Children cooking with Dr. Cleo

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It was hot in the large kitchen at Safe Site Child Development Inc., but a group of eager children didn’t seem to mind. They were participating in Dr. Cleo’s Cooking Club and learning how to cook a healthy meal from chef Jason Diaz.

The event was coordinated in a partnership between Los Lunas First Choice Community Healthcare and Molina Healthcare. It’s one of several educational community outreach programs by the two health care management organizations to promote preventive medicine and help people on Medicaid coordinate their care, give access to health care and help people find out if they are eligible for Medicaid.

Deborah Fox-News-Bulletin photo: Chef Jason Diaz, from Hotel Cascada in Albuquerque, taught a group of children how to cook a tasty and healthy meal during Dr. Cleo’s Cooking Club event at Safe Site Child Development Inc. The event was coordinated by First Choice Community Healthcare in Los Lunas and Molina Healthcare in Albuquerque.

Diaz, a chef from Hotel Cascada, helps the cooking club, developed by Molina Healthcare.

He was grilling succulent teriyaki chicken and pineapple kabobs, bacon-wrapped asparagus and wild rice.

“Would you guys cook this at home?” Diaz asked the children.

“Yes,” they said in unison.

Brittany Espinoza, with Molina Healthcare, explained good eating habits to the kids, and what USDA’s new food guidelines are.

Instead of the food pyramid, the USDA has now created “My Plate,” with the greatest portions being vegetables and grains, then fruit and meat, Espinoza said.

“Breakfast is important because it’s how you start your day,” she said. “It will keep you full, kick-start your metabolism and help you be energized throughout the day.

“You don’t want to eat a sugary doughnut, because then you’re going to crash,” Espinoza said.

There are many healthy meals that are easy and quick to prepare, Espinoza said.

“If you prepare a menu, involve your kids as much as possible; the more they’re involved the more likely they are to eat vegetables and fruit and lean protein like chicken and turkey,” she said. “Some of the kids here tried asparagus for the first time, which was really cool.”

Albuquerque’s Hotel Cascada donated the food as well as gift passes to the hotel’s water park.

For a free consultation on Medicaid eligibility, contact Linda Montano, First Choice eligibility specialist, at 865-4618.


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.