Family Focus: Cooking with heart

by: Natalie Pasquarella Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - For the first time in Charlotte, the American Heart Association is targeting young people who they say are at a high risk for heart disease.
 
Those students are now taking summer classes where they use cookbooks instead of textbooks.
 
Charlotte chef Terra Ciotta is volunteering to teach these courses to six teams of middle schoolers. The students in these courses focus on African-American, Hispanic and Latino populations, which the AHA says are high-risk groups for heart disease.
 
This week, Ciotta taught the first-time chefs to make fresh chicken fajitas.

The group of children cooked in the kitchen of O’Zion AME Zion Church in Charlotte.
 
The course will continue to teach kids how to cook healthy over the next four weeks. This is all part of the American Heart Association's "kids cook with heart" initiative.
 
The course ends with a cooking competition in July.
 
Although a little friendly competition is always fun, the main goal is to show the kids how simple it can be to cook healthy, inexpensive meals.
 
These students admitted they often go for quick options, but they're ready to learn to eat healthier. Chef Ciotta is excited to see the lessons being learned.
 
The first fajita lesson was a hit.

Here is a link to the American Heart Associations “Cooking with Heart” curriculum, including videos and recipes: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyCooking/Browse-Recipes_UCM_430018_Article.jsp