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Adults in New Mexico who have been diagnosed with diabetes can learn how to prepare healthy and delicious meals by participating in the Kitchen Creations cooking school, sponsored by the New Mexico Department of Health and offered by the New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service.

The next Kitchen Creations session in English will be offered from 5:30-8:30 p.m. April 6, 13, 20 and 27 at Mayfield High School (1955 N. Valley Drive – Las Cruces)  The next Kitchen Creations session in Spanish will be offered from 5:30-8:30 p.m. April 7, 14, 21 and 28 at Santa Teresa High School (100 Airport Road in Santa Teresa, N.M.)

The cooking schools are free thanks to funding from the New Mexico Department of Health Diabetes Prevention and Control Program.

“There was so much interest in our last Kitchen Creations session that we were able to schedule two more for April, one in English and one in Spanish,” said Karim Martinez, Doña Ana County Extension Home Economist.

Each Kitchen Creations session consists of four classes taught by a registered dietitian and an Extension Home Economist. Participants will learn food safety, how to plan meals, measure appropriate serving sizes, read food labels, balance carbohydrates and other useful cooking tips. Participants will also prepare and sample a variety of recipes during each class.

Research has shown diabetes complications may be decreased when blood glucose levels are maintained within a range that mimics “normal” levels. In order to achieve these levels, people diagnosed with diabetes are often prescribed lifestyle changes such as diet modification.

According to New Mexico’s Indicator-Based Information System, nearly 11 percent of adults in New Mexico were living with diabetes between 2011 and 2013. The national average during the same time period was about 10 percent.

“Many people with diabetes are not sure what to do to improve their health, especially when it comes to food,” said Cassandra Vanderpool, registered dietitian and extension diabetes coordinator for NMSU’s Department of Extension Family and Consumer Sciences. “Kitchen Creations goes beyond simply providing nutrition information to engaging participants in hands-on cooking and other activities so they can immediately apply what they are learning.”

Vanderpool said that last year, more than 400 people attended Kitchen Creations cooking schools. At the last class, Vanderpool said, every participant reported they understood strategies to plan and prepare healthy meals, and that they were satisfied with the classes.

“Several months after attending the Kitchen Creations cooking school in Valencia County, a participant called the home economist to share her good news,” Vanderpool said. “She had just returned from the doctor, and her A1C had dropped. She attributed the improvement to the changes that she and her husband, who also attended the classes, had made in their cooking and eating habits as a result of what they learned from Kitchen Creations.”

To enroll in the Kitchen Creations cooking school, contact the Doña Ana Cooperative Extension Service at 575-525-6649.

Author: Adriana M. Chavez – NMSU

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