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Northeast Georgia Health System classes teach residents better cooking habits
Hospital chef emphasizes proper portion size and nutritional value during monthly wellness session
Northeast Georgia Medical Center chef Kevin Murphree demonstrates correct pineapple ripeness to participants during the Wellness in the Kitchen cooking class last month at Northeast Georgia Medical Center. - photo by Alexander Popp

Wellness In The Kitchen

For the love of nutrition

When: 5:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16

Where: South Patient Tower Cafeteria, Northeast Georgia Medical Center, 743 Spring St. NE, Gainesville

Cost: Free

More info:

Low Sodium, Full Flavor

When: 6:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21

Where: Education Center, Northeast Georgia Medical Center, 1400 River Place, Braselton

Cost: Free

More info:

As each new year comes and goes, a host of resolutions are made, pursued and then eventually discarded under the weight of daily life. Yet without fail, each year people revisit the idea of self-improvement with no thought to the graveyard of old gym memberships and diet books.

But sometimes people just need a nudge in the right direction, and that’s where Northeast Georgia Health System can help.

All this year, the Northeast Georgia Medical Center campuses in Gainesville and Braselton will host a series of Wellness in the Kitchen cooking classes. Each session will spotlight various ways to cook and eat healthy dinners.

The January program kicked off with a demonstration focusing on making simple and interesting meals. One dish introduced was a pan-seared salmon with pineapple salsa.

Guided by chef Kevin Murphree, the class explored the ideas and myths surrounding daily meal portions and nutritional values.

“You know, the average soda used to be around 6.5 ounces. Has anyone ever even seen a Coke that small nowadays?” Murphree asked with a laugh while talking about the serious jump in serving sizes.

He stressed the importance of choosing correct meal portions as a way of staying healthy.

“Full-size candy bars used to be about the same size as a ‘fun-size’ one today, and now they are closer to 1.8 ounces,” he said.

The website,, calls this skyrocket in meal sizes, “Portion Distortion.” According to the website run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it has led to a serious increase in a person’s average body weight. It suggests people focus on selecting a variety of food, amount and nutrition to live a healthier lifestyle.

Murphree then explained the benefits of different types of whole and processed grains, cautioning the audience to “make half of your grains whole.” A couple of examples is to choose quinoa, couscous and brown rice instead other processed options such as white rice or flour.

Murphree also urged participants to take time to cook and eat a meal with family. He said doing so gave him a “much more enjoyable childhood.”

“Some of my best memories are from that time,” he said.