Vail Health Magazine 2013 - page 50

Herds of elk roam the
Rockies year-round, braving snow-
storms and fording rivers. They bugle
to each other in the fall — and to
hunters, too. Considered an exotic
meat in many parts of the country, it’s
not unusual to find it in the freezer of
local hunters. The delicacy of choice
for mountain lions, elk is a tasty op-
tion for carnivorous humans, too.
“Elk is not one of those standard
red meats,” says Melaine Hendershott,
registered dietician and nutritionist
at Shaw Regional Cancer Center. “In
general, it’s lower in fat and is a leaner
choice than beef, pork or lamb. So if
you can get it, it’s hormone free, and
has some free-range benefits as well.
But in general, no matter what protein
you choose for your meal, you should
incorporate lots of fruits and vegeta-
bles to help offset it and improve the
health benefits.”
Vail Valley restaurant owner and
celebrity chef Kelly Liken is passionate
about cooking and eating local ingre-
dients. She’s involved in the Sowing
Seeds program in Gypsum, which has
school children growing food in their
school’s greenhouse, as well as learning
how to cook the results. Because elk
is part of the local food chain, Liken
is inclined to put it on her menu. But
banish thoughts of an over-the-top,
decadent slab of meat.
“One of the reasons I love it is be-
cause it’s full of flavor, but also is really
lean,” Liken explains.
Hendershott echoes the sentiment:
“It’s not a cancer preventative, but it
will give you protein, iron and other
important nutrients.”
Liken pairs the dish with whole
grain tabouli, an arugula and fennel
salad and a bright citrus vinaigrette.
“Personally, using raw, cold, cooked
and hot things all on the same plate
helps me stay away from the old, glut-
tonous, meat-and-three style of eating,”
Liken says. “I like to pair different
temperatures and textures.”
And to round out the dish, Hender-
shott recommends adding a healthy
starch, such as sweet potato-black
bean hash, which is chock full of fiber,
beta carotene and vitamin A. For the
recipe, visit
Colorado ingredients get “Top
Chef ” treatment from Kelly Liken
By wren wertin
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