Healthy cooking is back on the table

January 11, 2012

By HOLLY KOZELSKY - Bulletin Accent Editor

Kayla Craddock enjoyed baking over the holidays, but now that a new year has begun, she’s back on track with healthy cooking.

It’s the perfect lifestyle fit for Craddock, 24 — after all, she is the Community Health Educator for Martinsville Henry County Coalition for Health and Wellness, and she is starting two food-based classes this week.

Craddock was busy during the summer and fall getting established in a new house and a new job. By the time the holidays rolled around, she was settled in ready to experiment with fun baking and party foods.

It’s pleasant “on the holidays, to be able to do that,” she said.

With that behind her, however, it’s back to good-for-you meals.

Craddock likes chilis and soups. She can make enough of one to last several days, and she can get variety by modifying what she puts in the soups and stews. Craddock also depends on salads for many of her meals.

Her number one food is chicken. “You can cook it lots of different ways,” she said, such as in fajitas and tacos.

When cooking the foods she grew up with, she takes “a step back to know how to prepare things I do like in a healthy way,” she said. She accomplishes much of that through ingredient substitutions. They include:

• Ground turkey instead of ground beef

• Fat free plain yogurt instead of sour cream

• Splenda (or other sweetener) instead of sugar

• Lower fat margarine instead of butter

• Marinara sauces instead of alfredo (or thick, creamy sauces)

• Whole wheat noodles for Italian dishes

A quick yet substantial breakfast-on-the-go Craddock likes is peanut butter and banana on toast.

To be sure she remains fueled up in a healthy way, Kayla likes to “make sure I have yogurts and nuts” to have snacks available at the office, she said.

Craddock’s majors at Averett University were biology and psychology. “I wanted to merge them” into a career, so she chose public health for her master’s degree, which she earned from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNC-G).

Craddock had an internship with the Coalition last year. She also worked at Piedmont Community Services in the prevention department. Many of the people who work for the coalition went to school at UNC-G, and hearing about their experiences is what encouraged her to study there. She earned her master’s in May and began working full time for the Coalition in June.

She grew up in Spencer, and she’s just rented a house in Madison, N.C., with a friend from college who works in Greensboro, N.C. Craddock spends a lot of time at her father’s house in Madison, especially now that her twin sister, Kendall, is back there from college. Kendall got her master’s degree in December in education of sports management, and now she is looking for work.

Like her sister, Kendall is devoted to healthy eating, plus she maintains a steady workout routine.

“We’ve all helped each other to be accountable” on eating, Kayla said.

The twins have one brother, Landon, 27, who works for United Way. Their father is David Craddock, who works in the powerhouse for Commonwealth Brands in Reidsville, N.C. It is a tobacco company, but the women are quick to point out their father does not smoke. Their mother, Sharon Craddock lives in Sandy Ridge, N.C.

The twins’ styles of cooking run in the opposite direction, Kayla said. While her sister experiments with throwing different things together, Kayla goes strictly by the book, cooking according to recipes.

“It’s kind of funny, us both being twins, the difference is apparent,” Kayla added.

Craddock is taking registration for a nutrition class she is coordinating along with the Virginia Cooperative Extension. Extension Agent Kim Hairfield will teach sessions on salt, fat, sugar and cooking on a budget. Its first four-week session starts today and is offered from 1-2 p.m. and 6-7 p.m. at the West Piedmont Development Center. The class will be repeated in February and March.

This week, Craddock also is teaching the first of a six-week diabetes class at Carilion Clinic. That class already is full, but she will begin another in February. The date is not set yet. Anyone interested should call the Coalition at 403-5030 for information.


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