07 Nov Inside the Fridge welcomes Epicurious fan Ginger Hultin
Ginger Hultin is a Registered Dietitian, lover of food and wine, vegetarian and cancer-care specialist living in Chicago (originally from Seattle). She is a clinical and outpatient dietitian with a passion for whole foods and natural health practicing at the BlockCenter for Integrative Cancer Care in Skokie, Illinois. Ginger enjoys being involved in the Chicago community and serves as the President-Elect for the Chicago Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (CAND). She also represents IllinoisState as the Vegetarian Dietetic Practice Group’s State Coordinator. With a BA in English from the University of Washington and an MS in Nutrition from Bastyr University, she loves combining her two passions and finds writing and developing nutrition information for others rewarding and fun. She has her own blog called Nutrition by GingeRD and you can follow her on Twitter @GingerHultinRD.
Where do you shop for food?
Most of my groceries come from my Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box. I purchase from Angelic Organics which is a farm in northern Illinois. The best thing about a CSA is that you receive seasonal vegetables from June through November which forces you to experiment. I’ve been able to cook with so many foods I had never even seen before; an adventure each week! My highlights this year were celeriac root mashed potatoes and ‘from scratch’ spicy tomato sauce. For other groceries, I shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joes. Whenever possible I like to stop at smaller, local markets as well.
Do you love food shopping or dread it?
I hate to say this, but sometimes I dread food shopping. When I enter a common grocery store, I end up feeling lost in a sea of colorful boxes and packages and am always disappointed in the produce. It can be surprisingly difficult to find real food in a store sometimes. In order to not feel overwhelmed, I prefer to shop with a list based on my meal plan. A store that offers more whole food products is easier and quicker for me.
How often do you shop?
I shop about once a week and try to avoid crowded times like Sunday evenings. Packed aisles and long lines create stress in the store. It is important to have the time and space to read labels and really consider what you are purchasing.
How many do you shop for? Ages?
I shop for two adults, but we often have people over for dinner so there can be a large variation in how much I buy each week based on our social plans. When you make dinner for other people, you often have appetizers and desserts in addition to your entrée, so sometimes I end up buying a lot of food!
How many times a week do you eat out? (based on 21 meals/week)
We live in the city of Chicago and there are so many amazing options for going out; the possibilities are endless! I probably eat about 1/3 of my meals away from the house. A meal out could be anything from a quick bowl of Pho or veggie burger to trying out at a new high-end restaurant. If you eat out a lot, there needs to be a focus on making healthy modifications and choosing lighter dishes. I have a passion for sharing the places I frequent and often review restaurants on my blog, becomingginger.blogspot.com. I just finished reviewing my 15 top favorite Chicago restaurants.
How do you plan your weekly meals? Create a spreadsheet of fly by the seat of your pants?
I love to try new recipes I read in magazines, so I rip out the pages and save them under a magnet on the fridge. On Saturday or Sunday, I’ll flip through the recipes to see what I want to try that week. Based on the CSA choices I receive, I go online and find recipes that use the mix of vegetables I have. This is a great way to learn how to cook different types of produce and herbs. Some of my new recipes are hits and some don’t turn out well which contributes to the fun of experimenting with new foods.
What is the oldest item in the fridge right now?
Definitely condiments in general! I so often buy a new sauce and then forget about it. I try to organize the door shelves often and always date a product when I open it.
Do you believe in leftovers?
I have to believe in leftovers or I’d never have lunch! When cooking for two, you often end up having food for four, based on the recipe. I pack up extra dinner in the evening so I can grab it and go the next day. Even if I’m out at a restaurant, I take some to-go which helps cut back on the large portions served when you’re eating out.
When you hear the word “homemade” what is the first thing that comes to mind?
My Grandma makes jam and cans vegetables; to me, this is the essence of ‘homemade’. Whenever I visit her, I get my own jar of raspberry jam or apple-butter. Both my Grandma and Mom are amazing because they can whip up a Thanksgiving dinner or host a huge party by themselves without a second thought about all that preparation. They love cooking and sharing food with others so much that making everything from scratch is a pleasure. I think American food culture would improve with more focus on the “homemade” movement.
How have your cooking/shopping habits changed over the last 10 years?
My focus on quality has been notably brought to the forefront of priorities. When you’re young and learning how to shop and cook on your own, you may choose more convenience items and are concerned about cost. When I started to realize the connection between food and health, I began to shift my focus from quantity to quality. I would rather spend money on good food than just about anything else. You are what you eat!
What are your go-to food/nutrition/culinary/cooking website/s, book or cookbook?
I’m a big Epicurious fan. I often google ingredients: “curry squash and lentils” and see if a good blog pops up. I have an old Betty Crocker book at home that I use to answer basic cooking questions when they come up. I always have to adapt the recipes, though: less meat and more spices.
What words of wisdom or advice do you have for other folks who are doing their best every day to fill the fridge?
Experiment with new foods all the time. Buy a new fruit, vegetable or grain you are unfamiliar with and give it a try! Don’t be afraid to fail or make a bad recipe as this is part of the adventure and how you learn to be better. Buy the best quality food you can and move away from the package. Whole foods are where it’s at….
If you would like to be featured on Inside the Fridge, please contact Robinsbite intern, Jaime Ruisi- Jaime@robinplotkin.com