Healthy Teaching Kitchens Help Veterans Achieve a Balanced and Nutritious Diets - Bay Pines VA Healthcare System
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Bay Pines VA Healthcare System

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Healthy Teaching Kitchens Help Veterans Achieve a Balanced and Nutritious Diets

March 10, 2017

BAY PINES, FL – Healthy eating: An important component to the overall health and well-being of individuals, and a major focus of Bay Pines VA Healthcare System dietitians in service to Veterans.

One of many tools used to help Veterans achieve a more balanced and nutritious diet is the Healthy Teaching Kitchen – an hour-long cooking demonstration hosted by VA dieticians intended to teach Veterans and their families healthy cooking skills and new recipes.

“The ultimate goal with a Healthy Teaching Kitchen, and anything that we are implementing in our healthcare system, is to look at outcomes in regards to [Veterans'] nutrition status,” said Sharon Hickman, Dietetic Internship Director, Bay Pines VA Healthcare System.

“By preparing [food] on our own and more healthily in our home setting, we can often achieve [nutritional goals] that we are setting with Veterans,” she said.

Recently, a demonstration was conducted by Bay Pines dietetic interns Jennifer Peters and Kellyn Shollenberger for Veterans who participate in the Bay Pines cancer support group. The menu for the day: Mediterranean quinoa salad with avocado lime dressing.

“What better way to promote nutrition than to show [Veterans] how to cook a recipe, a recipe that they can try, and to see that healthy food can taste good…it is something they can actually create on their own,” said Peters prior to the start of the demonstration.

According to Bay Pines dieticians, Healthy Teaching Kitchens provide Veterans and their families the opportunity to sample foods they may not have tried on their own. Additionally, many demonstrations focus on disease specific conditions like the one for the cancer support group.

“…It tasted great…knowing there were healthy things in [the Mediterranean quinoa salad] that I would normally shy away from. It was pretty tasty,” said U.S. Army Veteran Jerald Simon, who attended the demonstration as a member of the cancer support group.

In recognition of National Nutrition Month, Bay Pines dietetic interns will be conducting several more Healthy Teaching Kitchen demonstrations throughout March. The events will take place in the J.C. Cobb room located on the first floor of the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center. Click here for address and driving directions.

To learn more about the upcoming demonstrations and nutrition services provided by the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, please call 727-398-6661 extension 10204 or visit:

About Bay Visions News Brief

Bay Visions News Brief is a video news product line developed by the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System Office of Public Affairs and Medical Media Services. The news videos complement Bay Visions - a quarterly magazine distributed to Veterans, family members, VA employees and Volunteers, members of the general public and other stakeholders.

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About the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System

The Bay Pines VAHCS is one of the nation’s leading VA healthcare systems, employing more than 4,000 medical professionals and support staff dedicated to providing the very best care to Veterans residing in southwest Florida. The organization is the fifth busiest VA health care system in the country in terms of patients served and is accredited by The Joint Commission, Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, and several other nationally recognized accrediting organizations. The Bay Pines VAHCS operates nine facilities to include the main medical center located in Bay Pines and outpatient clinics located in Bradenton, Cape Coral, Naples, Palm Harbor, Port Charlotte, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, and Sebring. To learn more, please visit, like us on Facebook at, or follow us on Twitter at