Program hopes to get people to eat better

Nate Balstad, a former high school shop teacher, now says he puts at least some of those creative energies into cooking.

Which works well with the dual-income time demands shared between Mr. and Mrs. Balstad, the former having made some "killer potato soup" recently.

Balstad, director of the Moffat County Extension Office, and 4-H Youth director, said Wednesday he'll probably attend the "Healthy Lunch Program," scheduled from noon to 1 p.m. Friday in the local extension office at 539 Barclay St.

Elisa Shackelton, the office's family and consumer sciences agent, leads the program.

"It will hopefully be ideal for working people to be able to slip away for an hour," Shackelton said, adding she's also looking for feedback on whether similar evening events would work better with people's schedules.

Some participants will cook various recipes with Shackelton, and chow down afterward. Shackelton said the program aims to introduce perhaps healthier spins on old recipes, usually geared around whole grains or fruits.

How about stir frying instead deep frying?

"We want to provide some hands-on experience preparing food, and while typically people know how to cook, we introduce new methods," she said.

With Americans' work-centered, hurried pace of life, Shackelton said her goal is to push folks away from fast-food items and other artery-clogging, short-term pleasures.

"At one time, it was not uncommon to buy 1-pound steaks, which people now are having heart attacks from," she said.

Toward eating healthier, Shackelton's program is being funded through a grant from The Colorado Trust, as part of Moffat County's "Healthy People 2010" campaign.

Aside from pushing healthier cooking, she said another goal always is to have fun and be creative. Materials and grocery supplies will be provided.

"If you start out with great ingredients, there's very little you can do to screw it up," Shackelton said.

And while past efforts have brought out roughly 4-to-1 women to men ratios, the guys who do attend, typically with wives, tend to be the more creative cookers, she added.

"They're the biggest risk takers," Shackelton said. "With more dual-household incomes, more men are taking that responsibility."

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at pshockley@craigdailypress.com.

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