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Cabarrus Magazine

NCRC: Nutrition Classes Open Healthy Doors Across Cabarrus and Rowan Counties

Feb 01, 2016 08:00AM ● By Jason Huddle

NCRC: Nutrition Classes Open Healthy Doors Across Cabarrus and Rowan Counties

The cutting-edge nutritional research generated by scientists at the North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC) is published in hundreds of scientific journals, headlines research conferences worldwide and is featured in the kitchens of many Cabarrus County residents.


The Cabarrus Health Alliance (CHA) and the North Carolina State University Plants for Human Health Institute (PHHI) lead ongoing healthy living and cooking classes where nutrition experts translate research into actionable information and delicious, easy recipes. 

Deborah Shaw, a faith community health promotor with Carolinas HealthCare System (CHS) NorthEast, started attending CHA’s classes to find healthier meals for her diabetic husband. She not only has new recipes to share with him and the congregations she works with, she spends time with her granddaughter Makayla Shaw, 11, who attends the classes with her. 

“When I go to the classes, I’m ready to be the first to volunteer. That’s how I get more people to raise their hands to volunteer,” Makayla says. “It’s fun to make the food and fun to eat the food. Then you can go home and make the food again and let your friends, family, and other people try it out and see if they like it. It is fun to learn new, healthier recipes and I enjoy cooking, too.”

Some of her favorite recipes, she shares, are the bean burger, baked southwest rolls and spinach tomato basil pinwheels. Deborah and Makayla also sponsored a CHA cooking class at their church – Sandy Ridge AME Zion in China Grove – where 18 members tried new recipes and got their health and nutrition questions answered by CHA’s nutrition experts.

Deborah adds, “The nutrition education classes and programs increased our knowledge on reading the labels on packages, and taught us that if you can’t pronounce the ingredients, don’t buy it. Makayla and I were very surprised to learn how much sugar we could take in daily. These classes are not only informative, but the fellowship and establishing new friendships has been the most rewarding.” 

Shirley Allen, who is a faith community nurse with CHS NorthEast, attended her first PHHI Healthy Living, Healthy Cooking class with her sister who read about it in the newspaper. She also attends CHA’s classes and the free health and nutrition seminars sponsored by the UNC Chapel Hill Nutrition Research Institute, another NCRC partner.

Before taking the classes, Shirley wasn’t aware of the probiotic benefits of fermented foods. “I contribute eating fermented foods to keeping me from getting sick, and boosting my immune system,” she says. “That was totally new to me, how helpful probiotics are for your body.”

She regularly prepares kombucha tea – a fermented beverage – for its health benefits. She shares the nutrition information and recipes she learns with the congregation she supports at Concordia Lutheran Church in China Grove.

Rose LaCasse, a farmer in Rowan County, attended PHHI’s classes with her husband Kenneth. “Some cooking classes require lots of fancy equipment and knowledge,” Rose says. “These classes are informal and easy for anyone to follow. Although the recipes are research based, the ingredients are available and require no special cooking skills.”

Through the classes, Kenneth acquired a better knowledge of nutrition that’s taught him how to read package labels and shop more conscientiously, and Rose took away an interest in the benefits of fermentation. She’s fermented peppers, basil and other vegetables from her organic garden.

“Fermentation is a great way to preserve food instead of canning it, and it retains more of the nutritional value,” she explains. “I’ve told all my neighbors about the classes. We’ve tried all of the recipes, and many of them we added to our repertoire. The classes have really opened a healthy door for us.”

To learn more about nutritional programs, visit:

• Cabarrus Health Alliance:;

• Plants for Human Health Institute: https://plantsforhumanhealth.ncsu edu/;

• UNC Nutrition Research Institute:;

• NC Research Campus:

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