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Herndon Native, Cooking Whiz

Michele Powers, dietician, chef, and cooking instructor, has 12 recipes published in the July issue of Cooking Light.

Herndon native and Reston resident Michele Powers, registered dietician, chef, and cooking instructor did not always want to be a chef. As a child she wanted to be an art teacher. "I always loved everything artistic," said Powers, "I liked to bake because I felt it gave me a way to express my creative side."

Receiving a bachelor's degree in culinary nutrition from Johnson and Wales University and having finished a one-year long dietetic internship in Cooking Light’s test kitchens, Powers is quite passionate about her career. Powers said, "I think it is very rewarding to go into a home and help people realize it's not that difficult to prepare healthy food."

Powers attributes some of her success to the love and constant support from her parents. "My parents always encouraged and supported me, nothing was too big to undertake. When the rest of my friends were going to Virginia colleges, my parents completely supported my decision to train as a chef in Rhode Island," she said.

Powers runs a local company called NutrientChef that provides nutrition counseling and cooking instruction directly in the clients' home. Powers said she is dedicated to instructing individuals and families in how to prepare tasty, healthy, and balanced meals in the midst of their busy lifestyles.

IN A FIVE SESSION SERIES, Powers meets with her clients and first gives them a brief nutrition education, then spends time with them in the kitchen, and leaves them with a week's supply of meals, groceries, and recipes.

Powers enjoys the relaxed atmosphere her classes provide. Once, when Powers was teaching Fish Cookery 101, an unwrapped, expensive fillet was dropped and went flying across the floor, leaving a marinade trail in its wake. Her students were silent, waiting for Michele to lose her cool, but instead everyone called out "Five second rule!" and Michele salvaged the fish.

Powers recently had a column of 12 recipes published in the July issue of Cooking Light magazine. The recipes can be found in the Super Fast column, and each can be prepared in less than 20 minutes.

"I've always loved Cooking Light," said Powers, "I firmly support their motto, 'Good eating can be both healthy and tasty.'"

<ro>Recipe:

<lst>Easy Any-Night Stir-Fry

This stir-fry is so easy to make, you can serve it any night of the week. It is a great way to use leftover meat and vegetables as well. If you are cooking meat one night, simply double the amount you make and turn it into a stir-fry the following night. The recipe is versatile as well because any type of meat and any assortment of vegetables can be used.

Ingredients:

For Sauce:

1/2 cup orange or pineapple juice

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1 heaping teaspoon grated fresh ginger

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 Tbsp honey

2 tsp Chinese sesame oil

2 Tbsp cornstarch

Other Ingredients:

1 pound raw or cooked chicken, pork, shrimp, or lean steak, cut into thin strips

4 cups assorted fresh cut vegetables (broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, water chestnuts . . .)

Method of Preparation:

1. Combine all ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl and whisk well to disolve the cornstarch (mixture wil be cloudy). Set aside.

2. If you are using cooked, leftover meat: Proceed to step 4.

3. If you are using raw meat: Heat a large, non-stick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add meat of choice and saute' until cooked through. Remove meat from pan and place on a plate; set aside.

4. Add assorted vegetables to the pan and stir-fry over medium-high heat until vegetables are crisp-tender. Add meat and juices back to pan. Re-whisk the sauce to incorporate the cornstarch. Add sauce to the pan and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to low and simer one minute stirring to coat meat and vegetables.

Serves: 5

Serving Size: 1 1/4 cups

Serving Suggestion: Serve the stir-fry on a bed of steamed brown rice. Sliced pineapple and mango is a nice accompaniment.

Notes: Try substituting assorted fresh vegetables with a package of frozen stir-fry vegetables. Simply saute' the frozen vegetables according to the directions above.