MenuDirections 2012: Cooking With Herbs

The speakers for this culinary workshop honed their presentation skills teaching healthy cooking classes to Manchester, N.H., residents.

Stanislaw and Mills teaching a Cook Better, Live Better class.

As part of the Culinary Workshop series “Cooking Healthy,” at MenuDirections 2012, Marilyn Mills, R.D., and Joe Stanislaw will present on the topic “Cooking with Herbs.” The two were a natural fit for this workshop because they have conducted similar classes for residents in the Manchester, N.H., area.

Stanislaw, who until last month was the foodservice director at 296-bed Elliot Hospital, and Mills, a clinical dietitian at Elliot, created the “Cook Better, Live Better” series in 2006 in response to a request from a group of local senior citizens. (Stanislaw, a member of the FoodService Director advisory board, is now the corporate director of dining services for Whittier Health in Massachusetts.)

“The seniors wanted to know if we could put together a class where we could teach them to cook healthy meals in single portions,” Stanislaw says. He and Mills got together with Steve Ward, Elliot’s executive chef, to develop a series of three classes. Students pay $15 for the series.

“This is a culinary/nutrition class for the community in order to show how scratch cooking can be fun and healthy,” Stanislaw adds. “It can be modified to fit any demographic group or need. We have brought the program to middle schools, the high school, hospital staff and senior.”

The first class consists of a discussion about food, nutrition and portion sizing. The second class involves a tour of a local supermarket, during which the students learn to shop for items based on a proposed menu. In the third session, Elliot foodservice staff prepare menu items for the class so they can taste them and see how they were prepared.

“We had a lot of fun with it,” says Stanislaw. “There is a lot of joy from watching people learn about fresh food. When they see what we are doing they realize that they can do it too.”

Marilyn Mills says it was easy to adapt the Elliot presentation for MenuDirections because “cooking with herbs is an important element of making meals healthier.”

MenuDirections 2012 takes place Feb. 26-28 at the Charleston Marriott, Charleston, S.C. Cooking With Herbs will be staged twice Tuesday morning of the conference, in conjunction with Seafood on the Menu and Making Gluten Free Healthy.