3 healthy rock stars

healthy dish

What’s good for the gut doesn’t necessarily make good buzzwords for enticing diners to choose certain menu items. Here’s how Executive Chef Vic Schmidt, a nutrition-minded vegan, of Carnegie Mellon University’s CulinArt Group gets foods with rising-profile medicinal properties onto his menus.



These days, everyone seems to know that fermented products such as yogurt, kombucha and kefir contain digestion-friendly probiotics. Those can be a time-consuming challenge to make, but are more easily sold in retail settings.

Schmidt’s secret

Kimchi. His Pittsburgh-based team makes 10 gallons per week using napa cabbage, green onion, apple, pear and onion. “Our kimchi isn’t buried in the earth for two months the way it would be in Korea, but it has a great flavor and feel and profile,” Schmidt says. Carnegie Mellon’s housemade kimchi tops ramen and rice bowls, and is also a hit on a flatbread with Asian marinated flank steak.



Prebiotics, the nondigestible food ingredients that promote the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the intestines, have been flying under the radar compared to their probiotic counterparts—but that may be changing. Prebiotics are found in many fruits and vegetables, such as onions, garlic, bananas and the skin of apples, as well as in Jerusalem artichoke, chicory root and beans.

Schmidt’s secret

He loads as many dishes as possible with bananas and asparagus (and hopes to begin highlighting their prebiotic benefits in signage, too). He recommends seeking out garden burgers with chicory root as well.


green tea

The range of foods that fight inflammation in the body is broad, and includes tomatoes, olive oil, green leafy veggies, nuts, fatty fish, berries and oranges.

Schmidt’s secret

The chef drinks four to five cups of green tea per day. He incorporates fresh ginger into a marinade for chicken and shrimp, along with soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, oyster sauce, rice vinegar and honey, serving the protein on street noodles.

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