From The North Shore Weekend newspaper
Two weeks ago, attendees in their evening best descended on the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago for a $500-a-plate benefit dinner. Instead of veal shanks or prime rib however (aka the usual black-tie gala fare), benefit-goers were treated to a colorful plateful of vegetables, forbidden black rice, and to top it off, a miso-marinated black cod with Umami sauce.
Light fare. Clean food. A plate chock full of phytonutrients and Omega-3 fatty acids, or the equivalent of the necessary fuel the body needs. In other words, the benefit dinner for Northwestern Medicine’s Osher Center for Integrative Medicine practiced (and served) what it preaches: a mixed diet that can lead to a long, heart-happy life.
“We recommend a colorful plate, a plate of many colors; colorful fruits and vegetables,” said Karen Malkin, an integrative health and lifestyle practitioner from Glencoe and one of two benefit co-chairs of the evening. “Because each color has a different health benefit for you.”
Malkin (along with co-chair Dr. Tara Demarco) designed the benefit’s health-conscious menu from Dr. Andrew Weil’s cookbook: True Food. Weil, the night’s keynote speaker, is a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine and a holistic health advocate, and is also the founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine where Malkin studied.
Weil oversees a website (Dr.Weil.com) and the non-profit organization the Weil Foundation, with the goal of transforming healthcare. His newest foray is into the restaurant business, where the good doctor has opened a chain of restaurants under the name True Food Kitchen. (One will be coming to Chicago in 2016.) Its food is described as being “great-tasting, globally inspired cuisine that nourishes body, mind and spirit.”
But you don’t have to be a die-hard Yogi to dine at True Food Kitchen, just as the night’s attendees didn’t have to be die-hard holistic gurus to enjoy the fare and hor d’oeuvres.
“Every piece of food and also the drinks were thoughtfully created to really help promote health and reduce inflammation, so this is an anti-inflammatory menu,” said Malkin. But it’s also about good tasting food as well. Purple eggplants; red, yellow and green peppers; sautéed mushrooms; and mixed berries for dessert. That’s not even mentioning the cocktails. “I call [them] ‘mocktails,’” laughed Malkin. Cardio-blast “pomatini” and Virgin Mary’s loaded with lycopene and vitamin C.
Of the 500 guests, each left with a copy of Weil’s new cookbook Fast Food, Good Food. But more than that, they left with something even more valuable. They left with the confidence that they were going to add more leafy greens to their diets, or maybe that they were going to add more turmeric—the ballpark yellow spice typically found in curry (and a powerful anti-inflammatory agent)—to their food.
But above all, added Malkin, if they weren’t before, certainly they were “energized and empowered to make some changes in their own health and own life.”
For more health-conscious recipes, visit karenmalkin.com/recipes or drweil.com/drw/ecs/common/recipe.
“This signature True Food Kitchen preparation showcases one of my favorite fish: black cod. A sustainable deep-water species from Alaska, black cod is mild and buttery, with a higher omega-3 content than salmon. The dish … is a best seller at all of our locations, an attractive presentation that is rich and satisfying, yet clean and light at the same time.” – Dr. Andrew Weil
True Food Kitchen’s Miso Marinade (makes 1½ cups)
½ cup mirin
½ cup white (shiro) miso
½ cup evaporated cane sugar
- Whisk together all of the miso marinade ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use.
Miso-Marinated Black Cod and Vegetables
4 (5- to 6-ounce) black cod fillets
1 cup Dashi
8 heads baby bok choy, halved
1 cup roasted mushrooms
- Arrange the fish in a single layer in a shallow baking pan. Using your hands, rub the miso marinade all over each piece of fish. Wash your hands. Let the fish marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours in the refrigerator.
- Preheat the oven to broil.
- Remove the fish the from the refrigerator and pour ½ cup of the Dashi into the baking pan. Broil the fish for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the desired doneness. The fish will continue to cook once removed from the boiler.
- While the fish is cooking, place the bok choy halves in a skillet, and add the remaining ½ cup Dashi. Cover and steam over medium-high heat until cooked but still crunchy, about 3 minutes. Add the roasted mushrooms and heat them through. Place the vegetables and broth in heated bowls. Add the cod and serve.