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Sunday, June 20, 2021

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Spider Demo Kitchen teaches students to cook simple, healthy recipes

The demonstration kitchen in the Well-Being Center.
The demonstration kitchen in the Well-Being Center.

Learning to cook for oneself is a challenge nearly all college students face, and the University of Richmond’s new Spider Demo Kitchen is here to make that right of passage easier for everyone. 

Located in the new Well-Being Center next to Organic Krush, the demonstration kitchen is for students to learn how to create easy, healthy and delicious meals through classes taught by UR registered dietitians, UR chefs and guest chefs from the Richmond area, according to the Dining Services website.  

Terry Baker, executive director of Dining Services, said that the demonstration kitchen has been a thought since the conception of the Well-Being Center. Baker said the demonstration kitchen was created with the intention of encouraging health and wellness, specifically through food. 

Baker also stressed that healthy eating is an important component of an overall healthy lifestyle.

UR Dining tries to show that choosing to be nutritious does not mean sacrificing flavor when creating the recipes to show in the kitchen, Madeline Nathe, a registered dietitian, said. The chosen recipes strike a balance between meals that taste good and are good for you. 

“Cooking for yourself should not be daunting,” Nathe said. “You can make things that are not only healthy, but taste really good. Those two things do not have to be mutually exclusive.”

The recipes demonstrated in the classes are also chosen with student and recent graduate lifestyles in mind. Each recipe has ingredients that are affordable and easy to find, and the recipes are quick to make. 

“Hopefully these classes help when you leave the university,” Baker said. “They’re for when you have your first apartment or your first job and you’re on your own cooking for yourself.” 

Senior Claire Burke said that the recipes are doable.

“My roommates and I always send each other what they’re making and say that we should make these,” Burke said. “They’re definitely manageable for anyone living in apartments.”

Demonstrations are held in the Well-being Center Monday through Thursday. There are two sessions each day: one at 12:00 p.m. and one at 5:00 p.m. 

Each month, Nathe, along with another UR registered dietician, Karen Hensley, come up with a different theme for what recipes will be cooked. 

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Nathe and Hensley said March is known as National Nutrition Month, which became the theme for the demonstration kitchen and inspired dishes such as cilantro lime cauliflower rice, fruit salad with citrus ginger dressing, carrot cake waffles and air fryer brussels sprout. 

The classes at the demonstration kitchen are only the tip of the iceberg, Baker said, and she hoped to add more programs when the COVID-19 pandemic dies down. 

“We are really looking forward to creating a more robust program next year when hopefully things are back to somewhat normal,” Baker said. “There are so many things we can do in there. 

“We could teach knife skills. We could teach a series of classes at night. Or we could focus on key cuisines and healthy eating lifestyles, how to shop for food, how to stock your pantry; the possibilities are endless.” 

Baker, Nathe and others that make the demonstration kitchen what it is said they hope that this program encouraged enthusiasm for nutrition among students. 

“Healthy eating is exciting,” Baker said. “There’s so much out there that is healthy and nutritious and good for your body, and we just want to show you all the possibilities.” 

Contact lifestyle writer Kayla Somers at kayla.somers@richmond.edu

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