June 15, 2017

VICTORIA, Texas — Members of the Victoria office of the Texas A&M Coastal Bend Health Education Center worked with other community organizations to host a healthy cooking demonstration for more than 25 participants at the community garden at the Victoria County Public Health Department on Thursday, June 15.

“We want to show people that healthy cooking can still taste delicious,” said Hilda Ramirez, RN, CDE, and health educator for Texas A&M Coastal Bend Health Education Center’s Diabetes Education Program. “For instance, we used squash to take the place of processed pasta. Eating vegetables helps control blood sugars because they’re low in carbohydrates and high in fiber.”

Ramirez also emphasized the versatility of substituting veggies for processed foods, saying, “Cooking like this gives you many options. You can cook Italian, Indian, even Mexican foods using healthy substitutes.”

Many of the ingredients made in the zucchini stir-fry were harvested from the community garden, including bell peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers. Several herbs also came directly from the garden.

Carissa Wilhelm, an AgriLife Extension agent, taught spectators how to cook the healthy recipes, using alternatives to traditional ingredients. For example, Wilhelm said that using olive oil gives dishes the same flavor as butter, but contains healthier, plant-based fats.

“Eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive,” said Angie Stafford, a community health worker for the health department. “The goal is to demonstrate how to pull from a community garden to help make a healthy meal.”

“Diabetes is especially prevalent in Victoria,” Stafford said. “We believe education is the key to prevention.”

Stafford is also a member of the community garden club. She says the garden is set to expand from two “composting keyhole” gardens to four in the fall. Some fruit trees are also planned.

The community garden represents a partnership between the Victoria County Public Health Department, Texas A&M Healthy South Texas and FitVic.

Visit healthytexas.tamu.edu or follow Healthy South Texas on Facebook, @healthysouthtexas, to get the latest information on upcoming events in communities across 27 South Texas counties.

-Les D. Cockrell