Signature Program Students Collaborate to Promote Heart Health

Signature Program Students Collaborate to Promote Heart Health
Shawnee Mission School District

Connie Gandy, Medical Health Science instructor, found a creative solution for a collaborative learning experience for Signature Program students-- one that reinforced lessons of health and wellness through culinary arts.

Earlier this semester, while no  in-person clinicals were held because of the pandemic, Gandy organized their participation in weekly Heart Healthy remote cooking classes with AdventHealth.

Chef Steve Venne, culinary arts instructor, opened the kitchen in the Broadmoor Bistro for the evening classes and culinary students assisted. 

“It was really important to get students together as a group so they could learn and collaborate as a team,” Gandy noted.

Lisa Markley, Culinary Medicine Director at AdventHealth, led the classes. The recipes they made were Heart Healthy. Meals included an entrée, salad, and dessert.

During one class, students cooked burgers and discussed the difference between beef and turkey burgers, the amounts of fat, and which was healthier. They also talked about serving and patty size and conducted a taste test.

Markley shared that the recipe included finely chopped mushrooms to add fiber to and stretch a leaner cut of meat. Markley likes to make simple alterations to food but still keeps her recipes accessible and enjoyable. She noted adding mushrooms made the burgers juicier while the plant-based beta glucan can help to lower cholesterol. 

One student who participated is considering majoring in pharmacy and the class discussed controlling health issues with diet and nutrition.

The information from the class helped raise awareness about ingredients and how to apply the knowledge to diseases and how diets could help manage health.

Another student learned to enhance the flavors to make meals tastier and more enjoyable.

“I am so grateful to Chef Steve and the culinary students who supported my students in this class,” Gandy noted.

The students cooked the meals in teams and took them home to eat and enjoy. 

Markley teaches remote cooking classes every Thursday, with the first Thursday dedicated to a “Family Cook Along.” Registered households receive the recipes and equipment list ahead of time. Markley encourages questions and chats while she cooks. She prepares three recipes during each of the ninety-minute classes.