Getting fresh ingredients can make a difference in health goals, according to nutritionists.

Getting fresh ingredients can make a difference in health goals, according to nutritionists.

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Staying healthy without leaving the kitchen

By: Brendan Losinski | Metro | Published October 12, 2022


METRO DETROIT — Losing weight and getting in shape can be daunting, but one of the most effective means of doing both is cooking and preparing more nutritious meals using healthier methods.

While there are numerous approaches and dieting methods available to help eat better, there are many steps that help, such as checking nutrition labels, eating fewer processed foods and tracking what food is being eaten.

Chef Lauren Nardone teaches cooking classes at the Macomb Recreation Center called “Breaking the Mold.” Nardone attended the French Culinary Institute in New York City and has more than 10 years of experience working in the cooking industry.

“The classes (at the Macomb Recreation Center) are general cooking, but we do classes from time to time about healthy eating,” she said. “I also do programs at the senior center, and those often focus on eating healthy. I also do private classes. We talk about label reading, how to make dishes healthy and why certain dishes are naturally healthy.”

Nardone said that there are several tips people can easily adopt to make their meals healthier.

“We often talk about looking for sugar and hidden sugars,” she explained. “Reading labels and being aware of what you are consuming. Pick things that have 5 grams of sugar or less. There are so many things on the shelf that you might think are healthy or say they are ‘low fat,’ but they can have hidden issues, so you want to pay attention.”

Her classes go over several specific methods to use in the kitchen for those wishing to eat healthier.

“I would say that, if you can avoid pre-packaged foods and meals that are pre-made to go, meals in the freezer aisle or canned soup, and make your own food in the kitchen, that’s a great way to start,” Nardone said. “Another healthy habit is, instead of having pasta in soups, replace it with something like extra vegetables — carrots, celery, etc. — or adding more protein, like chicken.”

One of the most effective methods people can adopt is to stop buying prepackaged and precooked meals and ingredients; instead, make or mix them at home.

“Stop buying bottled salad dressing is a big step. There’s few ingredients, and there are often some horrible things in most salad dressings. It’s also less expensive in the long run,” said Nardone. “Practice making your own stocks and broths. It’s a healthy alternative and cost-effective alternative to canned soups. Save the bones from chicken so you can make your own soups.”

There are numerous options in the metro Detroit area for those who wish to expand their knowledge of cooking healthier. The University of Michigan hosts a nutrition class on Zoom, for those who cannot attend a class in person. Class costs vary but may be partially covered by insurance. Those interested can register by calling (734) 615-0444.

Additionally, Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital hosts a “Demonstration Kitchen,” which allows adults and children to explore healthy lifestyles and learn about the importance of nutrition for overall health and wellness. The healthy cooking classes include food samplings, useful tips, take-home recipes and sound guidance from Henry Ford physicians and dietitians. Classes are offered every month and focus on specific wellness topics. For class descriptions and to register, call (248) 325-3890 or email for more information.

Numerous apps such as “Lose It” and “MyFitnessPal” also are available on most smartphones for no cost for those who wish to track what they’re eating, their weight, and other factors, such as sugar or water consumption.

Nardone said there is plenty of information people can find online and that one of the best parts of cooking is finding out what someone likes and what works for a particular person.

“One of the best resources you can find is cook books at your local library. They almost always have a plethora of options of cooking advice,” she said. “It’s not always a case of one thing working for everyone. Different things can work for different people.”