Writer: Kevin Robinson-Avila
ALBUQUERQUE - New Mexicans with diabetes can learn healthy ways to cook meals and snacks during free, hands-on classes in Albuquerque that begin Oct. 27.
"People with diabetes don't have to give up all their favorite foods," said Patricia Aaron, a home economist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. "They can still eat tasty meals by preparing them in healthy ways, and that's what we teach them in this class."
The four-part course, dubbed "Kitchen Creations: A Cooking School for People with Diabetes and Their Families," allows participants to learn through experience by cooking several dishes during each three-hour class.
"The course's strong point is that participants prepare recipes in the class rather than watch someone else demonstrate," said Karen Halderson, an Albuquerque-based Extension diabetes coordinator. "By doing it themselves, participants are more likely to make the dishes when they go home."
Extension educators hold Kitchen Creations classes in 25 counties, but this is the first time classes will be offered in Spanish in northern New Mexico.
"The class will be taught by bilingual nutrition educators, and all the recipes and hand-out materials will be in Spanish," Aaron said. "Most of the dishes we cook will be Mexican meals, like stuffed jalapeņos and Mexican posole."
Reaching out to Spanish speakers is important, because many Hispanics are at high risk of developing diabetes, Aaron said.
Nearly 121,000 New Mexican adults have diabetes, or about 9 percent of the population. But Hispanics are twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to be diagnosed with diabetes, and Native Americans are about three times more likely, according to the New Mexico Department of Health's Diabetes Prevention and Control Program.
During the first hour of each class, participants learn about controlling diabetes through healthy diet and exercise, Aaron said. Participants learn to plan meals, eat appropriate amounts of carbohydrates, increase vegetable consumption, replace butter or lard with vegetable oil when cooking and add flavor to food with spices rather than sweeteners or fat.
During the following two hours, participants break off into small groups to prepare meals and snacks, such as healthy salads, mixed vegetable dishes and desserts like bread pudding, Aaron said.
Extension provides free course materials for participants, including cooking utensils, ingredients and recipe books. Anybody with Type 2 diabetes can participate, as well as relatives or caregivers who prepare meals.
Classes are once per week from Oct. 27 to Nov. 17 at the 4-H Center at 1500 Menaul NW. For more information, call Virginia Chaves at (505) 243-1386.
© 2013 New Mexico State University Board of Regents
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