CU CHEFSTM (Clemson University Healthy Eating and Food Specialists) work as a team to provide culinary nutrition to the public. Culinary nutrition is the application of nutrition principles combined with food science knowledge displayed through a mastery of culinary skills. Once a month Dr. Marge Condrasky, professor in the Department of Food, Nutrition, and Packaging Sciences, takes students from her Culinary Nutrition Creative Inquiry team to the Greenville Health System in order to educate families on healthy meals for their children. The New Impact Weight Management program allows the Creative Inquiry team to create healthy recipes, run a cooking class and work with a professional to deliver a program to the public.
“I love getting to introduce new products and alternatives to people who are just so into it. I love when it all comes together.”
The Creative Inquiry project is multifaceted. First, the students get together to plan a menu. They take the ingredient list and decide which ingredients may have healthier substitutions. The trick is altering the recipes in ways which allow them to still be delicious and kid-friendly, while ensuring they are healthy. Then, students then conduct recipe research and complete a nutritional analysis to determine how healthy they can make the recipes. Next, the students prepare meals following the recipes; often, they prepare the same dishes over and over again until they believe they have perfected the recipe. Once a month, several of the students travel to Greenville,SC to present the recipes and prepare the meals for the public. They set up a kitchen, prepare for the guests and go over the ingredients and substitutions. “The whole thing is basically our cooking show. We run it,” Condrasky said.
The goal is not only to provide culinary nutrition advice but to improve the cooking skills of the individuals attending the cooking show, including the kids. The students apply what they know to explain how to make the recipes to others. In addition, they make the experience fun for the kids by creating ways to get involved in the cooking class as well as the cooking at home. For the students, the best part is getting to see their hard work pay off when they see families benefit from what they are doing. “I love getting to introduce new products and alternatives to people who are just so into it. I love when it all comes together,” Lashaveria Benson, senior nutrition major, explained.
Adding color to recipes and your plate, like the red peppers in the background picture, are nutritional and fun for kids. (Above) Abel Wilson prepares a shrimp dinner for a cooking class at Greenville Health System.
Barbara J. Speziale