The programming is funded through a United Health Foundation gift, provided through the UM’s Department of Family Medicine and Community Health. Overall, the annual $1 million gift is aimed at making healthcare more accessible and addressing serious health issues, including diabetes and related risk factors.
This class is not just about preparing tasty meals, but also about making good decisions — to bypass the cheap, processed frozen meals aisle in the supermarket, to whizz past the fast-food drive-thrus.
“It’s nice to be in a class where everybody you are all dealing with is facing the same kinds of issues,’’ said Jorge Tacoronte, who has lost about 35 pounds since joining the program two years ago. “It makes you feel like you are not alone.”
Diagnosed in the early 1990s, he said he has worked to revamp his eating habits now that he has wider choices.
“I used to eat a lot of rice and beans, yucca, fried bananas. Now I am replacing the white rice with brown rice and I learned how to cook collards without the bacon. I can now stir fry it with olive oil and add lemon for flavor,’’ said Tacoronte, who lives in Little Havana. “We are learning ways to cook food and to make it taste good.’’
Neals has a sweet tooth.
She’s had it all her life, and still gets giddy at the sight of Oreos. But after learning how to use ricotta cheese to make a dessert in the class, she is cutting back on the cookies, a few here and there instead of mindlessly munching through a box. She sums up the takeaway value of the cooking demonstration: “More than anything, the class helps me to do right.’’