Zest February 2021 – Dr. Robert Lustig to Speak at The Culinary Medicine Conference

Welcome to the February 2021 edition of Zest.

Zest. It says a lot about what the folks who are involved with Culinary Medicine are about. Most everyone I have met across the last ten years has just that: a zest for life, learning, and teaching.

Zest evokes the excitement and passion that is happening at the intersection of where health meets food.


Health meets Food

The Culinary Medicine Conference 2021

June 4 – June 6, 2021  •  Virtual Event

Register here » Health meets Food Conference

The Culinary Medicine Specialist Board is pleased to announce the 7th annual Health meets Food: The Culinary Medicine Conference.

Dr. Robert Lustig will join an already amazing group of speakers this year at the conference as part of our Saturday agenda on Culture Change.

Dr. Lustig is Professor emeritus of Pediatrics, Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He specializes in the field of neuroendocrinology, with an emphasis on the regulation of energy balance by the central nervous system.

His research and clinical practice has focused on childhood obesity and diabetes. Dr. Lustig has fostered a global discussion of metabolic health and nutrition, exposing some of the leading myths that underlie the current pandemic of diet-related disease. He believes the food business, by pushing processed food loaded with sugar, has hacked our bodies and minds to pursue pleasure instead of happiness, fostering today’s epidemics of addiction and depression. Yet by focusing on real food, we can beat the odds against sugar, processed food, obesity, and disease.

The New York Times bestselling author’s new book, Metabolical, explains the eight pathologies that underlie all chronic disease, documents how processed food has impacted them to ruin our health, economy, and environment over the past 50 years, and proposes an urgent manifesto and strategy to cure both us and the planet.

The conference will take place June 4 through June 6, 2021, online using a virtual conference platform that will allow for the full conference experience. The overarching theme of this year’s conference is culture change: how do we help change attitudes about food and health amongst our patients, colleagues and policy makers.

Take advantage of the early bird discount and discounts for those in academic medicine and students by registering now.  

Register here » Health meets Food Conference


Health meets Food: The Culinary Medicine Conference T-Shirt Competition

Health meets FoodThe Health meets Food team is holding a design contest for this year’s annual, collectable T-shirt and Apron design! We want to see YOUR submissions for the annual T-shirt design. For those of you who have attended our conference you know that we have a different legume on the back of the shirt with our motto “We love legumes!”

This year’s T-shirt front will have Health meets Food logo on the pocket and the back will have winner’s design!

Submit your design and include the legume of your choice. Include a drawing (even a rough sketch is OK).  If your design is selected, you will receive a free T-shirt or apron.

Submit a hand sketch or jpeg to [email protected] by March 1, 2021.


Upcoming Events

Continuing Medical Education via Zoom

The Health meets Food team began offering online hands-on cooking classes for CME credit in early May 2020. The classes have been very successful and our first round sold out, so we are adding more classes! Participants will use Zoom to gather, collaborate, cook together, and discuss case studies. Each module will follow the workflow of in-person programming and will take about 3 1/2 hours to complete.

A shopping and equipment list is available for each module to guide you in preparation. We also recommend using an iPad for the Zoom meeting and purchasing the Gooseneck Tablet Holder to make participation easier.

For registration issues, questions, or for more event information, please contact Cecilia Hatfield at [email protected]

Fats: Saturday February 20, 2021,  12:00 pm to 3:30 pm EDT

Introduction to Culinary Medicine: Sunday March 7, 2021, 3:00 pm – 6:30 pm EDT

Sodium, Potassium, and Renal Homeostasis : Friday March 19, 2021, 4:00 pm – 7:30 pm EDT

Register at this link: More info »

Curriculum Committee Meetings Every Second Thursday of the Month

Health meets Food Curriculum Committee meetings are held the second Thursday of  each month at 5:00 PM Eastern time.  All partner-sites are invited to join the Zoom meeting.  The goal for the remainder of this academic year is to review two new modules related to food security — one covering food security in the elderly and the other a combined WIC & SNAP overview.  We will also work on revisions to Module 1 and Module 7.

You can find Zoom information for registration in the Instructor Resources inside Moodle.

Research Committee Meetings Every Third Thursday of the Month

The Health meets Food team meets on the third Thursday of each month at 5:00 PM Eastern time.

Information on how to join the meeting via Zoom can be found in the Research Information for Health meets Food section of the Instructor Resources.


Monthly Profile: Certified Culinary Medicine Specialist

Maria Leilani (aka Lani) Relucio, BSN, MD, CPHQ, CCMS

When Lani left her research job at Cincinnati Children’s in July 2015 to pursue her passion for writing, her mentor-manager said, “You will be bored.” For the next five years, course after course took her to the valleys and mountains of learning the craft of fiction, non-fiction, copywriting, and medical writing. Writing blogs and articles for websites and magazines, and crafting marketing newsletters and social media ads became her company’s bread and butter. A life event would shift her gear. Challenged with an inflammatory disease that had little to offer in terms of cure, she asked herself, “What would I want to be when I grow old?” Her quest for durable solutions led her to the kitchen: fermenting dough, milk, and tea, eliminating food triggers like red meat, and researching more about the microbiome, gut health, and the gut-organ axes. An anesthesiologist by training, she believes in the multi-modal approach to pain and inflammation relief, which in her case meant embracing a less toxic lifestyle and holistic self-care that caters to the body, mind, heart, spirit, and soul. As a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality, she started adopting the principles of quality and process improvement in her home.

Her quest for a sustainable formula for quality of life led her to the path of Culinary Medicine. It was love at first bite. Learning concepts like mise en place to challenge her messy-in-place style and discovering sauces like chimichurri to enliven any dish was worth the investment; if only she could hurdle the board certification with her brain fog. When she was certified in January 2021, she took it as divine predestination. She looks forward to celebrating her 50th birthday this year and expanding her company’s services and personal advocacy to support more research and literacy endeavors, especially those offered by her Culinary Medicine community. Where the science of food and the art of cooking meets, boredom sizzles away.

What is your favorite ingredient?​ Garlic. A Filipino dish would be seriously “incapacitated” without it. My mom’s typical Filipino mirepoix is a combination of garlic, onion, and ginger (with or without tomatoes) and in that order, to heighten the taste of garlic.​

What is your least favorite ingredient?​ Beet. Although I sometimes use it as a natural coloring/sweetening agent, and I’ve had occasional luck with some recipes, the taste can sometimes be off-putting. Maybe that’s why some people describe it as “earthy.” To me, it sounds like a fancy way of saying, “it tastes like soil.”

What turns you on creatively?​ Feeding both sides of my brain. Experimenting and innovating seems ingrained in my DNA, and creating something from nothing gives me much satisfaction. In the kitchen, I get high with scoring my sourdough bread, recreating left-overs into new dishes, sneaking secret ingredients into my teen’s dishes (like using cashews or cauliflower in her mac and cheese), instant dinner craves/requests from family, and having to quickly come up with substitutes for missing items in my pantry, and genuine words of appreciation like, “you outdid yourself again.”

What turns you off?​ ​Stress and negative self-talk easily dampen my creativity.

What is your favorite recipe or meal?​ I’ve recently developed my vegetarian versions of Filipino spring rolls, Pancit (sauteed rice noodles), and Kare-Kare (stewed vegetables in peanut sauce).  ​

What culinary flavor or aroma do you love?​ Filipino adobo (stew base of soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, bay leaf, and peppercorn)​. I have yet to perfect my vegetarian version of this local cuisine, which traditionally uses pork, chicken, and/or beef.

What culinary flavor or aroma do you hate?​ ​The fishy smell of cod liver (after purchasing seven cans!) and not knowing how to transform it into a palatable dish.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?​ Someday, I want to become a social entrepreneur that supports food sustainability, and maybe co-produce a cooking show featuring our celebrated chef doctors as judges and our students cooking the best Food Rx for patients with unique dietary requirements using secret ingredients from our garden. But for now, I want to establish myself in the field of health communications and medical journalism. I see a great need for health literacy in this country, and pursuing graphic design (infographic creation) may be a good start.  ​

What profession would you not like to do?​ Teaching a class of kindergarteners and 2nd graders. I once substituted as a teacher, and that was the end of it. I’d rather do crash inductions for stat Caesarian sections. I have the highest respect for teachers, especially those who teach the little ones. They’re true heroes.

Julia Child invites you to a pot luck dinner with James Beard and Aguste Escoffier. What dish would you take?​ I will bring a huge paella topped with an array of broiled seafood and vegetables with different sauces on the side, which is typical of a Filipino offering that invites guests to own the dish and choose their own culinary adventure while exploring the flavors of my diverse culture. This festive plate is the perfect platform for a complete nutritious meal, open to innovation and artistic interpretation, enticing to the eyes and palate, invites guests to dig in and explore the flavors of my diverse culture.


2021 Virtual Poster Session

Traditionally we have held our yearly poster session at the Culinary Medicine Conference.  For 2020 we were delighted to be able to gather for The Culinary Medicine Conference Poster Sesson.

We will hold a poster session again in September via Zoom and our deadline for submission will be in mid-July.  Our Co-Chairs for the poster review will be Dr. Canneralla Lorenzetti and Dr. Carrie Gordon.

The Health meets Food Research team is now accepting applications for Faculty, Resident and/or Student Posters for the HMF Poster Session or Research Conference to be held on September 17, 2021.  The conference will be virtual, and all accepted posters will be presented briefly (4 minutes/poster) during the conference, followed by virtual break-out discussions organized by poster themes. Links to the posters with their abstracts will be maintained on the HMF website.

This is the opportunity to showcase how your site has utilized Culinary Medicine in teaching and patient intervention and for others to learn of the outcomes in your location. Show attendees the many ways in which culinary medicine has been taught, appreciated and used in your patient and student population. Student submissions are highly encouraged.

Poster submissions will be peer-reviewed for academic content and interest by the HMF Research Committee.  In addition to publication of your poster and abstract on the website and ability to present the work at the conference, we will evaluate all contributions for the best 2021 contribution. Our judging methods will include evaluation of relevance of the study question, choice of methodology, soundness of results and conclusions, replicability, effectiveness of poster display and importance of the contribution of work accomplished with regard to advancing the field of culinary medicine in education.  The winner of this evaluation process will receive free admission to the 2022 annual HMF conference.

Please copy form, complete and submit in Word format. Include a 150 word summary of this activity which will be posted on the Health meets Food website (if accepted) with your actual poster.

Click here for the Poster Submission Form: Poster Submission Form

Email your completed application to [email protected]

You can see last year’s posters here: culinarymedicine.org/research-2/research-posters-presented-as-part-of-the-2020-culinary-medicine-conference/


Culinary Medicine Colleagues in the Media

St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor to host free cooking classes, nutrition program for teens.  Our colleagues at St. Joseph’s Mercy in Ann Arbor are launching community cooling classes.

Lily Nedda Dastmalchi, D.O., M.A. is an internal medicine resident physician at The George Washington University and a contributor to the ABC News Medical Unit. She crafted a story on Mediterranean diet benefits for ABC News this month.

The team at Tulane University School of Medicine and the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine were included in the publication of the American Medical Group Association Obesity Care Collaborative Model. was a three-year initiative that set out to create a reliable and universally accepted care model for the diagnosis and delivery of care to patients with obesity.

Dr. Ileana Vargas at Columbia University continues her monthly newsletter at the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center. Dr. Ileana Vargas, Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, specializes in the treatment of children with diabetes and children with obesity. Dr. Vargas’ research interests are in the cause, treatment and prevention of childhood obesity. Dr. Vargas is a graduate of Fordham University and Albert Einstein College of Medicine.


Research Initiatives

The team at UT Southwestern and the Moncrief Cancer Institute published their work in the BMC Journal of Education this month. Make sure to read Nutrition from the kitchen: culinary medicine impacts students’ counseling confidence.