DuBOIS — Penn Highlands Healthcare, on Saturday, hosted a Women’s Expo featuring celebrity chef Damaris Phillips, who is regularly seen on the Food Network.
During the morning/afternoon event held at PH DuBois’ Founders’ Cafe, guests were able to taste delicious foods featured in Phillips’ cookbook, “Southern Girl Meets Vegetarian Boy,” learn more about PHH services, enjoy hands-on activities and watch cooking demonstrations presented by Phillips, who cooked chai-spiced sautéed apples.
All proceeds from the expo will go toward PHH Behavioral Health, which will help victims of violence and trauma.
“What I find more than anything now is there is that thought that you can either cook or you can’t cook, and it’s just not true,” said Phillips, who was also one of the event speakers. “Everyone can cook. Some people have more natural inclination to it. Some people like it more … but every single person can cook. I think that more than anything when I’m talking about cooking in my home, in my job, it’s to help encourage everybody to try it (cooking) again.”
Phillips said when she talks about food as a job, or food as a “normal human person eating,” those are two very different things.
“And when you’re talking about restaurant chefs, you’re talking about people who make their money for recipes that people want to make and pay for again and again,” she said. “That food is not intended to be good for our bodies. The primary goal of that food is to be absolutely delicious.”
Phillips said that’s a different way to look at food rather than look at food as fuel for the body — which is “this is going to make me feel a certain way this whole day, this whole week, this whole month, whole year, and so forth.”
So when thinking about food as fuel for the body, Phillips said, “It’s always going to be better, it’s always going to be healthier if we make that food at home.”
Phillips said often when people talk about food and healthy food, they immediately associate that with what they weigh.
“We’re not associating that with how our body looks and what that food does to our body,” she said. “What I want to talk just a little bit about is a way that we can add nutrients and try to change the narrative around food, so that we’re not talking about our weight and the way we look.”
According to the food pyramid, the goal is to have five to seven servings of fruit and vegetables in a day, Phillips said. She said it’s helpful to think about how to eat more vegetables at every meal because they’re always going to be filling and low in calories. Perhaps making a cheat sheet to add more fruits and vegetables to a diet can help reach that goal of five to seven servings, she said.
“Try to incorporate things that slowly will help us naturally change the way that we prefer food to taste,” she said. “Anytime we’re going to be adding things for us that are good, and that we can come away feeling successful about is a win.”
Phillips said it’s OK to be a friend to yourself instead of constantly taking things away as well.
“Don’t take away the food. Just add in spinach to your food. It will help. That approach to food, the approach of, ‘I want to make sure that I’m a friend to my body, and make sure that I’m a friend to myself my whole life,’ has been the biggest and best change for myself.”
She said she is also a big fan of journaling what she eats.
“Give it a try. For me, it absolutely changed the way that I feel every single day,” said Phillips. “All I did was write down what I ate, and then I wrote down how I felt. It does take effort, just like anything does. Anything worthwhile in life, there’s going to be a little bit of effort.
“If I could leave you with one thing, it would be, let’s be friends to ourselves,” said Phillips. “Think about the way we can add nutrients instead of taking away. And also, what we’re eating is not supposed to be for how we look. What we’re eating is supposed to be for how we function. And even if we can’t learn it ourselves, we can teach our nieces and our daughters and our granddaughters. We can teach them that food is fuel.”