Seniors Can Cook With Class

Cooking is all the rage, and you can enjoy cooking classes, even if you've prepared meals most of your life. You can learn techniques that help your health and your budget while you're having fun.

You don't eat the way you did when you were in your 20s. You've probably cut back on calories and fat and reduced your sodium intake. A cooking class can show you how to make those changes taste better as you create a healthy, balanced diet.

In addition to cooking, classes may cover such topics as how to get more calcium and vitamin D, cook vegetables, and prepare healthy foods. For example, a couple may take a class because she doesn't want to cook anymore and he was just diagnosed with diabetes. They need foods that are easy to prepare and fit into a diabetic meal plan.

Important factors

Speed and ease are lesson essentials.

Seniors want recipes that are fast and easy because they know the value of their time and don't want to spend hours in the kitchen cooking.

They often look for recipes few ingredients that require only 10 to 15 minutes of preparation and that are low in sodium and fat and high in dietary fiber.

Nutrition and convenience are important, but so is your budget. If you're concerned that you're spending too much on carryout or restaurant meals, learning how to fix a few quick meals can lower your food bills.

For example, you can make a vegetarian chili or a filling vegetable and pasta soup for less than $1.50 a serving, based on a recipe that makes four servings. That's less than you'd pay in many restaurants.

A cooking class can also replace a meal you'd otherwise have to make or buy. Instructors often encourage students to taste their culinary efforts.

And what an icebreaker food can be as you and your fellow students sit down to a snack or meal.

Find the right program

Preparing a recipe under a teacher's guidance is a great way to learn. But if you need a lot of advice—say, how to cook for someone with high blood pressure—pull up a chair instead at a demonstration class.

Make sure the classroom has ample seating with sturdy chairs. You should be able to hear and see the instructor from any angle .

You can find demonstration classes at senior centers, public libraries, and hospitals. Library-sponsored classes are usually free or have a minimal cost. They're often held during the day to make it easier for seniors to attend.

Hospitals are another source. Sign up for the newsletter of a nearby hospital to see what's offered. Senior center classes may give you the opportunity to learn a dish and share a meal afterward.

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