An international chef specializing in healthy meals for children inspired youngsters and their parents at an innovative event organized by Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q).
Chef Ann Cooper came to Doha as part of WCMC-Q’s Sahtak Awalan: Your Health First campaign, which is designed to educate people about how they can begin leading healthy lifestyles.
Chef Cooper, who is known in the U.S. for promoting and creating nutritious school meals, was invited by Your Health First to hold interactive cookery demonstrations. Enlisting the help of dozens of the children present, Chef Cooper cooked four quick, healthy, simple and delicious meals that were then sampled by the audience. She then demonstrated a slightly more complex recipe for the adults.
Chef Cooper said: “The future health of our children is dependent on them eating healthily, both at home and away, and parents really need to be educated so they can pass on this knowledge to their children. If this doesn’t happen we are going to have a nation of sick kids who are insulin-dependent and who are going to die at a younger age than we are.”
Chef Cooper has helped transform school meals for more than a million children across the U.S. and has helped bring salad bars into school cafeterias. She said that children have to be encouraged from an early age to eat healthy meals as otherwise they can become accustomed to foods laden with sugar and fat. Food tastes can even be influenced in the womb. Chef Cooper said that babies whose mothers eat fruit and vegetables are more likely to enjoy the same foods themselves.
At the Your Health First event, four recipes were cooked with the children: guacamole with baked tortilla chips; fruit smoothies; avocado and chicken wrap; and jelly muffins. Another family-oriented recipe – grilled, marinated chicken with yoghurt – was demonstrated to the adults present.
Cookery books containing 32 recipes suitable for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks were then distributed, providing parents with plenty of ideas for nutritious, tasty meals that the whole family would enjoy. Chef Cooper also gave parents hints and tips on how to make a healthy lunch that children could take to school with them.
The aim of the Your Health First event, which was held at the Diplomatic Club in West Bay, was to get children interested in cooking healthy food and to teach parents that cooking healthy meals does not have to be time-consuming or complicated. Dieticians from Qatar Foundation were also on hand to offer advice to parents and children about planning meals, nutrition and the best things to eat.
Sahtak Awalan – Your Health First is a five-year campaign that is being run in conjunction with the Supreme Council of Health. The campaign’s strategic partners are Qatar Foundation, the Supreme Education Council, Qatar Petroleum, ExxonMobil Qatar Inc., Occidental Petroleum of Qatar, Qatar Olympic Committee and Vodafone Qatar.