GLEN ROSE - With Spring Break right around the corner, March marks the official start of spring fever and will soon lead to summer. In order to get a jumpstart on that summer body, take advantage of March’s designation as National Nutrition Month.

To celebrate the month, the Somervell County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension office will be offering a healthy cooking school, “Dinner Tonight.” The office said the school is a way for the community to learn how to prepare healthy, delicious and cost-effective meals.

“This is the first year we are going to do one in Glen Rose,” Somervell County Extension Agent, Brianne Langdon said, “and the whole key is [teaching] families that healthy meals can be on the table in under 30 minutes. We are trying to really empower the audience to understand that healthy meals can be quick, can taste good and be within your budget.”

Eating locally grown fruits and vegetables can be kind on your wallet, too.

Each year, Texas A&M puts out a different themed cookbook featuring healthy recipes and this year’s theme is “Taste of Texas.” With Texas being one of the largest providers of produce, the cookbook highlights what fruits and vegetables are always in season in Texas. The book attempts to teach readers to learn how to cook with what is grown in their own backyard, and Langdon noted that using foods that are grown locally can be cost effective, since the food doesn’t have to travel far.

Recipes for the cookbook will be featured during the class and attendees will be privy to two live cooking demonstrations, but they will also learn tips, tricks and techniques to manage their way around the kitchen. The class is an extension of Texas A&M’s Dinner Tonight website, which offers cooking videos, recipes and tips on providing a healthy meal for the whole family.

The “Dinner Tonight” healthy cooking school will be held at the Somervell County Expo on March 22, it is $20 to attend, and the evening will include guest speakers, refreshments, food samples, and door prizes. You'll need to RSVP for the event by Friday, March 18 by calling the Extension Office at 254-897-2809. 

If you aren’t able to attend the event, Langdon is willing to work with any organizations, groups or businesses interested in a class, and said she can tailor the class to a specific topic – like child nutrition or healthy eating – that the group would like to focus on.

With the rise of childhood obesity, programs such as “Dinner Tonight,” are important in helping families establish healthy eating habits.

According to the CDC, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. In 2012, more than a third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. Youth who are obese or overweight are more likely at risk for cardiovascular disease, pre-diabetes, bone and joint problems and other health ailments.

National Nutrition Month helps bring attention to the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits for everyone in the family.