SUN PHOTO/PAT COPELAND
Mashed grains and cauliflower and mushroom gravy simmer,
while zippy yams and collards cook in the electric
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
What if you could help prevent cancer or fight diabetes
and heart disease or reduce the need to take some medications
by changing your diet? Would you do it?
Thirty members of the Food for Life cooking class at the
Island Community Center are about to find out if they
can put their money where their mouth is. Class members
have completed six of eight sessions in the series, and
it has become so popular that a second series of classes
is being added.
"I love it," instructor Ellen Jaffe Jones exclaimed.
"Its better than a paycheck because youre
saving lives. It is so rewarding to see people make an
easy change in their diet. You feel like youre making
Jaffe Jones, an award-winning television reporter in Miami
and St. Louis for 18 years, said she comes from a family
with a history of "diseases of affluence," including
cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
"I started to eat this way after my sister was diagnosed
with breast cancer and I was rushed to the emergency room
with a colon blockage," she explained. "The
doctor told me that I would have to be on medication the
rest of my life."
Jaffe Jones and her husband, Clarence, got married on
Longboat Key and moved to the Island in 2003. They travel
around the country as media consultants and "teach
individuals how to deal with reporters like we used to
be," she said with a laugh.
About 1 1/2 years ago, she learned about the Cancer Project,
a group of physicians, researchers and nutritionists who
educate people on how a healthy diet can help prevent
cancer or help them regain their health once cancer is
diagnosed. The Cancer Project sponsors the cooking classes
and pays for the food.
"They train people to do what I had been doing informally,"
she said. "I applied and was accepted. They flew
me to Washington, D. C. and I took classes to be able
to teach the course. I began teaching right after that."
The classes are free and include lunch. Membership to
the Center is not required, but registration is required
because class size is limited.
Each of the eight sessions is stand-alone and sessions
focus on low-fat foods, fiber, dairy alternatives, replacing
meat, planning healthy meals, antioxidants and phytochemicals,
immune-boosting foods, and maintaining a healthy weight.
In the first class, students get "The Survivors
Handbook, eating right for cancer survival," which
includes information on how foods fight cancer, a chapter
on each of the sessions, all the recipes used in the class
plus additional recipes, lists of resources and cookbooks
and information on the Cancer Project.
"Its a low-fat, plant-based diet; theres
no dairy, meat or fish," Jaffe Jones stressed. "The
idea is to disguise the healthiness. You teach people
how to really enjoy fruits and vegetables and the complex
"The beauty of these classes is the reaction It
tastes so good. Theres a great deal of variety
and we use a fair number of basic seasonings."
Students reinforced her words:
"Shes the worlds most wonderful cook;
everything she makes is great."
"Ive never liked cauliflower and I loved it."
Jaffe Jones said if students could maintain the diet for
three weeks and see how much better they feel, they can
be convinced to continue.
"You look at other cultures that eat this way and
you dont find the diseases of affluence," she
"Its about feeling better and wanting to be
around for the grandchildren. To be physically fit, active
and healthy is really important."
The second session of eight classes begins Friday, Feb.
2, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Classes are held at St. Bernard
Catholic Church activity center while the Community Center
is under construction.
Call Sandee at 778-1908 to register.