Cook Healthier and Keep Your Culture

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AULT, COLORADO — Rosario lives with her husband and four youngest children. Her older daughter Gaby lives nearby and brings her one-year-old son over most days of the week. Rosario and her husband emigrated from Chihuahua, Mexico fourteen years ago with their two older children and worked for many years in a dairy. Rosario is grateful that they have been able to prosper here despite some obstacles and says that resources such as SNAP and community education classes have been helpful.

Rosario embraces her cultural traditions of cooking and working together as a family. They have a summer garden and raise chickens for eggs. “My family has always been very united, we like to work and have fun together as a team.”

When her son Gabriel was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes a few years ago, Rosario started looking for resources in her community. She learned in a diabetes education class that although they were eating nutritious foods, they needed to be more aware of portion size and using ingredients from all the food groups. This was an eye opener for Rosario and her family. She was inspired to change, but still unsure how to apply what she learned.

Rosario enrolled in a Cooking Matters for Families course at her children’s school. She says the course opened the doors for her. “The classes taught me to how to feed my family nutritious food without leaving my culture behind. When my son and I began to understand MyPlate and its food groups, his diabetes began to noticeably improve.”

In the six-week course, Rosario and Gabriel learned together about how to combine foods from different groups into delicious, healthy meals. “Mango with cucumber and other vegetables is delicious, I never imagined knowing how to combine vegetables and fruits like this.”

Rosario also learned tips to make cooking easier and more fun, like planning meals, organizing ingredients, and having all her children help in the kitchen. “We spend time together and share new ideas such as adding new vegetables and seasonings.” Involving the kids in planning and cooking has resulted in the family trying new foods.

Rosario encouraged her daughter Gaby to sign up for a Cooking Matters for Parents course. Gaby learned about nutrition, cooking and shopping, as well as tips to raise a healthy eater. “I was shocked when I realized the damage we do to our health by eating fast food – sometimes we would eat fast food several times a week.” Gaby enjoyed the hands-on cooking in each class. “It made me feel like I can read and cook any recipe. This class definitely influenced my way of introducing solid foods to my baby.”

Gaby shared her new skills with her husband when they went grocery shopping together. When he chose a box of oatmeal based on its attractive packaging, Gaby applied what she learned in Cooking Matters to compare products using food labels finding that the generic brand of the same product was less expensive. “Reading the ingredients, my husband and I saw that the only difference was the box and the price – and we could save $1.99! We were really surprised how much more money we spent before.”

Rosario, Gaby and the children continue to practice their skills together in the kitchen, using the Cooking Matters book and kitchen utensils they received in the class. They also use food labels and unit prices to make smart shopping choices together.

“Now that we are at home, we have our own weekly Cooking Matters class. We appoint a cook and a person in charge of checking the grocery list. We make a weekly meal plan using our favorite recipes. My children are learning new skills, like reading the recipes and calculating the prices of the food that they choose to put on the menu. We use the ingredients we already have in the cupboard, sometimes having to substitute so as not to go out to the store for new ingredients. We also read the nutrition labels and talk about the portions of the food groups on our plate. My children are learning how to manage money and have a good diet.”

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Helping Kids Make Better Choices

Maria, weeks away from welcoming the birth of her second daughter, was concerned with her ten-year-old daughter’s picky eating habits. She came across a flier for a Cooking Matters for Families…

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Who We Are

Cooking Matters runs programs with Colorado parents and caregivers that cover how to shop for and cook healthy, kid-friendly, and affordable meals.

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