From Our Team
Posted on August 22, 2022 by Jana Renner
What image comes to mind when you think about eating healthy? If you’re like me, you’re seeing a plate full of veggies and maybe some bland chicken breast. What if there was a way to reprogram your brain — as well as your shopping list and eating habits — so that planning healthy meals sparked creativity to spice up recipes?
Sabrosa Vida is a chef-led cooking and nutrition program brought to the community by the El Paso Center for Diabetes, in partnership with the Paso del Norte Health Foundation’s Healthy Living priority area.
The curriculum was pilot tested by the Center for Diabetes in 2019 and I am excited to announce that based on input from the first cohort of participants, 10 new recipes and a new module on international cooking have been developed and new classes have already begun. There is still time to sign up for the remaining classes, but space is limited.
“What we learned from our pilot program was that people don’t need help finding healthy ways to cook the staple foods most El Pasoans eat,” said Sandra Gonzalez, executive director of the El Paso Center for Diabetes. “They wanted to learn how to cook different types of cuisine, as well as tips on meal planning.”
With the help of registered dietitian and chef Dr. Sarah Ruiz, founder of Sun City Dietitians the five-week Sabrosa Vida program now includes five lessons: Introduction to Cooking and Carbohydrates, Learn to Love Your Vegetables, Vary Your Protein, Bite-sized Desserts and International Cuisine. Each lesson consists of a nutrition education component with information on how to read labels, food safety, portion control, and goal setting. “We use ingredients that are local and seasonal — this has the additional benefit of making meals delicious and affordable at about $2 to $3 per serving,” Ruiz said. “What we have found is that learning how to substitute healthier ingredients into meals has helped participants unlock their creativity in the pantry and the kitchen and use what they have learned in preparing other healthy meals.”
During each class, a chef will demonstrate how to prepare that lesson’s menu item. Then the fun starts. Participants prepare the dish themselves, using their creativity by substituting ingredients from the lesson to suit their personal taste. “One of our new recipes is a Pad Thai, which uses tofu, a healthy protein substitute,” Ruiz said. “I’m not surprised to learn that a participant used that lesson to prepare tofu tacos. Tofu is a great substitute for protein that, once you learn how to prepare it, it adapts and absorbs the flavors of your seasoning. Participants will find that once you stock your pantry with some of the ingredients from our recipes, they can be used in a number of different and creative ways.”
In addition, you can find helpful videos, recipes, and tips on the Diabetes Now What? website. There are videos for healthy snacking, ingredient substitution, a shopping guide for diabetes-friendly grocery shopping and recipes like a delicious mushroom posole. Head to https://epdiabetes.org/now-what/ to find out more.
Diabetes and obesity are major factors in a variety of other chronic ailments nationwide and particularly in our region. The Health Foundation’s focus in the Healthy Eating initiative is educational programs, such as nutrition and cooking classes like Sabrosa Vida, that influence behaviors in selecting, preparing, cooking, and eating heathy.
If you’re interested in signing up for Sabrosa Vida classes, go to epdiabetes.org or call 915-532-6280. Classes are free and available for all adults.
PDNHF Initiative: Healthy Eating
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