THE spicy aroma of chicken fajitas and the welcoming scent of freshly baked muffins are among the mouth-watering smells that have been emanating from an Ipswich church hall.

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Behind the snowy facade of St James Church Hall, in Landseer Road, onions are sliced and diced, batter whisked up and herbs chopped by a team of budding chefs who are embarking on mission to eat healthier.

The Cook and Eat classes are run by LiveWell Suffolk and are as much about teaching the participants about balanced meals, correct portion sizes and planning a menu on a budget as the actual cooking.

Health coaches explain the health benefits of certain foods, and the various food groups, and then the group works together to prepare a healthy meal, before all sitting down to tuck in to their creations.

John O’Neill, 63, signed up after being diagnosed with a health condition. He said: “I do cook a little, I do a nice stew or a roast dinner at home, but I came along because I have blood pressure and wanted to learn a better way of doing things so meals are healthier.”

As he blended the carrot and lentil soup the group had made, John added: “I will be trying these recipes again at home.”

James Heath-Collins, 46, featured in our video, said: “I have been trying to lose weight and this course came up, and I thought it would help me learn to adjust my portion sizes.

“The recipes we are using here are easy enough that you can do them at home.

He has also learnt about ways of cutting the cost of home cooking so he and his family can enjoy more nutritious meals without seeing a huge spike in their shopping bill.

“There are six of us at home so cooking meals from scratch can be expensive, but it is about looking at the ingredients closely. Once you have the basics you can build up as you go along and you can buy refills for herbs and spices which works out cheaper.

“Also they have suggested we buy turkey instead of chicken because it is more affordable and it is just as good.”

Tom Osborn, a community health coach who can be seen in our video footage teaching two of the women on the course how to prepare salsa, explained that the course is six-weeks long and starts again in the spring.

He said: “We have between eight and 12 people on each course, and we have mixed abilities within the group.”

Some of those with more advanced culinary skills showed the newer chefs the basics - from de-seeding a pepper to dicing an onion, and variations on favourite recipes were shared.

The class has been particularly popular as people seek to embark on a healthier lifestyle as part of their New Year’s resolution.

For more information email tasters@livewellsuffolk.org or call 01473 229292

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