatever they’re going to be making in the future.
Q. What will the $32 cost for each class include?
It will be hands-on. It will include any handouts or recipes, and they’ll get to eat whatever we make.
Q. The second class on Feb. 4 is going to be on Super Bowl eating. What are the guiding principles when it comes to throwing a healthy Super Bowl party?
It’ll be about what you can swap out in your recipes. For example, a lot of people like to do a Buffalo chicken wing dip. I have a recipe for a spicy white bean dip but we’re going to change it into a bean and chicken dip and take out some of the fat and other things that wouldn’t be as healthy.
Q. The third class Feb. 18 is going to be a “Heart Healthy Meals in 30 Minutes.”
We’re going to focus on quick, simple meals that you can make following the Mediterranean and the DASH diets, which are recognized for being great for heart health. We’re going to concentrate on healthy fats, cooking with less sodium and things to have on hand so you can throw a quick meal together and have it be healthy overall but a little more focused on heart health.
Q. You're a member of the boards of the Western New York and state Dietetic Associations. What do you do in those roles?
I’m the public policy co-chair of the Western New York Dietetic Association. I raise awareness among the dietetic community about what’s going on as far as policies that affect our profession. I also communicate to the community about what dietitians can do and what we offer. At the state level, I’m part of the coordinating counsel along with [Trocaire Nutrition and Dietetics Program Director] Nicole Klem. We are co-chairs and represent dietetic technicians, which have similar training and supervised practice. Right now we’re trying to figure out what they want in terms of representation from the state and the district level because the position is undergoing some changes.
Q. What is your philosophy when it comes to healthy eating?
Try to stick with something that’s small and achievable, whether it’s trying to give up soda or trying to include an extra serving of vegetables twice a week instead of trying to change everything all at once. I’ve seen a lot of success with that.
Q. What do you consider the healthiest three food groups?
Obviously fruits and vegetables. That’s the one we hear most about. All the statistics we see are that Americans don’t get enough of them. They’re such nutritional powerhouses, they’re really simple to prepare and they can be eaten in so many different ways. Protein is important, too. You can overdo but lean protein is important. And I know carbs get a bad rap but I think it’s important to make good choices with carbs: choosing a whole grain over white bread, something like that.
Q. What tend to be the staples of your diet?
When I eat protein, I try to make it lean. Chicken breasts. Fish when I can get it in. I do include things like peanut butter. I have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich almost every day, always on 100 percent whole wheat bread. Eating foods you enjoy is part of my philosophy. You don’t have to buy exotic ingredients. I’m a little lax on the vegetable side but I get a lot of fruit in during the day. I’m working on getting more vegetables. Even dietitians have trouble sometimes.
Q. Any foods you tend to avoid?
There’s nothing I avoid. It’s more portions. I allow myself to have the things that I like but try not to go overboard. If I go to someone else’s house for a football game, I’ll try to have one slice of pizza and a couple wings instead of eating five slices of pizza and a plateful of wings. I try to balance it throughout the rest of the day by making smart choices, as well.
Q. The food you know you should avoid but can’t resist?
Chocolate is my weakness. I do tell the classes, “If you can eat it with slice of fruit, a little bit of Nutella on some apple slices, that’s better.”