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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Diabetes Cooking Classes Offer Healthy Meals, Support

LAS CRUCES - Doņa Ana County residents with diabetes and those who cook for them can take free hands-on cooking classes in English or Spanish to learn how to prepare healthy versions of familiar foods, even desserts.

Participants in "Kitchen Creations" classes offered by New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service will prepare full breakfast, lunch and dinner meals with dishes such as chile relleno casserole, beef and broccoli stir-fry, whole wheat tortillas, cucumber and tomato salad, and bread pudding.

The classes also cover correct serving sizes and meal planning for people with diabetes.

"It's really about making small changes that can make a great impact on your health," said Karim Martinez, Doņa Ana County Extension home economist.

A series of classes taught in English is scheduled for April 2, 9, 16 and 23 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Mayfield High School, Room 137.

Instructors are offering a group of sessions in Spanish on May 2, 9, 16 and 23 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., also at Mayfield High School, Room 137.

The sessions are limited to about 25 people, and Martinez said classes in Las Cruces fill up quickly. Rosa Lopez, registered dietician with the state Department of Health, will offer nutrition instruction, and Martinez will teach food preparation.

Martinez said the point of the class is to give people practical information to manage diabetes.

The first class is an introduction with a light meal provided. In the following classes, participants prepare a meal after a time of teaching, Martinez said.

Gayla Weaver, Extension home economist with the Ideas in Cooking and Nutrition program, said participants can practice and ask each other questions.

Instructors explain the Diabetes Food Guide Pyramid, which differs from the regular food guide pyramid, and teach participants to balance high and low carbohydrate foods, she said. Martinez said they also teach techniques such as using olive oil instead of lard and making desserts with sugar substitutes.

"This class shows you how, as long as you balance, you can have quite a variety of food," she said.

Participants receive a workbook to use in the course, a New Mexico cookbook and a cookbook from the American Diabetes Association.

Almost 3,000 people have participated in Kitchen Creations since NMSU's Extension Service began the program in 2001. NMSU has offered about 160 series of classes in 30 counties statewide.

According to the state Department of Health Web site, about one in 11 adult New Mexicans has diabetes. Diabetes was the sixth leading cause of death in the state in 2002, according to the site.

For more information or to register, call Martinez at (505) 525-6649.