Asnuntuck holds healthy cooking classes

By Lisa Stone - ReminderNews
Enfield - posted Wed., Feb. 19, 2014
The Asnuntuck Community College’s Healthy Cooking Made Easy instructor Iwona Leger demonstrates how to properly prepare split pea soup. Photos by Lisa Stone.
The Asnuntuck Community College’s Healthy Cooking Made Easy instructor Iwona Leger demonstrates how to properly prepare split pea soup. Photos by Lisa Stone.

Cooking enthusiasts are gathering for a series of Healthy Cooking Made Easy classes at Asnuntuck Community College this semester. The five classes are designed to help people learn how to cook healthy meals that taste good – a great way to keep a new year’s resolution to lose weight and be healthier.

The series began with its first class on Feb. 12. The first three dishes of the series were split pea soup, Mexican fiesta and pasta primavera. “Two tools that I like to use are an electrical pressure cooker and a vegetable chopper,” said instructor Iwona Leger. “The electric pressure cooker doesn’t take anywhere near as long as a conventional pressure cooker. After the pressure cooker seals and is up to pressure, it will only take about eight minutes for the soup to cook, versus a half hour or so.”

Leger doesn’t recommend using canned vegetables due to the fact that they contain chemicals. She highly recommends using fresh vegetables, but if that is not possible, frozen vegetables are a good choice as well. “I recommend that you get the kids involved with preparing the meal,” Leger added. “If the kids are involved with the preparation, they are more likely to eat it. You can ask them questions like, ‘How many onions or peppers should we add?’ Leger recommends keeping plenty of frozen veggies in the freezer just in case fresh veggies are not an option.

Another time-saver that she recommended to the class was to pre-mix the dry spices and place them in bags with labels on them. Leger said that you can also pre-cut the fresh vegetables before the rush of dinner and place them in the fridge. “Pre-cut bagged veggies are good too,” said Leger. “When you do have time to chop fresh vegetables just before dinner, have the kids help with a safe vegetable chopper.”

Leger had some assistance from her friend, Bobbi Jo Harvey. “I am a Yoga teacher,” said Harvey. “In order to get additional fiber in my diet, I add oatmeal in my smoothie in the morning. I want to be strong and healthy, and not on all kinds of medications in another 10 years or so.”

According to Leger, beans and oats are great sources of fiber. “If you soak the beans for an hour and a half or so prior to cooking, the beans will be much quicker and easier to cook. As for oats, steel-cut oats are the healthiest oats. These are oats in their original form that are cut with a steel blade. The second best oat is Scottish oats. They are cut finer and take less time to cook. Irish oats are whole oats that are pressed under extreme pressure.”

Student Elisa Testa is an avid cook. “We are all so busy as a society that it is very difficult to cook a healthy meal in the time that we have,” said Testa. “Walking into a house and smelling the aroma of whatever is cooking is what we as a society are really missing out on. When my friend told me about this class, I just had to sign up for it.”

More classes will be held at ACC in the coming months. For more information on this class, call 860-253-3066.

Let us know what you think!
Please be as specific as possible.
Include your name and email if you would like a response back.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the code without spaces and pay attention to upper/lower case.