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Teen Cuisine Wrap-Up

by Enrique Ortiz | SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educator 

Everyone knows when we order at a restaurant or get fast food, our meal will always be higher in calories, total fat /saturated fat and lower in calcium, fiber, and iron. Although there are multiple reasons why fast food and carryout are the foundation of many American’s diets, one I would like to point out is the decline in cooking skills in young Americans. This past month SNAP-Ed implemented a program called Teen Cuisine that is designed to improve teenagers cooking skills, diets, and lifestyles.   

Teen Cuisine aims to empower teens to adopt healthier lifestyles by teaching them the knowledge and skills needed to prepare nutritious and delicious snacks and meals at home. Teen Cuisine is specifically tailored towards youth from grades 6 to 12 to build important life skills and promote optimal health – both now, in the present, and in the future as they become young adults. The curriculum used addresses key concepts about nutrition, food preparation and cooking, food safety, and physical activity using approaches and strategies that enhance learning and behavior change among teens.     

Just like other SNAP-Ed programs, Teen Cuisine was a six-week course that met every Wednesday from 2:45 pm - 4:00 pm. at the Boys & Girls Club - Center for Great Futures. Approximately 8 teenagers signed up, and were able to utilize their amazing kitchen! Many Master Food Volunteers signed up to help facilitate and assist the teens with the cooking demonstrations. This allowed for a smoother cooking experience to help teens

Enrique Ortiz illustrating knife cutting skills

 understand different kitchen utensils and measurements.  

Here are the six lessons taught and the cooking demo that went along with it: 

Lesson 1: Eat Smart  

Fruit Dip  
Lesson 2: You Are What You Eat   

Lesson 3: Power Up with Breakfast  

Scrambled Eggs  
Lesson 4: Find the Fat  

Lesson 5: Watch Out for Added Sugars  

Lesson 6: Snack Attack  

Bean Dip  

In addition to teaching them cooking skills, we know it is also crucial to educate them on skills such as meal planning and label reading; help youth in developing plans to limit screen time and time spent being sedentary; and increase physical activity. By teaching teens both the knowledge and skills needed to make healthy food and lifestyle choices, it helps them to increase their confidence to apply these skills at home on their own.  

Getting to know and working with the same teens was a delightful experience. Seeing how excited the teens got prior to the start of each class brought joy. Many teens expressed how much they enjoyed the program and loved being able to cook meals/snacks that they normally don’t at home. Others were surprised by how delicious a healthy snack or well-balanced meal could be. Doing this program was a blast, and I hope SNAP-Ed will be able to do it again soon!