Eating healthy, living healthy

Published 5:15 pm Monday, August 18, 2008

Digging into a heaping casserole at a family dinner or munching on snacks while tailgating doesn’t have to be fattening. In fact, learning how to make them healthier can become a family affair.

Donna Sibley is a registered dietician with St. Vincent’s One Nineteen Health and Wellness and the coordinator of its healthy cooking classes and demos. Sibley said the center began holding cooking classes to motivate people to think about how they are eating.

“Because we have such a fast–paced society most people haven’t found a way to make what they eat healthy and convenient,” Sibley said. “We feel like it’s important to educate the public on how to make healthy food fast.”

Sibley said she feels like a lot of residents think you must be a member of the center to partake in the variety of classes available. But that’s not true she said, especially for the Kids Cooking Class, Cuisine 119 or the monthly healthy cooking class for adults. Registered dietician Rachel Fowler leads these classes throughout the year.

“It’s a great way to expose the kids to all the different ethnic cuisines as well as new fruits and vegetables,” Fowler said. “I think it’s one of the keys to getting kids to try new sauces and ingredients because they’ve actually cut the vegetables and helped.”

Fowler also said when the kids ask questions it opens the door to discuss nutrition.

Involving hands-on lessons also engages adults, Fowler said. She said many are surprised to learn the variety of ways you can lighten up a meal without eliminating taste.

On Sept. 30, adults and families can join Fowler for a “Tailgating for the health conscious,” class to learn how to create low-fat snacks like baked chips or a hearty Italian casserole using shredded zuccini instead of noodles and ground turkey instead of beef.

“These classes give people a way to lighten things up,” Fowler said. “It’s not always about what we are taking out, but what we can add to make a dish healthier.”

She said even guys leave the classes full despite a lack of red meat in most dishes.

For more information about future classes, visit and look in the Wellness section for upcoming events.