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Bethel Church Presents “Let’s Get Started”

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Texarkana, Texas » On April 9, 2017, Connie Edwards, leader of the Health and Temperance Department at Bethel Seventh-day Adventist Church, coordinated a healthy food preparation class. The day marked the first of six power-packed sessions about changing how we cook and making healthy food preparation choices. Ann Turner, the keynote speaker, delivered profound and thought-provoking information which filled the audience with practical, inspiring ideas. 

Turner encouraged us to initiate baby steps to eating healthier. Taking baby steps is a step-by-step process in making changes to our diet a small step at a time. When implementing these steps consistently, we gradually transform our unhealthy habits to healthy ones. Take sugar for example. Let’s say you wanted to bake a cake. Instead of using white sugar, use raw honey, raw agave nectar, or raw cane sugar. Replacing bad food with healthy food that you enjoy makes the changes much easier. Also, this applies to those who desire to become a vegetarian. To wean off the meat, eat a meal a day without the meat; instead, substitute it with beans, peas, nuts, seeds, or veggie burgers.

Regular meals should be colorful and balanced, consisting of non-starchy vegetables, fruits, proteins, unsweetened dairy products, whole grains, such as brown rice, oatmeal, whole-wheat breads, and pastas. Eating a variety will enhance nutrient intake and health advantages. The more health conscious we are, the healthier we are. After all, God provided all the natural foods for the nourishment of our bodies, so if we follow His diet, our bodies will be strong and disease-free.

She presented a compelling reason for becoming label readers. Our focus should only be on foods that will nourish our bodies, so what do we buy? How do we find the best foods that fit our budget and lifestyle while “keeping it real”? First, when reading the ingredients list, the fewer the ingredients, the better! For example, a can of beans that contains water, beans, and sea salt, as the only three ingredients, that’s real to us! However, if you find a bottle of barbecue sauce with 10 ingredients, half of which you can’t pronounce anyway, the sauce probably isn’t very “real.”

Second, avoid products that are processed. Food additives—preservatives, flavorings, colors, MSG, artificial sweeteners, synthetic trans fats, and high-fructose corn syrup—are incorporated in foods. We should steer away from these unsafe ingredients. By eating less of these foods, we will get more nutrient bang for our buck. As a result, a healthy diet keeps us physically and mentally fit.

Third, pots, pans, and other tools used in cooking often do more than just hold the food. Eliminate all aluminum cookware and nonstick surfaces, for both are known to leach metals into the food we cook. Regardless of how unprocessed our foods are, if a second thought isn’t given to what is used to prepare the meals, we defeat our purpose. Invest in stainless steel cookware. There are many different advantages why many people prefer them over other types of cookware: they are highly durable, easy to clean, glossy, versatile, and will not seep any metals into the food. To maintain healthy eating, we must be very selective in creating a healthy kitchen.

Turner also demonstrated cooking healthy food with fried gluten and ranch dressing recipes. The seasoned wheat gluten was crunchy with a soft texture, and the dressing had a balanced flavor, with the agave nectar and soy mayonnaise flavors both coming through nicely. When the participants taste tested both, they craved more. These nutritious items were undeniably delicious!

Linnie Green concluded the class with a vegan strawberry cream pie recipe demonstration. She used simple and healthy ingredients. The crust made with crushed pecans and dried unsweetened shredded coconut provided a bit of a crunch, which was mouthwatering with the raw honey-sweetened pie filling. Everyone was very impressed by this yummy dessert.

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