Nutrition Lessons to Prevent Chronic Diseases Taught by LSU AgCenter Extension Agents in Orleans and Jefferson Parish

Karen Jones, Mcghee, Bertina M.

The majority of COVID 19 deaths have been people with underlining chronic diseases, especially diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. Southern Louisiana’s population is plagued with these chronic diseases. A healthy diet and regular physical activity can decrease and sometimes alleviate these unhealthy conditions. “Knowledge is power,” says Bertina McGhee, a Nutrition Agent from the LSU AgCenter. “If we can teach nutrition, not only to the public, but to our Medical Residents in the New Orleans area, we can save lives.When we teach just a few Medical Residents and those few Residents help many more of their patients, then the LSU AgCenter can make quite an impact on the community. We would be teaching nutrition to the people in Orleans and Jefferson Parish to be able to fight any virus in the future”added Karen Marie.

And that is just what these Nutrition Agents were doing before the COVID 19 pandemic and stay at home orders went into effect.LSU AgCenter Area Nutrition Agents Karen Marie Jones and Bertina McGhee presented the first of three 3-hour nutrition classes to EJGH Medical Residents from 9 am - noon. The classes were scheduled for January, February and March.

The goals of the classes were to introduce the medical residents to the LSU AgCenter’s nutrition education programs that utilize the current key recommendations from the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans and to utilize of the NOBG outdoor teaching kitchen, engaging the participants in hands-on cooking demonstrations using ingredients harvested from the vegetable garden. In addition, community partners were invited to present each month to enrich the experience.

This partnership was a collaboration between Dr. Gordon Magonet, Site Leader for the East Jefferson General Hospital (EJGH) Residency Program, and the LSU AgCenter Extension Agents in Orleans and Jefferson parishes. The classes were to be held in the New Orleans Botanical Garden (NOBG) at the new outdoor kitchen in the New Orleans City Park.

The first lesson topic, presented in January, was: Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. “We want to encourage people to eat more colorful fruits and vegetables because they contain healthy phytochemicals” Karen Marie said. She incorporated hands-on activities in the garden, starting with harvesting some vegetables and herbs.Broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts were harvested, washed and pan roasted or sautéed on the stove top. Carrots, kale and greens harvested from the garden were added to the MyPlate salad recipe. A variety of herbs were blended with vinegar and oil for a homemade dressing. Samples were distributed for taste testing.

Bertina followed with the protein lesson. She highlighted the need to - Go lean with protein!“Proper portion size is important for protein sources, from both animal and plant protein sources,” added Bertina. The residents prepared the salmon patty recipe using green onions from the garden. The canned salmon, including the bones was flaked and added to beaten eggs, breadcrumbs, milk and additional spices. The patties were pan fried by two of the residents, plated and served to the participants.The recipe was found on the back of the “Let’s Eat for the Health of It” protein lesson handout.Research based materials were distributed to the participants at the end of class.

The next two lessons on dairy and calcium and make half your grains whole grains were presented by this dynamic duo on Feb 18th, using the “Let’s Eat for the Health of It” curriculum. Again, hands-on activities were incorporated. Participants prepared kale and spinach smoothies, using the fresh vegetables from the adjacent garden.Additional ingredients included almond milk, yogurt, honey and flavorings to make refreshing and delicious healthy beverages. Karen followed with her information on whole grains and fiber. Participants learned different types of whole grains and prepared a quinoa stir fry recipe, including fresh herbs and vegetables harvested from the garden. English peas, onions, broccoli and swiss chard were part of the bounty.

Special guest and LSU AgCenter partner Jennifer Duhon, Program Coordinator for Dairy Max presented the state of the dairy industry in Louisiana.She described how milk is processed and manufactured and addressed several questions concerning the use of antibiotics in dairy animals and its impact on human milk consumption.

Dr. Magonet was grateful for the classes and stated, “the cooking demonstrations were a big success! ”The residents enjoyed the hands-on activities. He further stated that the Nutrition Agent instructors were helping the residents to empower patients to cook healthy food meals using simple recipes that use economical and locally sourced ingredients. Registered Dietitian Jennifer Duhon stated, “this is an awesome program for medical residents to participate in.” As part of the partnership, Dr. Magonet agreed to cover the cost of the food and supplies purchased for the cooking demonstrations conducted in all the classes.

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Karen Marie and two Family Medicine Residents harvest brussel sprouts to add to a recipe during the nutrition class at the Botanical Gardens in City Park. They will roast the fresh brussel spouts by drizzling olive oil and seasoning on top and cook for 20 minutes on a 425 degree oven.

Quinoa stir fry made with canned black beans and chopped onions and seasoning was prepared by the attendees. Brussel sprouts harvested from the garden were roasted with olive oil and pepper and added to the stir fry. English peas were added toward the end of the cooking process because they are a tender and thin vegetable. This recipe was used for the whole grains lesson because quinoa is simple to prepare and pairs well with a variety of vegetables.

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Working in the Outdoor Kitchen in City Park

Two East Jefferson General Hospital Family Medicine Residents do hands on food preparation using vegetables harvested from Botanical Gardens during the Nutrition Lesson on Fruits and Vegetables. Lessons were taught by the LSU AgCenter Extension Nutrition Agents from Orleans and Jefferson Parish.

5/1/2020 6:06:29 PM
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