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Setting an example: Pediatric gastroenterologist/amateur cook eats lots of vegetables, grains


Prateek Wali, MD, in his kitchen preparing a marinade for salmon (see recipe below). (PHOTO BY SUSAN KAHN)

Prateek Wali, MD, in his kitchen preparing a marinade for salmon (see recipe below). (PHOTO BY SUSAN KAHN)


As a child growing up in Kashmir, India, Prateek Wali ate mostly locally grown vegetables and farm-raised animals. In the snowy winters, his family dined on kidney beans, turnips, hearty grains and other foods that stored well. The spring, summer and fall months meant eating whatever vegetables were in season. It was very farm-to-table.

“We shopped for dinner each morning in the local outdoor market,” he describes.

Wali, chief of pediatric gastroenterology at Upstate Golisano Children‘s Hospital, brought that part of his culture with him as an 8-year-old boy when his family moved to America. He and his sister routinely helped their mother in the kitchen, developing a love of cooking. He characterizes Kashmiri cooking as rustic and flavorful. Vegetables and meats are made decadent with a range of spices to produce unique curries.

Today, he continues to expand that palate with his wife, Mikki Kollisch, through travels to experience new cultures and new food. While they enjoy making Indian food, they also try their hand at other cuisines, including Italian, French, Thai and Korean.

As a physician specializing in the organs of digestion, Wali is particularly mindful of how food and drink  can impact human health. He nudges his patients toward incorporating nutritious choices into their diets. Those with irritable bowel syndrome can benefit from diets low in sugar, fat and dairy, for instance, and patients with gastroesophageal reflux may benefit from low-acid, low-fat foods.

He says it is unusual for a particular food to be the cause of a disease, except for gluten in celiac disease. Instead, “patients who have difficulty with intestinal symptoms, or those who have a diagnosed gastrointestinal disease often can improve their health if they consult with a dietitian.”

That‘s an option for children at the Karjoo Family Center for Pediatric Gastroenterology at Upstate. Wali and his colleagues care for children with celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal failure, allergic gastrointestinal disease, feeding and swallowing disorders, liver disease, pancreatitis and other diseases.

Wali describes himself as an enthusiastic amateur cook. He shares healthy, tasty and practical recipes such as Udon Noodles With Bok Choy and Poached Egg, Butternut Squash With Farro, and Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers on a blog that he writes mostly for family.

HaakandChai.com, as it is called, refers to Kashmiri dietary staples, collard greens and tea. Wali writes, “Both are examples of how food defines our culture and interactions among our family.”

Asian salmon

Asian Salmon


2 fillets of fresh salmon
For the marinade:
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons light brown sugar


Whisk soy sauce, Dijon mustard, honey and brown sugar together to create marinade. Rub over the meaty surface (skin side down) of the salmon, and allow this to sit for 10 minutes.

Heat an iron skillet on medium-high heat with a thin layer of olive oil. Place the salmon, skin side down, into the pan. Cook for 4 minutes, then turn using a fish spatula. Cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes until salmon is firm to the touch or registers 135 degrees Fahrenheit on a meat thermometer.

Transfer salmon to a flat plate, skin side down, and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Serve with rice and soy sauce. This pairs well with a riesling or pinot grigio wine.

Nutritional information

(For each of two servings, assuming half of the marinade is absorbed)

Calories: 395

Total fat: 25 grams

Cholesterol: 78 milligrams

Sodium: 575 milligrams

Potassium: 715 milligrams

Sugars: 9 grams

Protein: 35 grams

 spring 2017 issue of Upstate Health magazineThis article appears in the spring 2017 issue of Upstate Health magazine.