A Chef’s Healthy Menu

If you think there’s temptation in your kitchen, imagine being Sarah Stegner, chef of Prairie Grass Café and Prairie Fire.

She works around delicious food all day (click here for a recipe), and tasting her creations is a key part of her job description.

So it’s no wonder the James Beard Award-winning chef came up with a New Year’s resolution that has a delectable spin: Collaborating with nutrition expert, dietitian and award-winning cookbook author Mary Abbott Hess, Stegner put together a healthy eating plan that follows her food philosophy—seasonal, local, fresh, flavorful and relatively simple to prepare.

After working out with a trainer for the past six months, and losing inches as a result, the Wilmette resident decided it was time to think seriously about re-vamping her diet. “I thought, I could do this, using my style—Midwestern and straightforward, stuff I want to eat,” Stegner says. “And I wouldn’t be hungry when I left the table.”

And Hess, a friend who recently asked Stegner to contribute to her book, “Essentials of Nutrition for Chefs,” was behind Stegner 100%. “I don’t think a healthy diet should be wildly restrictive,” Hess says. “People should eat the things they love, that are satisfying to them.” Click here to read about the tips and tricks that Stegner learned from Hess.

From Jan. 17 to Jan. 27, Prairie Fire downtown will offer Sarah’s healthy lunch and dinner items (they’re not officially open for breakfast, but Sarah’s inviting people to sit at the bar and eat with her during those days). Here’s the menu:


Egg White Omelet with River Valley Ranch Mushrooms and Capriole Farm Goat Cheese
Side of Grilled Onions


Small Greek Salad with Crumbled Feta
Beef Barley Soup made with Tallgrass Beef

Grilled Fish, marinated in herbs and olive oil (lightly brushed), Butternut Squash Puree/Sautéed Seasonal Vegetables

The plan is not a huge leap, but rather a modification, of dishes that Stegner already serves at her restaurant: The menu always features healthy items such as grilled fish with a side of vegetables. She’s thinking the 10-day healthy eating menu may become a regular occurrence at Prairie Fire and Prairie Grass in Northbrook.

Here’s how Stegner describes it: “My trainer kept saying, ‘Just try.’ So I thought, if I make it really appealing, and I make it my cooking, what’s to argue about?”

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