At the Urban Farming Summit, I (Dorothy) met the lovely Trish, whom I immediately recruited as a volunteer for OFL. With her passion for health, nutrition and food sustainability she was a perfect fit for the program. She's already done a Kids Up Front class this spring.
The mother of two took some time to answer some questions. Here's what she shared with us.
Q. You are currently a dietetics student at Madonna. What led you to decide to pursue this route?
A. After the birth of my first son, and being inundated with baby talk and all the other baby stuff, I wanted to have some adult conversation and stimulate my brain beyond “Mommy Brain” so I decided to take a course at community college. Nutrition had always been an area of interest for me so it was a logical choice that basic nutrition was the course I chose. The science behind food and its interaction within the body was (and continues to be) fascinating. I was hooked! Since that first class in 2006, I’ve continued my nutrition education and have moved from community college to Madonna University pursuant of a dietetics career.
Q. Why did you volunteer for OFL?
A. Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeast Michigan is an affiliate food bank of OFL. I’ve volunteered for the Pontiac Gleaners in their food distribution operation for the past eight months and was notified of OFL nutrition education courses while sorting food earlier this year. The educational component of Gleaners through OFL instantly piqued my interest. Having a philanthropic belief system, I wanted to do my part in nutrition education as well as hunger relief. I loved how OFL focused on realistic nutrition within the budget of those that it serves. Working with a chef to facilitate learning of nutrition via hands-on meal preparation encompassed another love of mine—cooking. After attending an orientation and gaining more insight of the OFL programs and curriculum, the decision to sign-on with OFL was easy.
Q. Your first class for us was Kids Up Front with Peaches and Greens. What did you like best about teaching that class? And, what do you like best about OFL?
A. Working with Kate and the kids from Peaches and Greens was great. The kids even after a long day of school were eager to learn. Of course, cooking and eating food added to their enthusiasm. Activities that incorporated nutrition education and physical fitness were instrumental in applying the nutrition knowledge they were gaining. It was always amazing to me to hear their recall of the previous lesson and how their food choices were impacted by the lessons. We were making a difference and it was evident in the stories the kids shared. The well-developed curriculum and well-trained OFL staff provided for a very positive learning environment for the children and teaching environment for the chef and nutrition educator.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your background (i.e. education, family, where you're from)?
A. Michigan has always been my home from attending public schools in Sterling Heights in the 1970s and 80s to obtaining my BS in 1992 from Western Michigan University in Secondary Education and currently at Madonna University in Livonia. It is now where I choose to raise my children, Josh (5) and Joe (2) with my husband Scott.
Q. What are some of your interests?
A. I enjoy organic gardening and have dedicated much of our backyard this year to preparing a garden. The kids have been instrumental in maintaining regular watering not to mention the soaks they have given me. Family time is the most special to me. I work hard at my studies. I’m deeply involved in Native American ceremonies which help to provide balance in a chaotic life. Sundays my family attends a lovely Methodist church. When I have time for myself, I like to read nutrition literature, paint and sew. And, I’m a fan of Biggest Loser.
Q. After you get your degree from Madonna, what would be your dream job?
A. I’m very interested in food sustainability and the impacts of food choices on our environment. I’d love to incorporate my education background with nutrition in the efforts of increasing awareness of each. Possibly this will be an inclusion of sustainable agriculture with Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move and the further enhancement of Chefs Move to Schools with school gardens and hoop houses as supplements to reading, writing, and arithmetic curriculums.
Q. As a mother, what are some tips in getting kids to eat their veggies?
A. Kids need to be involved in making choices and preparing meals. Choices should be healthy ones, such as which vegetable do you want for dinner green beans or broccoli? I personally feel when choices are allowed and children are actively involved in preparation they are more apt to eat the foods provided. Remember that kids require multiple exposures to foods before trying them. Their tactile sense is greater and texture is often more the issue for little ones than with adults or older children. Don’t give up. Those little guys and gals may surprise you one day by asking for salad on their plate. Planting a vegetable garden allows children the chance to see how vegetables develop and if they are involved in planting, growing and harvesting more than likely they will be involved with eating. For those kids who just won’t budge, sneak vegetables into the foods they like especially those that have a creamy consistency like mashed parsnip and potato.
Q. Finally, can you share with us one of your favorite recipes that you like to prepare for your family?
A. I like to sneak healthy stuff in when I can. Here is a great recipe that sneaks in avocado, applesauce, flax and a nice supply of omega-3 fatty acids.
Banana Walnut Muffin
1 ¾ cup whole wheat flour (can use gluten free flour pancake mix)
3 Tbsp. ground flax
½ cup oatmeal
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
3 med. mashed bananas
1 tsp. vinegar (add this to the milk)
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
¼ cup butter or margarine
½ avocado (creamed—no lumps)
½ cup applesauce
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup milk (soymilk works too!)
¾ cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cream avocado and butter with sugar. Add one egg at a time and mix until fluffy. Fold in applesauce. Alternative between dry and liquid mixture additions. Add mashed bananas and mix well. Fold in walnuts. Bake in greased muffin pan for 22-27 minutes. Makes 12 large muffins. Enjoy!!