Preventive Health Care Through Cooking
“Food is the most powerful drug we have. It has the power to prevent and cure disease,” said Lauren Powell, M.D., a family medicine doctor also known as the Culinary Doctor, at the Black Health Matters Fall Summit. “And I’m particularly focused on the African American community where we have a lot of food-related diseases.”
So many of diseases that disproportionately affect the Black community—diabetes, hypertension, obesity, some autoimmune diseases, some cancers—are all related to the food we put into our body, Dr. Powell explained.
“Food should serve a purpose for our body. You shouldn’t eat something because it’s good. Of course, we want our food to be good,” she said. “For instance—donuts. But the good in donuts lasts about 15 seconds. And they’re super high in sugar, they’re super processed. Food is supposed to add value to your life.”
With this in mind–and because Dr. Powell believes cooking should be quick–she whipped up her Secret Sauce Spaghetti during a 15-minute cooking demonstration for the Fall Summit audience.
Dr. Lauren Powell’s Secret Sauce Spaghetti
1/2 pound ground turkey or chicken
1 box legume noodles
Mushrooms of your choice
4 Garlic cloves
1/4 white onion
Seasonings: crushed red pepper flakes, coarse sea salt, coarse pepper, garlic powder, Italian seasoning
Feel free to make your own or buy your favorite from the store. Just be sure to check the ingredients and make sure there is no added sugar.
In a cast iron skillet, place olive in pan to coat. Add diced onions and minced garlic. Sauté until onions are transparent, making sure not to burn the garlic. Add meat and seasonings. Cook until almost completely done, then add minced mushrooms. Cook for an additional 3 minutes. Next add chopped zucchini and squash. Cook until vegetables are slightly tender. Add sauce and mix well. Then add spinach, turn heat on low, allowing spinach to cook. Cook noodles according to box. Once noodles are done, add to meat sauce mixture. Serve with fresh parmesan. For the vegetarian version, just omit the ground turkey or chicken.
• Use noodles made from legumes. Traditional noodles made out of flour. “These are made from beans so you get protein and fiber, which you don’t get from traditional noodles. You get a bigger bang for your buck when you eat legume based noodles,” Dr. Powell said.
• Cook with olive oil because it’s full of healthy fats, which are good for our brain health and heart health.
• Cook your own meals. “Only when you cook your own food can you really control what’s in it. You can’t control sugar or salt when you buy it out,” Dr. Powell said. “I tell my patients to cook. Plus, if we don’t cook, our kids don’t see us cook and they are set up for a life of fast food, and we don’t want that.”
• Be mindful of sugar in commercial spaghetti sauce. A jar of sauce has up to 8 grams of sugar per quarter cup. Or make your own and sweeten with carrots and honey.
• Always keep fresh spinach in your refrigerator.