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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