The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

January 1, 2014

Go Lean, Get Lucky

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

By Lisa Shrewsberry
Lifestyles Editor

— 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.


Hoppin’ John

Yield: 4 servings

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 ham hock (for flavoring -- or can substitute a leaner meat)

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1 cup chopped red bell pepper

1/2 cup green onion

1/2 cup blanched green beans

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

2 cups cooked and chilled black-eyed peas

1 cup steamed white or brown rice (can be made ahead and refrigerated)

2 cups chicken stock

Bay leaf

1 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon chopped parsley

Salt and pepper (to taste)

1. Heat oil and sear the ham hock on all sides in a large skillet.

2. Add garlic, red onion, pepper and beans and sauté for 5-8 minutes.

3. Add peas, stock and seasonings. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to simmer.

4. Simmer for 40-60 minutes or until all ingredients are tender; stir periodically and continue to add stock as needed.

5. Serve over cooked, heated rice and garnish with parsley and green onions.


Healthful Buttermilk Cornbread

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup cornmeal

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 whole egg

1 egg white

1 cup low-fat buttermilk

1/4 cup natural applesauce

1. Blend all dry ingredients together.

2. Mix all wet ingredients together.

3. Add wet mixture to the dry and stir to combine.

4. Bake at 425 degrees in an iron skillet or portioned into a muffin pan until golden brown and cooked through.

5. Baking times will vary based on choice of baking vessel (30-40 minutes skillet; 20-25 minutes muffin pan).


Warm Cabbage Salad

Yield: 5 servings

1/4 cup diced bacon

1/4 cup diced red onion

2 cloves minced garlic

1/4 cup chicken stock

4 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1/2 head napa or savoy cabbage, chiffonade

3/4 teaspoon caraway seeds

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1. Sauté bacon in a skillet until crisp. Remove from pan and drain on towels.

2. Add garlic and onion to pan and sauté until onions are translucent.

3. Combine stock, sugar and vinegar in small bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar and add it to the pan along with cabbage and seasonings.

4. Cook over medium heat until cabbage is limp and tender. Remove from heat and stir in the parsley and bacon. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Optional: Shown with slices of corned beef (beef brisket with pickling spice packet and water or beer; baked covered and in oven for 2 1/2-3 hours at 300 degrees, cooled then sliced).