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Centre hosts monthly healthy cooking class

Mary Jo Brunner instructs attendees during the "Chocolate Indulgence" session of her healthy cooking series at the Centre.

Although the Centre provides various health and fitness opportunities for senior citizens, one of the newest and most unique is a monthly healthy cooking class for active older adults.

Taught by Mary Jo Brunner, a Family Fresh Market dietician, the demostyle classes feature types of food that attendees sample and learn about. At the end of the class, they can take home the recipe and experiment themselves.

“I was already doing a class like this in Hudson at the YMCA, and I wanted to offer the same opportunity in New Richmond,” Brunner said. “Many older adults are interested in eating healthy, and they can have a lot of questions about it.”

Since its inception in December, the cooking class has garnered plenty of attention. According to Colleen Davis, communication director at the Centre, as many as 24 people have attended the class sessions, with one of the most popular being Chocolate Indulgence.

“People still talk about that one,” Brunner said. “We made a chocolate smoothie, taste-tested different darknesses of chocolate and made the best chocolate tofu mousse I’ve ever had.”

When it comes to looking for recipes, Brunner said she browses websites like Eating Well and Cooking Light as well as blogs. She also uses the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s seasonal calendar to plan for fresh produce or featured monthly foods like catfish, asparagus or soy.

Held in the Centre Community Room, the next class on July 8 will feature a jerk chicken and nectarine salad, a strawberry-spinach salad with citrus dressing and a watermelon salad.

“I think people enjoy trying new things,” Brunner said. “Sometimes people are afraid to spend money on a product they might not usually use at home, but they’ll try it and learn all about the different ways they can use it in the class.”

Sessions are free for Centre members and $7 for nonmembers, and there is no age requirement for admittance. Four additional classes — Peaches and Plums, Using Wild Rice, Superb Squash and Be Sweet Potato Savvy — are scheduled for Aug. 12, Sept. 9, Oct. 14 and Nov. 11, respectively. Those interested should register at the Centre so Brunner can prepare ingredients accordingly.

“I hope the classes teach people that eating healthy can taste good,” Brunner said. “I hear from people who think healthy stuff tastes like cardboard, but you just have to know how to make it right."

For more information, contact Colleen Davis at 715-243-0852.

Jenny Hudalla
A senior at Bethel University, Jenny Hudalla is pursuing degrees in journalism, Spanish and reconciliation studies. Having graduated from New Richmond High School in 2011, she served as editor-in-chief of the Tiger Rag before taking a job as editor-in-chief of Bethel's student newspaper, The Clarion. After completing her internship with the New Richmond News, Hudalla plans to move on to a career in social justice.
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