In 2015, Northern Indiana VA Nutrition and Food Services department launched Healthy Teaching Kitchen classes. The classes allow Veterans to watch and participate in healthy recipe demonstrations while sampling the delicious dishes.
The six-class series was organized to educate and assist Veterans to make healthier recipes in their own homes. The curriculum is designed around the Healthy Plate method of eating, which emphasizes portion-controlled meals, including vegetables, fruit, lean protein, dairy and fiber rich grains.
The classes are focused on a food category topic and each introduces recipes that offer different methods of cooking and seasoning to enhance food flavor without using salt.
Often had waiting list to enroll
“This is one of the most popular classes we offer,” said dietitian Tiane Bianski. “We would often have a waiting list to get enrolled. Veterans with fluctuating work schedules and travel restrictions prevented them from participating in the face-to-face classes. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, all classes had to be put on hold.”
The pandemic required the dietitians to get creative with their classes. With the help of the public affairs office, they began recording monthly recipe demonstrations. The two-minute video includes an ingredient list, preparation steps and a final product. The videos are then shared on social media platforms to increase access to healthier cooking education.
Videos via VA Video Connect and Facebook
“This new method has become popular with our Veteran population and the public who view the videos on our social media outlets,” said Tiane.
The social media videos have been so successful that the Nutrition and Food Services department decided to take it a step further. The six-class series is now offered to Veterans through VA’s Video Connect. Veterans now have the capability to take the classes or just try a new and healthy recipe from the comfort of their home.