July 29, 2013

Breaking more than bread together

By ROBIN CAUDELL Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — Giant germs were vanquished by children and their parents during “Families Cooking Together Workshops” offered by the Clinton County Cornell Cooperative Extension.

The classes are held at 2:30 p.m. Wednesdays at the Plattsburgh Public Library and at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays at the West Chazy Town Hall. Instructors are Chelsay Baxter and Nancy Zukowski.

“We’re offering these programs for a course of six weeks to teach families about nutrition and cooking together and to get children more involved with making smart food choices and preparing their own meals with their families,” Baxter said.

The instructors began with the basics: hand washing.

“We like to do that as our first intro to the program because it’s so important to make sure that you wash your hands,” Baxter said. “So, we did an activity with the children where they got to do glow germs. We put (on what we call a) multiple-germ potion, and it glows under a black light. We got to put the germs on their hands. They go in the bathroom and wash them and come back and see the germs under the black light, which was really cool. 

“They really enjoyed that. It shows them how fast germs spread and where they hide, under your fingernails, in between your fingers, and how it is important you use proper hand washing before you handle food so you don’t get sick or make other people sick.”

The children, parents and grandparents constructed giant germs out of crackers, pretzels and berries.

“It’s a snack with two crackers, and we put cream cheese between them, and the kids will use pretzel sticks to make a giant germ. We’re incorporating local food, as much local food as we can. So today, we’re using local strawberries, blueberries and raspberries from the farmers market,” Baxter said. “Our ambition is to show families what is out there and (that) around the community they have access to make nutritious food.” 

The importance of whole grains and increasing intake of fruits and vegetables in a daily diet was also discussed.

“We also have a local food guide that our extension put out that shows them where the local growers and farmers are in Clinton County,” Baxter said. “It’s really helpful because it shows them where they can go to pick their own berries and vegetables within this area. And then, we’re also going to talk about the importance of breakfast and making sure they eat a good meal every morning to give them energy and start their day.”

Zukowski and Baxter also spoke about healthy snacks children can make with their parents or on their own.

“We’re also doing a sugar demo to show children how much sugar is in a lot of the beverages and foods they consume often, especially in prepackaged things like juice boxes, Capri Sun and Gatorade and things like that,” Baxter said. “The sugar demo is really cool because we will measure out how much sugar is in it and show them because visualizing makes a big difference rather than just talking about it. Like 5 teaspoons of sugar, what does that mean to somebody?”

Grains are the topic on Wednesday, July 31; breakfast on Wednesday, Aug. 7; healthy snacking on Wednesday, Aug. 14; vegetables on Wednesday, Aug. 21; and a sugar demo on Wednesday, Aug. 28.

“We’re trying to do more groups to get more families involved because we think this is a good program that a lot of people don’t realize is out there,” Baxter said. “It’s free, which is even better.”

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FOR MORE INFO WHAT: "Families Cooking Together Worshops" offered by the Clinton County Cornell Cooperative Extension. WHEN: 2:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Plattsburgh Public Library; 6:30 p.m. Thursdays, West Chazy Town Hall. CONTACT: To register, call 561-7450 or email