JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
Going out to eat, as a couple, can be rather expensive and sometimes the food choices are unhealthy.
When couples cook at home together, it not only helps them decide the ingredients to use, but can help couples reconnect after a busy week of work, taking care of children and other tasks that may hinder a couple’s quality time.
Five couples gathered to do just that -- cook together at the Vogel Resiliency Center’s teaching kitchen here Feb. 23 for a marriage enrichment class. The center’s chaplain sponsored the event as a way to help couples rekindle their "flame," said Lt. Col. Christine Edwards, the Army dietician responsible for the teaching kitchen.
“Tonight’s event is part of the chaplain’s marriage enrichment program, and the couples cooking event helps bring people together through communication in the kitchen. The teaching kitchen is just one of the many services offered at the Vogel Resiliency Center,” Edwards said.
The Vogel Resiliency Center, or VRC, is a project that brings together eight entities of resiliency services into one location. This facility is unique to JBSA-Fort Sam Houston and the Army.
The VRC is home to the Army Wellness Center, Public Health Nursing, Chaplain and Spiritual Services, Military Family Readiness, Health Promotion Operations, Army Substance Abuse Program, Nutrition Coaching and Comprehensive Solider and Family Fitness under one roof. And of course, the facility is also home to the teaching kitchen, which helps individuals learn how to improve methods of nutritional cooking.
Edwards explains how the teaching kitchen started and became part of the VRC.
“This program began out of ‘Performance Triad’ in 2014. When Performance Triad was getting started, I was on the nutrition team when Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, the Army’s surgeon general at the time, asked us to look into a new developmental program called the teaching kitchen. Programs such as the Harvard School of Public Health and the Culinary Institute of America came together to develop a provider curriculum that was given to us to test in the military population. So, we did a research pilot to see how feasible this program was for the military, and it was wildly popular. It received the attention from Army North leadership, and it ended up being incorporated into the Vogel Resiliency Center as a resiliency tool.”
One of the reasons the teaching kitchen is such an important resiliency tool is it helps service members learn how to cook healthy meals for themselves and how to incorporate family members into the cooking process to ‘unite’ them as a family, Edwards said.
Edwards served as the assistant to Sgt. 1st Class Raphael Bonair, a culinary specialist with U.S. Army North (Fifth Army) and the enlisted aide to Lt. Gen. Jeffery S. Buchanan, the senior commander for ARNORTH.
“I enjoy events such as this one because I believe a couple who cooks together stays together,” Bonair said. “The couples cooking event also helped spark healthy eating habits.”
Bonair and Edwards showed the couples how to prepare orange-glazed chicken with aromatic vegetables in the professional, state-of-the-art kitchen.
Although Edwards assisted in teaching the couple’s cooking class, she also brought a special guest of her own—her husband, David Abraham, who helped demonstrate couples cooking techniques to the class.
“My husband definitely helps me out at home and is my sous chef; he helps me with all of the meal prep when we cook together at home,” Edwards said.
This is the fifth class held at the VRC’s teaching kitchen. The first class given was to a group of children on healthy eating and cooking.
Looking toward the future of the teaching kitchen, Edwards said, “There are many different ways to use the teaching kitchen in education and skill building because everyone eats; I look forward to teaching more classes as we move forward with this program.”