Making healthy choices

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 1, 2023

Viviane Khounlavong discusses the components of healthy meals during a class at Ohio University Southern on Monday. (The Ironton Tribune | Heath Harrison)

Community class promotes nutritious meal prep

Eating healthy can be a challenge for many, especially with busy schedules limiting time in the kitchen.

But a community class at Ohio University Southern has been offering advice on how to prepare balanced, affordable meals ahead of time.

Jasmine rice, chicken and green beans was served during the healthy meal prep class at Ohio University Southern on Monday. (The Ironton Tribune | Heath Harrison)

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“Our target is busy moms, 18-44,” Camryn Zornes, health educator for the Lawrence County Health Department, said.

The class on Monday was led by Viviane Khounlavong, a local fitness expert who teaches yoga, as well as runs a southeast Asian food truck, named “Yommaste,” dedicated to healthy meals.

“She’s a great person to ask about everything,” Zornes said of Khounlavong. “She’s a great community leader.”

To kick off the class, Khounlavong brought along steamed jasmine rice, green beans and chicken for attendees.

She said the meal is less than 400 calories and contains proteins.

“It is cooked in olive oil,” she said of the preparation. “And with garlic and black pepper.”

Of the green beans, she said she prefers not to cook them all of the way, leaving them with a bit of crunch.

“So you’re not cooking all the good stuff out,” she said.

Attendees of the community class at Ohio University Southern on Monday sample the meal during the cooking class. (The Ironton Tribune | Heath Harrison)

Next, she spoke of the need for a balanced diet, breaking it down into four components.

First, were proteins, which can include chicken, fish, eggs and beans. Next were “clean” carbs, consisting of things like buckwheat noodles, rice and granola.

Third were vegetables, such as broccoli, asparagus and Brussels sprouts.

The green, the better, she told the class.

And last were healthy fats, such as almonds, avocado, olive oil and mixed nuts.

After this presentation, Khounlavong had the class make up their own meal plans covering the four categories.

One person asked about whether olive oil mayonnaise is better than the regular version.

She conceded that it was healthier, but said “the healthier option is not necessarily healthy.”

Khounlavong said the goal is to prepare advance meals two or three times a week.

“And the key is what you have in the pantry,” she said. “The key is good, healthy food.”

Zornes said the class meets each week, from 5-6:30 p.m., at no charge, and is funded through a preconception and inter-conception health grant.

“It covers healthy living, fitness, nutrition and nutrition,” she said.

She said the class runs through July 10, but OUS is planning to start it back again, likely at the end of July.