Elizabeth Suvedi spends her days helping people eat healthier. Suvedi is the chef for Spectrum Health’s Culinary Medicine program. “I help to develop and teach the classes, along with our physicians and registered dietitians, for patients, medical residents, clinicians, corporations and general consumers,” she explained.
The Culinary Medicine recipes are plant-based, which Suvedi said is more than a trend. “Unfortunately, the majority of the U.S. population follows the Standard American Diet (SAD). It is filled with processed foods, added sugars and lacking in whole grains, fruits and vegetables. This puts us where we are as a population with high rates of chronic disease (Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity and high blood pressure). Following a heavily plant-based diet helps to ensure chronic disease is not something you have to face. This allows you to have the energy and optimal health you need to do the things you love.”
Suvedi said when you imagine your retirement plans, you should also think about your health. “Learning healthful eating habits at a young age and practicing them are one of the keys to being able to enjoy a long life, without the concern of chronic disease,” she said.
Even when she is not at work, Suvedi enjoys spending her time cooking. “I can recall being 5 years old and begging my mom to let me cook. My parents were so supportive and encouraging. Although they did buy me a kids’ cookbook to help ensure the food was palatable when I was finished! For the first 15 years of my career I kept cooking as a hobby. If I had a stressful day at work, I found it relaxing to go home and cook dinner. Later, I quit my job and decided to make it a career. I enrolled in the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education at Grand Rapid Community College and the rest is history.”
Today, Suvedi said some of her favorite times are cooking with her family, which includes her husband and two sons, ages 11 and 13.
Visit spectrumhealth.org/lifestylemedicineprograms to sign up for upcoming Culinary Medicine classes or email Culinary.Medicine@SpectrumHealth.org with any questions.
Yield: 4 servings
2 cups diced onion
3 cups diced sweet potato (with peel)
1 cup diced apple (with peel)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
4 cups vegetable stock
15 ounces canned diced tomato
15 ounces canned pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
2 cups thinly sliced kale (including stems)
15 ounces canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon diced fresh parsley
In a large pot over medium heat, add onion and a tablespoon of water. Sauté until onion softens. Continue to add 1 tablespoon of water at a time, so the pan does not get dry.
Add the sweet potato, apple and garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Stir in stock, tomato, pumpkin, paprika, pepper, oregano and cayenne. Simmer for 25 minutes, until potato is fork tender.
Stir in the kale, beans and parsley.