Faith, Activity, and Nutrition Cook Training

Welcome to the FAN Cook Training! This training is designed to assist cooks and other members who are involved with meal planning, catering, and cooking learn about healthy and flavorful ways to make healthy menu items available whenever food is served at church. The FAN Cook Training is available as a text training and video training. These trainings are not identical and we recommend that you take part in both of them. Viewing the modules may add to the richness of the training, as you will see techniques demonstrated and menu items prepared. If your computer will not open the video or display it properly, please switch to the Text Training section of the FAN Cook Training. The Text Training will allow you to read through the information at your own pace, but unlike the Committee Training, the text training does not present all of the same information as the video training. Please select a training tab below to get started.

Many churches routinely offer food before, during, or after Bible study, worship services, meetings and other special events. Having a meal or snack available at church often increases participation in events, as well as saves time and reduces burden on members by them not having to prepare or seek a meal elsewhere. Sharing a meal at church is also a wonderful part of fellowship. Oftentimes, meals and snacks are prepared by dedicated members who have a special gift for cooking. Your church’s cooks and other members who assist with meal planning, catering, and cooking play an important role in determining what kinds of foods are offered and how those foods are prepared. Therefore, cooks and lead kitchen staff are vital to ensuring that members of the church have healthy menu items available whenever food is served! Cooks play an important role in creating a healthier church by preparing healthy and flavorful foods that appeal to a variety of tastes and preferences.

Cook Training

As a part of the FAN Cook Training you are encouraged to try new foods and cooking techniques, test out new recipes, and be creative about ways in which you season and prepare menu items. More matters! So explore ways in which you can add fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to traditional recipes, as you also reduce the amount of fat and salt. Add a bit of FAN FLAIR to every event where food is served by making sure healthy options are available!

As important members of the FAN Committee, Cook or Lead Kitchen staff members should be willing to:

  • Attend your FAN planning committee meetings
  • Play a key role in making sure the FAN program is put in place in your church
  • Plan menus using the DASH Diet
  • Speak to groups in your church about the importance of healthy eating
  • Help groups in your church plan for how to include healthy eating in regular  meetings
  • Be a true advocate and champion for physical activity and healthy eating

The FAN Cook Training uses a helpful guide, “Cooking With a Chef,” to walk cooks and lead kitchen staff through basic steps of menu planning, grocery shopping, and meal preparation. This guide focuses on using healthy cooking tips and techniques that emphasizes fruit, vegetables, and whole grains while at the same time reducing salt, fat, and sugar in recipes. If you wish to download the entire “Cooking With a Chef” document as one file, please CLICK HERE. We have also included individual files for each section below. As you move through each section, cooks will learn more about how to increase healthy options at future church events, by preparing nutritious and tasty meals!

I. Make Menu Planning Easy

As you plan for upcoming church events where food will be served, good menu planning will ensure that healthier options are available! Giving advance thought to the menu you plan to serve will influence the foods you buy and how they are seasoned and prepared. Try to offer a healthy variety that will appeal to a range of tastes and preferences. Good menu planning is the first step to offering healthy meals at your church’s events. By setting aside time to plan meals you will see how easy it becomes to work more fruits, vegetables and whole grains into meals and snacks. Learn more about time-saving menu planning for your upcoming church events and all year long. In this section cooks, will learn how to:

  1. Strive for balance with flavors
  2. Emphasize variety in foods, flavor and textures
  3. Add contrast with textures, flavors, and methods of preparation
  4. Think about adding and varying colorful foods
  5. Consider eye appeal of the meal

CLICK HERE to check out the five basic menu planning guidelines.

II. Color Your Plate with Vegetables and Fruits

Colorful fruits and vegetables are appealing to the eye and the body. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber. These nutrients help to lower your risk of developing many health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain cancers. The goal is to eat at least five or more cups of fruits and vegetables each day. Many people may think this is challenging, but it’s easier than you think. As the cook and/or lead kitchen staff, be creative about how to offer a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables at church functions - considering adding more veggies to salads, soups, and casseroles. This will help members increase the amount of fruit and vegetables they eat. In this section cooks will learn:

  1. Five reasons to eat more vegetables and fruits
  2. Simple ways to serve more vegetables and fruits
  3. How to eat your colors everyday
  4. Helpful hints about shopping the produce aisle

CLICK HERE to learn how to color your plate with vegetables and fruits.

III. Vegetables and Fruits for a Week

Staying on track with your church’s healthy eating plan begins with good menu planning that includes a variety of foods. Take the time to plan a weekly menu for all upcoming events so that you can build fruits and vegetables into every meal offered. Planning ahead for healthier meals at church also reduces the likelihood of buying pre-packaged dishes or fast food. Freshly preparing a meal for the congregation allows cooks to control what goes into a dish and helps to avoid hidden fats, sugars, and salt often found in store bought products. Stocking up on essential pantry and refrigerator staples saves time and tends to be less expensive too because you will have healthy items on hand to prepare delicious well-balanced meals for all occasions. In this section, cooks will learn how to:

  1. Categorize the list of vegetables for a week’s menu.
  2. Create a menu that will appeal to variety of tastes.
  3. Design a plan to stock the pantry and refrigerator.
  4. Plan a menu to include vegetables and fruits that meet the church’s needs for upcoming meals.

CLICK HERE to discover how to stock up and plan for upcoming healthy meals.

IV. Flavor & Nutrition on the Menu

Whether you church is just starting a plan for healthy eating or has been following a healthy menu for years, sticking to it can sometimes seem bland or routine. But healthy eating doesn't have to be boring or tiresome. By using flavorful, colorful food combinations, experimenting with new cooking ideas, and having an inventive spirit, cooks can add pizzazz to meals and snacks, and keep the church motivated to meet its goals for healthy eating. Try using herbs and spices, instead of salt, to add color, taste, and aroma. Add beans, brown rice, or other whole grains to bulk up a meal and add flavor and texture. The healthy cooking techniques described in this section will show cooks how to add an assortment of fruits and vegetables to meals and best capture the flavor of foods without adding excessive amounts of fat or salt. In this section, cooks will learn how to:

  1. Review culinary techniques for flavor in the food pyramid by incorporating the 5 vegetable categories and 5 colors of vegetables and fruits.
  2. Practice the technique of flavor additions with vegetables and fruits.
  3. Add whole grains to the menu.
  4. Prepare a spice blend.

CLICK HERE to learn new ways to boost flavor and variety in meals.

V. Get Savvy in the Market

Do you prepare a list when you go grocery shopping for church meals and snacks? When planning a grocery shopping trip, it helps to get organized. Planning ahead can save you money and time when it comes to grocery shopping. Advance preparation allows you to check your church’s pantry, fridge and freezer for needed grocery items. In addition, it gives you time to compare prices at different stores to find the best deals and review nutritional labels. Nutrition fact labels can help you make healthier food choices by giving you information about the nutrients in a serving of food. In this section, cooks will learn how to:

  1. Practice shopping tools and chef’s tips in menu planning and grocery list preparation.
  2. Read food product labels and nutrition fact panels.

CLICK HERE for some basic shopping tools and tips.

VI. Serving with FAN FLAIR: Centerpieces and Tasting Events

Congratulations you have completed the FAN Cook Training! Remember that as a Cook or Lead Kitchen staff member you are an important part of your church’s FAN Committee. You play a HUGE role in the success of the FAN program and promoting health in your church. Be sure to attend monthly meetings with your FAN Committee to review your church’s plan and timeline for activities. As a cook you lead the way in making sure tasty and nutritious meals are available to church members whenever food is served. In this last section, additional resources are provided for you to share with your congregation. Use the tips at your FAN kick-off event or next church event, create a beautiful fruit and vegetable centerpiece or host your own church food tasting event.

CLICK HERE for additional cooking, food and health resources.

Also view flavorful and healthy FAN recipes by clicking here.

FAN Cooking Training Program

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Welcome to the video training section of the FAN Cook Training! By choosing this interactive training track you will be able to view short demonstrations, as you listen and follow along with a narrator. The narrator will guide you through the steps of preparing healthy meals from start to finish, beginning with Kitchen Safety. We ask that you move through each section in order, as each one builds on the next. You will need to open the attachments in the upper right hand corner of the training video and download or print each section. Please be patient as the video training section loads. It will open in a new, separate pop-up window or tab. If your computer will not open the video or display it properly, please switch to the text training section of the FAN Committee Training. The Text Training will allow you to read through the information at your own pace. But keep in mind that not all of the information presented in the video training is presented in the text training.

To begin the video training track, click on the link below for Kitchen Safety. The information will open in a new window and the narrator will begin speaking. Please use the controls at the bottom of the screen or the side tabs to pause or replay any slide.