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Business Last Updated: Nov 6, 2013 - 9:28:19 AM

DI chefs offer menu items to raise IBD awareness
By Elizabeth Bush
Nov 6, 2013 - 9:24:40 AM

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Daniel Island resident Gisele Woodward (right) poses with Honeycomb Cafe Chef Matt Gruber and the restaurant’s owner, Oanh Dang.
Vespa Chef Antonia M. Krenza whips up a Greek Salad that will be offered at the restaurant as a special menu item in recognition of IBD Awareness Month.

For some, the word “diet” just doesn’t sound all that appetizing. But putting a few modifications on what you eat doesn’t have to mean skimping on sustenance…or taste. In fact, it can open up a whole new world of culinary creativity, nutrition, and healthier, pain-free living — particularly for those struggling with chronic, inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs).
November has been designated as IBD Awareness Month and several Daniel Island restaurants have joined in to help spread the word. Honeycomb Cafe, Hokey Pokey, and Vespa are each offering menu items that are part of a “Specific Carbohydrate Diet” that has shown promise in reducing debilitating symptoms for IBD patients. In an effort to “re-boot” digestion, the diet focuses primarily on eating foods that are more easily absorbed in the intestinal tract. Protein, vegetables, nuts, and fruits are all encouraged, while complex carbohydrates, most dairy products, starches and processed foods are eliminated.  
“This was actually a pleasure, having the opportunity to do something like this,” said Honeycomb Cafe and Hokey Pokey Chef Matt Gruber. “Because I am a very health conscious person… It’s taking what I’ve learned in Culinary School and marrying those good flavors together so that people can actually eat on a healthy level and have a great meal at the same time!”
Daniel Island residents Gisele Woodward and her husband, Mark, started the Woodward Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation (WCCF) in 2012 and approached the Daniel Island restaurants to enlist their support in this month’s effort. Mark, and the couple’s two children, Kristina and Jack, all suffer from IBD. After starting the diet last year, they have shown marked improvement in their symptoms. The Woodwards, through their Foundation, have been hard at work raising funds to support research on the diet, so that others can experience the same success they have. They hosted a highly successful “Glow Golf” tournament at the Daniel Island Club last year to bring in needed fundraising dollars for the cause.
“We have raised over $70,000 in our first year, which we are thrilled about,” said Gisele. “The support from the Daniel Island community, as well as from friends and family from all over, has been a moving experience.”
Participating in IBD Awareness Month is yet another way to draw much needed attention to the diseases and the diet, added Gisele. They hope a follow-up clinical trial based on research for Crohn’s and Colitis can begin by the end of 2014. The initial pilot project has shown an 80 percent remission rate, she said.
As part of IBD Awareness Month, Honeycomb Cafe will be offering a roasted chicken, portobello mushroom, caramelized onion, and fennel omelet, as well as a “Woodward Benedict” featuring an English muffin, poached eggs, grilled tomatoes, sautéed spinach, and a specially crafted hollandaise sauce. Fruit Sorbet will round out the special menu at Hokey Pokey.
At Vespa, Chef Antonia M. Krenza has customized two popular menu items to adhere to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. They will offer a Greek Salad with homemade dressing (minus the feta cheese) and an Arugula and Beets Salad without the typical candied walnuts. Servers will also make other recommendations and suggestions based on the diet guidelines.
“I’ve been working in kitchens for about 11 years,” said Chef Krenza. “In this day and age you have to be so mindful of a lot of different things…It’s interesting that 10 years ago you saw a little bit of this, five years ago it became more of an issue, and now today I would say on a pretty regular basis, at least a couple times a day, I either have a nut allergy or a gluten allergy, or sodium issues. So, I think as a chef it’s very important to listen to your clientele and obviously bring awareness to things like this.”
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