By Dr. “Mike” Michael Fenster

As both a chef and an interventional cardiologist I am often asked about how to construct a diet of flavorful, delicious foods that are also healthful. In response I have developed the Grassroots Gourmet™ philosophy, a philosophy of enjoyment from palate to soul, but grounded in reality. I find that the key is not in restriction, but a sensible balanced approach guided by what I call The Path of the Three “Be’s.”Be Aware and Avoid the Call of the Fast/Food Junk Food Siren: It’s called junk food for a reason. The food-like products here have been modified for quick assembly and often reformed with varying degrees of extra sugar, salt and fat. These prey upon our biological wirings for these substances and soon we find ourselves repeatedly spending dollars to appease our cravings.

Be Fresh-But No Adultery! It does no good to avoid the chains and fast food places only to fill our grocery carts with prepackaged, heavily processed prepared items. As an example, people always ask me about cutting back on salt by not adding it to their food or seasoning while they cook. I reply that over 70% of the sodium consumed daily by Americans comes from their consumption of processed and packaged goods. Seasoning fresh ingredients yields a tasty, sumptuous and healthful dish. Adhere to the seventh commandment: Thou shall not commit adultery-it means your food, too!

Be On Time and In Proportion: It takes approximately 20 minutes for your body to start to signal satiety. In our fast paced get-up-and-go world most Americans have consumed an entire village sized portion in that span. Snack lightly (and healthily) or have an appetizer before a main meal and you’ll be satisfied with a smaller serving.

Michael Fenster, MD, is a board certified Interventional Cardiologist with over two decade’s worth of experience treating the problems of heart disease and obesity. He has spoken nationally to groups interested in learning how to manage their health as well as to audiences of his peers at the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology meetings. He has served as an assitant professor of medicine at North East Ohio University College of Medicine and has published a number of peer reviewed scientific articles. In addition to his busy cardiology practice, he is a professional chef, wine expert, and a ju-dan (10th degree) black belt in Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu. He has appeared on nationally syndicated as well as local television programs and on the radio, both nationally and internationally. He is a health and fitness columnist for the Tampa Tribune, as well as a member of the culinary magazine Basil’s council of chefs.

For recipes and more information visit www.whatscookingwithdoc.com and check out Eating Well, Living Better: A Grassroots Gourmet Guide to Good Health and Great Food (January 2012, Rowman and Littlefield) available for pre-order at Amazon.com and other fine book retailers.