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Healthy eating is all in the preparation

By by Dianna Wray - DWRAY@VICAD.COM
July 31, 2012 at 2:31 a.m.
Updated Aug. 1, 2012 at 3:01 a.m.

Natalie DuPont, left, tries to identify  cooking utensils as Brittany Meyers fills out her list at a summer camp sponsored by Texas Agrilife Extension Office.

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Healthy eating tips

• Make at least half of your grains whole grains

• Drink skim or low-fat milk to get the same amount of calcium and nutrients, minus the calories

• Make half your plate fruits and vegetables

• Add lean protein.

Source: choosemyplate.gov

Alexis Myers, 9, wrinkled her forehead, studying the gleaming metal contraption in her hand.

"That is a flour sifter," Erika Bochat told Alexis and the rest of the group of children.

"Oh! It is a flour mixer! I thought so," Alexis said, flashing a smile. "And this is a melon ball scooper?"

Bochat, a Texas Agrilife Extension Agent for family and consumer sciences, nodded.

Alexis was one of 30 children who gathered at the 4-H Activity Center on Tuesday for Cooking Up Good Health, a kids cooking and nutrition camp.

The camp started at 8 a.m. and from then until 5 p.m., the campers were given the chance to work in four groups to learn about kitchen utensils, kitchen safety, measuring and nutrition.

Throughout the building, campers were learning how to wield knives safely, the difference in measuring a cup of flour and a cup of butter - you have to pack the butter into the measuring cup - and about how much of each of the food groups they should be eating per day.

"I think it's really important that we make sure we equip our children to be householders in the future, to be home economists," Bochat said.

The Texas Agrilife Extension Office has been conducting this camp for the past few years as a way to give children some skills in the kitchen that may help them learn to eat healthier meals, instead of taking the fast food route that has become so prevalent, Bochat said.

"It's really important to slow people down and slow kids down and to teach them how to take care of themselves," she said.

Brenda Phipps, an extension assistant with Better Living for Texans, walked a group through the different food groups, having the children go over the components of Choose My Plate, the balanced diet model that replaced the food pyramid last year. Learning to eat balanced meals is key in fighting the obesity problem in American children, Phipps said.

"We're really seeing an obesity epidemic with children and not eating healthy is a part of the problem," Phipps said.

The students learned where foods fall on Choose My Plate, to drink skim or low-fat milk, to try to eat breads, pastas and rice made of whole grains.

Alexis was excited about the Frisbee she made with each of the parts of the food groups on it.

"When it soars through the air, we'll remember to eat healthy," she said.

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