Recipes for Medical Students and Residents

I’m going to periodically add some recipes to the blog that meet my “pizza rule” i.e. if it takes longer to cook than it does to order a pizza it’s not going to work…


This is a great vegetarian dish and would make enough for a lot of call nights!.  The recipe calls for garlic oil (which I’ve never heard of).  I’d skip it or, if you really want to add a little garlic taste, mash up a couple of cloves in some olive oil (like 2 tblsp) before you start and let it sit while everything else is cooking.  You can drizzle the olive oil over the pasta at the end.


Here’s the original url for this recipe which is delicious (but a little fussy and violates the pizza rule)

Here’s the resident friendly version:


2 servings

  • 2 filets of the freshest white fish in the store (Tilapia, snapper, etc)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil  (cut to 1 tablespoon or use Pam to save calories)
  • 1 package frozen peas
  • 1 cup chicken stock  (buy the 4 packs of one cup each)
  • 1 shallot (if you can’t find one, use part of the red onion)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (don’t cheat on fresh garlic)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2  Italian Roma tomatoes
  • ½  minced red onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped black olives  (buy in bulk at Whole Foods – use Nicoise or herbed olives of Provence – can buy small jar, too)
  • 2 tablespoons chiffonade of basil  (chiffonade = finely sliced.  Don’t cheat on the fresh basil, either)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil  (cut to one table spoon if you are watching calories)
  • 2 Yukon gold potatoes cut into 6ths or 8ths

Start with the base of the sauce

  • Saute the shallot (or onion) in the olive oil
  • Add the garlic until you smell it (more and it will burn = bitter)
  • Pour in the chicken stock
  • Bring to a boil
  • Add the potatoes – drop the heat to a simmer and cook until just fork tender (~8-10 min)
  • Pour in the frozen peas – cook for 3 minutes
  • Take the potatoes out and save

Take out a third of the peas with a slotted spoon and put in a bowl to use later

  • Put everything else (minus the peas and potatoes you took out) into a blender until smooth.  (If you don’t own a blender, this is a critical tool for residents so go out and get one!  Smoothies are a key food item for medical students and residents and blenders are cheap!)

Make the relish

  • Cut up the tomatoes, olives, basil, red onion
  • Add to the peas you saved from above
  • Add the olive oil

“Grill” the fish

  • Use a grill pan or non-stick sauté pan (another important piece of resident equipment)
  • Put olive oil in the pan (Pam if you are watching calories)
  • Cook 3-4 minutes per side

Assemble the dish

  • Pour the sauce into a bowl
  • Put the fish on top
  • Arrange the pieces of potato around the edges
  • Put the relish on the fish

A variation (if you like Mexican flavors)

  • Use tomatoes, corn, cilantro, jalepeno and onion for the relish
  • Use frozen corn instead of peas


8 servings

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 4 stalks celery, diced
  • 8 cups (two containers) chicken broth
  • 1 roasted chicken (bought already cooked), skin removed and meat broken up into small pieces
  • 10 oz frozen corn
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • chopped cilantro
  • 2 avocados
  • pico de gallo (buy at the store)*

Saute vegetables in olive oil until they are soft

Add chicken broth, bring to a boil

Lower heat to simmer and cook 10-15 min (until vegetables are mostly cooked)

Add chicken, corn and pinto beans

Cook another 5 minutes on simmer

Garnish bowls with chopped avocado (1/4th per serving), cilantro and pico de gallo

Optional:  Add cooked rice and/or shredded cheese

* to make pico de gallo (if you can’t find it ready made)  combine 3 diced tomatoes, 1 diced onion, chopped cilantro, one diced (fine) jalapeno, salt and lime juice.  This is a great dip for chips or to put on grilled fish or chicken, too.

You Can Exercise Even if You are on Call

One of the great fallacies about working out is that you need to “go somewhere” to work out.  This idea that working out is separate from the rest of your life is the main reason people don’t work out.  Be creative – there are lots of ways to work out that don’t require much and can be done in the hospital.  There are days on call and then there are days on call (everyone who has done it knows what I am talking about).  On the days that have a little “breathing room” here are some ways to work out while you are at work.

Cardio options

  1. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.  There are good data that 3 sessions of 10 minutes of cardio has the same result as a 30 minute cardio session.  Those 2-3 minute “sessions” of going from floor to floor will add up to 20-30 minutes easily by the end of the day.  Or, if you want to push it a bit, add a few flights (or minutes) here and there.  You can always find 10 minutes (or 20, if the day permits) and really climb the stairs.
  2. Take a jump rope to the hospital and keep it in the call room
  3. Find out if there is a stress test lab or PT area in the hospital that has stationary bikes or treadmills that you can use.
  4. Go for a walk.  If it’s safe, and your beeper and cell phone permit, walk outside the hospital.  If not, do “power rounds” on the floors for exercise (do the circuit of each floor, climb the stairs to the next floor and continue).
  5. Talk your program into paying for a used bike or treadmill.
  6. Commute to work on your feet or on a bicycle (more on that later…)

Strength training options

  1. Buy a set of stretch bands or inflatable (with water) dumbbells and throw them into your on-call bag.  You can get a good strength training workout with these.
  2. Cheap dumbbells are easy to find.  For $20-30, you can put a pair or two  in the call room or resident lounge.  See if there are other residents that want to go in with you to buy a complete set.  Of course, you will have to find a way to lock them up if, like most hospitals, things have a habit of walking away.
  3. Old fashion calesthenics (push-ups, squats, etc) will provide a good strength workout , too. You might consider one of the many popular DVD based programs that are making the rounds (no pun intended) at the moment.

Flexibility training

Stretching can be done anywhere, anytime.  Like weight training, there are some good tips that can be taught by a pro.  Make sure if you hire a personal trainer that you ask them to give you some tips about stretching, too.  There are also excellent books on stretching.  You might think about web based or DVD yoga sessions as another alternative.

The key concept here is that working out during call is doable – and will often help with fatigue, stress and the feeling of being overworked.  These “workouts” don’t have to be long – even 10 minutes will help.