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2131 Beaufait Street
Detroit, MI, 48207
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(313) 923-3535 ext. 202

Cooking Matters Michigan

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

Volunteer Spotlight: Carolyn Sagi

Rebecca Blauw

Carolyn and Kate Tell us a little about yourself.

I am originally from Metro Detroit.  I lived for several years in Florida, but am very glad to be back in Michigan.  I hold an MS in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, and a BS in Psychology and Human Resource Development.  In my career, I've worked primarily in Training and Performance Improvement.  I've been very fortunate to work with some wonderful people and organizations such as the United States Agency for International Development, Army, Navy, and Fish and Wildlife Service.


How did you become involved with Cooking Matters?

A little over a year ago, I saw a local news story about a Gleaners fundraiser.  I was interested in opportunities to make a positive impact in the lives of those at risk of hunger, and visited the Gleaners website to do some research.  I learned about Cooking Matters through that research.  The program stood out immediately as a combination of my professional interest in training, and personal interests in nutrition, culinary science, and healthy, affordable lifestyle.  When I saw volunteer opportunities that were a good fit with my skills, I contacted the team and began training to support the program.


What about the Volunteer Class Manager position appeals most to you?

I don't know that there is one aspect of the Course Manager position that appeals most.  I enjoy the opportunity to make a positive impact.  I enjoy engaging learners, sharing content, facilitating discussion, collaborating with a variety of stakeholders, and generally supporting a team in a positive learning environment.  I volunteered to take on the role because I enjoy professional experiences where I perform very similar work, and because I believe in the Cooking Matters program.


I also volunteer as a Cooking Matters Class Assistant, and am more than happy to support other Class Managers.  There are so many exceptional people involved in this program.  It is always a wonderful experience to be involved.


What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned from being involved in Cooking Matters?

I learn something every time I attend a Cooking Matters class.  The instructors, materials, and participants are truly fantastic.  I recently heard a great discussion on the benefits of whole grains, but I was probably most surprised to learn you can reduce the salt content of canned foods by rinsing them.


Perhaps the most interesting and rewarding items come from participants' experiences.  There is nothing more interesting than learning how Cooking Matters impacts participants' lives.  In the words of one participant, the course was "life changing."


What ingredients do you always keep in your kitchen?

I usually have a few whole grains, fresh, frozen, canned, and dry fruits and vegetables, canned and dry legumes, and several dried herbs and spices.  My current favorites include:  farro, brown rice, spinach, sweet potatoes, apples, black beans, almonds, thyme, cilantro, and various peppers.


What do you do in your spare time?

I enjoy time with friends and family.  I am very fond of walking, light hiking, and yoga.  I like reading, writing, photography, and I quite enjoy cooking.  I also enjoy learning.


Do you have any special tips for saving money at the grocery store?

I believe there are many ways to save money at the grocery store.  For me, the most effective has been to learn to cook, and take action on the information I have about basic nutrition.  Those things combine to help me shop for healthier and more affordable ingredients, and give me the tools to use up all the food I buy.  I find it very helpful to have a growing number of favorite recipes, a pantry of versatile staples, and a strategy for using or storing items that are either leftover or a great value on sale.  A garden for herbs, fruits, and vegetables can also be very helpful.


Do you have a favorite recipe that you’d like to share with us?

One of my current favorites is Asian Noodles with Peanut Butter Sauce.  This recipe actually comes from the Cooking Matters course.  I add one or two more vegetables, and follow some of the optional chef's notes, but the Cooking Matters recipe is delicious exactly as written.

It can be served warm or cold, so it makes a nice recipe to transition to the warmer weather I hope is coming very soon.  For a warm dish, omit the cucumber, or replace with 1/2 cup shelled soy beans.  It is also excellent with chicken or tofu.



1 (16 ounce) package whole wheat pasta

1/4 Cup peanut butter

1/3 Cup warm water

1/4 Cup low-sodium soy sauce

2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

4 teaspoons lightly packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon minced ginger or 1/4 teaspoon dried ginger

1 bag frozen sugar snap peas, thawed in the refrigerator for one or two days

1 medium cucumber, diced or 1/2 Cup shelled soy beans

1 small green, red, or yellow pepper, diced

fresh cilantro, or 1 green onion, thinly sliced



1.  Cook and drain pasta as directed by manufacturer.

2.  Stir to combine peanut butter and water in a medium bowl.  Mix in soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, and ginger to make a sauce.

3.  Pour sauce over cooked pasta.  Mix to evenly coat pasta.  Top with peas, cucumber, and pepper.  Garnish with a few cilantro leaves, or green onion slices.


Serves 8, and halves nicely