Class fights chronic illness with recipes, food

June 14th, 2017 — ( )

Ever had eggplant pizza, beet burgers or pickled rainbow chard stems?

These are the kinds of recipes that could help people with certain chronic diseases get healthier. That’s why Herkimer County HealthNet and The Root Farm are partnering on a healthy cooking class for people with illnesses that can be improved by better diet, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and prediabetes.

People in the program also will receive a half share in the farm’s community-supported agriculture program, which provides produce such as eggplant, beets, tomatoes, kale and Brussels sprouts for 15 weeks during the growing season.

“My goal is to really teach people (that) you can eat a diverse diet locally and seasonally and learning how to cook at home can help people manage their disease and they may not have to do some of these fad diets or the trendy nutrition,” said dietitian Lela Niemetz, owner of FoodFeasible, who will teach the bi-weekly healthy cooking class.

“My plan,” she added, “would be to take them through some recipes each week that they can make with those vegetables. I would plan to maybe highlight some of the less common vegetables, something people might not recognize or might not have experience with cooking.”

The CSA includes a lot of vegetables, some of which are more familiar, said Jeremy Earl, executive director of The Root Farm. Some of the greens, such as Swiss chard, for example, make people nervous, he said.

“I think there’s this fear sometimes for people who have not cooked with fresh vegetables or with kale or some other unique items that we have planted this year,” Earl said.

The program is open to 20 people with chronic diseases that benefit from dietary change, such as prediabetes, diabetes and high blood pressure. The registration fee is $50.

The program is funded by a grant from The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties.

If you want to learn more and you have a health condition that would benefit from better diet, sign up for the class. Classes will run from 4:30 to 6 p.m. every other Thursday beginning June 22 or the following week, depending which class you’re in. They’ll meet at The Root Farm at 2860 King Road in Sauquoit. To register, call Herkimer HealthNet at 315-867-1552.