Cooking Matters to UNH Students

Victoria DiBiasi

Does cooking matter to you?  It does if you’re a UNH Nutrition & Dietetics student.  In fact, it matters to everyone.  On Saturday,

Participants were divided into two groups; one group learned how to prepare healthy meals in the kitchen while the other group spent time in a classroom lecture.

March 17 and Saturday, March 31 UNH Dietetics students hosted a free cooking-based training program titled “Cooking Matters for Child Care Professionals,” part of Share Our Strength’s national initiative to end childhood hunger by 2015.

The program ran from 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. each day and took place in the University of New Haven’s food lab, located in Harugari Hall.  Organized by Helana Hoover-Litty, RD, dietetics students participated in the educational program.  The event included over twenty child care professionals from the New Haven area and featured cooking classes, informational lectures, and discussions.

Participants were divided into two groups; one group learned how to prepare healthy meals in the kitchen while the other group spent time in a classroom lecture.  Dietetics students led the lectures, utilizing power point presentations and activities.  Presentations focused on creating positive mealtime attitudes for children, choosing healthy yet appealing foods for kids, and menu management on a budget.  Emphasis was placed on safe cooking practices to maintain good hygiene, avoid cross-contamination, and keeping foods out of temperature “danger zones,” in attempt to reduce foodborne illness.

While in the kitchen attendees read over healthy recipes, which they then prepared and consumed.  All cooked meals and snacks were not only nutritious, but tasty for both adults and children.  Recipes were low-cost, easy to prepare, and did not require fancy equipment to produce.

Snacks included fresh fruit and cheese kabobs along with kale chips, which provide a delicious crunch and an abundance of vitamins A, C, and K which are all essential for healthy childhood growth.  Nutritious salads, sweet potato fries, and chicken tenders were also cooked.  Participants were pleased at how delicious the food was and many expressed interest in cooking these foods with children that same day!  Sweet potato fries were a huge hit. Child care providers said kids would love this recipe.

The class was one element of Share Our Strength’s “No Kid Hungry” mission, which includes a series of curricula intended to spread nutritional information, teach healthy cooking methods, and meal planning on a budget.  Other Cooking Matters courses include “Cooking Matters for Adults,” “Cooking Matters for Kids,” “Cooking Matters for Families,” “Cooking Matters for Teens,” and “Cooking Matters for Young Parents.”

Childcare professionals who attended this workshop received a free workbook of recipes, bag of groceries, and kitchen tools to take home.  All participants, both students and professionals, felt this course was a rewarding experience. UNH student Morganne Brady said “we taught ourselves by teaching others.”  As more individuals are educated about healthy food practices, fewer children will go hungry.  UNH students are proud to help Share Our Strength’s goal come to fruition.