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Men's Health Month: Healthy eating habits for disease prevention

Preventing heart disease and some cancers
Posted at 9:17 AM, Jun 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-22 08:20:37-04

BALTIMORE, Md. — Many have heard diet and exercise are key to a healthy lifestyle but sometimes it's easier said than done.

June is Men's Health Month and WMAR-2 News spoke with a hospital chef who said he wants to help people eat right so they stay healthy and out of the hospital.

Heart disease and cancer are the leading killers of men in the U.S. Most health experts believe these diseases often are fought with a good diet and regular checkups with a doctor.

MedStar Harbor Hospital executive chef Tim Norris said “most of the diets that men are on, are high in fat, and those fats are without omega-3 fatty acids which you need to help push the heart. We’re not eating some of those things, and it's almost to the last minute when we're having issues.”

Issues such as ending up and getting treated in a hospital. This advice comes from Norris who has been involved with the diet and nutrition industry in one way or another for nearly 30 years.

“I went to visit a family member years ago, in the hospital, didn't like the food at all. If I ever get a chance to work in a hospital, I’m going to help change that. I’m in a hospital now. Didn't plan it. It just happened like that,” Norris said.

Chef Tim recommends a high fiber diet which provides a long list of health benefits such as help men lose weight, lower the risks of heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers.

“When you eat a diet that's high in fiber, that's your soluble dietary fiber. It will create cessation. Cessation is when your body tells you that its full. So, that comes from eating beans, and high fiber items like that. The insoluble, like the skins, most people throw those away, those things are good for you,” Norris said.

Even Chef Tim admits he has a weakness for snacks like chili cheese fries and nachos. Although, he doesn't believe you have to give up your favorite snack if enjoyed in moderation.

“If you start to exercise, and dieting the right way, you're going to find you're putting great things in your body. You're going to want to put great things in your body because you start to see the results. You don't get that eating sluggish food, fried foods, which you want to stay away from,” Norris said.

Chef Tim recommends some better foods to snack on.

“Carrots, celery, fresh fruit, onions, pumpkin seeds, things like that, high in fiber, but at the same time, they are very filling,” Norris said.

Soluble fiber makes your stomach feel full. it's also the type of fiber which dissolves in water. It's something the chef happens to drink a lot of as part of his own diet.

“I’m doing about six to four quarts a day. I do that because I’m always in the kitchen, and I run, and I bike a lot. So, I’m sweating a lot, so I want to put that back in me,” Norris said.

As Chef Tim prepares a high fiber meal of chicken, quinoa, fresh peppers and other healthy items, he recommends younger guys get about 38 grams of fiber a day.

Our digestive system slows down as we get older, so men over age 50 only need about 30 grams of fiber.

“You need like 2-1/2 cups of fruit, 2-1/2 cups, at least, portions of lean protein, and lean protein, chicken and turkey. Kind of stay away from red meats as you get older, because it takes longer for your body to process it,” Norris said.

Meanwhile, vitamins recommended by a doctor can help with any deficiencies but the chef believes they're not a short cut to healthy eating.

“Doesn't matter if you take the vitamin or not. If you're still not dieting correctly, you're not exercising, you're just taking a supplement. Again, vitamins are supplements, they're not the thing that's going to help you if you're not already doing the things that you're supposed to do in the first place,” Norris said.

Chef Tim shared his recipe for his Corn and Quinoa Bowl with Chicken.


4 oz. Cilantro

4 oz. Basil

1/4 oz. scallions/green onions

1-1/2 oz. Olive oil

3 tsp Lime Juice

1/2 tsp Kosher salt

2 tbsp Water

16 oz. Chicken breast

16 oz. Corn cobettes

1/4 tsp Salt

1/4 tsp Black pepper

1/4 tsp Ground cumin

6 oz. Quinoa

1-1/2 cup Water

6 oz. Cucumbers

1 Radish

1/2 Avocado

1/2 Lime

Vegetable oil spray


1 - Place cilantro, basil, white part of scallion, olive oil, lime juice, 1/2 tsp salt and 2 tbsp water in a food processor and blend until smooth. Refrigerate dressing.

2 - Pound chicken to 1/2" thickness. Coat chicken and corn with vegetable oil spray and 1/4 tsp salt. Sprinkle chicken with pepper and cumin.

Grill chicken and corn over a medium high heat until the corn is tender and lightly charred all around, and the chicken is cooked through. 4-5 minutes per side for the chicken and about 15 minutes total for the corn, turning it every 3-4 minutes until evenly cooked.

Allow the chicken and corn to rest 5 minutes, then slice the chicken 3/8" on a bias and cut the kernels off the corn.

3 - Combine quinoa and 1-1/2 water in medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, 12-15 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Stir in the corn.

4 - Mix 1/2 cup hot corn and 1/2 cup hot quinoa in a bowl.

5 - Arrange (3) 1/2 oz. slices of chicken, 1/3 cup cucumber, 7 slices of radishes, and (1) 1/4 oz. sliced avocado on top.

6 - Drizzle with 2 tbsp cilantro/basil dressing, and top with 1 tbsp scallions.

7 - Serve with lime wedge.