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Healthy Cooking Class Spices Up Life

Air Force Veteran Karen Williams smiles and poses playfully in a red dress next to an elephant statue in front of an indoor restaurant.

Air Force Veteran Karen Williams found new ways to lower her cholesterol and live well thanks to the healthy cooking class at the Salisbury VA.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Air Force Veteran Karen Williams added some spice to her life when she discovered the women’s healthy cooking classes offered by the VA Salisbury Health Care System. Williams, who was looking for ways to lower her cholesterol, discovered much more; including relationships with other women Veterans and new uses for cinnamon!

Learn how you can incorporate healthy habits into your life here.

Like many Veterans, Williams faced health issues after she retired from the Air Force in 2006. She decided to become a vegetarian to manage her cholesterol levels in 2021, but quickly found that she needed more ideas for food preparation. “When you become a vegetarian and you don’t have information, it’s difficult to figure out what you can eat, and you end up eating a whole bunch of carbs,” Williams said.

I put cinnamon on everything now!

Having this class was so great because everything she taught us to cook was anti-inflammatory and it started giving me some choices. My Whole Health coach introduced me to cinnamon, and I put cinnamon on everything now, like oatmeal and cereal, just because it’s good for you,” Williams said. “I would never have done that before.”

The classes have served up more than healthy recipes according to Kim Fewell, a Registered Dietician and instructor. One of the Veterans in the classes said that it helped to keep her grounded and connected. “It was her stress relief. Especially during the pandemic, she said it was nice to have people around her even if it’s virtual so she’s not cooking alone,” Fewell said. “They like the fact that they’re not doing it alone. If they cook with us, then there’s a feeling that we’re all in it together.”

The VA Healthy Teaching Kitchen Program has a free collection of videos, as well as a healthy collection of recipes and cookbooks that can be downloaded or printed.

Whole Health helps you create your own path to well-being.

Finding others to help support you with healthy lifestyle changes can be important, and Williams found her Whole Health coach to be critical in bringing things to her attention. She suggests Veterans interested in making healthy changes should ask if their VA offers Whole Health Coaches.

“Learn about the things that are available through the VA and then you can pick and choose and create your own way to navigate your health,” Williams says. “I prefer Whole Health and the cooking class for me personally, but it’s good to know other programs like MOVE! exist and are available to you. I always say the goal is not perfection, it’s to be better.” 

Learn more about Whole Health here.


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