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Health Department welcomes spring with cooking class

Cooking Class02HOLLYWOOD — In the spirit of a good old fashioned spring cleaning, the Health Department held a spring cooking class to get rid of old eating habits.

On the menu at the April 9 event in Hollywood was Fiesta Lime Southwest Chicken Salad complete with homemade salad dressing. Six aspiring chefs took their seats around a large conference table, picked up their knives and created a delectable and healthy dish.

“I’m diabetic so I wanted to see how the foods they want us to eat are prepared,” Wade Osceola said. “If I have the information, then I can utilize it. Whatever is prepared outside usually isn’t good for you.”

In the department’s first hands-on cooking class, nutritionist Lucy Barrios took the participants through the recipe step by step, imparting knowledge and healthy tips along the way.

“We want to give them skills so they can be more comfortable in the kitchen,” she said. “A lot of people eat out often, and we want them to know how easy it can be to prepare food at home.”

Each person had his or her own mini-kitchen setup with measuring spoons and cups, mixing bowls, knives and ingredients. Together they created individual salads with enough for two meals – one to eat in class and another to bring home.

“We always tell you to eat healthy and now we are showing you how to do it,” Barrios said. “Think about the salad dressings we buy in the store; they are full of salt and other things we don’t need.”

With that, they mixed olive oil with lime juice and spices and shook it up to create homemade vinaigrette.

“Snacks are like mini meals so you want them to be healthy, too,” said Barrios as the budding chefs diced chicken breasts.

Corn and black beans were part of the salad, so Barrios reminded the class to count them as carbs – the meal they prepared had two servings of carbohydrates.

With the completed dish, participants could eat it as a salad, stuff it into a pita pocket or use it in a wrap. Whichever way they chose, each person ate with gusto with a little bit of pride sprinkled in for good measure.

“The recipe was very good,” Diane Buster said. “This is the kind of things they want us to eat.”

Fiesta Lime Southwest Chicken Salad

1 cup rotisserie chicken, cubed

½ cup canned corn, no salt

½ cup canned black beans, low sodium (rinsed, dried)

½ cup jarred roasted sweet red peppers, chopped

½ cup Roma tomatoes, chopped

¼ cup red or sweet onion, chopped (if desired)

¼ cup fresh cilantro, minced

In a large bowl combine all ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Fiesta Lime Southwest Chicken Salad Dressing

3 tablespoons lime juice

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 teaspoons honey

1 teaspoon cumin

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon chili powder

¼ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

In a small container combine all ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Add dressing to chicken salad. Mix together.

For salads: Top salad greens with chicken salad; sprinkle with almonds.

For pitas: Line pita halves with lettuce leaves; fill with chicken salad.

For wraps: Place chicken salad off-center on tortillas; top with avocado; roll up.

Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at