Culinary Institute of America Expands Healthy Eating Curriculum

Skills I Class with Chef Martin FreiThe Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, NY, is featuring more plant-based foods and whole grains in its teaching kitchens than ever before. CIA students pursuing a bachelor’s degree are now learning to bring health and wellness to their future customers through such courses as The Science of Nutrition, Flavor Science and Perception, Consumer Behavior, and Foodservice Management in Health Care.

“Health in food has never been sexy, but now it’s about foods with great flavor being naturally better,” says chef Brendan Walsh, culinary dean at CIA. “If our students have never tried red quinoa, farro, wheat berries, or amaranth, tasting these foods gives them a chance to be creative and see the possibilities of including more plant-based foods in their cooking.”

These additions to the curriculum come out of the CIA’s thought leadership conferences, examining such topics as “Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives,” “Menus of Change,” and “Healthy Flavors, Healthy Kids.” Industry leaders at these summits discuss wellness issues facing American families and how chefs can be part of the solution. The CIA works with the Harvard School of Public Health on several of these initiatives.

“The relationship between what we eat and our well-being is now talked about in the mainstream medical community,” Walsh says. “Eating can be a preventative practice, and we in the food world can make a huge difference.”

Because not every recipe or regional cuisine lends itself to healthier ingredients, the CIA teaches that portion size and side dishes can help to balance a meal. Examples of making recipes healthier include replacing the cheese and butter in a classic risotto with a white bean purée and vegetables, and introducing brown rice to cuisines in which white rice has been a staple. The idea is to teach students that healthier options don’t mean sacrificing flavor.

As quality ingredients become more “center-plate,” Walsh notes, chefs will become less reliant on fattening sauces and use herbs or lemon juice to accent natural flavors. “The people who employ our graduates are more aware than ever of health and wellness,” he says, “and they want them to know both how to cook healthier and why it’s important.”

Founded in 1946, CIA is an independent, not-for-profit college offering associate and bachelor’s degrees with majors in culinary arts, baking and pastry arts, and culinary science, as well as certificate programs in culinary arts and wine and beverage studies. The college also offers courses for professionals and enthusiasts, as well as consulting services that support innovation in the foodservice and hospitality industries.

The Culinary Institute of America is located at 1946 Campus Dr. in Hyde Park, NY, with additional campuses in CA, TX, and Singapore. For more info, call 845.452.9600 or visit


Couples Cooking Class and Thanksgiving Veggies at Hilltop Hanover Farm

Hilltop Hanover FarmOn Friday, November 18, 2013, Hilltop Hanover Farm continues its “Couples Cooking” series with Karen Symington Muendell, chef and owner at Serves You Right, Culinary. Couples can attend to learn how to cook several healthy and delicious restaurant-quality dishes from scratch.

A graduate of The French Culinary Institute (now the International Culinary Center) and founder of the Yorktown Farmers’ Market, Muendell’s specialty is farm-to-table cooking with a Creole flair. The event begins at 7 p.m., the fee is $75 per couple and participants can bring a bottle of wine to accompany their homemade meal. The class is limited to 12 couples, and online registration is required at

Those thinking ahead to Thanksgiving may also wish to order a Vegetable Box from Hilltop Hanover Farm. The boxes feature seasonal favorites grown with organic methods and a small book of recipes for side dishes to serve four people. The vegetables, presented in Hilltop Hanover totes, will be ready for pick-up on the Tuesday prior to Thanksgiving. Items may include Brussels sprouts, squash, potatoes, carrots, braising greens, salad mixes, herbs, cabbage, turnip, fennel and more. To order a box, complete the application found at or visit the farm office.

Hilltop Hanover Farm is located at 1271 Hanover St. in Yorktown Heights, NY. For more information, call 914.962.2368 or visit