Healthy eating: Chef makes homemade a priority

“I like to see people enjoying the food that I’m cooking. I hope it reflects just how much time was spent perfecting it.”

By: Alexa Olson .

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With the holiday season here, Lloyd Galloway, executive chef at Sanford Medical Center Fargo in North Dakota, is thinking of healthy eating — preparing meals that are healthy and taste good. Galloway explains the importance of preparing fresh food, serving healthy and homemade recipes, and the reward that comes with being a Sanford Health chef.

An emphasis on quality

Food services at Sanford Health in Fargo serves approximately 8,000 meals a day between the Broadway campus, South University campus and Sanford Medical Center Fargo. The food served at each campus is made at a central location at the Broadway campus. This approach guarantees freshness, consistency and a homemade meal, all things that Galloway says differentiates the organization’s food services from a traditional cafeteria or buffet.

Unlike traditional cafeterias, Sanford Health prioritizes the freshness of its food and healthy eating.

“We don’t serve a buffet here,” Galloway says. “It’s different food. It’s fresher. It has more of a human component than a buffet.”

Instead of one person handing out the food and another taking money, as in a traditional cafeteria, three to four people interact with customers and get to know them.

“There’s definitely a human interaction that you’re not going to get at a buffet,” Galloway says. “A lot of people that work here know customers by name.”

Galloway and his team put an emphasis on the freshness of the food they serve and the unique atmosphere of each establishment.

“You could pick any one of these restaurants up and drop them into a strip mall and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference,” he says. “We take it very seriously. We try recipes again and again until we get them right. We play with flavor, cooking time, and we keep trying little things as we go along.”

He also stresses the importance of having options that can be customized. “We can grant requests such as no cheese, different butter and other options that you wouldn’t be able to get if you were going through a buffet.”

Focus on healthy and homemade

The focus of the food served at each of the campuses is both healthy and homemade. “We are getting away from cafeteria food, boxed foods and foods with high sodium. We want it to be ours and reflect the time and care it took to make the meal,” Galloway says.

Food services realizes that the way people view the food they use to fuel their bodies is changing, and the operation has shifted its focus to reflect that. “Things are changing and people are changing and eating differently. It’s a balancing act,” Galloway says, “between serving both great tasting food and food that is good for you.”

Not only does he keep this focus when preparing food, but it’s something he knows is extremely important to consider during this time of year. The holidays aren’t just stressful for those who are cooking for others. In fact, it can be extremely challenging for those who are trying to make more health-conscious decisions.

Healthy eating tips

To combat this, Galloway has seven tips to keep those on track who are putting an emphasis on healthy eating this holiday season.

    1. Plan. Prepare your meal plans in advance. This will keep you accountable and mindful of what you have eaten and are going to eat.
    2. Think about the ingredients. Your dish will have several different ingredients, and some can be swapped for healthier options. Substitute where you see added fats and sugars such as swapping heavy creams for 2 percent milk.
    3. Think about food substitutions. For example, instead of serving mashed potatoes, try sweet potatoes. They still give you that fluffy texture, but they’re easier on your waistline.
    4. Drink water. When you’re going in for your second helping, try drinking a glass of water first because you may just be thirsty.
    5. Avoid alcohol. It’s just added calories.
    6. Prepare for your night. If you’re heading out to a party, eat a little beforehand so you’re more inclined to make smarter decisions while at the event.
    7. Use smaller plates. They help with portion size and keeping you mindful of what is on your plate.

Comfort food

As a chef at Sanford Health, the day consists of more than just preparing food, it’s a learning experience. It’s making sure the food is safe to eat and interacting with people, which Galloway says is extremely rewarding.

“Food services impacts everybody. I mean, everybody that walks through that door. Regardless of if you’re just picking up a bottle of water, or ordering a meal,” he says.

The reasons people are in the hospital are not always ideal, and food services takes that into consideration when creating its food and atmosphere. “People could be having a really tough day, so it’s nice to have someone who is smiling to get you a little comfort food,” says Galloway. “The effect that you have on people can definitely make or break their day.”

Being a chef at Sanford Health

To be a chef takes a certain kind of skill, Galloway says. “You have to enjoy what you do. You have to like people. You must be creative and curious and have a desire to make people happy.”

In addition, the chefs work tirelessly on their craftsmanship. “Working for a place like this or for a large institution, be it a college, hospital or large contract company, they will look at documentation,” Galloway says. “They will want you to have gone to school. They will want you to have been ACF certified, ServSafe certified and that people have signed off saying you know what you’re talking about.”

Creating fresh, home-cooked food is but one component of being a chef at Sanford Health. Another lesser-known piece is making sure that the food prepare is safe. “We document everything because of the people we feed and their compromised immune system,” Galloway says. “We could tell you the temperature of something at a particular time of day because we documented it and kept track of it.”

Galloway says that through his position as a chef he has learned hard work, empathy, and how to communicate with a variety of people.

“In kitchens you find a crosswalk of people you don’t find in a lot of professions,” he explains. “I’ve learned to care for people a little more than I did and I’ve learned the power that food has.”