Club EATalian Teaching Kids to Eat Healthy

Westwood's Italian Cultural Center hosts a panel talk on changing the way children eat.

The Mediterranean diet is healthy, well balanced, and rich with necessary Omega 3 fatty acids. That’s the message that Club EATalian wants American parents to hear in light of the country’s diabetes and obesity epidemic.

“We are the fattest people in the world,” said Dena Herman, Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Community Health Sciences at the UCLA School of Public Health.

To combat that and change the way children eat, and to promote Italian products, the Italian Trade Commission, the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, and the Italian Chamber of Commerce created Club EATalian.

Club EATalian is having events all over town in the next few months. Herman spoke at a panel Wednesday at the Italian Cultural Center in Westwood along with Evan Kleiman, host of KCRW’s Good Food, and Aida Mollenkamp of the Food Network. It was to highlight ways to cook healthy with your children.

Years ago, kids weren’t served snacks throughout the day, Herman said. Three snacks a day is about 200 extra calories. And it doesn’t help if those snacks are processed foods. Processed foods are heavy in Omega 6 fatty acids, which work as an inflammatory. What kids need are more healthy Omega 3s that naturally come from olive oil, fish, and nuts.

But how does a busy, working parent get kids to eat healthy foods? Try cooking dinner together, Kleiman said. Parents can take kids with them to the store and pick out fruits and vegetables to make a healthy meal. And it can be one that kids love.

Kleiman said that pizza, pasta, and bruschetta are “gateway drugs to good eating.” Buy whole wheat pizza dough from the store, spread tomato sauce or olive oil on the pizza, and then place whatever cut up vegetables your kids will eat, she said.

“It’s an adventure for everyone to teach kids to cook,” she said.

After the panel presentation, visitors were treated to lunch made by local Italian restaurants and cooking schools including Angelini Osteria, Toscanova, and Piccolo Chef.

Club EATalian enlisted the help of Piccolo Chef, an innovative cooking school for kids to teach kids healthy eating. Piccolo is hosting free cooking workshops at Il Fornaio, Marino Ristorante, and De Pasquale Trattoria. Visit Piccolo’s website for information and click on the Club EATalian logo.

And it’s not just for kids. As part of Club EATalian, renowned Los Angeles chefs will introduce a new generation of chefs to healthy Mediterranean cooking. On Friday, they will teach students at the Cordon Bleu in Hollywood.

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