"It saddens me we don't teach our children to cook anymore. It has fallen away from our society's desire for convenience and speed," says Rose Archer, chef and owner of True You Food. "I have this belief that everyone wants to be happy, fundamentally. You cannot be happy if your health is terrible. Study after study shows your diet is a direct correlation to your health." Archer is on a mission to get people, specifically bariatric patients, to eat healthier by learning how to cook whole foods. Late last year, Archer launched True You Food, an online learning program with over 110 videos to help bariatric patients learn how to cook delicious, whole foods that are safe for them to eat.
Archer has seen first-hand the struggle bariatric patients go through after surgery. Her husband, Dr. Stephen Archer, is a bariatric surgeon. "I got to know his patients," said Archer, "and how obesity is misunderstood in our society. People think this weight loss surgery is cutting corners, but it is a courageous undertaking and they have to make a huge commitment."
According to the Mayo Clinic, after bariatric surgery a doctor or a registered dietician typically meets with a patient to explain the diet the patient needs to follow, going over what types of food and how much they can eat. At different stages after surgery, patients need to follow very specific instructions and avoid problem-causing foods. "They can't eat the same way," said Archer, "There are foods that are dangerous for them. They meet with dieticians that give them what they need to eat, but it didn't translate into food on their plate. I saw the gap. I was inspired to create this program for those people."
Coming from the culinary world, Archer had the skills to pass on. She graduated from the Western Culinary Institute, Le Cordon Bleu in Portland, Ore., worked in kitchens all over Europe, and at three top restaurants in Los Angeles: Spago's Beverly Hills, Campanile and Les Ceux Cafes. In Bend she's been the head pastry chef at Broken Top Club, launched an upscale catering company and taught classes at Allyson's Kitchen as culinary director. Archer said this program, "is a distillation of my knowledge, tips, tricks and short cuts that make cooking not overwhelming. It's the best of my 20 years of knowledge in a bunch of short videos." Archer had to make sure everything she was teaching was safe for bariatric patients, so she partnered with her husband and a registered dietician nutritionist, Vanessa Cobarrubia.
A search for bariatric recipes online turns up a lot of results. "Just because you have a recipe in hand," said Archer, "doesn't mean you can do it. Dice, sauté and braise, what does that mean?" Most recipes don't describe exactly how to do each step because it would make the recipe very long, so it can leave some people confused and overwhelmed. Or, as Archer puts it, "If you aren't successful and you spent the time, you blame yourself." Gaining culinary confidence is at the heart of Archer's program. After students watch videos reviewing the five phases of healing post-weight loss surgery, they dive into knife skills—the same place culinary students start.
According to Archer, less than 5 percent of bariatric patients have access to ongoing education. To get this program into the right hands Archer is working with hospitals that give the program to patients. Since its launch in November, True You Food is available at 11 hospitals nationwide. A free 10-day trial is available for anyone who discovers True You Food online. Besides the videos, the rest of the program can be applicable to anyone interested in learning how to cook and eat healthier. I watched the knife skills videos. Even after taking a knife skills class, I learned that using a non-slip mat underneath my cutting board will keep it from slipping. One woman who was part of the program during the taping of the series wasn't post bariatric surgery, but was diabetic. Archer says within six months this woman had better blood sugar levels, had lost 30 pounds and had dropped two medications.