For many years, Keri Buhman has served decadent French-inspired dishes like ham-and-Gruyere crepes at C’est La Vie in Hazel Dell.
She recently completed training to become a nutritional therapy practitioner. Not only does she love food, now she better understands how it affects the body. She’s added a new business to her portfolio called Mirabelle Nutritional Therapy.
“I don’t want people to think it’s a weight-loss program,” Buhman said. “You can have a perfect diet but won’t be healthy if there are other things like stress and the things we perceive as stress.”
Buhman listed liver health, hormone health, gut health and muscle mass as other things that affect overall well-being. But healthy and delicious meals are key.
Buhman recommends cutting out refined sugars, refined flours and conventionally raised animal protein.
“I suggest eating grass-fed, pasture raised, and wild,” she said. “The main reason is that conventionally raised meats aren’t eating what they’re supposed to eat and that gives these animals inflammation and we eat the inflammation.”
In addition, she encourages people to read labels on everything. Even simple foods can still have chemicals added to stabilize them on a grocery store shelf. If you don’t recognize something that is listed on a label, don’t eat it the food inside.
These rules may at first seem limiting, but the healthy meals that Buhman has added to her marketplace menu at C’est La Vie prove nutritious food can be delicious. Recent offerings include stacked salads with quinoa, veggies and citrus dressing, as well as coconut chia pudding with cherries and Madison Park granola.
Here are Buhman’s tips for making healthy and delicious dishes.
- Satisfy sweet and salty cravings with real foods.
Dates provide a nutrient-rich alternative to refined sugars. They can be cooked down and blended into a date syrup, added to smoothies, or chopped in half and filled with cashew butter then sprinkled with sea salt. Eating dates satisfies a sweet tooth but won’t lead to overeating like craveable refined sugar sweets such as gummy bears.
“Anything ultraprocessed, you can mindlessly eat but you won’t overeat dates,” Buhman said. Nuts similarly satisfy cravings for salty and crunchy foods. These whole foods signal fullness in a way that isn’t replicated by ultraprocessed foods that lead the body to overconsume.
- Layer flavors to build a tasty and healthy meal.
Nature offers many flavor enhancers. Whole grains like farro can add nuttiness to dishes. Fresh herbs blended into rich sauces like pesto and chimichurri, spices like turmeric and blends like za’atar add flavor as well as nutrition. Good oils like coconut, avocado and extra-virgin olive oil add satisfying and healthful fats. Combining all these things, as well as citrus juice and zest, adds layers of flavors to vegetables, grains and proteins.
- Two simple cooking skills add flavor to veggies.
Two techniques will enhance vegetable-heavy meals — roasting your veggies and making your own vinaigrette. Every vegetable can either be chopped up and placed in a salad or roasted. When making a salad, homemade vinaigrette can make the difference between a sad salad and a delicious meal. Put Dijon mustard, vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper in a Mason jar and shake it. This produces a zesty but neutral vinaigrette that goes well on any salad.
The other easy method for amplifying flavor is to roast vegetables in the oven. Simply cut vegetables into cubes, throw them on a baking pan, then sprinkle with extra-virgin olive oil and salt. A hot oven caramelizes the outside into crunchiness while leaving the inside tender and creamy.
- Get a good knife and keep sharp.
“Chopping vegetables has become therapeutic for me,” Buhman said. It’s helpful to do some prep if you want to add more fiber and nutrient-filled produce to your meals. A sharp knife makes this easier. Having containers of fruits and veggies that are ready to eat or cook saves time and makes it more likely they’ll be consumed.