Veterans learn how to cook for their health

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - “Food is something you are concerned about, um, when you are in combat it's not a high priority,” says Keith Ching. But those priorities have shifted for Viet Nam veteran Keith Ching and his fellow veterans.

Ching is a diabetic, as are some of the other students. Some are overweight and like Ching are trying to live a healthier lifestyle.

“You know diet and healthy eating can have a positive impact on so many issues vets are dealing with. You know in terms of health so. These are great classes,” says Ching.

That is why they are at the Healthy Teaching Kitchens Program. These cooking classes are taught 15 times a month by dietician and certified Chef Sean Walsh.

“I get guys anywhere from right out of the service, 22, 23, I think my oldest person is 89. As a dietitian I can talk to you about protein, carbohydrates, and fats until I am blue in the face. But the way I see it, until I teach you on how to make that taste good, then there is really no point,” says Walsh.

On today's menu: zucchini au gratin. By replacing potatoes. a carbohydrate. with zucchini. a vegetable, diabetics may find it easier to control their blood sugars with more meals like this one.

Walsh says the students seem to appreciate the little changes that can be made to everyday meals and can in the long run make a difference in their health.

The program has been going on for a little more than four years. The first class, Sean says, had four people.

While one of those students has stayed with all the classes since then, these days the class size is about 35 on average--much of it comes from word of mouth.

One reason? The vets get to taste the dish once it's done.