FARMINGTON — Local health advocates are offering a cooking class series to help Navajo people create healthier meals if they or someone they cook for has diabetes.

About 24,000 Navajo people have diabetes, and another 10,000 are pre-diabetic, according to the Navajo Nation Division of Health.

The Kitchen Creations classes review nutrition and then introduce recipes and cooking methods that can help maintain a healthy diet.

The classes are free and are offered by the New Mexico State University Tribal Extension Office in Shiprock. The classes are 5:30 to 8 p.m. April 2, 9, 16, and 23 at the office, which is located in a white trailer on the north side of U.S. Highway 64 directly across from the Navajo Tribal Utility Office.

"When people come in to cook, they think it's going to be blah and yuck," said Leah Platero, home economist agent for the tribal extension in Shiprock.

The classes, however, use herbs and spices to give the foods rich flavors, while maintaining low amounts of fat, sugar and salt.

All students receive two cookbooks with suggested recipes.

"We try to find recipes that are quick," said JoAnn Lameman, a registered dietitian who volunteers with the classes.

High rates of diabetes have been linked to over consumption of fatty, sugary and salty foods, which often can be found at fast food restaurants, Lameman said. If people plan their meals more regularly, they can make healthier and quick food, she said.


"Try making more meals at home," Lameman said.

The classes are not just for people with diabetes, but also for their family members, which encourages entire circles to support healthy lifestyles.

For more information on the cooking classes, contact 505-368-3973.

Jenny Kane can be reached at; 505-564-4636. Follow her on Twitter @Jenny_Kane.

Try these healthy recipes! Stove top green chili chicken enchiladas Yields six servings, each one equal to one cup Ingredients: 1 tablespoon olive oil 2/3 cup chopped onion 1/4 cup flour 2 1/2 cups diced green chili (roasted and peeled, fresh or frozen) 2 cups chicken broth 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken breast 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 1 tablespoon cornstarch 8 corn tortillas 1 cup finely shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese Directions: 1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. 2. Sauté the chopped onion in the oil. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. 3. Add the chili, chicken broth, chicken and garlic powder. Simmer uncovered for 5 more minutes. 4. Mix the cornstarch into about 1/4 cup of cold water until all lumps are gone. Add to the chile/chicken mixture. Cook for 2 more minutes. 5. Tear the tortillas into strips and divide into thirds. Add them to the pan and cook until they are hot, stirring with a spoon from time to time. 6. Sprinkle the cheese over the enchiladas. Cover the pan and cook until the cheese has melted. Serve immediately. Easy pumpkin pie Yields eight servings, each one equal to one slice Ingredients: 1 can pumpkin (16 ounces) or 2 cups pureed cooked pumpkin 1 can evaporated skim milk (13 ounce) 1 egg 2 egg whites 1/2 cup biscuit mix (Bisquick type) 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar substitute (such as granulated Splenda) 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice 2 teaspoons vanilla extract Directions: 1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 2. Lightly greased a 10-inch pie pan with vegetable oil spray. 3. Blend all the ingredients in a blender for 1 minute, or beat 2 minutes with a hand mixer. 4. Pour the mixture into the pie pan. Bake for 50 minutes or until the center puffs up.