MERIDEN — On a recent Thursday evening, seven women convened at the downtown YMCA to cook and eat a paleo-friendly dinner.
As they cooked and ate bacon-wrapped dates, shepherd’s pie, and pumpkin coffeecake muffins, they were able to learn about paleo cooking.
The Y offers a paleo cooking class about once a month. It also organizes other cooking classes, some geared to families, couples, or children. Some focus on cooking for diabetes or other types of diets.
The paleo class has been offered for about five years, with Caroline Chaparro as chef and teacher.
Carrie Marquardt, the YMCA’s health and wellness director, said a paleo diet has numerous benefits. The concept is essentially cutting out dairy, wheat and sugar.
“It’s a very clean way of eating, gives you a lot of energy, it’s low in carbs, without sacrificing a lot of vitamins and minerals and calories,” Marquardt said.
The menus vary class to class and Chaparro said they often cater to the season.
The bacon-wrapped dates were stuffed with almonds as an appetizer. All organic produce was used to make a shepherd’s pie, with cauliflower instead of potatoes. Organic baking products, without wheat, were used to make the muffins.
Meriden resident Sandra Hemphill has attended about eight of the Y’s paleo cooking classes. Her diet is about 80 percent paleo, and going to the classes helps her learn new recipes.
“It’s a good night … you’re learning how to eat well and be healthy,” Hemphill said.
Hemphill said she knows the paleo diet is popular in the Crossfit community and several Crossfit athletes attended the recent Thursday class.
To sign up for a cooking class, visit the YMCA’s website. One-time sessions are around $20 a person and you don’t have to be a YMCA member to participate. Cooking classes are held in the YMCA’s kitchen, lower level of the Meriden YMCA Arts Center. The Y is located at 110 W. Main St.