On June 4th, Blue Zones Project-Umpqua hosted a cooking class followed by the launch of a Potluck Moai. The event was held at the Umpqua Community Health Center’s Demonstration Kitchen located in Sutherlin near I-5.

Beginning with a brief presentation outlining the goals and achievements of the local well-being initiative, the event sought to gather members of the community to spread awareness about how Blue Zones Project is working with Umpqua Community Health Center and other partners around the community to make healthy choices easier, specifically around “eating wisely.”

The event provided instruction to attendees on how to prepare a variety of dishes inspired by the diet of those living the longest, healthiest lives in five longevity hot spots around the world (Sardinia, Italy, Okinawa, Japan, Loma Linda, Calif., Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica, Ikaria, Greece).

One of Blue Zones Project Power Principles that contributes to greater longevity is living with a “plant slant.” The idea is to increase consumption of plants while gradually reducing consumption of animal products in one’s diet.

Exemplifying this principle, Darci Hawkins, the creator of the Wrappin and Rollin’ food truck, gave an informative and fun presentation regarding how to make sauces found in her dishes, while also giving tips on general wellness.

Meredith LaFrance, who is currently pursuing her Master of Science Program to become a Registered Dietitian, and volunteers for UC-VEG, a non-profit focused on nutrition education and lifestyle medicine serving Douglas County, showed the audience how to cook “neat balls.” The tasty plant-based substitute to meatballs can be prepared in a short-time and is a versatile option for those looking to bring more plants into their diet.

Following the cooking class, the audience was then broken up into smaller groups to form Potluck Moais. The word Moai is Japanese in origin, and was adopted from Okinawa, one of five Blue Zones throughout the world in which people experience longer, healthier lives.

A Moai is a social group connected by a common purpose that meets on a regular basis. Blue Zones Project-Umpqua has launched over 29 active Moais with 250 participants in the community and has several more community-wide launches planned in order to create a more connected and cohesive community. The Potluck Moai formed at this event will meet together once a week for 10 weeks, to share healthy recipes and food.

For information regarding joining a Moai and other well-being events and resources, look on social media for Blue Zones Project-Umpqua, send an email to bluezonesprojectumpqua@sharecare.com, or stop by the Blue Zones Project-Umpqua Adopted Trail for a walk and trash pickup today at the Duck Pond from 5-6 p.m.

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