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Posted December 9, 2014

Sandia Culinary Students Learn Healthy, Local Cooking

Chef Sean Sinclair of Farm & Table demonstrates how to create healthy meals with locally grown ingredients.

While many people focus on healthy eating as part of New Year's resolutions, others in Albuquerque are hoping to inspire students to make healthy food options their lifestyle.

At Sandia High school, culinary students are learning from local chef Sean Sinclair of Farm & Table restaurant not only how to prepare healthy dishes but also to incorporate locally-grown ingredients. 

“It’s getting kids to be excited and think about healthy foods,” said Cherie Montoya Austin, owner of Farm & Table. “It’s really about healthy foods, but it’s also local.”

In a twist on traditional tamales, students this week made vegetarian tamales filled with roasted spaghetti squash and sweet potatoes and topped them with caramel pecan butter.

“I think it’s cool because a lot of people are used to not eating the best way that they could, and this just gives you some other healthier options,” sophomore Lauren Hancock said. “We are getting to see different ways that other people cook.”

The goal of the demonstrations is to inspire and encourage kids and parents in the community to incorporate more cooking into their lives and build basic healthy cooking skills.

“We don’t get to local foods very often- it makes this a unique experience,” said Culinary Arts teacher Unna Valdez, who also teaches the importance of nutritious foods as part of her courses.

The demonstration stemmed from First Lady Michelle Obama's Kids and Chefs Cook for Success program (part of the Let’s Move! Initiative), pairing winners of a nationwide recipe contest with local chefs. After Farm & Table participated in a demonstration with New Mexico’s winner, they took it a step farther, beyond just eating healthy by teaching students how incorporate locally-grown, sustainable food options into their cooking.

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