By Dr. Mallika Marshall, WBZ-TVBy Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) – Spaghetti squash is a vegetable not familiar to many of us, but today that’s what was on the menu at the demonstration kitchen at Boston Medical Center.

Tracey Burg, a registered dietician and former chef, shows patients at BMC how to roast it, toss it with marinara sauce, add some turkey meatballs, a sprig of basil and voila! A tasty and nutritious dish is created.

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The demo kitchen works closely with BMC’s preventative food pantry. Whatever is fresh in the pantry is what Tracey brings to the table.

Her classes cater to patients with a variety of issues like heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes. But no matter the class she says choosing whole foods is most important. “We try to teach them how to cook,” she explains, “And cook in a more healthy way and stay away from processed foods.”

Wynne Hathaway, who is using diet alone to manage her diabetes, comes with her daughter, Heather, from Weston once a month. “It gets us in the right mindset so we eat more foods that are healthy for us,” says Wynne.

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Gigi Eacemen of Dorchester, who also has diabetes, says Tracey has been a godsend. “It’s a positive approach,” Gigi says. “Let’s eat well, cook well, be well, play well, and I think (Tracey’s) just an angel who exists in the universe.”

Tracey says this is the best job she has ever had. “It’s very rewarding to me as a dietician and chef to know that what I’m doing here is making a difference in people’s health,” says Tracey.

All classes are free and offered to all BMC patients and even staff members. They’re building a brand new demo kitchen which could be ready this fall. And believe it or not, this appears to be the only program like it in the country.

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For more information and to check out some recipes, go to http://www.bmc.org/nutritionresourcecenter/demonstrationkitchen.htm

Dr. Mallika Marshall