Learn to cook healthier, tastier on a budget


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Holidays in the fall and winter revolve around food – indulgent food, decadent food, comforting food — and we tend to go overboard. And, while it’s OK to indulge a little, it’s important to keep moderation in mind.

To help El Pasoans eat well and stay healthy during the holidays — and all year long — the El Paso Diabetes Association (EPDA) offers free cooking classes that can help everyone, not just those who have diabetes, cook healthy.

“We want you to enjoy the holidays, we want you to have what you want, but be careful of how much you eat,” said Sandra Gonzalez, executive director of the El Paso Diabetes Association. “If you want to have a tamale, have a tamale — just one, not three or four.”

Through the funding from the Paseo del Norte Health Foundation’s Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) initiative, EPDA created its Sabrosa Vida program.

Gonzalez said the cooking classes help people look at food from a new perspective.

“It’s really teaching you that you can eat everything, in portion control,” Gonzalez said. “What we really want to teach you is how to cook your vegetables, how to do different things that are gonna taste healthy, but not ugh.”

The virtual classes, taught by two executive chefs, as well as health educators, focus on recipes and food preparation, but also on how to shop healthy on a budget,  healthier substitutions to use in traditional recipes and what to consider when reading labels on packaged foods.

“Everything we cook in our classes is bought at Walmart or Food King, whatever vegetable we cook is what’s on sale,” Gonzalez said. “We want to teach is how to cook your food in a different way and how to look at it in a different way.”

Gonzalez said the program’s recipes are tasty too, so people will be more inclined to change their cooking and eating habits, without feeling like they are giving something up.

She is quick to emphasize that the cooking classes don’t teach diets, since diets don’t work.

“It’s not a diet — we never give anybody a diet,” she said. “You can eat anything, just as long as there’s moderation and portion control.”

As El Pasoans turn to food for comfort in these colder months, and as the pandemic rages on, the cooking classes can help ensure that they are eating better too.

To sign up for the four-week classes, call the EPDA office at (915) 532-6280 or visit the website for more details at https://epdiabetes.org/.

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