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Key ingredients: First Lady, students .... appetites!

Take a public health expert, an author of a popular Mediterranean cookbook and a passion for spreading a healthy message, and it’s a recipe for success in the classroom and the kitchen.

First Lady Michelle Obama has her “Get Moving” campaign to fight obesity, and University of South Carolina First Lady Patricia Moore-Pastides is stirring up a message of healthy cooking and eating in her Mediterranean cooking class for USC undergraduates.

Using her very own cookbook, “Greek Revival: Cooking for Life,” Moore-Pastides is showing a class of students in USC’s School of Hotel, Retail and Tourism Management how to prepare mouth-watering recipes that are also nutritutious.

“I teach and write about the traditional Greek diet because for decades it’s been proven to protect against chronic diseases and increase quality longevity -- and the foods are delicious,” she said. “If I’ve learned one thing through my career in public health, it is that by making positive lifestyle choices, we can decrease our risks for chronic diseases such as hypertension, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, dementia, diabetes and certain cancers.”

HRTM student Tarah Cotton, who had never eaten Greek food until she enrolled in the class, said it has opened up her cooking world.

“I’m from south Mississippi, so we cook with butter, pork and fat, and in here we cook with olive oil and vegetables,” she said. “It’s really different, and she makes it fun to learn how to make foods healthy.”

Cotton and her classmates aren’t intimidated by the fact that their instructor is also USC’s first lady. The class atmosphere is casual, with student partners talking and laughing while keeping an eye on the timer and the time while chopping and dicing classic Greek seasonings such as garlic, rosemary and onion in McCutchen House’s newly renovated kitchen.

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