Children and parents learn to cook healthy

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Ashley Skillman
  • 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Between quick rides through the drive-through, TV dinners, pizza delivery, and frozen meals in a bag; quick meals seem all too familiar for families in this fast-paced world we now live in. Somehow, despite best intentions, these meals of convenience have managed to wedge their way into most of our daily lives.

Why is that exactly? Reasons vary from person to person, but often lack of time proves to be the main culprit. After juggling work and family, time has a knack for running out during all the wrong times, which can make it challenging for parents to keep up healthy eating habits for their children. Fortunately, there is hope.

The Heath and Wellness Center and Pampered Chef consultants recently partnered to host a cooking class Jan. 23 that taught children and their parents how to work together to incorporate healthy eating practices into their daily routine without taking up a lot of time.

"I think, honestly, a lot of people don't realize how convenient healthy cooking can be," said Catherine Hanthorn, an independent director of Pampered Chef. "It just takes a few more seconds to introduce your kids and family to fresh produce and ingredients to make that fresh recipe rather than using packaged food. It's so much healthier for your family, too."

Maj. Cathy Snowball, 48th Aeromedical Squadron Health and Wellness Center flight commander, explained that, "establishing a pattern where you sit and have a chat about your day is a positive way for kids to connect with their parents in this busy world we're in."

In order to make the experience fun for everyone, children were supplied with all the right tools to perform as true culinary artists, including personal chef hats and aprons. Other child-sized cooking utensils, included rolling pins, and child-friendly 'safe-cut' knives were also handed out.

With all of the tools of success and professional guidance given by Ms. Hanthorn and her consultants, April Rose and Nicole Joy, 13 parent-child pairs were ready to create four healthy recipes, including a savory veggie dip, sweet fruit dip, stir-fry pasta, and berry cream wontons. Judging by all of the empty bowls and plates afterwards, the recipes proved to be a success and were well liked amongst the crowd.

Molly Higgins, daughter of Lt. Col. Michael Higgins, 48th Surgical Operations Squadron commander, said her favorite recipe was the sweet fruit dip. She also shared that cooking is something she really enjoys doing with her mother and father.

"I thought this class was fabulous," said Colonel Higgins. "This was something that my daughter and I shared together and it really helps that special bond we have with each other."

As a father, Colonel Higgins considers healthy eating habits to be very important for his daughters, Molly and Bridget.

"Establishing healthy patterns and behaviors early is essential," he said. "There are a lot of confusing and different messages out there about eating, weight, body image and fitness. I want my girls to know, not only the importance of taking care of their minds, and bodies but also how to do that in the right ways. Hopefully, this will aid them in continuing to make wise decisions in the future."

Major Snowball explained that the cooking class was part of an outreach program focused on promoting healthy practices parents and children could do together.

"Since this is the 'Year of the Air Force Family,' we wanted to do something fun and interesting for our families, and this was a great way to get children interested in cooking, especially if they hadn't done anything like this with their parents yet," said Major Snowball.

After the event, Colonel Higgins shared his appreciation for Major Snowball and her staff.
"I'm thoroughly impressed with the leadership of the HAWC, the creativity of the staff and the incredible efforts put into the 'Year of the Air Force Family'," said Col. Higgins. "Reaching out to our kids, our families, and our active duty through classes, sports and other activities balances that incredible dedication to work performance that we see every day. The range of services and activities available to keep folks involved is incredible. I can't wait to see what's next."

Luckily, due to the success of the event and the large amount of interest in the class, Major Snowball said she hopes to have another one in March.

"Watching the kids leave happy and knowing they truly took something away from the event that they'll try with their mom or dad is really what made this event a success," she said.