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Senior Center serves up lesson in healthy cooking

Cooking DemoHOLLYWOOD — Seniors in Hollywood are served breakfast and lunch daily but are on their own for dinner. To promote healthy eating, the Elder Services and Health departments teamed up and gave a cooking demonstration on Feb. 26.

Right before lunch, the aroma of garlic sautéing in olive oil filled the Senior Center. On the menu were quick and easy, yet tasty and healthy dishes, including shrimp scampi with spinach and homemade ricotta cheese.

“This is our first time doing a cooking demonstration, but we hope to have them monthly,” said Debra Hampel, Elder Services site manager. “Today we have a healthy version of scampi, made without salt.”

Nutritionist Lucy Barrios broke down the recipes and ingredients for the seniors and explained the benefits of each item.

“The pink in the shrimp comes from the beta carotene family,” Barrios said. “The colors are protective for us and have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. They help with diabetes and the pancreas. Spinach, with its dark green color, is a ‘superfood,’” she said, referring to foods with high nutritional content.

Mary Gay Osceola tasted shrimp for the first time.

“It’s pretty good,” she said. “I tried something new today. Maybe one day I’ll try to make it.”

Some seniors cook in the evenings, but many go out for dinner.

“When you make things at home, you are in control of it,” Barrios said. “You can make meals more healthy, use less salt and butter and add spinach to make things healthier.”

“Even though it’s a lighter recipe, it still has a lot of flavor,” Hampel added.

The ricotta cheese, although made with whole milk and cream, was served as an appetizer on a small piece of toasted baguette, ensuring a small portion to keep it healthier.

Judybill Osceola usually cooks spaghetti with meat sauce or meatloaf for her family but yearns for more vegetables.

“I want to learn to make vegetable lasagna,” she said. “I love spinach. I think I could live on it all the time.”


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