Chef and Author Kim O’Donnel Whips Up Some Heart-Healthy Valentine Magic at Sports Club/LA

It’s not every day that a health club brings in a rec­og­nized national fig­ure to cook up recipes, much less recipes that will sat­isfy even the most avid of meat-eaters.

Kim O’Donnel* (shown left in her chef’s uni­form) is a trained chef, online food per­son­al­ity, long­time jour­nal­ist and author. She pub­lished her first cook­book, The Meat Lover’s Meat­less Cook­book: Veg­e­tar­ian Recipes Car­ni­vores Will Devour, in 2010 and on “Valentine’s Sat­ur­day” did a two-hour cook­ing demo, food/wine tast­ing, and book sign­ing at Blu Café and Lounge at Sports Club/LA.

With an enthu­si­as­tic group of food­ies, cooks, and even a cou­ple of wannabe cooks, O’Donnel proved to be a ver­sa­tile and mar­velous speaker. As each of the dishes was pre­pared, a dish was served for tast­ing. The sump­tu­ous Red Lentil Dal was cooked up as the group munched on the no-cal, high fiber and nutri­tious baked Kale Chips, while slices of the Barbecue-Grilled Tofu were shared, fol­lowed by Chick­pea Crab Cake slid­ers (no crabs involved). All dishes were “inhaled” while sip­ping on sus­tain­able wine from The Box­wood Win­ery in Mid­dle­burg, Vir­ginia. This led to con­vivial con­ver­sa­tions with Kim—and amongst the group—as she read­ily shared time-saving tech­niques, i.e., some­thing as basic as which end to hold when you are chop­ping an onion to using a food proces­sor to get the right tex­ture for the chick peas.

O’Donnel noted that the deci­sion to exer­cise “Meat­less Mon­days” may be personal—her father’s death at an early age got her think­ing about cho­les­terol in her diet—along with the dis­cus­sion now of so many of the press­ing envi­ron­men­tal prob­lems being linked to meat eat­ing. For O’Donnel, the 2006 UN Food and Agri­cul­ture Orga­ni­za­tion report fac­toid that “live­stock pro­duc­tion is respon­si­ble for 18 per­cent of world­wide green­house gas emis­sions” and that for daily meat eaters, one meat­less day equals 15 per­cent less total con­sump­tion per week really hit home.

One of the biggest issues—the sat­is­fac­tion that comes from chew­ing meat—can be the hold out for any long-term com­mit­ment from meat lovers. Umami—the savori­ness of food that is described as a pleas­ant “brothy” or “meaty” taste with a long-lasting, mouth­wa­ter­ing and coat­ing sen­sa­tion over the tongue—was O’Donnel’s under­ly­ing goal as she cre­ated inno­v­a­tive recipes for this book.

On Valentine’s Day, Kim trav­eled to the Fran­cis­can Cen­ter of Baltimore—an emer­gency ser­vice cen­ter where she’s been teach­ing the cooks some health­ful tricks—to cel­e­brate Heart Healthy Mon­days in con­junc­tion with the Johns Hop­kins Cen­ter for a Liv­able Future. And (GW stu­dents, take note) she also appeared at a Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­sity under­grad­u­ate din­ing hall (ser­viced by Ara­mark) demon­stra­tion, where a chef pre­pared seven dishes from her book. Yum!

For Sports Club/LA, nutri­tion and proper eat­ing is another part of the equa­tion for its mem­bers’ good health. Blu Café (open to the pub­lic) has always car­ried a great menu of whole grain sal­ads, pas­tas and sand­wiches. The Sports Club/LA Wash­ing­ton, DC is a 100,000+ square foot health club com­mit­ted to deliv­er­ing the essen­tials of life through a com­pre­hen­sive bal­ance of pro­grams. Offer­ing an exten­sive range of ameni­ties within the state-of-the-art, expan­sive facil­ity, the Club is designed to offer Mem­bers the ulti­mate health resource to achieve their fit­ness goals. With per­son­al­ized, five-star ser­vice, the Club’s ameni­ties include technologically-advanced fit­ness equip­ment, exten­sive fit­ness and Mind/Body pro­gram­ming, with access to highly-experienced well­ness pro­fes­sion­als, such as Pri­vate Train­ers, group exer­cise instruc­tors, nutri­tion­ists, and phys­i­cal ther­a­pists, among oth­ers, adding to the numer­ous options at the Club. The Sports Club/LA is located at 1170 22nd Street NW, Wash­ing­ton, DC.

* For­merly of The Wash­ing­ton Post, Kim has also writ­ten for Real Sim­ple, Huff­in­g­ton Post,, True/Slant and She’s a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to Culi­nate, where she hosts a weekly cook­ing chat. Kim is the founder of Can­ning Across Amer­ica, a col­lec­tive ded­i­cated to the revival of pre­serv­ing food. Her lat­est project is Fam­ily Kitchen, a twice-monthly col­umn that appears alter­nat­ing Wednes­days in USA Today. You can fol­low Kim on Face­book; her web­site: **Sports Club/LA is a Foggy Bot­tom Asso­ci­a­tion Pre­ferred Mer­chant pro­vid­ing an annual mem­ber­ship to FBA mem­bers at a dis­counted rate. For more infor­ma­tion reach Mem­ber­ship Direc­tor at 202–974-6600 and tell them you are a FBA Member.

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