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Food & Dining // Heart-y Chef
Diana Helfand

‘Frying’ Chicken In The Oven

This month Hawaii Pacific Health (HPH) hospitals have launched a Wellness Initiative that goes way beyond just healing sick patients. They’re taking important steps to help employees (and hospital visitors) stay healthy in the first place.

Chefs at each of the hospitals – Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children, Straub, Pali Momi and Wilcox – have instituted “Fryless Fridays” in the dining rooms.

This column is dedicated to Marcia Cades, executive chef at Kapiolani, not only for her creative take on transforming fatty favorites to healthier options, but also because she is a recent breast cancer survivor who has been inspired by her own experience as a Kapiolani patient to create the healthiest menus possible.

Cades is no stranger to working with fresh, healthy food, as she ran Kakaako Kitchen for seven years. She’s a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef, and last year went back to attend a healthy cooking CIA workshop in Napa, Calif.

Her Friday menus will now feature lighter but no less mouthwatering versions of such crowd-pleasers as eggplant Parmesan and chicken Parmesan. She’s also working on recipes that will provide keiki patients with the comfort foods they love and the nutrition they need.

“Chicken nuggets and spaghetti are two favorites,” she says. “I can make chicken nuggets with real, unprocessed meat and no frying. My spaghetti sauce is a delicious blend of pureed veggies. The kids are eating well, and they have no idea it’s so good for them!”

The HPH Wellness Initiative also has Oahu hospital vending machines soon to be offering an assortment of healthier choices. Dining rooms will provide calorie and health values for all food entrees served. All 5,000 employees receive a newsletter, “The Connection,” which will have tips for healthy ingredient substitutions, plus healthy recipes by hospital chefs.

If Cades’ recipe for Fryless Fried Chicken is any indication, it sounds like they’re onto something good over at HPH.

“FRYLESS” FRIED CHICKEN

* 3 pounds or 12 chicken thighs, skin removed
* 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
* 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
* flour
* 2 eggs (may use 4 egg whites)
* 1/2 cup water

Remove skin from chicken and rinse. Dry chicken and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Combine egg and water, beating lightly. Combine bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Coat chicken with flour, dip in egg wash.

Coat chicken in bread crumbs. Place chicken in a pan coated with cooking spray.

Bake in 350 degree oven until golden brown or internal temperature is 165 degrees (approximately 45 minutes).

Makes six servings.

Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program. heartychef@hotmail.com

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