Syosset Hospital chefs took first prize at a competition designed to inspire creativity and nutritional awareness at Glen Cove Hospital.
The event was the second for the North Shore LIJ Healthcare System. Organizer Michael Kiley, director of food services at Glen Cove Hospital, started it in March 2012 to mark National Nutrition Month.
Two-person teams from various LIJ hospitals participated, crafting gourmet dishes that adhered to strict limits on calories, sodium and fat.
"It's all about these guys do what they do to show you can make healthy food that's good," said Debra Epstein, chief dietician at Glen Cove Hospital. "It can be really delicious. The chefs are very talented, and this really gives them a chance to show what they can do."
She said the pairing of chefs with dieticians is key to making the chefs more aware of the nutritional contents of their creations, knowledge they can take back to their respective hospital kitchens.
Lyndon Espiritu was one of Glen Cove Hospital's chefs. He and his partner, Tony Meo, created a dish they called Napoleon tofu diablo with whole wheat couscous and pecans. They included a salad of mango, apples, celery and carrots drizzled with a bit of lemon juice and olive oil.
For the recipe, see the attached PDF.
"We're trying to create the five senses of taste," Espiritu said. They chose tofu as their protein alternative to chicken, which Espiritu said is always being used as the "healthy" protein. "We wanted to improve creativity."
Syosset Hospital's Russell Ficke and Xavier Haynes took first place with a filet mignon plate, with Staten Island and Lenox Hill Hospitals coming in second and third.
Epstein said the competition's most important message is that choosing healthier foods isn't a choice against enjoying what you eat.
"People have this mindset that healthy food doesn't taste good. A diet must not get boring. It's about balance and variety," she said.
For more information from the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System on healthy eating, visit vivohealth.com.