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Star of Food Network’s ‘Big Daddy’s House’ visits New Orleans

29th May 2012   ·   0 Comments

CHEF AARON MCCARGO, JR

By Kelly Parker
Contributing Writer

Chef Aaron McCargo, Jr., of Food Network fame can be easily mistaken for a native of the Big Easy; with his fun-loving disposition, down to earth vibe, and a passion for life and for food.

The star of “Big Daddy’s Hou­se,” visited the two local Rouses supermarkets on Saturday, May 19, to discuss healthy eating tips and recipes for people living with dialysis patients. The chef and author conducted two live cooking demonstrations at the Tchoupi­toulas Street and Franklin Avenue locations; dispelling any myths that individuals may have had about giving up tasty meals while on dialysis. Chef McCargo believes the mindset is likely the bigger obstacle when preparing for a renal diet.

“For anyone who is thinking it can’t be done understand, this is baby steps. Today, we’re going think about how we can be successful preparing these meals; after today, we’re not going to walk back into the kitchen with stress and feeling negative and doubtful,” He told the audience. “I hope to do my part; your loved ones and those of you dealing with dialysis-you have to do your part.”

CHEF AARON MCCARGO, JR

The Camden, New Jersey native is working hand-in-hand with Fre­se­nius Medical Care North Ameri­ca, (FMCNA) the nation’s leading dialysis provider, to motivate and encourage dialysis patients to live a better life by giving them heal­thy, easy-to-make recipes that taste great and are easy on the budget.

“Our Fresenius Medical Care team was excited to bring Chef McCargo to New Orleans. This visit was part of our partnership to help our patients overcome dietary restrictions, so they can take pleasure in every meal because it can help them better enjoy everyday life.” Jessica Buras, Fresenius Medical Care dietitian, said. “Chef McCargo is known for cooking with the big, bold flavors that we love in New Orleans, and he really made an impact with our patients when he visited two of our local Fresenius Medical Care dialysis facilities.”

(FMCNA) is the world’s leading company devoted to patient-oriented renal therapy. Through more than 2,700 clinics in North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and Africa, providing kidney dialysis treatments to approximately 215,000 patients worldwide.

The season four winner of The Next Food Network Star got things started with his Three Pea Salad with Ginger Lime Vinaigrette.

The chef showed not only the simplicity of the meals, but how easy they can be on the wallets.

“You don’t have to break the bank and you don’t have to stress when you make these meals; especially with what’s available here in New Orleans,” he told those in attendance. McCargo Jr. referred to bags of snow and sugar snap peas, which can be purchased at a very reasonable price.

“I wasn’t sure about it when he said a pea salad, but I like this, “Alvin Hughes said. “It’s light-it’s pretty good.”

Proper nutrition is vital for individuals on dialysis. Foods high in sodium, such as fast-food items and lunch meats, can increase blood pressure and water retention, and should be avoided. Limiting salt intake helps maintain fluid balance in individuals receiving dialysis. Foods high in potassium and phosphorous should be avoided also. High potassium levels are a frequent problem for individuals on dialysis.

No salt-no problem, says Chef McCargo. With canola oil and a small amount of unsalted butter, even a delicacy like shrimp can be tasty for those on dialysis; as the chef proved with his New You Jumbo Shrimp Scampi.

“This is really, really good,” Bernie Moore said after one bite. “I would have never guessed this is part of a diet for someone on dialysis. It’s seasoned, it isn’t lacking in flavor at all.”

Maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise are goals for many of us, but for people with chronic illnesses, a healthy lifestyle is critical to their well-being and survival. FMCNA has launched its Healthy Lifestyle initiative, aimed at helping people with chronic kidney disease live a better life on dialysis by becoming more physically active, eating healthy foods and enjoying more flexible lifestyles.

To help FMCNA drive the campaign, McCargo will be developing tasty, satisfying and new dialysis-friendly recipes throughout the year for people on dialysis. Those with kidney failure receive dialysis treatments typically every two to three days and follow a strict renal diet.
 FMCNA and Chef McCargo will kick off the recipe series with a holiday dessert that the whole family can enjoy. “We want all dialysis patients to lead active lives. Staying physically fit and eating well are the best ways to achieve that goal and enjoy a better life on dialysis,” said Carolyn Latham, vice president of Clinical Quality and UltraCare at FMCNA. “People with chronic kidney disease have to watch what they eat, but that doesn’t mean they can’t eat delicious foods. That’s why we’re working with Chef McCargo to help them improve their quality of life.”

Though known for recipes with bold, spicy flavors, McCargo Jr. didn’t shy away from preparing meals based on a more controlled diet. The chef saw the opportunity as a challenge.

“My manager came to me and asked if I’d known anyone on dialysis and I said I knew many people who were; and then I was asked if I’d ever cooked for them, and I said, honestly, no,” McCargo Jr. told The Louisiana Weekly. “I believe chefs who really enjoy food, love a food challenge, and it’s turned out to be a blessing. I’m looking forward to creating new and tasty recipes for people with restricted diets. I also hope to inspire people with chronic kidney disease to stay creative in the kitchen and excited about food because it can bring fun and joy to their lives, and to the lives of their families.”

There are more than 26 million Americans living with chronic kidney disease and more than 8,000 people on dialysis in Louisiana.

It began as somewhat of a struggle for Velvet West; cutting back on her favorite red beans and rice, and giving up cashews; but she enjoyed the shrimp scampi samples and feels she can definitely incorporate it into her diet.”

“November 11 of last year was when everything changed; I’ll never forget that date,” she added. “No more peanuts—no more fried chicken; all those good things. I was very despondent; but I came to realize that if I want to be here, I need to put on a good face and not let it get me down.”

For more information on the (FMCNA) Healthy Lifestyle initiative, go to www.ultracare-dialysis.com.

This article was originally published in the May 28, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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