Cooking Matters is a hands-on, cooking-based nutrition education program that teaches families how to prepare healthy meals and snacks on a limited budget.
The University of Minnesota Extention and Share our Strength programs offered the class to about 11 participants from St. James. Each week a professional chef demonstrates new recipes and adults and children can prepare those recipes together in class. Chefs also share tips for preparing healthier foods. The classes were made possible with the help of the Healthy Families, Healthy Future (HF2) initiative that kicked off this year.
During the past six weeks, participants have made nutritious meals together, ranging from turkey burritos to this week’s homemade whole wheat pizza with extra vegetables.
Along with delicious meals, families get tips on how to use different healthy ingredients in a fun and new way. Children who cook with their parents using the special healthy ingredients are more likely to try different foods. This encourages them to eat healthier.
All of the participants in the class will receive a Cooking Matters cook book, which features professionally created recipes which are healthy and can feed four people for under $10.
The class also teaches participants how to properly wash their hands and use knives safely along with tips for food safety. The course focuses on reading nutrition labels to decide what is good and bad about certain foods. During this week’s class, participants took a look at the amount of sugar that is in different kinds of beverages. The instructor explained that beverages with large amounts of sugar can be bad for your health and lead to tooth decay.
The class promotes community by bringing families together to cook and enjoy a meal together. Children in the class said they learned the importance of washing their hands and reading nutrition labels.
After each class the families are allowed to bring the ingredients home to cook on their own. Cooking Matters also offers classes for teens and adults. HF2 is hoping to bring those classes to St. James in the near future.
Next up for HF2 is a six week fitness program being offered to girls ages 8-12 and their moms or female guardians starting May 8. Fun activities will take place each week leading up to the St. James Rail Run. More information can be gained by contacting Tammy Stevens at 507-375-5428.