Maria Trottier and April Auger slice and dice some bell peppers and a jalapeño for some black bean quesadillas at St. Clement Anglican Church.

Maria Trottier and April Auger slice and dice some bell peppers and a jalapeño for some black bean quesadillas at St. Clement Anglican Church.

A taste for learning

Cooks in Houston's family food skills class are slicing and dicing their way to healthy eating.

Take 13 people excited to cook from scratch, chop them into groups and pair each with a healthy new dish.

Then blend in some nutrition tips, add a dash of budgeting advice and voilà, you have a recipe for the tastiest class in Houston.

Speaking as she diced a fresh green jalapeño pepper, Maria Trottier said she joined Houston Link to Learning’s family food skills class because she knows how to cook, but she wants to know how to cook healthy.

“Last week was awesome,” Trottier said on week three of the six-week course. “Everyone was energized, and I went home and decided to totally change our eating habits.”

The aprons come out Thursday mornings, after Trottier and a dozen others meet up in the kitchen of St. Clement Anglican Church.

Young children are looked after in a room just down the hall. That’s a big draw for Trottier, who has a one-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son.

Trottier also said that as a diabetic, she is especially glad for the nutrition lessons in the class, which is put together by the BC Diabetes Association.

“I can do way more in a day when I eat heathy,” she said.

Sandwiched between a chopping block full of onions and a pot of salmon chowder simmering on the stove, Lana Wright says she likes to cook with fresh ingredients.

“There’s a lot of chopping,” she said with a laugh. “But it’s worth it in the taste and the nutrition for sure.”

Organizer Belinda Lacombe said Thursday’s class started with three M’s—meat, milk, and meat alternatives.

Meat-eaters, for instance, were told to shop for round, loin and sirloin cuts, all of which have less fatty marbling than ribs or rib-eye and t-bone steaks.

And as for milk, the class learned to favour lower fat cheeses—those with 20 per cent or less milk fat. Stronger cheeses tend to have lower milk fat than mild ones, said Lacombe.

“You get the flavour, but not the fat.”

Along with healthy eating tips, Lacombe said a key part of the class is smart food shopping.

In a few weeks they will tour Houston’s Super Valu with nutritionist Wendy Orienti, who will hep them map the five healthy food groups onto a grocery store floor plan.

Basically, Lacombe said she teaches that it’s best to “shop the sides.”

Most grocery stores pack their meat, bread, dairy and produce along the walls inside the store, she explained, leaving fattier, high-carb foods for customers to walk past in the aisles in-between.

Lacombe said she is learning things herself, even after teaching several kitchen classes in Houston.

For one thing, Lacombe said she no longer believes it’s more expensive to cook things from scratch.

“There is a higher cost upfront,” she explained, as people buy things such as olive oil for cooking instead of butter. But in the end, she said,  it’s cheaper to eat healthy.

“As your body changes, you need to eat less, but you feel just as full.”

Lacombe is one of 143 people teaching the food skills course across B.C. Started in Sept. 2008, the class has been delivered to over 2500 people who are often the primary cooks in their families.

A 2011 report by the BC Diabetes Association said the biggest change they see in people who take the class is that they eat more fresh fruits and vegetables—up to or above the recommended five to seven helpings a day.

They also use less fat, sugar and salt in their cooking, the report said, and they make more food using fresh ingredients.

 

Just Posted

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

lotto max logo
Are you the lucky winner?

A $1 million ticket was bought in Burns Lake for Friday’s Lotto… Continue reading

Jill Mackenzie carefully replaces books on the shelves at the Houston Public Library. (Angelique Houlihan photo)
District approves annual library grant

Craft kits featured for summer reading club

The tradition of Houston Christian School grads giving Bibles to incoming kindergarten students will take place this year, but outdoors and in a modified fashion. (File photo)
Houston Christian School grad day is June 24

Grads themselves have set tone for the day, says teacher

Scott Richmond will be starting as the new vice principal for HSS and TSE. (Submitted/Houston Today)
Houston gets a new vice principal

Scott Richmond takes over from Dwayne Anderson who moved to Smithers

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

Most Read