When Chef Andre Rush walks into a kitchen, he commands the space. Beyond his physical presence, the serviceman, philanthropist and food television personality, Rush wants everyone to think of food beyond the eating satisfaction. That plate of favorite comfort food can offer sustenance not only for the body, but also, for the mind and spirit.
Healthy eating can be more than just piling the fruits and vegetables on the plate. From protein to fiber, all the components blend to offer a well-balanced option. One component that might not be front and center is the idea that balanced eating can impact how people feel. It is more than being satiated, mood boosting food can come down to choosing one ingredient over another.
During a conversation with Chef Andre Rush, he discussed the recipes that he created in partnership with Bob Evans Farms. During USO events, the classic, comfort foods dishes have a little extra. By choosing some ingredients over others, the potential benefit to how people feel could have them asking to enjoy the dish time and again.
As Chef Rush commented, he asked people “step back and realize what food was meant for.” In addition to creating a bond with friends and family, it can impact how people feel and their overall well-being.
Chef Rush shared, “I had understood it at a very young age because I grew up in Mississippi. I knew the principles of eating food that came from the dirt. My dad might not have used a specific term for it, but he said it was healthy. Options like greens, nuts, berries, and omegas are all types of choices that can help in the best way possible. When we introduce it to our kids and families, it just makes it better. I was fortunate for Bob Evans Farms gave me the task to incorporate these ideas and ingredients into some recipes. It helps both military families and everyone grow while having fun with the recipes.”
While the nutritional benefits can be within reach, Chef Rush believes that “nothing can be done as just the individual.” When the collective comes together to make a change, it can make a more lasting impression.
For example, chef suggested that people think about food in a bigger way, “how it affects you emotionally, mentally.” He equated the idea to a type of muscle memory. As he mentioned, it is like that meal that a grandmother made where it is a party of community building and bonding. “food is that common denominator and adding mental wellness into the mix can be something bigger.”
While Chef Rush has a variety of recipes in partnership with Bob Evans Farms, the concept can be adapted to anyone’s flavor preferences. For example, many people love serving Macaroni and Cheese as a side, but his Bob Evans Macaroni Croquettes with Avocado Sauce combines those favorite flavors with ingredients that can be a mood booster.
Although that time around the table can be a moment to reflect and reset, military families might need that time to reconnect. While Chef Rush appreciates that food connects everyone, it can take a little more time for some military families navigate those transition moments. Incorporating foods that can have a positive impact, that focus on empathy and compassion for everyone involved is important. It is not just for the family, but also for the community at large.
While Bob Evans Farms and Chef Rush can make a direct impact through their USO support, anyone and everyone can make a difference in their own backyard. It can be as simple as gathering together, sharing food, and listening to one another.
During the USO events, Chef Rush brought everyone into the kitchen, which makes them invested in that food. In some ways, the mise en place is another element to support that mental wellness. Putting everything in its place is vital in the kitchen and can be applied to daily life. Combining those ingredients and elements together to help be a brain stimulator, mood booster, or just a feeling of accomplishment can create a ripple effect to a more positive outlook.
In some ways, that idea of “soul full” food is not limited to a particular locale or label. The food that satisfies all the aspects of daily life is vital. Being fulfilled can be supported by the dish on the table, just as long as the right ingredients are part of the conversation.
For more information on Bob Evans Farms support of the USO as well as Chef Rush’s recipes can be found on OurFarmSalutes.com.