Chefs balance heritage, health in Humana Recipe Makeover Challenge

Chef Patrick Roney and Sharon Weiss prepare a healthier version of a family recipe for a noodle dish.

Chef Patrick Roney and Sharon Weiss prepare a healthier version of a family recipe for a noodle dish.

​This is not your mother’s mac ‘n cheese.

If you’re like Sharon Weiss, a recipe from your mother is a kind of heirloom, its ingredients handwritten in fading cursive on an index card that endures 30 years after her mother passed away. Among the items listed on Weiss’ mother’s recipe for noodle kugel:

  • 1 lb. noodles
  • 2 sticks unsalted margarine
  • 6 eggs
  •  ¾ cup sugar

Weiss recently prepared the dish, which is similar to macaroni and cheese, for the Humana Recipe Makeover Challenge presented by HumanaVitality. During the cooking, she said, “I felt like Mom was in the kitchen with me.” Her mom would have been surprised to see what happened next, as the chef de cuisine from The Oak Room, the only AAA Five-Diamond restaurant in Kentucky, stood in front of an audience at a Humana Guidance Center in Louisville and adapted that recipe with healthier ingredients for a TV cooking show.

Humana and HumanaVitality sponsored a special edition of Secrets of Bluegrass Chefs Showdown to promote the idea that traditional family recipes like macaroni and cheese, lasagna or shrimp and grits can be prepared in a way that’s consistent with the goal of lifelong well-being. The taping took place during the grand re-opening of a Humana Guidance Center in southeast Louisville and spotlighted HumanaVitality’s Vitality HealthyFood, a first-of-its-kind partnership with Walmart offering eligible members 5% savings on Great For You™ healthier foods. (See the Notes section below for more details.)

Chef Patrick Roney remade Weiss’ family recipe and said, “I wanted to keep the comfort factor and (have the dish) be substantial, but cut fat and calories.” He used pasta made from quinoa (a type of seed that is higher in fiber and protein than traditional white flour) and replaced the traditional cheese with goat ricotta. Roney said all the ingredients were locally produced and that altogether his mac ‘n cheese-style makeover probably contained “about one-third the calories” of Weiss’ original. Roney’s advice for cooks trying to adapt their recipes: “Elevate your protein levels and use lean, healthy proteins. Experiment. Never sacrifice flavor.”

Dr. Tom Van Gilder, Humana’s National Medical Director for Wellness, spoke to the audience of mostly seniors, reminding them that it’s possible to preserve the tradition of the family meal without sacrificing health. “Start with foods that you love and examine what your health needs are. Pay attention to portion size, as well as ingredients.”

Part of the message is that cooking evolves because of changing technology, tastes and other factors. “Your grandmother didn’t have quinoa or greek yogurt,” said Zach Everson, editor of the food website Eater Louisville and one of the judges for the Humana Recipe Makeover Challenge. “And you have to look at what your heritage is (besides food). Is it diabetes? Heart disease? Strokes?” Food lovers and chefs are trying to find ways to balance comfort food and healthy eating and some are making progress. Just from tasting the foods prepared for the Humana Recipe Makeover Challenge, Everson said, “I would not have suspected that these dishes were on the lighter side.”

Weiss called Roney’s remake of her mother’s recipe, “Excellent. I will try to make this at home. I learned a lot today.” And what would her mother say? “She would be so excited.”

The episode of Secrets of Bluegrass Chefs Showdown featuring the Humana Recipe Makeover Challenge presented by HumanaVitality will air in Louisville and Lexington starting July 14. Chef Roney’s macaroni and cheese recipe featuring Vitality HealthyFood’s Great For You™ products is below:

Mac and Cheese – 7 Great For You products
Ingredients:

  • 2 cup cooked quinoa pasta
  • 2 cup goat ricotta (room temp)
  • 1 ea egg (room temp)
  • 5 ea egg whites (room temp)
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese (shredded)
  • 1 cup morel mushrooms (sliced and blanched)
  • 1 cup English peas (blanched)
    (Opt) fresh herbs
    (Opt) salt and pepper

Great For You Products to Incorporate:

  • GV Cage Free Brown Eggs, Product # 78742112110
  • Mushrooms Whole 8 oz, Product # 50091120080
  • GV Steamable Sweet Peas 12 oz, Product # 78742083690
  • Parsley, Product # 48990
  • Basil, Product # 43222200110
  • Chunk light tuna in water 12oz, Product # 78742082750
    Egg white 16 oz, Product # 78742118190

Procedure:
1. Wisk egg whites until medium peaks form.
2. In a food processor or mixer, beat the yolk into the goat cheese until it is very smooth. Add the parmesan and beat just until incorporated
3. In a large bowl, fold together the egg whites and the cheese. Add pasta, mushrooms and peas and fold until well incorporated. At this time you may add your special touches (ie. Tuna, truffles, herbs, seasonings)
4. Spray or coat a muffin tin with your favorite unsaturated oil or spray.
5. Fill muffin tins ¾ full and bake at 350 for 20 min. (You can place the muffin tin in a warm water bath in the oven for smoother results. Add 10 min to cooking time)
6. Let them rest for 10 min. Run a knife around the outside and flip them out.
7. You can refrigerate them for up to 2 days but they will lose some volume. They are best warm from the oven.

NOTES
• HumanaVitality members must have Bronze Vitality Status or higher and must be 18 years of age or older to be eligible to participate in the Vitality HealthyFood program. The Vitality HealthyFood program is not available to all HumanaVitality members and is only available with certain plans or products offered by Humana.
• The 5% savings will be applied to that member’s Vitality HealthyFoodShopping Card within 5-7 business days. Once applied, the savings may be used on any future purchase made at Walmart where gift cards are accepted.
• For a listing of all qualifying Great For You healthier foods, visit the Vitality HealthyFood page on HumanaVitality.com or check Walmart.com.
• The Vitality HealthyFood program is only available at Walmart Neighborhood Markets and Walmart retail stores. Sam’s Club stores and Walmart.com are excluded from the Vitality HealthyFood program.

HumanaVitality sponsors healthy cooking competition with bloggers

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HumanaVitality recently brought six top food bloggers to Chicago for the Recipe Refresh Challenge. The Challenge was part of the ongoing promotion of the Vitality HealthyFood™ program, which incentivizes healthy eating by offering a 5 percent savings at Walmart on healthier food products, such as fresh fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy.

The savings on items displaying Walmart’s Great for You icon can make it easier for families to make healthier choices and healthier meals. This program is just one way that Humana and HumanaVitality is wokring to  help members achieve lifelong well-being.

During the Recipe Refresh Challenge, participants worked in teams to create a healthy, after-school snack using available pantry items. Then, the bloggers participated in an individual dinner challenge where they put a healthy spin on a beloved comfort food recipe. The bloggers’ dishes were judged on taste, presentation, nutritional value and creativity.

At the end of the Challenge, Robin Sue Joss of Big Red Kitchen walked away as the top winner and Liz Della Croce of The Lemon Bowl took home the prize for first runner-up. Get the recipes for Robin’s Fork & Knife Pizza Burgers with Garlic Parmesan Oven “Fries” and Italian Coleslaw and Liz’s Sweet and Smoky Turkey Chili.

Congratulations and thank you to all participants! For more information about Vitality HealthyFood or the Recipe Refresh Challenge, please connect with HumanaVitality on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

HumanaVitality partners with Walmart on first-of-its-kind healthier food program

 

The new HumanaVitality HealthyFood™ program seeks to inspire Americans to eat well by offering a 5 percent savings on Walmart products that carry the Great for You™ icon.

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

You may recognize this phrase from your childhood, but how many of us consistently eat healthy foods?

HumanaVitality®, a comprehensive wellness solution aimed at incentivizing healthy behaviors, has embarked on an industry-first partnership with Walmart to offer its members savings on healthy food purchases.

Beginning Oct. 15, more than 1 million HumanaVitality members will be eligible for the new Vitality HealthyFood™ program, which seeks to inspire Americans to eat well by offering a 5 percent savings on Walmart products that carry the Great For You™ icon. Items including fresh fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy will now be eligible for the 5 percent savings, which can mean smarter choices at stores and lead to healthier families overall.

This partnership with Walmart represents a new way we can help our members become more aware of the wide array of healthier food options available to them,” said Joe Woods, CEO of HumanaVitality. “It’s an exciting opportunity to expand the comprehensive HumanaVitality wellness solution and offer additional rewards to our members for living more healthful lives.”

For more information about how the program works, check out this infographic.