April Miller, nutritionist with Early Head Start, educates families
on the importance of eating healthy. The need to promote healthy eating habits came to the attention of the Family
Foundation/Early Head Start program with the realization that many
of their families relied on fast food as a too frequent option for dinner. For many reasons especially the
financial cost and health benefit, it was determined to find a way to help
families with this struggle.
The cost of frequently eating like this can be detrimental
to your wallet and your health. The
nutritionist noted this trend among our families and worked together with other
EHS staff to develop better options that would be easy, healthy and
inexpensive. Slow cookers were
recognized to be a tremendous aid to achieve better meal options. Research and development went into the
production of a Slow Cooker Recipe Book that was printed and distributed to all
families with a slow cooker for home use.
In addition to the recipe book, each of the six program sites was
visited by the nutritionist to demonstrate the ease in using a slow cooker to
prepare tasty, healthy meals quickly. At
these presentations parents were used as timekeepers to document the speedy
preparation of a healthy meal. For
families who were unable to attend the site presentations the nutritionist
visited homes to demonstrate this service.
In all instances families responded in an overwhelmingly
positive manner how significantly this changed their meal time. Some of the responses from our families
included that they now use their slow cooker regularly at least once a week.
Some families were eating at different times than their children but since the
slow cooker meal has the entire meal ready this allowed everyone to come
together and eat as a family. Just
taking five minutes in the morning to dump ingredients in the slow cooker
allows for a ready-to-serve meal at dinner time after a long day. Importantly, families responded that from the
cooking presentations they were able to spend more time with their children
instead of spending time planning and preparing dinner. Families all responded how appreciative they
were of the slow cooker experience and how easy and inexpensive using the slow
cooker is to their family.
Since the introduction of slow cookers to families
additional resources are available to families with slow cooker recipes in the
monthly nutrition newsletter. Also as
new families join the program nutrition education and use of the slow cooker is
a service presented to families. Another
source that helps our families eat inexpensively and healthy was the award of The Family Meals Grant. This grant has
provided nutrition education surrounding how to prepare quick and nutritious
meals with commonly found food staples in their pantry, fridge and
freezer. Education has been provided to
families from this grant on stove top cooking using a skillet and a menu list
of 10 meals is provided in the link below to make no recipe, no measure entrees
for family meals. Bon Appétit!
10 No-Recipe Entrees that Cook in a Stovetop Skillet!