Cooking class participants strengthen their culinary muscles

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This past month, the third cohort of seniors completed the senior’s healthy cooking program at the Wellness Kitchen at the South Health Campus.

I asked participants what brought them to the program and what they were hoping to learn in the program. There were three main themes:

  • Some participants had limited experience in the kitchen and were looking for a safe place to learn and practice new skills.
  • Some participants were totally bored with cooking and were looking for a boost to reignite their interest in food preparation.
  • Others were looking to expand their knowledge and confidence in the kitchen.

Regardless of their previous cooking experience, many of the participants were not cooking balanced meals at home. They were wilting like flowers.

The six-week healthy cooking program covered the following topics:

Week 1: Food is Medicine:

Recipes for this week showcased how eating a variety of foods can help us to age well and optimize health (and prevent chronic diseases) through intake of antioxidants, phytochemicals, special nutrients.

Week 2: Kitchen pharmacy for healthy aging:

Food contains powerful ingredients for healthy aging and a healthy brain. How can we combine these foods into a powerful kitchen pharmacy to help with healthy aging?

Week 3 – Roast chicken dinner:

This week, we did a roast chicken, roasted vegetables, gravy with dessert, just like mom used to make. We focused on cancer-fighting vegetables, meal timing and healthy meal planning. Once everyone had tried the chicken, we made a chicken broth and talked about other ways we could enjoy the leftover chicken.

Week 4 – Pantry cooking with plant-based proteins:

This week, we focused on soups and salads, using legumes and how we can include these nutritional powerhouses in our diet each week.

Week 5 – Comfort meals that build your bones:

This week we learning how to make healthy food tastier with the health-promoting power of herbs and spices (and therefore use less sodium!). We discussed healthy portion size of grains and how we can round out our carbohydrate intake at meals with lower carbohydrate vegetable choices.

Week 6 – Celebration:

This week we celebrated all that the participants had learned and accomplished in the program, while experiencing the pleasure of eating.

Recipes were specifically chosen to demonstrate each week’s theme and learning objectives. Vegetables were a core part of each week’s meal. Diverse cooking methods and ways of enhancing taste and flavour helped show how healthful foods can taste amazing.

Concepts of meal balance, portion size, meal planning and food safety were woven throughout the program. Recipes were provided to help participants recreate these meals at home.

After the six week program, program participants reported feeling more confident in being able to cook from basic ingredients and follow a simple recipe. Participants are actually changing the way they eat at home.

The Senior’s Cooking Program was featured on the CTV news. You can watch the video clip here: https://calgary.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1396084

Photo credit: CTV News

Each week, the participants came back to the cooking class with stories of the new foods they were cooking! In my experience, spending time in the kitchen is a beautiful way to reconnect with food and to do something for your own well-being. Spending time in the kitchen with people can help to build new friendships and strengthen relationships. And…you are NEVER too old to learn something new.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can strengthen your culinary muscles through healthy cooking classes, contact me! 

Kristyn Hall
Kristyn Hall
Kristyn Hall MSc, RD, Food, Nutrition & Culinary Coach, Registered Nutritionist and Calgary Dietitian, Calgary, AB.

2 Comments

  1. Kristy Leavitt says:

    How fantastic! What a difference you’ve made in the lives of these wonderful seniors! 🙂

    • Kristyn Hall says:

      Thank you Kristy! It has been a positive experience for the fabulous seniors – and for sure for me. Nutrition and food changes lives!

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