Learning to prepare healthy food is one key to better living. That’s why Healthy U and the Sedalia Parks and Recreation Department are offering the community an opportunity to interact with nutrition experts to create fit meals in a series of classes for the next several weeks.
Sarah Nail, community outreach coordinator for Bothwell Regional Health Center and the chairwoman for the Healthy Living Action Group, said these classes give the participants an opportunity to work hands-on.
“Anyone can go online and look up recipes and try them at home, but this gives them the opportunity to learn from an expert in nutrition,” she said.
There also may be recipes and ingredients one hasn’t tried or worked with before and the classes will help students learn how foods work together for healthier eating.
The first class, “Freezer Bag Meals,” was March 26. Nail said six people signed up for the class. Many of the students hadn’t had much experience cooking with fresh herbs and garlic.
“Healthy eating is about flavor with fresh herbs rather than fat,” she added.
This class helps the students learn these techniques.
As an example, Nail said that the Pettis County Health Center has WIC clients that receive beans and would like to know how to prepare them.
“This gives us the opportunity to teach people in the community how to prepare healthy foods for their families.”
Last year, Healthy U ran out of time to introduce the cooking class program. Students and nutritionists gave cooking demonstrations at Woods Supermarket and, although people enjoyed the samples and the recipes, they didn’t have time to watch the demos.
The classroom setting provides a better atmosphere for learning and discussion on cooking techniques. Participants also have the bonus of getting to take home a meal at the end of class.
It’s a make-and-take concept, Nail said. There is no cost to take the classes, but when participants register they are given a list of ingredients to bring.
Usually they only make one dish, except for the freezer bag meal class. In that class, students made three cupcake-type meals. The cupcake theory teaches portion control and easy freezing.
Two students made taco cupcakes, three students made lasagna cupcakes and one student made meat loaf with mashed-potato frosting cupcakes. Portions were increased and at the end of class students shared the work so each could take home three different freezer dishes.
“Two of the most attractive classes, for me personally, are the ‘Four for Five’ and ‘Meatless Main Dishes,’ ” Nail said. “With that class, there aren’t any hard and fast recipes, it’s more like I cook at home. You can take those four ingredients and make really different dishes.”
Four ingredients of zucchini, tomatoes, garlic and olive oil can make pasta salad, omelets, stir-fry, spring rolls or a lean green burrito with avocado. All are very tasty, versatile and simple to make.
As for the meatless class, Nail said, “Sometimes as Americans, it’s a habit to have meat three times a day. The thing about that is you can have protein and a healthy meal without meat.”
A couple of the meatless dish recipes will be Southwestern quesadillas with creamy avocado sauce and Thai veggie pasta. Nail and her family enjoy the veggie pasta with a peanut sauce.
“I tried it and my daughter loved it,” she said.
Because the meatless class offers new ways to work with ingredients, it sparks creativity in the students.
“That’s another thing, sometimes people get in a slump,” she said. “Another way to mix it up is to try something meatless.”
Classes are taught by Healthy U nutritional coaches, a University of Central Missouri dietetic student and by Amy Epple, the recreation supervisor at the Sedalia Parks and Recreation Department.
Classes run twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays through May 2. Class minimum is two to three and maximum is 12. Those interested may register by phone by calling the Sedalia Parks and Recreation Department at 826-4930.
Nail said they would love to hear class ideas from the public.
“If there are other things people are interested in, we will be interested to hear it. If these (classes) go well then we are open to offering another set of classes later this year.”
Spinach Lasagna Rolls
9 lasagna noodles, cooked (whole wheat if possible)
10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and completely drained
15 ounces ricotta cheese, fat free or low fat
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt and fresh pepper
32 ounces tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes or favorite spaghetti sauce
9 tablespoons part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine spinach, ricotta, parmesan, egg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Ladle about one cup of sauce on the bottom of a 9-by-12-inch baking dish.
Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and lay out lasagna noodles. Make sure noodles are dry. Take 1/3-cup of ricotta mixture and spread evenly over noodle. Roll carefully and place seam side down onto the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.
Ladle sauce over the noodles in the baking dish and top each one with 1 tablespoon mozzarella cheese. Put foil over baking dish and bake for 40 minutes, or until cheese melts. Makes nine rolls.
To serve: Ladle a little sauce on the plate and top with lasagna roll.
Recipe similar to what will be fixed in the “Meatless Main Dishes” cooking class
Basic four ingredients
Minced fresh garlic
Eggs (or an egg plus an egg white)
1 to 2 ounces low fat cheese
More veggies (optional)
Prepare as an omelet in a skillet with olive oil.
Recipe similar to what will be fixed in the Four for Five cooking class.
Thursday: Meatless Main Dishes
April 9: Cooking for Two
April 11: Sweet and Salty
April 16: Mommy and Me
April 18: Freezer Bag Meals
April 23: Meatless Main Dishes
April 25: Four for Five
April 30: Sweet and Salty
May 2: Cooking for Two