Thursday December 20, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Everyone put something into the pot.

Chet Gallup cut up a carrot. Brenda Powell diced tomatoes. Doug Frye added chicken and spices -- including an extra heap of cayenne pepper.

In less than 30 minutes, a colorful, savory-smelling soup was cooked and shared among a small group of students taking a new class at the Christian Center.

With the help of a city grant, The Nutrition Center has partnered with the Christian Center to offer a new six-week series of healthy cooking classes for adults that meets each Thursday at 1 p.m.

The free program is led in the Christian Center kitchen by Morgan Kulchinsky, a designated "culinary coach" for the Nutrition Center.

Near the conclusion of a recent class on making immune system-supporting dinners, such as chicken soup, for the cold and flu season, William Monet gave Kulchinsky a heartfelt thanks.

"I just wanted to say I'm so thankful and grateful that they're doing this and that you're here," Monet told Kulchinsky.

The Vietnam veteran was diagnosed as a diabetic in 2003 and said he's since had to change his whole lifestyle, from his diet to his outlook on life.

"This is just enforcing my education of diabetes and what I have to do," Monet said.

He also noted that even at an adult age, a lot of people never learn to cook in life.

Kulchinsky presents the class in a casual manner, which participants seem to enjoy.

Her mention of how colorful foods are packed with the most nutrients, the conversation turned into a brainstorm of vegetables in each color category -- yellow (corn, squash, peppers); green (collard greens, peas, beans); and purple (onions, turnip, eggplant).

Donnie Girard said he decided to show up to the class just because he wanted to learn to make chicken soup.

"I've always wanted to try, but I didn't know how," he said.

But in the hour, he learned not only a new recipe, but about the differences between whole and processed foods, and that he might be trim because he's a fast metabolizer.

Kulchinsky said the grant given to The Nutrition Center is designed to cover classes at two sites, and that the center is currently looking for another place in Pittsfield to hold the program.

In the meantime, William Monet said he'll keep with the program and told Kulchinsky to as well.

"I want you to continue to come back because people need it," he said.

If you go

What: Healthy cooking with The Nutrition Center. The next class theme will be "Heart Healthy Holidays." Classes are free and open to the public. Registration is requested.

When: Thursdays at 1 p.m. Remaining classes are today, Jan. 3, Jan. 10 and Jan 17.

Where: The Christian Center, 193 Robbins Ave., Pittsfield.

Info: For more information, call the Christian Center at (413) 443-2828 or The Nutrition Center at (413) 429-8110.