New Cookbook Will Help Anyone Eat and Cook Like an Arlington Firefighter | ARLnow

An ACFD ambulance heads for a call (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

A new guide will help anyone eat like an Arlington firefighter.

The Arlington County Fire Department recently released a 103-page nutrition guide and cookbook online detailing what local firefighters and emergency responders eat, cook and have in their kitchens. Fire stations are renowned for being home to some top amateur chefs, and the mix of culinary skill and practicality is on display in the new ACFD publication.

Proper portions (“one golf ball = 2 tablespoons”), pantry staples, and healthy ranking dishes are all listed in the guide. Recipes like Summer Breakfast Skillet and Alfredo Cauliflower are designed to be large enough to feed an entire family or an entire fire station. There are separate sections for all shifts, including breakfast, lunch, snacks, sides, and dinner.

“The recipes do not follow a strict macro-nutrient profile or calorie count, as everyone’s needs are different in this regard,” reads the intro. “Instead, they focus on whole foods and minimally processed, nutrient-dense ingredients, in dishes that can be made on a budget and suitable for fire crews of different sizes.”

Arlington firefighter and nutrition specialist Clare Sabio helped assemble and proofread the guide. She tells ARLnow that the reason for publishing this great guide is because they get questions all the time about how firefighters eat, train and stay ready for calls.

“We wanted to proactively share this with the public as a free resource for their health benefits as well as our own,” she says. “The health and education of citizens is a big part of our job as providers of emergency medical services, so it’s nice to be able to help our citizens stay healthy.”

Recipes and ingredient lists eschew “empty calories,” like refined sugars, Sabio notes, and highlight complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, proteins and plant sources of vitamins.

The goal is to keep people full between eating occasions, which can be a long period of time due to constant calls. Plus, they have to be delicious.

“Healthy food doesn’t work if it doesn’t taste good and make our people want to eat it. It was also the reason why every recipe was in color with a photo,” she says.

The guide is also designed to help in the long run, including encouraging longevity, muscle gain and recovery, and cancer prevention.

Firefighters have a higher risk of cancer and heart disease than the general population due to exposure to toxic substances and job stress.

The project of finding, writing, compiling and assembling the book took about three months, Sabio says. The guides are not only available to the public, but are also distributed to county fire stations.

Physical books are intended for long-term use in fire station kitchens. The pages are removable to take to the store and are ployed for easy cleanup in the event of a spill.

Sabio would love for Arlingtonians to tell which recipes worked for them and which didn’t.

“We are all happy with how it turned out and hope the citizens of Arlington enjoy it,” Sabio said. “We’d love to see photos of everyone who tries a recipe from the book and get their feedback on how they liked it!”

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