Cooking school teaches diabetics and families to eat right, exercise

Freedom New Mexico: Helena Rodriguez (Left to right) Dolly Salas of Portales, Rosemary Nance of Clovis and Jodi Fulton of Portales sample some food made during Kitchen Creations Cooking School for Diabetics and Their Families at ENMU in Portales.

By Helena Rodriguez: Freedom New Mexico

Janelle Newberry of Portales doesn’t have diabetes, but her 3-year-old grandson does, and that’s one reason she’s attending the Kitchen Creations Cooking School for Diabetics and Their Families.

Newberry said she has to stop and consciously think about what to make when she cooks for her grandson. “He doesn’t like many vegetables, so I thought this class might help,” she said.

Newberry’s daughter, Jana Strickland, is also attending the cooking school.

More than two dozen diabetics, or family and friends of diabetics, are attending a free, four-part class at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, which began on Monday night and continues with three more weekly sessions through April 21. The hands-on class, which is filled to capacity, is sponsored by the Roosevelt County Cooperative Extension. It involves weekly cooking lessons, information, insulin checks and even an exercise component.

During the first three-hour class session this week, students prepared grilled porkchops, Southwestern slaw, Spanish rice, pineapple salsa and frozen peach melba cream.

“All we’re really going to do is talk about the way we should be eating anyway,” explained Connie Moyers, the Roosevelt County Extension home economist. “Diabetics need to be more concerned about how many carbohydrates they eat a day.”

She said diabetics need to control carbohydrates without adding extra sugar, sodium and fat, and need to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Foods high in carbohydrates include breads, potatoes and sweets.

Judy Cox, a registered dietitian with Fresenius Medical Care in Clovis, is assisting Moyers with the diabetic cooking classes. Cox believes the classes really help diabetics maintain their blood-sugar levels.

“I know a lot of people who have taken classes like this and doctors come back to me and say this is awesome,” Cox said.

“Most insurance companies will pay for three hours of diabetes education. I wish every newly-diagnosed diabetic would have to take 16 hours of classes, like this class. There is so much more we can do in this class, compared to a class that is just talk and lecture, because this class is hands-on,” Cox added.

Another Kitchen Creations Cooking School for Diabetics and Their Families will be offered next spring.