What’s Cooking At Home

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We conducted a survey of food and nutrition professionals to find out what they are doing to promote food and cooking education to consumers.

The two most popular topics are how to read a food label and how to cook and eat more fruits and vegetables. Over 90% say they LOVE to cook at home!

Here is what is cooking in their demo kitchens and classrooms:

• Healthy fast meals that add variety and take the hum drum out of cooking.

• Having children compare the amount of sugar in various products using the Nutrition Facts label and converting that information to teaspoons of sugar.

• Focusing on cooking with whole grains and vegetables. Participants view examples of all of the whole grains found in our local stories and then take home a sample to try.

• Roasted Veggies—coat bite-sized pieces in a little olive oil and roast in a single layer at 425 degrees until tips are caramelized (about 20 minutes).

• Cooking tasty foods with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grain products and low-fat dairy ingredients is important for MyPlate and Dietary Guidelines messages.

• We create low-fat and no-added-sugar dishes and we also teach participants how to modify their own recipes so they can cook healthier at home.

• Our favorite and best received classes have included: one pot meals, vegetarian meals and quick meal ideas.

• Exotic fruits and vegetables always gather their attention. Healthy stir-fry dishes teach them a way to cook a healthful vegetable-based meal very quickly.

• Breakfast for Busy Families, Quick and Easy Meals for your Family, ABCs of

Mealtime Fun and Veggie Recipes are constant favorites. Our county wellness program is currently conducting a Salsa Contest.

• We are currently teaching Meals in Minutes, Vegetarian Cooking and Heart-Healthy Cooking classes.

• For a kids’ cooking contest, we focused on low fat recipes for the American Cancer Society and made a cookbook of the winners. Demos focus on high fiber breads and low-sodium products (canned and jarred tomato products).

• We are showing how to incorporate vegetables into more entrees.

• We have a day where everyone brings healthy foods and the recipes for them to share.

• When I do a cooking demo, I emphasize quick, easy and healthy. I also tend to emphasize the need to plan meals for the week and to buy the food. I try to showcase a food that people are hesitant about trying or they do not know how to cook (fish, whole wheat pasta, tofu, whole grains— millet, quinoa).

• I simply bring in different food labels—those that span the market in terms of healthy and unhealthy food. We discuss them and then give them a rating in terms of their nutritional content.

• Finding ways to substitute healthier ingredients in class participants’ favorites. This usually means converting high-fat recipes to low-fat, healthier versions.

• Have samples of single-sized foods and the typical super-sized versions: cookie, bagel, muffin, french fries (can cut strips of foam rubber and stuff into fry containers), etc. Let participants guess the number of calories in each. Using an electric buffet range (single burner), demonstrate how easy it is to prepare a stir-fry dish using vegetables and poultry.

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