Healthy eating classes introduce new alternatives to women

August 26, 2013

One day in July when the temperature hovered around 90 degrees, Laurette Murray of York made some green tea with peach nectar. In the past, she may have had a soda.

She obtained the green tea recipe from the For Heart’s Sake nutritional cooking program which was sponsored by WellSpan Community Health Improvement and held at YorKitchen in Central Market.

Although the three nutritional cooking classes concluded less than a month ago, Murray has already made a number of changes.

“I had never had tofu before, but I bought some the other night and prepared it using one of the recipes from the class,” she said. “I was surprised by how much I liked tofu.

“I also started my own window herb garden. I’m growing chives, basil, parsley and cilantro. Chef Sharmini Goins showed us how to use more spices in our cooking in place of unhealthy condiments.”

Murray was one of 20 African American women who attended the Healthy Eating classes, which consisted of education and demonstration. She said she’s motivated to eat healthier as she grows older.

“The program was designed as a follow-up for continued outreach regarding the prevention and maintenance of cardiovascular disease among African American women,” said Joann Henderson, community health worker.

“Most of these ladies had participated in previous For Heart’s Sake programs. As a group, they’re battling obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.”

Henderson said lay leaders were asked to bring two friends to the classes. After they completed the program, lay leaders will pass on the knowledge they gained to other city residents.

Chef Goins introduced new vegetables to the group, and showed them how to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their menus. The chef also demonstrated to the group how to cook traditional foods such as collard greens, fried chicken and potato salad in a healthier manner.

The final class consisted of hands-on cooking. Attendees were divided into three groups, each preparing a different dish.

The dishes included tofu with peanut sauce, roasted eggplant dip, honey glazed roasted root vegetables and green tea with peach nectar.

“The hands-on session was fun,” said Murray. “And, it was great to be able to taste the dish you made. It was eye-opening to learn some alternatives to unhealthy ways of preparing food.”

Although Henderson initially was unsure of how the attendees would respond to the class, she said the feedback was “very positive.”

“The women loved it,” she said. “They were excited about the food, the recipes and the interactivity. It’s clear by their feedback that they would enjoy more programs like this one.”