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The State Hornet

The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

Student news without fear or favor

Cooking demos teach students to make budget friendly recipes

Peer health educators demonstrate cooking skills to participants
%28L-R%29+Lead+Student+Assistant+at+Student+Health%2C+Counseling+and+Wellness+Services+Lauren+Batoon%2C+Registered+Dietitian+Nutritionist+Jennifer+Campbell+and+CalFresh+Healthy+Living+Student+Assistant+Macey+Briones+in+The+Cove+Kitchen+on+the+first+floor+at+The+WELL+Tuesday%2C+Nov.+28%2C+2023.+Campbell+is+the+supervisor+for+the+cooking+demos+in+The+Cove+Kitchen.+%28Photo+by+Alyssa+Branum%29
Alyssa Branum
(L-R) Lead Student Assistant at Student Health, Counseling and Wellness Services Lauren Batoon, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Jennifer Campbell and CalFresh Healthy Living Student Assistant Macey Briones in The Cove Kitchen on the first floor at The WELL Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023. Campbell is the supervisor for the cooking demos in The Cove Kitchen. (Photo by Alyssa Branum)

Student Health, Counseling and Wellness Services at Sacramento State holds free interactive cooking demonstrations that are held once a week in The Cove Kitchen on the first floor of The WELL where peer health educators demonstrate step-by-step instructions on how to make budget friendly recipes.

The cooking demo has been at Sac State for 15 years. They are hands-on activities where students sit in groups and learn cooking skills like safe knife practices led and facilitated by peer health educators.

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Jennifer Campbell, who supervises the cooking demos, said she came from a very clinical background and worked in hospitals, nursing homes and outpatient.

Campbell said she supervises the cooking demos because she wanted to switch to the preventative side of healthcare and have students eat more nourishing foods that are going to help them lead a healthy lifestyle.

“If we can get young people cooking more, being more comfortable with produce, consuming more nutritious, nourishing foods, they aren’t gonna need the hospital for a long, long time,” Campbell said.

Campbell said she first started at Sac State in 2013. She said at that time, the cooking demos were done by observation only and participants got a little small taste of the recipe after.

One of the peer health educators Nalu Hall chopping cilantro for the cooking demo in The Cove Kitchen at The WELL Monday, Nov. 13, 2023. Hall demonstrates to students on how to chop cilantro to use for guacamole and pico de gallo. (Photo by Asyah Zamani )

She also said the kitchen space got renovated in 2021 and the cooking demos were switched to hands-on.

RELATED: Vegan tacos on menu at The WELL

“The main reason was so students would actually be able to practice learning new skills that would help them be able to cook and prepare a recipe,” Campbell said.

Campbell said she meets with the peer health educators beforehand to help guide and mentor them on leading the cooking demo.

“We have lots of purposes for the demos, one is just for fun to get students together outside the classroom,” Campbell said. “Be able to prepare meals, have fun with their meals, learn safe knife skills and meet some new people.”

Some foods that were demonstrated at previous cooking demos were chicken quesadillas, peach cobbler, vegan fried rice and vegetable egg rolls.

Campbell said beginners are welcomed to the free cooking demo.

“It’s ok if you don’t know how to cook,” Campbell said. “Maybe you haven’t used a knife before, still come in. You don’t have to be a gourmet chef or already know how to cook to come, we want everyone to come.”

CalFresh Healthy Living Student Assistant Macey Briones said she enjoys working with the students and seeing their perspectives on the food.

“Lately we’ve been kind of doing things like ‘Oh we’re going to add these spices in based on the recipe, what other spices would you add,’” Briones said. “Just kind of seeing where everyone’s preferences lie and how it can vary so much, that’s really interesting to see.”

One of the cooking demos was held on Nov. 13 and facilitated by two peer health educators Sarai Scott and Nalu Hall. Students made chicken quesadillas along with guacamole and pico de gallo step-by-step.

The ingredients for the guacamole and pico de gallo in The Cove Kitchen at The WELL Monday, Nov. 13, 2023. The ingredients consist of chopped cilantro, chopped onions, diced tomatoes, halved and pitted avocados and a jalapeño pepper. (Photo by Asyah Zamani)

“It’s important for them to learn nutrition skills, to learn how to cook,” Campbell said. “I mean that’s food, it brings people together, so it’s really nice that we’re able to do that on campus and then provide some nutrition education along with it.”

CalFresh Healthy Living Student Assistant Carolina Rodriguez also helped facilitate the cooking demo. She thought the cooking demo was great.

“I love helping people,” Rodriguez said. “I love how it’s a way for students to feel safe in their food security, like ‘Hey you know what, I actually don’t really have food this week, let’s go to a cooking demo and maybe it’ll have something good.’’’

Rodriguez said she loved the recipe choice, quesadillas, because it’s something really easy that students can make.

“It’s not just something that you will eat at an event, you can actually make it at home,” Rodriguez said. “For the students, it’s really good because they get fresh food.”

First-year mechanical engineering major Michelle Arredondo-Blanco said it was her first time participating in the cooking demo.

“It was fun,” Arredondo-Blanco said. “I like doing it with friends. I think that’s what made it
more fun, but interactive.”

Briones said a lot of times students will eat out or choose more convenient, but less healthy foods. She said she hopes if they have the skills to cook for themselves, then they can include more healthy items like fruits and veggies.

“With these skills, I hope that students can use cooking as a way to kind of help bring in more nutritious foods into their meals,” Briones said.

(L-R) First-year business major Eliana Garcia with her friends first-year mechanical engineering major Michelle Arredondo-Blanco and first-year kinesiology major Alexa Armenta participating at the cooking demo in The Cove Kitchen at The WELL Monday, Nov. 13, 2023. Garcia and Armenta are holding their uncooked chicken quesadillas. (Photo by Asyah Zamani)
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Asyah Zamani, PRMA Staffer
(she/her/hers) Asyah Zamani is a transfer student from Cosumnes River College, majoring in journalism. This is her second semester at The State Hornet and she is excited to be a part of the public relations section.
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