“Remember the plate!” Annette’s 10-year-old daughter tells her as they travel through the grocery store. Her daughter is referencing the USDA’s “My Plate,” a guide for healthy eating.
Thinking about “My Plate” wasn’t always part of Annette’s shopping experience. But since she took a class with Cooking Matters, she and her children have been working as a team to make healthier choices.
“I’m trying to make small changes so the kids can eat healthier and I can eat healthier as well. It’s too hard to make two meals and I’m not going to stick with it. It’s much easier to do as a family.”
Annette’s struggles with her weight and her attempts to control her diabetes has played a large part in her life. On the first day of class, she explained that her doctor was disappointed she wasn’t making bigger changes in her diet. Annette knew she needed to eat healthier to control her diabetes and knew she wanted to cook healthier for her family, but she just didn’t know how. Her doctor never went into detail on how to cook and shop healthier, and she thought what she was doing was fine.
During one class, Annette learned how to identify whole grains and understand the value of fiber. She returned to class the following week beaming and shared this with the group: “I gave the kids whole wheat spaghetti and made whole wheat pancakes and they didn’t even notice the difference!” Within the month, she had switched entirely to whole grain products.
During the grocery store tour, Annette was repeatedly surprised to discover how tricky finding healthy food could be if you didn’t spend the time to check labels. “Wheat bread seems healthy, but it might not be,” Annette noticed, and “I had never looked at the sugar in yogurt before! I thought that vanilla meant it was plain!”
After class, Annette was ecstatic to have so many new healthy recipes to experiment with. “There are so many vegetables I had never offered the kids before,” Annette explained, “spinach – I sneak it right into the pasta now— cauliflower, spaghetti squash, beets!”
Armed with a bunch of new recipes and simple tips to make small healthy changes, Annette began to introduce new foods to her kids. In Cooking Matters classes everyone has to taste everything we make at least once – you don’t have to like it, just try it – and Annette now proudly uses this strategy with her kids at home as well.
“Changes do happen!” Annette says. She left the class with an open mind, and a month later was still trying out new recipes on her kids. “I hope a lot of people take the class, there are so many things you don’t realize until someone explains them to you!”