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Cooking Matters Michigan

Empowering families with the skills, confidence and knowledge to prepare healthy and affordable meals

It's time for another Extreme Food Makeover!

Rebecca Blauw

It's that time of year again! This season, we want you to makeover a favorite holiday food using the at least one of three secret ingredients. The goal is to incorporate healthy cooking or baking techniques and nutritious ingredients while maintaining the essence of the dish. Participants will need to email their recipes and pictures of the dish to Marisa at by midnight on Sunday, December 15th. Winners will be announced on Wednesday, December 18.

The competition is open to ANYONE who wants to participate. Both the winner and the runner up will receive some awesome prizes.

And the secret ingredients are...



This purple-topped produce, often confused with a turnip, is actually not a root vegetable, but a cruciferous vegetable. The rutabaga evolved as a cross between wild cabbage and the turnip. It has globular roots and a pale yellow, fine-grained skin and flesh.  It is often described as peppery-sweet when raw and soft and sweet when cooked.   Dating back to the 17th century it was first eaten in Southern Europe and was used as both animal fodder and human food.  Harvested in autumn and the winter months, rutabagas are hearty vegetables that store well and are rich in beta-carotene and high in fiber.  One serving supplies 30% of our daily vitamin A intake and 35% of Vitamin C.

FUN FACT: The International Rutabaga Curling championship takes place annually at Ithaca Farmers’ Market in Greece on the last day of market season.



Known as the “food of the Gods” in the Greek language and culture, persimmons are a mystery to many consumers.  There are several kinds of persimmon native to Asia, Europe, and the Americas.   In the States, they are grown commercially in California, but persimmons are more widely used and well-known in countries like Japan where the persimmon is the National Fruit and traditional food of the Japanese New Year.

Fun Fact: Astringent varieties of persimmon have a delicate, sweet flavor when ripe but are bitter, or even inedible, when unripe.



An "ugly duckling" of the vegetable world, celeriac or celery root is a much underrated vegetable.  It is a celery variety, but is also the cousin of anise, carrots, parsley and parsnips.  With a creamy white flesh it tastes like a subtle blend of parsley and celery.  This is another vegetable that stores well, it is an excellent source of dietary fiber and a great starch substitute.  In Europe celeraic is a historic favorite  has been used for medicinal and religious purposes.

FUN FACT:  Don't toss the tops!  While not the same variety as standard grocery store celery, the stalks sprouting from root are definitely edible.