Chef Lorena Garcia Schools Us On Childhood Obesity

Why is it so important to get the kids involved in the process?

Its more than just eating healthy, we want the kids involved in their own food preparation so they own the recipe and eat dishes that they would normally say no to. We teach the parents how to make cooking a family activity and they get to spend more quality time with their kids as a result. The kids wear their aprons and hats and the process is a lot of fun. The contact with the children, that energy you receive from them is amazing.

Does the cuisine that we as Latinos are accustomed to eating play a part in childhood obesity among our kids too?

When I started analyzing our roots, the way that we used to cook with all natural and organic ingredients I figured we could really make this work. The portions are smaller because here everything is just so big and processed and has a higher content of sugar and fat. In our countries you don’t see that. When I go to Venezuela I don’t see kids overweight, in Mexico tan poco. You have to get back to basics.

What other factors should families think about as they try to eat healthier?

I would say to slow down. Sitting with your kids in the kitchen and cooking a meal, it doesn’t necessarily go with our faster way of living here in the U.S. You feel like you don’t have time to come home and cook something so you go and get the fast or the processed food. That’s where I come in and let people know that in 15 to 30 minutes you can put something healthy and delicious together.

Any other tips you’d like to share with parents struggling with overweight kids?

I understand that there is a lot of low income and single working mothers. But where there’s a will there’s always a way. You just have to make the right changes and be smart about it. You can achieve the same results in the same amount of time that it takes you to get in the car, go to McDonald's and come back home. By the time that you get back you could have prepared something. Also, make the kids play and go outside! It can make a really big change in your life.