Provider: Stanford University at Coursera [course page]
Lecturers: Maya Adam, MD
Subject: Medicine / Health / Nutrition + Cooking
Delivery: Self-paced asynchronous study
Recommended Load: 4-6 hrs/week over 5 weeks
Completion Date: 07/02/2014
Description: Maya Adam discusses teaches the fundamentals of nutrition, discusses the role that nutrition plays on health and also teaches students some recipes. This is is dispensed in five modules, containing periodic quizzes throughout each sub-section, at least a couple of recipes and a final quiz for each of these modules to test comprehension of the material.
Strengths: One of the things that I was worried about going into this self-paced course was the possibility of the lecturer phoning it in. Thankfully, she avoiding this and presented some relevant information. Also, she spoke of not just the possible health benefits of home-made food, but also the social and educational benefits for a family. This aspect is often over-looked when people talk about home cooking. She also discusses the evolution of the food pyramid as well as some clarification of terminology often used during discussions of nutritional health, such as what constitutes “organic”.
The recipes were pretty neat as well, with Maya Adam explaining some of the reasons for adding specific ingredients beginning in the first two modules. By understanding how taste and smell can affect appetite, we can affect intake of food as well. This is especially important given recent recommendations regarding portion sizes in western countries.
Weaknesses: No free sandwiches. Yep, you actually need to prepare them yourself.
Conclusion: This course looks at nutritional health in a refreshing way, cutting through the ignorance and the misconceptions. Though I do not have any children, I found that this course complemented some recent courses on nutrition. It looked at nutrition not just from the scientific viewpoint but from the social as well, which is also relevant to health. I recommend this course for anyone looking for a multi-disciplinary take on nutritional health.