Feb 082006
Authors: Meg Burd

Rushing to grab something for dinner can be a pain for most students – between classes, homework, a job and a busy social life, healthy eating often gets lost in the shuffle. For many, cooking at home gets put off in favor of grabbing a quick burger at the drive through, and besides, who really knows any good recipes these days?

The Salud! Cook and Lifestyle school at Whole Foods, 2201 S. College Ave., offers a chance for students to change that.

Offering a variety of cooking and lifestyle classes, the Salud! center at Whole Foods is an interesting opportunity for students and community members to pursue their interest in healthy foods, ethnic cuisine, crafts and a whole variety of other topics.

"We try to offer a whole spectrum [of classes]," says Salud! Coordinator Jan Finlander. With offerings as a diverse as a course on sushi to relaxation techniques to a course on creating a miniature magical garden, Salud! features an eclectic line up, which allows students a chance to try something new for a night and perhaps learn some new tools for managing busy lives and mealtimes.

Opening in July 2004 (shortly after the Whole Foods store opened), Finlander says that Salud! has quickly picked up a host of both new and regular students who come not only to learn new skills but also interact in a friendly, welcoming environment.

While Salud! features an diverse array of courses, Finlander notes that it is perhaps the cooking classes are some of the most popular for the school. For students in particular, Finlander feels the Salud! ethnic cooking classes offer a unique opportunity that extends beyond learning to make a great and healthy meal.

"Not only are they reasonably priced," said Finlander of the cooking classes, "but the menus are incredibly healthy. The ingredients tend to be low cost, and having an opportunity to experience another culture is great."

For example, Finlander notes, the Vegetable Biryani class taking place on Feb. 16 offers students a chance to work with instructor Sapna von Reich, a native of India (and one of Salud's most popular teachers) to create a delicious rice dice, along with several complementary side dishes such as a yogurt salad, Indian pickles, lentil flour wafers and a Southern Indian banana dessert.

"It's not only a cooking class, but a full blown dinner," Finlander said. For $25, students not only get to eat the five course dinner prepared as well as learn about the cultural roots of the meal, but also take home a new cooking skill.

As Finlander remarks, many times restaurants that offer such meals might be tasty, but also full of grease or buttery fat. By learning the healthy recipes at Salud! and making it at home, students can cut out much of this grease and fat to create a leaner, delicious meal. And, for budget conscious students, the price for the five-course meal "is comparable to a restaurant meal," Finlander notes.

For Lee Seltsam, a graduate student in environmental health, learning new ways of eating and cooking are important tools for healthy living.

"I think the problem is age," said Seltsam of many college students' tendency to often eat greasy and unhealthy fast foods. "Once they notice that 'freshman forty,' maybe they'll start to pay attention."

For Seltsam, eating healthy is an important part of his lifestyle, but he is restricted (as many students are) by a budget. "I try to eat healthy, and do it cheaply, too."

Seltsam said many students grab quick prepackaged snacks at times simply because it is cheap, and, he says, many just don't think about it. For students to eat better, Seltsam says knowing about nutrition as well as ways to fix healthy meals is important. "I think education would be the key," he said.

At Salud!, Finlander hopes that the eclectic educational classes they offer will indeed help students to learn not only about healthier eating and cooking, but also introduce them to new cultural experiences in the kitchen as well.

For information on the Salud! classes, please visit the Whole Foods location or see their Web site at www.wholefoods.com.

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