Tulane Doctor Creating Culinary Curriculum For Medical Students

Jul 18, 2012

New Orleans has a reputation for its rich food, and the extra pounds it can pack on its fans. But a Tulane University doctor is working on a culinary plan to return the city’s cuisine — and the national diet — to its healthier roots.

Dr. Timothy Harlan of the Tulane University School of Medicine is also known as Dr. Gourmet, a name attached to cookbooks he’s written on eating healthy. Now, he’s teaming with culinary students at Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island to develop a cooking curriculum. He says New Orleans is a natural location for culinary medicine, with a local cuisine having roots in healthy Mediterranean and African diets.

“I think a lot of those recipes over the course of the last 40, 50, 60 years have been corrupted with way too much fat, way too much salt. But that’s typical of all of America, and the goal, again, is to just reduce calories but preserve flavor.”

He says chefs are critical to bringing more healthy foods and cooking styles into the national diet at a time when 65 percent of Americans are overweight.

“Chefs, I think, like a lot of folks, have some misperceptions about how easy it is to just reduce the energy density to calorie density of recipes and still preserve every bit of the flavor that’s there. Reduce portion sizes just a little bit and save literally hundreds and hundreds of calories.”

Dr. Harlan says that by November about one-third of Tulane’s medical students will be enrolled in elective cooking classes now being developed.