Maia Manshadi can recall her first foray into the art of cooking as a four year old — making her parents grated cheese with milk mixed together in a bowl.
“And my parents ate it with a smile plastered on their faces,” said the Grade 11 student from South Kamloops secondary.
These days she’s whipping up healthier eating options, having explored her love of cooking since Grade 8 in home economics classes with teacher Carmen Babin.
Last week, Babin tasked Manshadi and the rest of her senior students with creating a healthy version of a cookie — an exercise to teach her students about nutrition and how it can be incorporated into their meals.
“We need to be advocates for our health,” said Babin.
The challenge also expands students’ understanding of the science behind baking so they’re comfortable experimenting with different ingredients, Babin said.
The aroma of cookies and sounds of cookery clanging together filled Room 206 at the school over the lunch hour on Friday as students prepared the final version of their recipes for a panel of judges.
Students had to revise a cookie recipe by lowering the fat and sugar and increasing the fibre content all while maintaining a flavourful snack.
Manshadi’s come a long way since she was four, putting together choco cherry cookies — cherries and chocolate with coconut, topped with a white chocolate drizzle on top.
“I used whole wheat flour and coconut as my base,” she told KTW. “Coconut is an excellent source of protein and whole wheat flour is an excellent source of fibre. And then I put in some cherries.”
To make her recipe even healthier she substituted bananas for the eggs as they bind the ingredients together the same way — something she learned in class.
She said Babin’s cooking challenge is a great way to learn the importance of eating healthy.
“Not only does it take care of our bodies, but when we eat healthy, it makes our mental capacity much better,” said Manshadi, who dreams of one day starting her own restaurant and even treated her family last December to a home-cooked Christmas dinner.
Grade 10 students Danny Tarabay and Santiago Lopez made banana coconut cookies, swapping sugar with honey to make them more nutritious.
“I thought cookies were just sugar, butter, cocoa and all that, but today I realized you can do so much more like add coconuts, oats — honey instead of sugar,” Tarabay said.
Lopez, an exchange student from Mexico, said this was his first home-economics class, which opened his eyes to the possibilities of healthier eating habits.
Babin said she feels the need to prepare her students for living on their own by exposing them to the plethora of possibilities when it comes to cooking.
“If I’m missing something in the fridge I know what else I can use and it’s healthier, as well,” Manshadi said.