The chef has fitness recipes

Aneka Kruse makes a tasty combination out of her training in the culinary arts and sports medicine

FITNESS ROUTINES are an ingredient of Aneka Kruse’s parallel pursuits as fitness trainer and chef. Photos by Sam Arendt


Ozaukee Press staff

Early into her second year of college at Concordia University in Austin, Texas, Aneka Kruse got a call from her parents asking how school was going.

It was then that the Port Washington resident, who already changed her major four times, had to tell them she made another change. Kruse dropped out one week before classes started.

That “big shock” turned to support when Kruse revealed her new plan. She wanted to become a chef and was accepted at Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts.

She picked up a job as a chef at an area restaurant and began learning about inventory, marketing and organization.

After graduating culinary school in 2021, she did an apprenticeship at Twin Farms, a five-star resort in Vermont. That’s where Kruse discovered her second profession.

The nearest gym was 45 minutes away, and Kruse got up early and drove there every morning. After workouts, she would hang around and talk to the owner or other patrons, sometimes helping them with their exercises and spending three hours a day there.

She eventually told the Twin Farms head chef she was leaving. He told her he hoped it was for a career in fitness.

“I think he knew before I did,” Kruse said.

Kruse came back to Port Washington and earned her personal training certification online through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She landed a job at Form and Fitness, first at the front desk and then as a personal trainer.

Kruse teaches a variety of classes and does small group and individual training, sometimes working soon after the crack of dawn, sometimes in the afternoons and both on busy days.

She plans to add cooking demonstrations at Form and Fitness and is working on a cookbook with the owner Ben Quist.

“A lot of people who start their fitness journey don’t know how to eat,” Kruse said.

She already had  a chef gig thanks to what she calls a “happy accident.” One of the clients told Kruse he didn’t have time to cook for himself.

“Just hire me as your private chef,” Kruse jokingly said.

A week later, the man asked Kruse if she was serious. She said she would try it and now makes him five breakfasts and five lunches a week.

Her first customer doesn’t like beans, but “he allows me to have my creativity,” she said.

Since he has been eating better, the client has been lifting higher weights and his skin looks better, Kruse said.

This is the start of what she hopes will be a two-pronged career in fitness and healthy cooking. 

Kruse’s interest in cooking goes back to childhood when her mother Beckie would experiment.

Kruse became accustomed to not following recipes, instead learning from trial and error.

That’s one reason she prefers cooking over baking.

“Eighty-five percent of the time when you think you mess up you can fix it,” Kruse said, unlike the precision required in baking.

Kruse was always active, playing soccer, softball and field hockey in high school. Her favorite activity is jiu jitsu, which she used to do a few times a week. She took exercise more seriously a couple of years ago and realized it goes hand in hand with healthy eating.

“They play such a good role together,” Kruse said. “You hear it all the time. You can’t outwork a bad diet.”

Kruse likes cooking food from all different genres and especially loves eating anything Mediterranean. She keeps dishes “light and bright” with vegetables, fruits and citrus.

One of her dinners consists of chicken strips or cubes seasoned with salt and pepper, turmeric, ginger and red chili flakes sautéed with onions.

She adds homemade tzatziki, including Greek yogurt, grated cucumber, parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Kruse includes homemade pita bread using Greek yogurt, flour and baking powder, and she fries it.

An easy side dish could be julienne cut red onions sautéed in olive oil and salt until soft, then drizzled with lemon juice and chilled until they’re bright pink and cold. Other vegetables such as peppers, carrots and zucchini also work as sides.

Kruse can cook all genres with a healthy twist. She uses red lentil noodles, which have fewer carbs than regular pasta, makes her own granola and uses dates and raw honey for sweeteners. She prefers natural ingredients.

Dabbling in the kitchen allows Kruse to unleash her imagination that she applies to other parts of her life. The 2019 graduate of Living Word Lutheran High School loved doing musicals and plays and art projects. She collects smooth rocks and draws on them, hoping to turn that into a side business someday.

Kruse has a few tips for people interested in becoming healthier.

“Focus on whole foods. The less ingredients, the better,” she said, adding high-protein foods are good and when going out to eat to watch the large portion sizes.

Drinking water and moving every day is important, she said, suggesting getting up 15 minutes earlier than normal to take a walk.

Prioritizing sleep is important, and resistance training is beneficial, she said.

Taking supplements, she said, should be more of a last resort after lifestyle changes.

“Think about who you want to be and make choices that person would make,” she said.

Kruse isn’t sure where she’ll end up, but she is accustomed to new places. Her father Scott used to be a Lutheran pastor, and the family moved when he took pastoral positions at various  churches. Kruse started in Pennsylvania before moving to Antigo, then to Grafton in sixth grade, where she stayed through high school.

Regardless of where she goes, Kruse said she is confident in her direction toward becoming a full-time chef. She said it helps to take a leap sometimes.


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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