Chef Patrick Duggan, chef instructor for the Center for Advancement in Lexington/Richland 5 School District, teaches 4-H members to prepare catfish, collards and grits at the 4-H Healthy Lifestyles Summit.

Patrick Duggan, chef instructor for the Center for Advancement in Lexington/Richland 5 School District, teaches 4-H members to prepare catfish, collards and grits at the 4-H Healthy Lifestyles Summit.

COLUMBIA — MacKenzie Riley from Saluda County wrinkled her nose at the making of ricotta cheese, observing the coagulation as vinegar mixed with hot milk.

She enjoyed the finished product, however.

“I can’t wait to make it again,” said Riley, a participant in the three-day 4-H Healthy Lifestyles Summit Jan. 29-31 in Columbia.

The event offered hands-on lessons in healthy cooking and exercise under the tutelage of local chefs and nutrition experts. Selected Summit attendees will work with South Carolina chefs at 4-H camps this summer to teach other South Carolina young people what they learned at the Summit. The camps, underwritten by a grant from Walmart, will take place between June and August and are open to children aged 9 to 14. Contact your local Clemson University Cooperative Extension agent for information about cost and registration.

“I knew about healthy foods, but I didn’t know that they could taste good,” Anderson County teenager Wesley Wardlaw, 15, said at the conclusion of the event.

Thirty teens and 10 coaches attended the Summit, representing 10 counties across the Palmetto State. Teens were selected to participate by local 4-H leaders based on resolve and promise rather than culinary prowess. The Summit was funded by a national grant from WalMart.

The Summit included a cooking workshop at Lower Richland High School, where Bernadine Cobb teaches culinary arts. Participants learned knife-handling skills with chef Chad Carter, who has a master’s degree in culinary science from Clemson University, and culinary arts skills from Anne Quinn Corr, food columnist and culinary program developer who created the materials for a cooking camp offered at Penn State.

Clemson University graduate student Meagan Miller instructs participants at the 4-H Healthy Lifestyles Summit.

Clemson University graduate student Meagan Miller instructs participants at the 4-H Healthy Lifestyles Summit.

In addition to learning to prepare ricotta cheese, participants made crepes and marinara with fresh basil and no additional sodium or sugar. They prepared a crispy baked eggplant parmesan brushed with olive oil and herbs without the need for breading and frying. They made a whole wheat pizza; a roux and white sauce for macaroni and cheese with kale; and a chicken stir fry served over brown rice with peppers, broccoli, carrots and a soy-garlic-ginger sauce.

Carter created such healthy snacks as apple quesadillas, green smoothies, guacamole and Greek popcorn.

Chef Patrick Duggan, chef instructor for the Center for Advancement in Lexington/Richland 5 School District, prepared baked Cajun-style catfish with corn relish, grits and collard greens while he discussed the importance of local foods and seasoning without a reliance on unhealthy fatback, bacon and ham hocks.

Participants also learned how to reduce stress through yoga and Zumba and attended a drug- and alcohol-awareness program presented by Health Rocks! coordinator Valencia Williams.

Clemson University graduate students Megan Miller and Shannon Monnier, who work with Marge Condrasky, professor in food, nutrition and packaging science, taught participants about healthy eating as well.

The Healthy Lifestyle Summit was spearheaded by Pamela B. Ardern, South Carolina 4-H program leader; Miriam Roman, Youth Voice Youth Choice coordinator for South Carolina 4-H; and Faith Isreal, 4-H youth development agent in York County.

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South Carolina 4-H
The South Carolina 4-H program is the youth-development program of the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service. More than 84,000 young people in South Carolina participate in 4-H. Programs cover animal science, agriculture, science, engineering, natural resources, leadership and much more.