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Posted January 13, 2010 | comments Leave a comment

Free classes offer planning tips for healthy meals

CORRECTION: A story published Tuesday should have stated that the class "New Year, New Plan: Tips for Making Healthy, Quick Dinners," will take place on Friday at 1 p.m. at the Warren Memorial Hospital Outpatient Center conference room in Front Royal.

By Josette Keelor - jkeelor@nvdaily.com

The new year is two weeks old; many healthy lifestyles have just begun and, for some, are about to end.

Never fear though. Valley Health Wellness and Fitness Services intends to keep spirits high -- and sugar intake low -- by offering a free seminar in various locations around the area to help residents with their healthy eating goals.

The seminar, "New Year, New Plan: Tips for Making Healthy, Quick Dinners," will be offered today in Winchester and on Friday in Woodstock and Front Royal.

"It's a one-time free class open to everyone in the community," says Sara Kuykendall, a registered dietitian with Valley Health Wellness and Fitness Services in Winchester. "Helping people have some sort of a basic plan" is the goal of the program.

The seminar is an opportunity for some good, free information, she says. A problem many people face when starting a New Year's resolution or diet is that they do not know which foods they should be eating.

The idea of eating healthy sounds huge -- a commitment to hours in the kitchen baking food rather than microwaving it, or chopping and dicing vegetables by hand when it would be so much easier to just order in Chinese.

Kuykendall will teach participants how they can eat well on the quick, so they can easily fit eating healthy into their busy lives.

The classes will focus primarily on incorporating vegetables into each meal.

"People are skimping on their vegetables," says Kuykendall. "I kind of want to bring those to the forefront."

One of the problems people have with planning a meal is that they focus on the main dish -- usually meat -- but they fail to consider what sides they will include and often end up with fewer servings of vegetables than they need.

The main dish is OK, Kuykendall says, but they might instead want to consider planning the meal around the vegetable. Choose broccoli, she offers as an example, and think about which foods will complement it. That way you are sure to consume enough nutrients.

"I like to emphasize the foods from the major food groups," she says, when choosing components of a healthy meal.

When people begin to think about eating healthy, some worry about the cost, since healthy foods often cost more than junk food.

"I'm going for a reasonably priced approach with this," Kuykendall says. She believes that if people are not buying what she calls "discretionary" foods, they will have more money for healthy foods.

"I think that that's a better use of our money," she says.

Another help would be for people to "pay attention to the proper portion sizes," she says. That also will help with the budget if they can make their food last longer.

Casseroles, she says, help the protein in the meal last longer, and since the protein is often the most expensive part of a meal, this can be a budget-friendly choice.

Searching the pantry and fridge for options and freezing leftovers will also help stretch a budget, Kuykendall says.

In the seminar, participants will receive recipes and tips for making healthy meals quickly.

"I'm going to offer a little template for seven days," so they can map out their meals for the week, she says. "I want them to go home and stir something up."

"New Year, New Plan: Tips for Making Healthy, Quick Dinners" is free and will take place today at Valley Health Wellness and Fitness Services, 401 Campus Blvd. in Winchester, at 5:30 p.m.; Friday at Shenandoah Memorial Hospital in Woodstock at 11:30 a.m.; and Friday at the Warren Memorial Hospital Outpatient Center conference room in Front Royal at 1:30 p.m. Preregistration is required. For information and to register, call 800-662-7831 for Winchester, 636-0263 for Front Royal or 459-1110 for Woodstock.

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