Registered dietitian Brooke Schoonenberg stood in the newly renovated kitchen at Woman’s Center for Wellness, grinding fresh pepper over chicken breasts simmering in a hot pan.
Schoonenberg was teaching a hands-on class on healthy eating to several women as part of Woman’s Hospital’s Healing Arts Program, and the ladies were learning that healthy doesn’t have to mean tasteless or dull.
Using Schoonenberg as a guide, a half-dozen attendees went about chopping, mixing and assembling a healthy, nutritious and filling salad made with chickpeas, chicken, grapes, walnuts and apples, all of which have healing or cancer-fighting properties, she said.
The Healing Arts Program first began in 2013 to give women at Woman’s Hospital on bedrest or families with babies in NICU a relaxing recreational opportunity, said Dana Michell, public relations coordinator at Woman’s, and included music, poetry, dance, scrapbooking and art.
The program has since expanded to include classes like this one, Michell said, to keep patients and their families better informed about how to get and stay healthier, particularly if they’ve been diagnosed with or are in treatment for cancer.
According to a news release from the hospital, Woman’s aims to be the leader in designing healing arts activities that contribute to the emotional and physical well-being of patients, staff and the community.
Current Healing Arts projects include monthly concerts, scrapbooking for NICU parents and art activities for cancer patients receiving infusions.
Future plans include expanding the program to provide holistic healing opportunities to all patients through a variety of art forms, like a community garden, labyrinth, journaling, painting, poetry, dance and piano.