Home » Healthy Cooking Classes…SUCCESS!

Healthy Cooking Classes…SUCCESS!

Hellooooo! 😀

Truly unfortunate that my blog traffic SKY ROCKETED yesterday thanks to the “DO what you DON’T” challenge (Thank you! Not too late to join!) and that I have been MIA since then. Sorry, sorry! Busssy work week!

As I very briefly posted this morning in my sleep-derived delirium, I taught healthy cooking classes last night. These classes were open to out clinic’s patients, free of cost. I opened 15 slots in 2 time slots — 5 to 7pm and 7 to 9pm. All the slots filled and I had 20 people on the waiting list for cancellations. Awesome turnout for a first-time event, eh? 😀

I must pat myself on the back rejoice in the fact that the evening went off without a hitch! The participants worked in groups of 3-4 on the recipes below — a complete, balanced dinner. I found it so interesting which dish people preferred most. The first session LOVED the salad, and some people shared that they have never made homemade salad dressing! The second session loved the cookies (shocker!) and the Biggest Loser “Fried Chicken” (P.S. I own Jillian Michaels my first born for that recipe…love, love, love!).

The facility at a local technical college was graciously opened to us. Just check it out!! Gorgeous!!


Marinading chicken pre-portioned out

Beautiful romaine ready for salad-making!

Teaching studio where the intro & nutrition “lesson” were given

Teaching studio – take 2

Teaching studio – take 3

Ready to go!

As people filed in, they collected the recipes and an outline of the evening. For the sake of time we prepare the recipes in a certain order: cookies, potatoes, chicken, and lastly, salad. The potato cook-time was adjusted accordingly as we used a convection oven (heating through hot air circulation). The total cooking time was 70 minutes for both groups….perfect!

Interested in what we made? Thought so 😉

Items in BLUE were done ahead of time by yours truly. Items in RED were scaled down recipe portions.

Biggest Loser “Fried Chicken”

2 pounds chicken tenders
1 quart 1% buttermilk
2 cups breadcrumbs
1 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons paprika
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon organic seasoning Salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
Large pinch cayenne pepper
4 egg whites, beaten to very soft peaks
Cooking spray
tin foil

Soak chicken tenders in refrigerator, in buttermilk, for 6 hours or overnight.

Drain and blot with paper towels to remove excess buttermilk. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325 F. Lay bread crumbs out on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes. Cool.

Heat oven to 450 F. Combine cornstarch, paprika, seasoning salt, black pepper, and cayenne in a large dish and mix well.

Dredge drained and blotted chicken tenders in seasoned starch. Next, coat dredged tenders thoroughly with beaten egg whites. Last, dip tenders in toasted bread crumbs to fully coat. Place chicken tenders on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 12 – 15 minutes or until outside is crispy and chicken is just cooked through and juicy. Serves 8.

Nutrient Information (per serving): 270 calories; 4 g. fat; 1 g. saturated fat; 65 mg cholesterol; 210 mg. sodium; 27 g. carbohydrate; 2 g. fiber; 28 g. protein

Megan’s Salad

1 large head of Romaine lettuce (or 2 Romaine hearts)
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp ground mustard
2 tsp dried oregano
Pepper to taste¼ cup grated Parmesan cheeseWash and dry lettuce; rip into bite-sized pieces and place into a large salad bowl. Drizzle olive oil and vinegar over leaves and toss to coat. Sprinkle the herbs and parmesan cheese over the leaves; toss to coat. Serves 5.

Nutrition Information (per serving): 89 calories; 7.4 g. fat; 218 mg. sodium; 4 g. carbohydrate; 2.6 g. fiber; 3.2 g. protein

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

7 small red potatoes
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp rosemary (dried or fresh)
2 tsp paprika (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooking sprayDirections:

Wash and dice potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Place into a large bowl or Ziplock bag; toss with olive oil. Sprinkle garlic, rosemary, paprika (optional), and salt and pepper over potatoes and shake to coat. Layer potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.

Bake at 400 F for 35-45 minutes or until slightly browned. Serves 5.

Nutrition Information (per serving): 188 calories; 5.4 g. fat; 228 mg. sodium; 36 g. carbohydrate; 4.2 g. fiber; 5.6 g. protein

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

2/3 c. 50/50 Smart Balance Butter Blend, softened (1/3 cup)
2/3 c. firmly packed brown sugar (1/3 cup)
2 large eggs (1 egg)
1 ½ c old fashioned oats (3/4 cup)
1 ½ c all purpose flour (3/4 cup)
1 tsp baking soda (1/2 tsp)
½ tsp salt (1/4 tsp)
6 oz package dried cranberries (3 ounces)
2/3 c white chocolate chips (1/3 cup)
Parchment paper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well. Combine oats, flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate mixing bowl.

Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition. Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Yield: 36 cookies (18 cookies)

Nutrition Information (per cookie): 114 calories; 5 g. fat; 1.3 g. protein; 16.2 g. carbohydrate; 0.7 g. fiber; 15 mg. cholesterol; 44.8 mg. sodium

Meal Total: 661 calories; 21.8 g. fat; 700 mg. sodium; 83 g. carbohydrate (5 ½ carb choices); 10.1 g. fiber


I took a few “action shots” and fun poses of patients working together, but HIPPA laws will not allow those to be shared 🙁 Too bad because they’re so cute…everyone looks so happy 😀

While everyone was enjoying their creations, I talked about meal planning and how to budget while still preparing healthy meals at home. I shared my personal opinion on cooking and how it is “phasing out” of the world and quickly being replaced with higher-calorie, highly processed, sodium-laden foods that are making us more overweight and unhealthy at an alarming rate.

Does cooking take time? Yes.

Does cooking take planning? Yes

Is cooking at home more expensive? Doesn’t have to be.

Is cooking at home hard? Doesn’t have to be.

Can cooking at home actually save money? ABSOLUTELY.

THEN I posed a question to the group…

How do you DEFINE cooking? Is Hamburger Helper considered “cooking”? It uses a pan. What about macaroni and cheese? It requires a pot. What about grilled cheese? It requires a skillet. Is jarred pasta sauce on boiled spaghetti noodles considered “cooking”?  I don’t know…

The groups both agreed that the meal they prepared was 1. crowd-pleasing, 2. delicious, 3. healthy, and 4. very doable at home. Most people were already spouting off when they were going to make some of the recipes! 😀

Question: How do YOU define cooking? Does it have to be from scratch to be considered home-cooked? In the above scenarios are any or all considered “cooking”  (Hamburger Helper, macaroni and cheese, and grilled cheese)??

I’m curious to hear your answers! I think this is a really gray area and can be argued several ways and I’m not sure which is “right” or what I agree with most.

Happy cooking 😉 ,

Share With Your Friends!


  1. March 30, 2010 / 8:00 pm

    From scratch is homemade to me. I grew up on my father’s cooking, which was always from scratch whether it was healthy or not.

    Congrats on your success btw!

  2. March 30, 2010 / 9:50 pm

    Those potatoes sound AMAZING!!

    For me, if it comes out of a box its not cooking. Im all about using ingredients, and not quick fixes. Does that make sense?

  3. March 30, 2010 / 10:35 pm

    From scratch is home made but cooking at home in almost in anyway is better than eating out all the time which I use to do!

  4. March 30, 2010 / 11:46 pm

    The recipes look awesome, and I think you offering those classes for your clients is incredible, what an opportunity for them, you really are an inspiration, it’s clear how much you care about what you do.

    For me if it comes out of a box it isn’t cooking. (exceptions are pasta that you are adding to something else). Basically if I am throwing something in a pot or pan that has more than 3 ingredients and I’m not throwing in at least that many whole foods as well its not cooking, its reheating or maybe preparing but not cooking.

  5. March 31, 2010 / 1:19 am

    Of course there are food snobs that say cooking needs to be from scratch with real natural ingredients…and…I totally agree. Microwaving a TV meal is not cooking. Heh. So shoot me.

  6. March 31, 2010 / 3:42 am

    wow thats a beautiful teaching studio , looks like a lot of fun and very nice recipes too esp the fried chicken…

  7. March 31, 2010 / 5:38 am

    This sounds like an awesome event! I’m so proud of you for your amazing turnout. You are changing the world, one step at a time – that’s for sure. This meal looks delicious. I love buttermilk “fried” chicken and it is a definite crowd-pleaser. And rosemary mashed potatoes – HEAVEN.

    I think the definition of cooking really varies from person to person. I wouldn’t let Hamburger Helper or jarred tomato sauce set foot in my kitchen. But that’s because I’m used to cooking everything from scratch. That being said, for someone who eats out all the time and can barely boil water, I think jarred tomato sauce is a good option and still counts as cooking. It’s definitely better than McDonald’s!

  8. March 31, 2010 / 6:03 am

    Congrats on the great class! I think if it is highly processed then it is not cooking. You don’t have to make pasta from scratch (the boxes are ok) but if you use the sauce from jars (like Ragu) that’s not cooking. That is just reheating. I think of cooking as using fresh, whole foods, not processed stuff.

  9. March 31, 2010 / 7:11 am

    From scratch is obviously ideal, but I think even if you have to take some shortcuts (jarred sauce, etc.), it’s still better than eating out!

    Thanks for sharing– sounds like your classes are SUPER popular!!

  10. March 31, 2010 / 8:41 am

    Wow, check out that teaching kitchen, that is fantastic looking!
    If it comes in a box, and all I have to add is water, it’s not cooking. If there is at least minimal prep involved, then I guess it’s cooking, but I don’t think it’s so cut and dry!

  11. March 31, 2010 / 8:42 am

    I think the stricter the definition of home cooking, the fewer people want to do it. Sure, grilled cheese could be home cooked only if you made the bread yourself…or you can say store-bought bread counts. I count it as anything I make at home—not counting pre-packaged foods or re-heated takeout.

    So I would count mac n cheese as long as it didn’t come from a box. And I’d count grilled cheese. But I wouldn’t count microwaving a frozen meal. Likewise, I’d count lasagna if I’d made it myself—even if the sauce was from a jar. But I wouldn’t count microwaved frozen lasagna. And I’m not going to dock myself points for not making homemade sauce.

  12. March 31, 2010 / 8:45 am

    This sounds so fun! Thank you for sharing your cooking skills with others and getting them to see that cooking really doesn’t have to be that hard. Me, I’m a home-cooked all the way kind of gal, but even so, many of my dishes are simple…like maybe just some brown rice jazzed up with olive oil, or soy sauce, or even a little butter and garlic.

  13. March 31, 2010 / 9:01 am

    That is SO awesome, you should be so proud! I don’t think it has to be from scratch, but it should involve fresh ingredients. No, I don’t think mac and cheese from a box counts!

  14. March 31, 2010 / 9:36 am

    Girl, you are awesome and so creative! I’d take a healthy cooking class from you any day!

    I would say that technically cooking must involve mostly fresh ingredients, perhaps with a few convenience products added in here and there. If it’s all from a box, then no. But if you use some jarred salsa or pasta sauce in place of fresh to save some time, I’m not calling the cooking police or anything. 😉

  15. March 31, 2010 / 9:43 am

    I think that anything that is just heat and eat, mostly ready made is not cooking. Like the hamburger helper/mac n cheese. But I don’t think things have to be done completely from scratch to be cooked either.

    Glad the class went so well. It looks great and very well put together.

  16. March 31, 2010 / 11:48 am

    I think it is difficult to define “what is cooking”. In my eyes, “cooking” is starting from scratch and creating a meal. Things like mac and cheese/hamburger helper I would call “making” food. I am totally against using things like boxed mashed potatoes, but I think everything is relative…if someone is eating McDonalds every night for dinner, then maybe they wouldn’t be so bad for a change 🙂

  17. March 31, 2010 / 12:07 pm

    Hmmm that is a REALLY good question. i would count cooking as anything that requires you to bust out an appliance that you have to clean, not including the microwave. hahah That would…a pot, pan, or steamer…

  18. March 31, 2010 / 12:51 pm

    I have a turkey in the oven as we speak, and I’m going to make your potatoes to go along with them! I tend to lean on the side of cooking from a box is not real cooking. I grew up in a house where everything was made from scratch. I had never had hamburger helper until I was in college. However, I think that hamburger helper or a grilled cheese at home is better than eating a supersized heart attack on a bun at one of the fast food chains!

  19. March 31, 2010 / 2:36 pm

    I would love to cook in that kitchen – and sharing/teaching healthy meals is something I would love to incorporate into a food-related career someday. Nice work!

  20. March 31, 2010 / 5:52 pm

    I do the boxes, jars and mac and cheese. It is not cooking. I cannot cook. I can grill and follow a recipe, but do not consider those cooking.

    “If you can cook, you can easily adapt a recipe to suit your needs because you know enough about the ingredients, what mixes and how the prep/cooking will affect the outcome.”
    -Lena’s Dictionary


  21. March 31, 2010 / 8:09 pm

    How cool you got to teach a few cooking classes! It sounds like they all learned a lot and everything looks SO delicious 🙂

  22. March 31, 2010 / 9:04 pm

    That cooking studio is gorgeous! I wish I lived in your area, Nicole…I would have loved to take part in this!

  23. April 1, 2010 / 8:04 am

    I think that hamburger helper and the like are considered cooking. Maybe not healthy cooking, but you gotta brown the meat, etc. To me, that’s cooking!

    That is so neat you got to teach cooking classes! Sounds like you did a great job!

  24. April 1, 2010 / 3:57 pm

    I think it is so cool that you taught a class! And what a great place to teach!

    I think of cooking as throwing that stuff together, yes (the mac n’cheese, etc.) but that is NOT the cooking I admire 😉

  25. April 2, 2010 / 5:58 am

    Love that you teach cooking classes too! I bet we could swap tips 🙂 I remember when I first taught a class about butternut squash fries, they could just not get over how good they were, yet so healthy.

  26. April 3, 2010 / 10:16 pm

    Looks like such a great time!! I would have been in heaven 🙂 Did you reserve the kitchen?

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