The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


January 1, 2014

Go Lean, Get Lucky

Have a hoppin’ New Year with comfort food re-dos

Editor’s Note: Recipes by Devin Godbey and Jamie Hamilton-Pratt, UC - Beckley Culinary Program


Food is more than fuel — it is experience. We don’t live to eat, but eating is an undeniably essential and anticipated part of life. Enjoying what we eat while maintaining a healthy weight shouldn’t be mutually exclusive.

Many a diet has failed from ill-fated attempts at tossing foods we’ve loved forever overboard. UC-Beckley Culinary Director Devin Godbey chose food, at least the thoughtful preparation of it, as a career long ago. Godbey’s experience proves there are ways to prepare the comforting dishes we desire through the careful choosing and sometimes swapping of ingredients, always with the end results served in modest measure.

For example, “A little bacon or even turkey bacon can elevate a dish and still be healthy,” she stated.

If Devin chooses to add fat to a dish, she measures in smaller amounts of flavorful fat, versus drowning dishes in unnecessary oils, a hallmark of old-style comfort foods.

Shortcuts taken with her new year, new you versions of traditional favorites include modestly portioned corned beef atop unbuttered cooked cabbage, infused with flavor from stock and spices.

Cooked cabbage is a traditional Irish dish with good-luck potential when eaten in the New Year; Devin’s remake doesn’t lose flavor or favor without the oil slick.

“Sometimes, just adding a good stock will take the place of butter,” Devin said.  

For her cornbread accompaniment, she completely omitted fat and used applesauce instead, also folding in one egg white and one whole egg, avoiding the cholesterol added by using two whole eggs.

“For many recipes calling for eggs, you can use egg whites only, or half and half — one egg whole, one white. Fruit purees or lowfat yogurt can be substituted for butter when baking,” Devin suggested.

Another trick to maximizing flavor and minimizing fat is to keep plenty of flavor-rich fresh herbs on hand in the kitchen, like the thyme and parsley used in Devin’s healthy redo of Hoppin’ John, a Low Country dish with African-American roots, also believed to be lucky to those who consume it around New Year’s Day.

“I used ham hock for flavoring only, but you can also choose a leaner meat …” (like turkey bacon).

For more of Devin’s recipes, look for your free copy of Thrive magazine’s January/February issue. Thrive is sampled inside The Register-Herald to select areas and is available in medical businesses, offices, clinics and hospitals throughout southern West Virginia. Copies are also available at Beckley Newspapers, Inc. offices at 801 N. Kanawha Street, Beckley.

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