Chef Introduces Healthy Food to Love

At the start, emcee Micha Berman assured the audience that no one would be weighed during the evening.

Chef Cheryl Forberg, R.D., can’t promise that to all listeners – for 15 years, she’s served as nutritionist to NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” helping folks remake their bodies and their lives through healthy eating.

Chef Cheryl Forberg laughs with audience.

Chefyl Forberg shares a laugh.

She shifted nimbly between food and nutrition topics during her evening with Fresh Starts Chef Events, showing her talents as one of the few professional chefs who also is a registered dietitian.

A Confetti Quinoa Salad with Pistachios and Currants opened a three-course menu highlighting recipes from her newest book, “A Small Guide to Losing Big.

Her dishes, made by Fresh Starts Culinary Academy students and staff with her input, were delicious and filling, devoid of processed, artificial, or unhealthful ingredients.

The salad of red quinoa, which she noted has a nuttier flavor, includes grapeseed oil, recommended for neutral taste, antioxidants, and high smoke point (though olive oil can substitute.) This ancient high-protein grain is gluten-free and the salad can include chicken if served as an entrée.

Chef and culinary student finish turkey chili

Chef Cheryl serves up healthy chili.

Her Fire-Roasted Tomato & Turkey Chili was a perfect cold-weather main dish, coming together quickly and easily with loads of flavor. The chili has a “secret weapon” to add oomph: dried tart cherries.

To cap the meal, she demonstrated Chocolate Silk, an amazing pudding made with cocoa, coconut milk, and agave nectar. It was, indeed, smooth as silk and hit the right notes.

Chef whisks Chocolate Silk dessert

Chef Cheryl whisks Chocolate Silk.

Chef Cheryl contends dieting doesn’t work because “diets are temporary” — to lose weight, keep it off, and maintain good health, lifestyle changes must be achieved. Along with exercise, she recommends an eating plan and a food diary that “makes you accountable. Most of us don’t realize how much we eat in a day.”

The good news: we all need to eat some fat because it has a “good mouthfeel” and “makes you feel full.” More good news: small things like sautéing onions slowly to carmelize can ensure flavor and let you live without butter or cream.

Her mother, who lives in rural Wisconsin, serves as her recipe “barometer,” the chef says. “If my mom can’t find it, can’t pronounce it, it doesn’t go into my cookbook.”

The following recipe was a hit. Check out more recipes and tips when you visit Cheryl Forberg online. — Contributed by Carol Inkellis with photos by Neely Wang.

Quinoa Salad with Pistachios & Currants

Confetti Quinoa Salad with Pistachios & Currants

Confetti Quinoa Salad with Pistachios & Currants – Serves 8


For the quinoa:
1 teaspoon olive oil
¼ cup minced yellow onion
¾ cup dry quinoa
1½ cups water, vegetable broth or fat-free low-sodium chicken broth

For the dressing:
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1½ teaspoons lemon juice
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

For the salad:
½ cup dried currants
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped pistachios

In a quart saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté
for about 3 minutes or until softened.

Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add quinoa, stir, reduce heat, and cover. Simmer for about 10 minutes and remove from heat. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl to cool.

Prepare dressing by whisking together vinegar, lemon juice and mustard in a small bowl.
Whisk in oil until emulsified. Set aside.

To assemble the salad, add dressing and remaining ingredients to the quinoa and mix well. Serve immediately.


About Fresh Starts Chef Events

Fresh Starts Chef Events offers a parade of presentations by celebrity chefs, cookbook authors and artisan producers in The Key Room. Visit the online calendar at for upcoming events. Our list of presenters includes luminaries from the worlds of food, wine and restaurants who share stories, demonstrate techniques and offer tips on making the most of our local bounty. You can register online for upcoming classes or call us for more details at 415-382-3363 x243. Proceeds from our events support shelter and job-training programs at Homeward Bound of Marin; learn more at and
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