Cooking class to put youth on road to healthy eating

Okotoks: Edible Education series starts with kid’s night on Jan. 28

By: John Barlow

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jan 09, 2014 10:53 am

Jessica Willock, left, and Sharon McCormick at the Bees Knees Cafe in Heritage Point. The pair will be hosting cooking classes to promote healthy lifestyles.
Jessica Willock, left, and Sharon McCormick at the Bees Knees Cafe in Heritage Point. The pair will be hosting cooking classes to promote healthy lifestyles.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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Statistics regarding obesity rates and inactivity among Canadian children are a concern and a foothills initiative is trying to get youth started on the right track by putting the right things on the table.

Sharon McCormick of Poppy Innovations will be conducting the Edible Education series with the goal of teaching families healthy eating habits. The first seminar in the series will be “Cooking with your Kids” which will be held in Okotoks on Jan. 28 from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at John Paul II Collegiate.

“We need to build heathier communities and we do that by changing the way we eat,” said McCormick. “We want to ensure people know what are healthy choices and know how to prepare healthy meals.”

Teaching those important lessons starts at an early age, according to McCormick.

“We want to engrain these healthy eating habits as early as possible and if we get kids involved in growing or cooking healthy foods they will be more inclined to eat healthier foods,” she said. “This is a hands on experience rather than just reciting the knowledge; they will make a meal, share it and hopefully practice at home.”

McCormick’s vision is to provide edible education through experimental learning through healthy food-based activities to provide awareness, tools and resources to “create the recipe to change the way we eat and build a healthier community.”

“Cooking with your Kids” is part of a series of six weekly classes entitled “Parent and Child Culinary Class” covering cooking techniques, healthy meal preparation, recipes and even grocery shopping.

McCormick said the stats regarding obesity among both children and adults convinced her many Canadians have forgotten how to prepare healthy meals, healthy choices and even proper portion sizes.

According to 2012 study, more than 31 per cent of Canadian children between the ages of five and 17 are overweight or obese and a Statistic Canada report in 2006 stated seven out of 10 children aged four to eight and half of adults do not eat the recommended minimum of five daily servings of vegetables and fruit.

“This problem is not going to be resolved by one group, it is everyone’s responsibility,” said McCormick, who is a kinesiologist and has worked in many health-related roles in her career.

An avid home cook and gardener, McCormick worked with Alberta Health Services in developing the program and researched similar programs in the United States before offering the cooking series in Okotoks.

In addition, she enlisted the assistance of chef Jessica Willock, co-owner of Bees Knees Café in Heritage Pointe. Willock will be leading the Cooking with your Kids session in teaching the children how to cook and helping parents support their children in a safe, healthy kitchen environment.

“I have always had a passion for food,” said Willock. “I am a big believer in healthy eating and eliminating processed food.”

Willock said she hopes the cooking classes will have an impact not only on the children, but on the entire family as they, one step at a time, return to scratch-made meals and more healthy choices.

“We need to reinvigorate that passion in the kitchen,” she said. “We need to go back to our roots, back to the kitchen.

“Taking a bite out of something I made myself if great.”

Willock said she also wants to toss the mindset cooking healthy is more expensive and time consuming. She will show participants healthy choices do not need to be expensive choices.

“We want to make it fun and hands on, but also educational,” she explained. “We will look at how to read labels, food safety and how to cook healthy meals cost effectively.”

As a parent herself, McCormick said a program such as the healthy cooking series is important to teach children the skills and knowledge to make healthy food choices — these are choices which will impact the rest of their lives.

For more information on the Edible Education series email or visit


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