Healthy Living cooking series begins for 2016

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 12, 2016

KANNAPOLIS — The New Year often allows time to reflect on lifestyle choices that can lead to a happier, healthier life.

The Healthy Living Cooking Series, offered by N.C. State University’s Plants for Human Health Institute (PHHI), focuses on disease prevention and healing through food choices and preparation methods.

Aubrey Mast, Extension associate in nutrition, at PHHI at the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis, will lead the three-part series, to be held Wednesdays, 1 to 3 p.m., Jan. 27, Feb. 3 and 10.

Because cooking demonstrations and sampling are an integral part of the series, the classes will be held in the Community Kitchen at Cabarrus Health Alliance (CHA), 300 Mooresville Road, Kannapolis.

The series is free and open to the public, but space is limited, so registration is required. Reserve a spot by calling 704-250-5400 or emailing

Mast incorporates research-based information about food crops studied at the Plants for Human Health Institute and the health-related findings of her colleagues.

Topics covered include prebiotics and probiotics, gut microflora, inflammation, pH, preservation and fermentation.

Each week will include a lecture, discussion and a cooking demonstration and tastings using whole food ingredients.

Participants will take home recipe cards and samples of the prepared dishes to help them integrate these healthy choices into their meal planning and preparation.

While PHHI has researched more than 20 food and herb crops, including favorites such as blueberries, sweet potato and watermelon, some of the crops may be less familiar. The health benefits, however, may entice class participants to consider new foods or new preparation methods.

An example of a more obscure crop is elderberry. Elderberries have been a folk remedy for centuries, but have also been the focus of research by PHHI scientists, as the beneficial plant compounds are analyzed more closely.

Fruit extracts from elderberries (Sambucus nigra and Sambucus canadensis) demonstrated bioactivity that inhibited the initiation and promotion stages of carcinogenesis — essentially, elderberries have anticancer properties.

Elderberry syrup and elderberry tea are two common methods of elderberry consumption. Elderberries can be found in health food stores dried, as a tincture, or as a syrup.

Elderberry Tea

1/2 cup dried elderberries

2 cups water

2 Tbsp. honey

Boil. Steep for 10 to 20 minutes. Drain elderberries. Enjoy hot or cold.

The N.C. State University Plants for Human Health Institute is leading the discovery and delivery of innovative plant-based solutions to advance human health.

N.C. Cooperative Extension is the outreach component of the institute, which is part of the N.C. Research Campus, a public-private venture including eight universities, one community college, the David H. Murdock Research Institute and corporate entities.

that collaborate to advance the fields of human health, nutrition and agriculture. Learn more at