Cooking course at San Jose State University teaches football players kitchen skills, nutrition tips

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- College athletes are constantly on the go with demanding schedules. But in the South Bay, one university is preparing its students for success both on and off the field, through some special coursework in the kitchen.

Members of the San Jose State University nutrition department have teamed up with the football team to offer a new program called CHOP, which stands for Cooking Healthy for Optimal Performance.

"We want them to feel really excited and empowered by cooking and being able to take control of their health by being able to take control of what is in their kitchen," said Ashley Reinke-Hawk, a graduate student who is helping to lead the effort.

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Faculty and graduate students have been working over the past year to create a curriculum that is both educational and applicable to college athletes.

"You're not going to get the benefits from your workouts, or the benefits from your training or your practice if you don't fuel them with the proper food," said Laura Alexander, SJSU head football athletic trainer. "A lot of (athletes) know how to go to the fast food place and get as much food as they can, but they don't know what they're putting in their bodies."

CHOP was created after football administrators saw a need for emphasizing the importance of nutrition education and eating right for their student athletes.

"This is something that we've never really got into," said SJSU student athlete Kyle Hoppe, who attended the first session of the program Thursday afternoon. "I personally never really learned anything about cooking... it's all been self-taught."

The introductory menu focused on breakfast, including overnight oats and breakfast burritos.
"We did an egg casserole and we got to put some bell peppers in there... some ham," said SJSU student athlete Tyler Stevens. "It's just better ingredients than I usually do."

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These classes offer student athletes the chance to mix, bake, and saute hearty and healthy recipes to fuel their workouts and recovery.

"We're learning about antioxidants and different types of vitamins we need in our body that will help us recover faster and keep us healthy you know," said SJSU student athlete Tyson Parker.

Next week, student athletes will reconvene to learn new recipes for lunch, and then dinner at a later date.

"Our intention here is to start with the football program... but then to be able to offer this out to the other athletic programs at San Jose State and really tailor it to meet the needs of each team," said SJSU nutrition assistant professor Jamie Kubota.

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