Food Advice Aids Students
BY CHRIS SCHUTZ
Mouths were watering as nutrition educator Lou McCullough whirled strawberries, bananas, yogurt and orange juice into breakfast smoothies.
"Ya’ll gonna enjoy this. This is going to be so yummy,” she told the class of students preparing for the general educational development (GED) test.
McCullough’s job as nutrition educator with the Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension Office is to teach food stamp recipients to make better choices at the grocery store.
Recent studies have indicated that food stamp recipients may become obese because of their eating habits, according to a news release from the extension office’s Community Nutrition Education Program.
Some of those habits include buying soda and bags of chips and relying on cheap, high-fat hamburger, McCullough said.
Ground chuck, with 20 percent fat, is a better option because less of it cooks away.
"People think eating healthy is expensive. It is, and it isn’t,” she said.
"My mission is to let them know these are some things we can change.”
In nine years of teaching in the nutrition program, she’s noticed that people’s biggest problem is planning menus. "No one wants to menu plan,” she said.
Student Kristy Smith, mother of a 5-year-old, said she has lost weight since following nutrition advice from class. She proudly told the class of an eggplant/lima bean dish she concocted.
Keren Valencia, mother of three young children, said she has learned that green beans are among the least nutritious vegetables.
McCullough encourages planning a week’s worth of menus and gives a common sense piece of advice: "Don’t go to the store hungry. Think about what you’re eating and try to get some fruit and vegetables.”
Children who learn good eating habits from their parents are less likely to become overweight, the educator said.
→Eat breakfast: A good and easy breakfast is a smoothie of banana, frozen
strawberries, orange juice and cups of yogurt that have been frozen. Milk can be
added; other fruits can be substituted.
→Leftovers: Leftover stew or pizza make for an easy breakfast.
→Omelets: An omelet in a bag is a popular choice among children, McCullough said.
Put three eggs in a zippered freezer bag and add other desired ingredients such as
cheese, mushrooms, ham, onions, salt and pepper. Submerge the bag in a pan of
boiling water to cook.
→Fruit: Dried or canned fruit (drained of syrup) can be more economical fruit choices.
Two cups of fruit a day are recommended.
→Beans: Dried beans are cheap and appear "on every part of the (food) pyramid.”