Lyster offers new healthy cooking class
June 21, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (June 21, 2012) -- Patients walking the halls of Lyster Army Health Clinic June 14 may have noticed something out of the ordinary -- the smell of toasting pita bread and limeade chicken.
The fragrances were a product of the first healthy cooking class offered at LAHC by registered dietician Theresa Osteen and dietetic technician Hannah O'Steen. The small group of people who attended the class walked away with four recipes and numerous tips on preparing healthier food with what products available at the commissary and other local grocery stores.
"Food is part of our culture. It's part of our society. It's part of doing things together," Osteen said. "When people develop diseases and learn they have to make changes to their food, they tend to think that it's going to be horrible."
But during the class, she tried to show people that healthy food can still taste good and be easy to prepare, she said. "It doesn't have to be boring either."
In the hour-long class, held in the new LAHC kitchen, Osteen demonstrated preparing hummus with warm pita bread, limeade chicken, a sweet summer salad and a berry-banana split. She offered possible variations on many of the recipes and explained ways to prepare some items in advance.
The participants tasted each dish, asked questions and offered suggestions to one another as the samples were passed around.
Nosha Pittmon, an Army spouse, said she probably would not have tried to make the summer salad at home because it included cabbage, but she tried it and enjoyed it.
"It was different, but it was good," she said, adding that she came to the class hoping it would help her meet weight and health goals.
Others, such as Terri Joyner, spouse of a retired Sailor, attended the class for the recipes.
"I always love new recipes," she said. "Anything that's quick and simple and still has flavor, I'm all about it."
Joyner said the little things in the class, like learning why some kinds of oil are considered healthier than other kinds, were interesting.
Osteen said she was familiar with the goals of all the people in the class so she tried to address some individual concerns such as heart disease, high blood pressure, weight loss and diabetes. As she prepared each recipe, she explained how to reduce salt, fat and sugar levels.
"What are we modifying?" she asked. "What can we cut back on and still have flavor?"
During the class Osteen emphasized the recipes she used were healthier than some alternatives, but were still dishes an entire Family could eat.
"You don't have to make special foods just because of one situation," she said.
She also reminded the class that all foods could fit into a person's diet if eaten in moderation. She encouraged people to make little changes and take healthier eating one step at a time.
"For a long time in our profession, it was don't do this and don't do that," she said. "But what can they do? Show people what they can do and they are more likely to stick with it."
The class, in many ways, was a practice run for when regular sessions start up later this year, but Osteen said everything went well -- even with a number of last-minute substitutions because equipment had not arrived.
"We've been working on this for a long time now. We had a lot of challenges that we were able to overcome," she said. "Army-wide there are a lot of [kitchens] going into facilities like this, but we are the first ones who have broken through.
"Everybody is paying attention to us and what's happening here," she said.
Osteen said she hopes regular weekly class will begin in September, but more information will be posted on the clinic website when the class schedule is finalized.