Creative Education
2012. Vol.3, No.8, 1390-1396
Published Online December 2012 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
The Spice Kitchen: Apprenticeship Training in Culinary Skills
Marie Fanelli Kuczmarski, Elisabeth M. Jones
Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition, University of Delaware, Newark, USA
Received October 11th, 2012; revised November 15th, 2012; accepted November 28th, 2012
Current Dietary Guidelines for Americans emphasize the need to reduce dietary sodium. Spices impart
flavor to food, serving as substitutes for salt. In addition, the antioxidant activity of spices can provide
health benefits. Dietetic students receive training in basic food preparation and foodservice management
however, their knowledge and use of spices can be limited. This article describes the enhancement of their
culinary experiences through participation in a class designed to explore the flavors and health properties
of 10 spices. The class provided an opportunity for apprenticeship training, exposing students to spices
and cooking methods. Student objectives were: 1) to increase knowledge of spices and their potential
health benefits; 2) to use flavorful swaps, substituting spices for salt in daily food preparation; 3) to iden-
tify and evaluate the intensity of aromas associated with selected spices; and 4) to gain ex- perience util-
izing cooking methods that reduce fat in preparation. All of the objectives were achieved based on student
responses to pre-, mid-, and post-course evaluations and the completion of aroma charts for each lab.
Course challenges such as food costs and space availability were identified but easily managed. To our
knowledge this is the first class devoted to spices in a didactic dietetics accredited program in the United
States. Training dietetic and other health professional students, about the use of spices to enhance flavor
when reducing the sodium, fat and sugar content of foods may be beneficial to their clients who are trying
to manage not only their weight but also other medical conditions such as hypertension and diabetes mel-
Keywords: Spices; Culinary Class; Dietetic Education; Food Preparation; Antioxidants
People’s knowledge and experience cooking with a wide va-
riety of foods as well as with spices and herbs may be limited.
A decline in cooking skills in young adult populations has been
observed, which may be attributed to a decrease in confidence
in preparing quick and healthful meals (Caraher et al., 1999).
Larson and colleagues (2006) reported that a lack of confidence
in cooking skills, as well as a dislike of cooking can act as bar-
riers for food preparation (Crawford et al., 2007) resulting in a
decrease in healthful food consumption, particularly fruits and
From 1977 to 1995, home cooking decreased while eating
out at sit-down or fast food restaurants increased by about
200% (Lin et al., 1999). Though many establishments have in-
cluded “healthy” options on their menu, dishes consumed out-
side of the home typically contain more sodium and energy
compared to home-cooked meals (Bruemmer et al., 2012). Fur-
thermore, eating out is also associated with weight gain (Ob-
bagy & Essery, 2012). Thus, if people could be encouraged to
prepare tasty foods and eat out less frequently, they would be
less likely to gain weight and would consume less sodium. Ad-
ditionally, the consumption of a diet high in sodium, fat, and
refined grains, and low in fruits and vegetables has resulted in
increased risk for developing several chronic illnesses such as
obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and
selected cancers (Cordain et al., 2005).
The mean daily sodium consumption of the US population is
about 3463 mg (USDA, 2012), a level that exceeds the 2300
mg recommendation in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans
2010 (2010). This recommendation applies to all Americans
with the exception of the special US populations groups (per-
sons 51 years of age and older, and persons of any age who are
African American, or have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kid-
ney disease). The daily recommended level for these special
groups is 1500 mg sodium. Spices impart flavor, the combina-
tion of taste and aroma, to food so they can be used as a salt sub-
stitute. Spices can not only enhance the aroma of foods, stimu-
lating taste buds, but also have health benefits.
Our knowledge about the health promoting properties of
spices in humans has not been fully elucidated. Data from in
vitro and animal studies suggest that most of the health effects
on cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and mental health
maybe mediated through the potent antioxidant action of spices
(Carlsen et al., 2010; Gruenwald et al., 2010; Kaefer & Milner,
2008; Tapsell, 2008; Viuda-Martos et al., 2011). Spices contain
not only essential oils (Viuda-Martos et al., 2007), but also bio-
active compounds which are responsible for their functional pro-
perties (Aggarwal et al., 2007; Amagase et al., 2001; Gardner et
al., 2003; Kaefer & Milner, 2008; Kochhar, 2008; Ozcan &
Chalchat, 2009; Qin et al., 2010; Viuda-Martos et al., 2011)
(Table 1). The polyphenols provide antioxidant (Gruenwald et
al., 2010; Jungbaurer & Medjakovic, 2012; Kaefer & Milner,
2008; Kochhar, 2008; Li et al., 2010; Singletary, 2010c), anti-
bacterial (Kaefer & Milner, 2008), antiviral (Kochhar, 2008;
Benencia & Courreges, 2000; Tragoolpua & Jatisatienr, 2007;
Viuda-Martos et al., 2011), antidiabetic (Gruenwald et al., 2010,
Jungbaurer & Medjakovic, 2012; Qin et al., 2010, Singletary,
2010c; Srinivasan, 2005; Viuda-Martos et al., 2011), anti-in-
flammatory (Frenech, 2006; Kaefer & Milner, 2008; Kochhar,
2008; Jungbaurer & Medjakovic, 2012; Singletary, 2010a, 2010b,
Table 1.
Bioactive components and action of selected spices.
Spice Bioactive Componentsa Potential Action
Cinnamic aldehyde,
Anti-diabetic (potentiates insulin effect)
Gallic acid
Antiviral activity (HSV-1, HSV-2b)
Cumin Carvone, Carvacrol, β-carotene, Cuminaldehyde, Limonene, α and β-pinene, β-sitosterol, δ-terpinene,
Hypolipidemia effect
Garlic Allicin, Allyl isothiocyanate, Diallyl disulfide Anti-diabetic
Hypolipidemia effect
Ginger Curcumin, Gingerols, Ingerol,
Paradol, Shogaol, Zingiberone, Zingiberene
Oregano Apigenin, Caffeic acid, Carvacrol, ρ-coumarin, Ferulic acid, Luteolin, Myricetin, Quercetin,
Rosmarinic acid, Terpenes, Thymol
Antiviral (HIV-1c)
Rosemary Apigene, Caffeic acid, Carnasol, Carnosic acid, β-carotene, Cineole, Geraniol, Limonene, Luteolin,
α-pinene, Narginin, Ursolic acid, Rosmarinic acid, Rosmanol, Vanillic acid
Antiviral (HIV)
Thyme Thymol, Carvacrol, Cineole, α-pinene, β-carotene, Apigene, Limonene, Eugenol, Ursolic acid, Luteolin,
Gallic acid, Caffeic acid, Rosmarinic acid, Carnosic acid, Hispidulin, Cismaritin, Chlorogenic acid
Antiviral (HIV-1)
Turmeric Caffeic acid, Curcumin, Curcuminoids, p-coumaric acid, Ferulic acid, Syringic acid
Note: aListed alphabetically; bHSV—herpes simplex virus; cHIV—human immunodeficiency virus.
2010c), anticarcinogenic (Aggarwal et al., 2007; Frenech, 2006;
Kochhar, 2008; Singletary, 2010c; Tapsell, 2008; Tayyem et al.,
2012), and hypolipidemic action (Amagase et al., 2001; Gardner
et al., 2003; Jungbaurer & Medjakovic, 2012; Kochhar, 2008;
Patch & Sullivan, 2006; Tapsell, 2008; Sultan et al., 2011).
Registered dietitians (RDs) are recognized as experts in the
role of food and nutrition in health. However, RDs may not
necessarily be culinary connoisseurs. The addition of spices is
one way to retain taste and flavor when reducing the sodium,
fat and sugar of foods. Knowledge of the aromas of a wide va-
riety of spices allows an individual the ability to combine dif-
ferent spices to create foods with more complex and intense
flavor profiles. Based on a review of 229 accredited didactic
dietetic programs across the US (Academy of Nutrition and
Dietetics, 2012), it appears that students trained to become RDs
are not exposed to spices in any depth even though they are re-
quired to complete basic food and quantity food courses. This
review revealed 1 class period devoted to spices in a program
entitled, “Healthy Eating in American Cuisine” at California
State Polytechnic University (2012), a spice drive at Louisiana
State University (2012) to show individuals that tasty food does
not depend on salt, and “Spice it Up; Herbs and Spices Cooking
Class”, a one time fee event, sponsored by Bernalillo County
Cooperative Extension Service (New Mexico State University,
2012). Since many RDs counsel people and create messages for
consumers to reduce their sodium, it is our opinion that all nu-
trition and dietetics programs should provide future RDs with
exposure and culinary experiences with spices.
The objective of this manuscript is to describe the educa-
tional and practical benefits of a culinary class designed to ex-
plore the aromas, flavors, and health properties of 10 spices
which could be healthful alternatives to salt as a seasoning.
Student Characteristics
A total of 18 college students—2 males and 16 females com-
prised the sample. Of these 18, 11 were majoring in dietetics
and the remaining students were majoring in health behavior,
exercise science, or medical laboratory sciences and diagnostics.
The study procedures were approved by the Institutional Re-
view Board of the University of Delaware.
Course Description
The course was titled “The Spice Kitchen: Taste the Flavor”.
The objectives of the course were: 1) to enhance the student’s
knowledge of spices and the health benefits associated with
spices; 2) to experience the aromas and flavors of a variety of
spices and encourage the use of spices in lieu of salt; 3) to in-
troduce students to the art and science of food tasting and to
gain some proficiency in aroma identification; and 4) to gain
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 1391
experience utilizing cooking methods that minimize the use of
fat in preparation. This 1-credit elective class met for two hours
each week during the semester. There were a total of 14 classes,
of which 4 were presentations and 10 were spice labs. The first
class reviewed food safety and provided an introduction to
resources and policies related to the food lab. The presentation
on food safety was given by a University of Delaware Coopera-
tive Extension staff member. The next class was a presentation
given by a representative from a spice company who described
the production and processing of spices, discussed the aromas
of spices, and lead a hands-on aroma sensory demonstration.
An aroma chart of the spices covered in the class was distrib-
uted (Table 2) (Civille & Lyon, 1996; McCormick Science In-
stitute, 2012). The other two lectures focused on the health pro-
perties of spices. The 10 spice labs were devoted to preparing
recipes, tasting and evaluating each recipe, and then discussing
aromas and recipe modifications.
Given the class time allotted, each spice lab was created to
consist of approximately 40 minutes for the recipe preparation
with discussion about spices and certain recipe ingredients and
exposure to the aromas associated with the featured spice, 30
minutes for the tasting and student completion of sensory evalua-
tion sheets, 5 minutes to summarize the sensory evaluation sheets,
25 minutes for discussion of aroma evaluations and acceptability
ratings, and 20 minutes for clean-up. Set-up for each class was
done prior to the class and required about an hour.
The course was first taught in fall 2011 in the departmental
food laboratory. The room was designed to have sufficient
space for an enrollment of 18 students. This classroom had 6
cooking stations and was equipped with a mirrored demonstra-
tion table. In order to minimize the expense of the course, only
the instructor with the aid of a teaching assistant, and two en-
rolled students with the assistance of a second teaching assis-
tant prepared the recipes each week. Different students assisted
with the food preparation each week. This design allowed all
students hands-on experience, as well as yielded enough food
for everyone to taste.
Spice and Recipe Selection
Since the course had an underlying theme of health, spices
with antioxidant properties or other documented health benefits
were chosen. The spices selected were the following: cinnamon,
cloves, cumin, curry, garlic, ginger, oregano, rosemary, thyme,
and turmeric.
The selection of recipes was based on several criteria. These
criteria included: healthfulness of the recipe (such as use of
whole grains, foods low in fat), ease of preparation and expense
for a college student, preparation and cooking under 60 minutes,
recipes that represent different components of a meal (appetizer,
entrée, side dishes, desserts), and recipes that were palatable
with other recipes in the lab curriculum. The intent was to ex-
pose the students to not only healthful recipes, but also methods
of preparation that minimized the use of fats and oils. Thus, a
Rival Crock-Pot®, George Forman® removable plate grill and
Tefal® Actifry were used. (The ActiFry uses pulsed hot air
Table 2.
Descriptors of aroma of selected spices.
Descriptors Cinnamon Cloves Cumin Currya Garlic Ginger OreganoRosemary Thyme Turmeric
Astringent mouthfeel
Carvone (d-caraway)
Cinnamic Aldehyde
Green, General some
Hydrogen Sulfide
Medicinal (camphorous)
Musty, General
Sweet aromatics
Note: aBlend of up to 20 spices so the aroma profile is complex. Depending on spices it can be sweet, pungent, musky, and/or hot. Sources: Civille G. V., & Lyon B. G.
(1996). Aroma and Flavor Lexicon for Sensory Evaluation: Terms, Definitions, References, and Examples. West Conshohocken, PA, American Society for Testing and
Materials (ASTM) International. McCormick Science Institute. Last Update: NA, Last checked 11October 2012.
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
with a mixing paddle to cook foods. It requires the use of mi-
nimal fat; for example, 2 pounds of French fries require only 1
tablespoon of oil.)
The recipes selected were obtained from websites, mainly
McCormick® (2012) Cabot® (2012) and from the cookbooks
associated with the Crock-Pot® and ActiFry. Salt was elimi-
nated from all recipes. The recipes were prepared and evaluated
during the semester prior to the class offering. On occasion mo-
difications to cooking times were made to accommodate the use
of the Actifry in place of traditional methods. Realizing that some
of the students may be vegetarians, certain recipes were modi-
fied using alternative protein sources or vegetables in place of
meat. For example, portabella mushrooms were substituted for
chicken in a grilling recipe.
Sensory Evaluations
Students performed both analytical evaluations (ranking the
intensity of aromas) and affective evaluations (rating the overall
acceptability of each recipe using hedonic scales). Prior to com-
pleting the evaluations, the ladder of success from taste to ac-
ceptability was discussed. Students learned that the basic tastes
perceived by the human brain include sweet, salty, bitter, sour,
and umami. Tastes are hardwired. The full flavor of the food
emerges when the basic tastes are combined with the sense of
smell and touch. Smells are learned through experience. The
palatability of a food results from the combination of flavor
with the senses of vision and hearing. To fully appreciate a food,
an individual’s personal and cultural preferences must align
with its palatability. Thus, the acceptability of a recipe is depen-
dent upon the synergistic effects among taste, flavor, and pala-
tability (Woods, 1998).
Course Evaluations
A pre-, mid-, and post-evaluation were done to measure the
effectiveness of the course content in achieving the objectives.
The pre-evaluation gathered information on the use of the ten
selected spices and salt, frequency of food preparation, and
food allergies and intolerances. The mid-course and post-evalua-
tions gathered data on the use of spices and salt, preparation of
recipes demonstrated in class, interest in learning more about
spices as well as experimenting with spices, and ranking the
spices by preference based on flavor and aroma attributes. The
mid-course evaluation also asked students to write suggestions
regarding changes they wanted to see implemented in the course.
Quantitative research methods including in class and online
evaluations were used to assess the success of the course.
As shown in Table 3, with the exception of garlic, oregano
and cinnamon, the majority of students did not typically use the
remaining seven spices in their cooking. The acceptability of
the recipes ranged from 1.73 (bread pudding) to 4.12 (spiced
saffron jasmine rice), where 1 meant extremely liked and 7
meant extremely disliked (Table 3). These findings indicated
that all the recipes with the exception of the spiced saffron jas-
mine rice were palatable and acceptable. The rating of the
spiced saffron jasmine rice indicated that it was neither liked
nor disliked. Of the 28 recipes tasted, there were only 5 recipes
that more than half the students noted that they would add salt.
These recipes included spiced saffron jasmine rice, curried pilaf,
braised lentils, black bean salad, and rosemary bread dip (Table
3). Based on the students’ ranking of the spices at the end of the
semester, the preference from most to least favorite was garlic,
cinnamon, oregano, rosemary, curry, cumin, ginger, thyme, tur-
meric, cloves.
After the students tasted and evaluated each recipe, they were
asked if they would make the recipe for his/herself and if they
would prepare the recipe for someone else. The responses to
both questions were identical for each recipe. Fourteen students
responded that they would prepare 27 of the 28 recipes for
his/her self as well as others. Only five students reported they
would prepare the spiced saffron jasmine rice for either his/
herself or someone else.
Seventeen of the 18 students reported on the post-evaluation
that the class both sparked their interest in learning more about
spices and in experimenting with spices. In addition, 9 of the 18
reported that the class increased their interest in culinary shows
on TV and that they were watching more of these shows. Fif-
teen of the 18 stated that they were incorporating some of the
spices into their current cooking.
A comparison of the pre- and post-evaluation responses to
the question, “Do you add salt to the foods you prepare?” re-
vealed an increase in the number of people stating “rarely”
offset by a decrease in the number reporting “occasionally”.
With respect to the question, “Do you add salt at the table?” the
number of “never” responses increased while the number of
people reporting “rarely” decreased. These responses show a
positive trend in reducing sodium intake, the direction recom-
mended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 (2010).
Course Evaluations
In general the students revealed in the mid-course evaluation
that they wanted to do more hands-on preparation. To accom-
modate this request the instructor became a narrator at the de-
monstration table while two additional students demonstrated
the preparation of the recipes. Anonymous student responses
from the university administered online course evaluations in-
dicated that the course was a fun learning experience. One stu-
dent wrote “it was interesting to see how the different spices
worked together and how my salt intake could be reduced”.
Some comments indicated that the worksheets with questions
for each spice contributed to their learning while others noted
that the recipe sampling was very helpful for learning about the
aromas. In addition, some students wrote that being able to par-
ticipate in the demonstrations was the most helpful contribution
to learning.
To our knowledge this is the first class devoted to spices in a
didactic dietetics accredited program in the United States. Even
though the number of students enrolled in this university course
was small, based on the course evaluations it was clearly evi-
dent that the objectives were achieved. The class not only ex-
posed students to new spices and cooking methods but also pro-
vided opportunities for apprenticeship training of both under-
graduate and graduate students, enhancing not only their skills
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 1393
Table 3.
Acceptability rating of recipes based on a 7-point Likert scale a and use of spice and salt (n = 18).
Spice and Recipes Spice not typically used
Acceptability rating
(X ± SEM)
Would add salt
to recipe
Cinnamon 7 of 18
Warm and nutty quinoa 2.00 ± .35 0 of 18
Cinnamon chile crusted chicken 2.47 ± .26 2 of 18
Bread pudding 1.73 ± .28 0 of 18
Black bean and veggie salad
with lime cinnamon vinaigrette 2.60 ± .43 1 of 18
Cloves 17 of 18
Autumn apple brew 2.12 ± .21 0 of 18
Spiced saffron jasmine rice 4.12 ± .30 10 of 18
Braised lentils 2.82 ± .25 9 of 18
Cumin 12 of 18
Spicy black bean salad with chicken 2.53 ± .23 1 of 18
Cumin fried rice 3.47 ± .32 7 of 18
Black bean salad 1.76 ± .22 15 of 18
Curry 17 of 18
Curried pilaf 3.00 ± .24 11 of 18
Curried chicken salad 2.82 ± .35 1 of 18
Spicy Thai chicken curry 2.89 ± .24 5 of 18
Garlic 0 of 18
Garlic and herb potatoes 2.07 ± .25 5 of 18
Greek tuna salad pockets 2.73 ± .48 2 of 18
Edamame and corn salad
with oregano vinaigrette 2.20 ± .28 1 of 18
Ginger 15 of 18
Baby carrots with pecans and
ginger honey sauce 3.06 ± .31 1 of 18
Saucy chicken with pineapple 2.38 ± .26 0 of 18
Oregano 1 of 18
Baked tomatoes oregano 2.07 ± .27 3 of 18
Mediterranean potato salad 2.28 ± .18 4 of 18
Pizza turkey burgers 1.94 ± .21 0 of 18
Rosemary 10 of 18
Pepper rosemary bread dip 2.11 ± .24 10 of 18
Summer squash sauté 2.61 ± .14 7 of 18
Rosemary pork and mushrooms
with shallots 3.06 ± .28 9 of 16
Thyme 12 of 18
Mini thyme pepper burgers 2.78 ± .40 1 of 18
Chicken and asparagus sauté
with thyme and lemon 2.33 ± .29 2 of 18
Turmeric 18 of 18
Turmeric roasted cauliflower
and tomatoes 3.73 ± .40 5 of 18
Grilled Indian spiced flatbread pizza
with tomatoes and goat cheese 2.06 ± .21 2 of 18
Note: aLikert scale with 1 = Liked extremely; 2 = Liked very much; 3 = Liked moderately; 4 = Neither liked or disliked; 5 = Disliked moderately; 6 = Disliked very much;
and 7 = Disliked extremely.
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
implementing culinary demonstrations but also their communi-
cation skills. For example, the semester prior to the class offer-
ing, the instructor mentored two undergraduate students who
assisted with the development of spice fact sheets and testing of
recipes. During the semester when the class was offered, the in-
structor supervised and mentored one undergraduate and one
graduate student who served as teaching assistants.
In the 2012 Flavor Forecast released by McCormick for
Chefs (2012), “flavorful swaps” is 1 of 6 global trends. Gaining
knowledge about a variety of spices strengthened the students’
cultural awareness about the flavors of food associated with di-
verse population groups. Smell preferences are learned and re-
peated exposures increase people’s sensitivity to selected fla-
vors. Thus, it will require time and repeated exposures to new
aromas to change eating behaviors. Exposure to a variety of aro-
mas and flavors may help students be better prepared to aid dif-
ferent population groups make healthier lifestyle changes.
A faculty member taught the flagship course and revised the
curriculum where appropriate. Since the course is one that pro-
vides excellent training in nutrition education, the courses of-
fered in the fall and spring 2012 semesters were taught by a nu-
trition graduate student who is an RD. This student attended all
the classes in the 2011 fall semester. Her successful implemen-
tation of the class resulted in the department deciding that fu-
ture classes can also be taught by trained nutrition graduate stu-
dents with faculty available as mentors throughout the semester.
The course quickly gained a positive reputation on campus. Con-
sequently, maximum enrollment with a waiting list has been
achieved, resulting in the department considering evening sec-
tions. The course in its entirety or as separate lessons on a given
spice can be adapted to other settings in the community. Regis-
tered Dietitians, dietetic interns, dietary technicians, Coopera-
tive Extension staff, nutritionists, and food scientists could
serve as instructors.
Even though it has been estimated that there are at least 40
different seasonings currently available in US homes, compared
to fewer than 10 in the 1950’s (Reinagel, 2012), Americans
may still be including salt in their cooking and at the table as a
primary seasoning agent. People do recognize the components
of a healthful diet but unfortunately, they think that low-fat
foods and unsalted foods taste bland (Lucan et al., 2012). A
narrow range of experience using different flavors, as well as
limited knowledge of preparation techniques, reduce an indivi-
dual’s confidence to cook, especially with fruits and vegetables
(Fazio et al., 2006) and may be adding to this reliance on salt.
With over 300 different spices and herbs any food can possess
great flavor given the knowledge of aromas.
One of the challenges of adding courses into undergraduate
dietetic programs is the ability of the students to fit these elec-
tive courses into their schedule given the required didactic
courses. Making the course 1 credit provided the flexibility to
include this elective into current schedules. The course is cur-
rently opened to all students but the marketing of this class has
been focused on students majoring in Behavioral Health and
Nutrition. Given the interest in the class, if additional sections
are offered, these classes could be marketed to other majors in
the College of Health Sciences and College of Education and
Human Development. Increasing the awareness of future health
professionals and educators to the roles of RDs and the role of
food in health would benefit the entire community.
This course was initiated voluntarily by a faculty member
and was not part of an assigned teaching load. Administrative
support was positive because the department chair perceived
the class not only as recruitment tool, attracting students not
majoring in dietetics to transfer into the major, but also as a
way to increase student enrollment in the courses offered by the
department. Even though faculty workloads may be at the ma-
ximum, the course can be taught by trained graduate students.
Another challenge in scheduling is the availability of the
foods lab since at least an hour before the class is required for
set-up. The ideal classroom would be a foods lab but this set-
ting is not essential. Dining services at an educational institu-
tion may be willing to partner with faculty to offer culinary ex-
periences. Since the cooking appliances and other utensils such
as cutting boards, measuring spoons and bowls, are portable the
critical components are a sink, tables, and chairs.
Lastly, there is a cost associated for the foods and spices. The
initial set-up cost for the class which included the purchase of
appliances (1 Crock-Pot®, 2 grills and 2 Actifry® units), spices
and ingredients to test the recipes, and miscellaneous items
such as aprons and potholders was approximately $1400. The
average cost per semester to cover the expenses for recipe in-
gredients and disposable plates, cups, and cutlery for the sen-
sory evaluations is approximately $750. Our department deci-
ded not to charge a laboratory fee because the content of the
course focused on one of the Commission on Accreditation for
Dietetics Education foundation knowledge and competencies,
namely techniques of food preparation and application to the
development, modification and evaluation of recipes acceptable
to diverse groups (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2012).
However, the expenses could be offset by implementing a small
laboratory fee per student.
To improve the health of our nation it is critical that Ameri-
cans be motivated to not only reduce their sodium intake but
also consume less of the Western diet characterized as a dietary
pattern high in red and processed meats, refined grains, sodium,
sweets, and fried foods. Using spices to add flavor and variety
to energy and sodium-reduced meals may help motivate dietary
change and reduce nutrition-related disease risk. Given the op-
portunity to experience a variety of spices and flavorful foods
prepared without salt, the students’ interest was sparked to learn
more and incorporate more spices and less salt into their meals
and meal preparation. Empowering students with the knowl-
edge of the aromas of spices plus the potential health benefits
of spices will make them better educators when advising people
to trade their salt shaker for a spice shaker. Although there is no
required intake level for spices and herbs, the Dietary Guide-
lines for Americans and dietary guidance of other countries like
Australia recommend spice use (Tapsell, 2008). In conclusion,
a culinary class focused on spices can enable college students
and professionals to learn approaches to healthy flavorful cook-
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