Tell us a little about yourself. I grew up in Nova Scotia, Canada, and have lived in many places in Canada, from the “far east” in Newfoundland to the far north in the Northwest Territories. My work as a Registered Dietitian with a Masters in Health Education has mostly been in public health and health promotion, with a focus on disease prevention. I moved to Michigan about eight years ago after living in Windsor, Ontario for 12 years. I met my husband who was also a member of an outdoor recreation club here in Detroit. We shared a passion for cycling and many other outdoor adventures. We currently live in the country on a dirt road where we love to explore back roads and hiking paths, on bike and on foot.
How did you first become interested in nutrition? This question definitely takes me back, more years than I care to remember! But, I have enjoyed cooking and baking since I was a teenager. Since then, I spent my summers on my bike, getting me from place to place, in my neighborhood and beyond. When it came time to choose a university education, it seemed like a natural progression for me to learn more about nutrition and health.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering for Cooking Matters? Being a part of helping participants demystify nutrition and gain new skills when it comes to making healthy food choices is a real treat for me. I get especially excited when participants share their food experiences and skills with one another in the group.
What is your favorite fruit? As with many of my “favorite” foods, they change with the season. But, right now, with Spring finally here in Michigan, I would say that strawberries are my favorite fruit. I enjoy them in many forms - in a smoothie, with yogurt or vanilla ice cream, as part of a salad with lots of greens and a balsamic vinaigrette , and, of course, strawberry shortcake made with biscuits piled high with sweet, juicy strawberries and a dollop of real whipped cream. I also love them just as they are, with no preparation other than washing. They are like Mother Nature’s candy!
Do you have any good tips for eating well? Understanding that all foods can fit is an important part of eating well. This means there is no such thing as a “good” food or a “bad” food. I like to think about foods to eat “most of the time” and foods to eat “occasionally”. Also, learning how to prepare a variety of meals at home that are quick, easy, tasty and healthy will go a long way in eating healthy foods most of the time. For example, start by trying to make one of the recipes from Cooking Matters at least once per week. Keep in mind that by making one small change at a time, it is easier to develop more and more healthy food habits.
Do you have a recipe you’d like to share? Although I’ve tried and enjoyed several of the recipes found in the Cooking Matters manual, lately I’ve been making some version of the Mango Salsa, especially as we enter the Summer months when I tend to grill more. I sometimes add a can of black beans and some frozen corn, or I will replace the cucumber with chopped jicama for a slightly different texture. The great thing about this recipe is that it is so versatile and goes with many dishes, from grilled turkey burgers or grilled chicken breast to being a sandwich filling in a burrito.
Serving Size Serves 6, 1/2 cup per serving
Ingredients 2 large ripe mangoes 1 small cucumber 2 medium green onions 1 medium jalapeño pepper 2 medium limes ½ teaspoon salt Pinch of cayenne pepper
Optional Ingredients 1 medium bell pepper ¼ cup fresh cilantro
Materials Cutting board Measuring spoons Medium bowl Plastic wrap Sharp knife
- Rinse mangoes, cucumber, green onions, jalapeño pepper, limes, and bell pepper, if using.
- Peel mangoes. Cut mango flesh from the pits.
- Cut cucumber in half lengthwise. Remove seeds. If using bell pepper, cut in half lengthwise. Remove stems and seeds.
- Dice mangoes, cucumber, and bell pepper, if using. Finely chop green onions.
- Cut jalapeño pepper in half lengthwise. Remove stems and seeds and dice.
- If using, rinse and chop cilantro.
- Cut limes in half. Squeeze juice from each half into a medium bowl. Discard seeds.
- Add mangoes, cucumber, green onions, jalapeño, salt, and cayenne pepper to bowl with juice. If using, add bell pepper and cilantro. Mix well.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.
Chef's Notes Mangoes usually feel a little softer when ripe. If mangoes are not in season or not in your store, use canned peaches or pineapple, packed in juice. Drain before using.
Serve salsa as a dip with Homemade Corn Tortilla Chips. Or, use as a topping for fresh fish or pork, black bean soup, or tacos.