The classes are part of the Flagler Adult Education program.
As a chef, Susan Cohen has a passion for helping others be less intimidated of cooking healthy foods.
Through Flagler Adult Education, Cohen teaches a healthy cooking class every Thursday at the A1A Center, located at 5633, Oceanshore Blvd.
Before Cohen started her own health journey over 30 years ago, she was eating an “American standard diet,” she said.
“I was having health problems,” Cohen said. “I was a yoga instructor. I was getting sick; every week I had a cold and I thought, ‘Something is going on.’ One of the women in my yoga class happened to be a cooking teacher and we said, ‘Let’s exchange.’ So, I started taking cooking classes with her.”
She was hooked. Her sickness began to fade away and she realized that a healthy lifestyle filled with real ingredients and whole foods was responsible for this change.
“I lost weight; I had more energy,” Cohen said. “I got more creative, so it gave me the ability to go out and share this with people. So, that I’m grateful for.”
Cohen moved in Palm Coast in 2011, and she started cooking classes with Flagler Adult Education not long after. She also conducts yoga sessions and the silver sneakers club around town.
During one of her cooking classes in January at the A1A Center, about a dozen adult students watched and asked questions while Cohen demonstrated how to massage and sauté garlicy kale and red onions, as well as roast butternut squash with pine nuts. An aroma of spices filled the kitchen as dishes were made — before they were enjoyed by the students the end of the class.
“I just talk to people and make them aware about these different foods,” Cohen said. “Maybe they never made a squash before or maybe they never massaged the kale to make it a salad. So, I’m showing and introducing it to people in a gentle way and have them add to their repertoire of their recipes that they know, so that they become aware and not feel like they’re being restricted. I try not to tell people not to eat this or that, because right away people have a conflict. So, I want people to be able to just choose different things.”
One of the cooking students, Palm Coast resident David Fowlkes, said his wife, Leona, wants him to change up his diet from southern comfort food.
“You’re getting older and you want to be here as long as you can,” he said.
Mary McCrohan was motivated to take this class after moving to Palm Coast from San Francisco six years ago. She said she needs to learn how to cook healthy because there aren’t as many healthy restaurants here as there was in California.
Ormond By the Sea resident Jodie Von Gal said Cohen’s energy made the class especially enjoyable.
“It just inspires me, so that I go home and break out of my own comfort zone and try something new,” Von Gal said.
Cohen is always blown away by her student’s appreciation for her classes.
“I’m so grateful, I love it,” Cohen said. “I think that’s how you stay healthy and stay young.”