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TUPELO, MISS. (WCBI) – With the start of a new school year, many families are busier than ever. Often, dinnertime becomes a choice between fast food restaurants or unhealthy snacks.

But as WCBI’s Allie Martin reports in this weeks “Making the Grade” NMMC’s Wellness Center is helping parents and caregivers with some healthy dinner demonstrations.

At this cooking class, it’s a lesson in healthy meals, that can be made in less than 30 minutes.

“The recipe today is an herbed garden pizza,” said Registered Dietician Alice Anne Lee.

She uses recipes based on the new food guide pyramid . She takes class members through each step of the recipe and she emphasizes the healthy ingredients.

The pizza is loaded with fresh spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms , purple onions and topped with fat free mozzarella cheese.

Lee says the classes show that it’s possible for families on the go to cook healthy meals , instead of opting for unhealthy options.

“When you go pick up a pizza you never know how much sodium, extra fat from pepperoni, sausage you may be getting so this is a quick, easy fast recipe, you can make and do, and also get your kids involved as well, show them that fresh vegetables and things you can make on your own is definitely always better,” she said.

Many class members say they didn’t always make healthy choices for dinner.

“When my daughter was a little younger, we found ourselves finding easiest things to cook for her in the afternoons, she would grab a snack , anything that could be cooked in microwave, fast food restaurant, anything we could do fast until we realized these habits would follow her throughout her life,” said Terri Green.

So with the help of the cooking seminars, the Green family cooks with lean meats, vegetables and they even plan ahead.

“Sometimes now on Sunday nights we cook, or fix grilled chicken to save for the week or fix healthier choices we can freeze and warm up really quick during the week,” Green said.

Parents and caregivers are also encouraged to repurpose those healthy dinners. The leftovers make tasty and nutritious sack lunches for school. Experts say cooking healthy, quick meals does require a different mindset, but the results can have a positive impact for life.

For more information go to http://www.nmhs.net/tupelo_wellness_center.php

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