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Cooking Matters Michigan

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

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The Farm Bill, SNAP, and You

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As Congress weighs in on the Farm Bill-  the primary agricultural and food policy tool of the federal government passed every 5 years- the future of SNAP (and SNAP education) is at stake.

What is SNAP?

SNAP offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low income individuals and families and provides economic benefits to communities. SNAP is the largest program in the domestic hunger safety net.  The Food and Nutrition Service works with State agencies, nutrition educators, and neighborhood and faith-based organizations to ensure that those eligible for nutrition assistance can make informed decisions about applying for the program and can access benefits. The USDA's Food and Nutrition Service also works with State partners and the retail community to improve program administration and ensure program the integrity.

What is SNAP education?

The goal of SNAP-Ed is to improve the likelihood that persons eligible for SNAP will make healthy choices within a limited budget and choose active lifestyles consistent with the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate.  The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-296), section 241, established SNAP-Ed as the Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Grant Program. The Act calls for SNAP-Ed to include an emphasis on obesity prevention in addition to nutrition education.  Cooking Matters is a SNAP-Ed funded program.

It seems like everybody has their own two cents about SNAP (formerly food stamps) but we like to let the facts speak for themselves.

SNAP: Facts, Myths, and Realities

             SNAP is targeted at the most vulnerable.

  • 76% of SNAP households included a child, an elderly person, or a disabled person. These vulnerable households receive 83% of all SNAP benefits.[i]
  • Recent studies show that 49% of all SNAP participants are children (age 18 or younger), with almost two-thirds of SNAP children living in single-parent households. In total, 76% of SNAP benefits go towards households with children, 16% go to households with disabled persons, and 9% go to households with senior citizens.
  • SNAP eligibility is limited to households with gross income of no more than 130% of the federal poverty guideline, but the majority of households have income well below the maximum: 83% of SNAP households have gross income at or below 100% of the poverty guideline ($19,530 for a family of 3 in 2013), and these households receive about 91% of all benefits. 61% of SNAP households have gross income at or below 75% of the poverty guideline ($14,648 for a family of 3 in 2013).
  • The average SNAP household has a gross monthly income of $744

SNAP is responsive to changes in need, providing needed food assistance as families fall into economic hardship and then transitioning away as their financial situation stabilizes.

  • SNAP participation historically follows unemployment with a slight lag. SNAP participation grew during the recession, responding quickly and effectively to increased need. As the number of unemployed people increased by 94% from 2007 to 2011, SNAP responded with a 70% increase in participation over the same period. 
  • As the economy recovers and people go back to work, SNAP participation and program costs, too, can be expected to decline.

SNAP has a strong record of program integrity.

  • SNAP error rates declined by 57% since FY2000, from 8.91% in FY2000 to a record low of 3.80% in FY2011. The accuracy rate of 96.2% (FY2011) is an all-time program high and is considerably higher than other major benefit programs, for example Medicare fee-for-service (91.5%) or Medicare Advantage Part C (88.6%).
  • Two-thirds of all SNAP payment errors are a result of caseworker error. Nearly one-fifth are underpayments, which occur when eligible participants receive less in benefits than they are eligible to receive.
  • The national rate of food stamp trafficking declined from about 3.8 cents per dollar of benefits redeemed in 1993 to about 1.0 cent per dollar during the years 2006 to 2008.

The need for food assistance is already greater than SNAP can fill.

  • SNAP benefits don’t last most participants the whole month. 90% of SNAP benefits are redeemed by the third week of the month, and 58% of food bank clients currently receiving SNAP benefits turn to food banks for assistance at least 6 months out of the year.
  • The average monthly SNAP benefit per person is $133.85, or less than $1.50 per person, per meal.
  • Only 55% of food insecure individuals are income-eligible for SNAP

source: http://feedingamerica.org/how-we-fight-hunger/programs-and-services/public-assistance-programs/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program/snap-myths-realities.aspx

What Congress is Proposing:

House Ag Committee cuts = Almost $21 billion over 10 years.

These cuts:

  • Limit state SNAP coordination with LIHEAP (heat and eat) payments;
    • 850,000 households, which include 1.7 million people, primarily in 15 states, could lose $90 in SNAP per month;
  • Restrict the state Categorical Eligibility option to change asset and gross income tests ($11.6 billion cut);
    • 1.8 million individuals per year could lose SNAP benefits (CBO);
    • 210,000 low-income children could lose free school meal access.
    • Eliminate state bonuses for effective SNAP operation ($480 million cut).
  • Eliminate state bonuses for effective SNAP operation ($480 million cut).

Senate cut = $4.1 billion over 10 years.

The cut:  Limits state SNAP coordination with LIHEAP (heat and eat) payments.

source: http://frac.org/leg-act-center/farm-bill-2012/

Considering the fact that 49 million Americans are food insecure-- 16 million of which are children-- the Farm Bill and its impact on SNAP has very real and serious consequences.

Even if politics aren't your thing, the Farm Bill affects ALL Americans.  We all gotta eat, right?

My AmeriCorps Experience Thusfar...

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See the original post on the No Kid Hungry blog, here It is National AmeriCorps Week.  To celebrate, No Kid Hungry is highlighting the work of Cooking Matters National Direct AmeriCorps Members throughout the country.

alexa americorps

Alexa Eisenberg is our current AmeriCorps member.  Alexa was born and raised in southeast Michigan and has recently moved to Detroit, where she loves exploring new places and meeting new people.  She coordinates classes, oversees social media, and works on volunteer recruitment.  Although her interest in food systems is broad, she is particularly passionate about the food justice issues that face Detroit. In 2012 she earned her Bachelor’s from the University of Michigan in Environmental Sciences and Communications with a focus on urban sustainability. Upon graduation, Alexa joined the Cooking Matters team at the Gleaners Food Bank in Detroit, Michigan.  She loves working for Cooking Matters and feels proud to be a part of the Gleaners team.

I am currently in my fifth month of service as the Cooking Matters AmeriCorps member for the Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan. As my first professional endeavor after college, this position with Gleaners gives me a wonderful introduction to employment, and may be the beginning of a meaningful career in public health.  This experience has furthered my interest the connection between food justice and preventative health care for diet-related illnesses including obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Each day I am glad to go to work, knowing that my time and effort is spent working to improve the health of others.

My favorite part of the job is my regular interaction with the communities of Detroit.  I grew up in the Detroit suburbs and have a strong affinity for the city, but a lot to learn.  Coordinating classes for Cooking Matters gives me the opportunity to spend time in parts of the city I would not typically find myself, interacting with Detroiters I would not otherwise come to know. Detroit is a city of strong, independent, and loyal citizens that want what is best for their families and their communities

Healthy food options are scarce in many areas of Detroit. Cooking Matters empowers Detroiters with the skills necessary to make healthy choices when options are limited. The ability to read food labels, understand how to prepare fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables, and how to meal plan and shop with a list may seem trivial, but can greatly impact food choices made by individuals on an everyday basis.  By teaching participants that it is possible to prepare nutritious, affordable meals that their families will enjoy, Cooking Matters can help individuals make real, lasting changes to their diets.  My experience with Cooking Matters has shown me that in addition to food access, food education is a vital component of community food security, particularly in Detroit.

Until working with Cooking Matters, I never realized the potential for nutrition and culinary education in empowering families to fight hunger and lead healthier lifestyles.  It is often the case that participants want to provide healthy meals for their family, but don’t know where to start.  I recently gave a Shopping Matters tour to a single, working mother of six who was looking to change her family’s eating habits.  She found it difficult enough to get food on the table, let alone fresh fruits and vegetables. We discussed money saving tips like buying whole foods in bulk, utilizing frozen and canned options, and choosing whole grains to keep her kids fuller for longer.  We brainstormed quick, healthy meals she could make after a long day of work to replace the ramen noodles her kids were used to eating.  Armed with the ability to read food labels and compare prices, she left the store that day not only with a bag of groceries, but the confidence to make informed decisions and change her life.

My experience as an AmeriCorps member thus far has filled me with a sense of gratitude and purpose that I could not have imagined before.  I look forward to the rest of my service, knowing that it will undoubtedly bring new challenges and opportunities for growth.

Volunteers Needed Throughout the Holidays

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We at Cooking Matters know how busy our volunteers are, especially around the holidays.  We understand that obligations to your loved ones, in addition to your professional obligations,  fill up a majority of your time.  Still, Cooking Matters continues to conduct classes throughout the November and December months.  Most likely due to our volunteers' increasingly busy schedules at this time, we are in somewhat desperate need of your time. We urge you to look at the upcoming class schedule, and although consistency is our priority, please contact Rebecca even if you know you will miss one, or even a few of the classes.

We value your time and effort.  If you can fit it in your busy schedule, please find the time to give back this holiday season in any way you can!

Cooking Matters Satellite Programming

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Did you know that Cooking Matters takes place not only in Southeast Michigan, but throughout the entire state? Yes, even the U.P.!

Since Cooking Matters partnered with Gleaners in 1995, the program has continued to expand.  In order to keep up with the demand for Cooking Matters, it became necessary to create satellites: offices throughout Michigan that coordinate classes within their communities.  With the help of our dedicated CM staff (cough, cough--Sarah Mills) and our satellite partners, our capacity for outreach has grown like wildfire over the past two years.

Here is an overview of who our satellites are and how much they have accomplished:

1.  Manistee Community Kitchen

  • 16 classes completed
  • 164 graduates

2. SEEDS

  • 7 classes completed
  • 63 graduates

3. Michigan Nutrition Network Partners

4. Michigan State University Extension

  • Includes 12 districts that, together, extend Cooking Mattersprogramming throughout the entire state!
  • 54 classes completed
  • 540 total graduates

5.  Henry Ford Health System Generation with Promise

  • 50 classes completed
  • 504 total graduates

Together, Cooking Matters Satellites throughout the state have completed over 139 classes and graduated over 1400 participants!

Goodbye Vani, You Will Be Missed!

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As you may have heard, everyone's favorite volunteer coordinator-Vani Sohikian- is leaving Cooking Matters.  Without a doubt, this qualifies as a grade-A bummer, but I can't help but be proud of Vani and wish her well on her way.  Vani is known by Cooking Matters staff as an exceptionally hard worker and a true pleasure to have in the office.  To our volunteers, Vani is their warm welcome to the program, the go-to contact and a consistent reminder that their work really counts (and to sign up for classes).  It only takes a few minutes in one of Vani's classes to see how much she really cares about this program and its participants.   Her ability to connect with and engage participants is something to be admired, and her impact here has been profound.  OK, enough praise- it will go to her head.  Let's find out what the future holds for our friend and coworker!

Where is your new job and what will you be doing there?

The Institute for Population Health in Detroit.  It is replacing the Detroit Health Department, which is very exciting.  I will be working as a nutritionist for the WIC (women, infants and children) department.

What do you look forward to at your new job?

I look forward to working with the individuals who benefit from the services provided by the institute and learning more about public health services offered to Detroit citizens.

What was your favorite type of class?

Adults.  I like the older ladies.

Do you have a favorite CM recipe?

I have many.  I love the apple crisp and the southwestern black eyed pea and corn salad.  I also like the kid's cucumber sandwiches and the peanut butter and banana pockets...

Favorite fruit? 

figs.

Favorite veggie?

Brussel sprouts!

Favorite memory?

It's so hard to pick!  I have a few favorite moments. One of them is when one of my participants in Pontiac on the last day of class said that she had gone to the doctor that morning and her blood pressure, which had always been a problem, was completely normal because she was changing her diet.   Another favorite moment of mine was when I was helping Jake with a demo for kids, and we made the tuna boats, the kids were like, "this is the best thing I've EVER had!".  It was funny because kids usually hate tuna!

What will you miss most about CM?

The staff! Also working with volunteers and learning new things all the time.  I will also miss those moments when you know you're really getting through to participants.

Finish this sentence: Cooking Matters because:

We all have to eat!

Thank You Vani, for all your hard work.  You will be missed.

And don't worry, she'll be back to volunteer as soon as she is settled in her new job!

Eat Better, Eat Together with your family this October

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Editor's note: We welcome popular mom blogger Bree Glenn to our blog today as she writes about national Eat Better, Eat Together month.

The hubs and I make a concerted effort to eat dinner together, with the kid, every night. With both of us working full time, that sometimes doesn’t happen. But, I’d say we hit the mark at least 95% of the time.

Being a mom and wife who works full time sometimes makes it difficult to get a hot, healthy meal on the table. Lucky for me, I have a wonderful husband who is well-versed in the kitchen and often jumps in, when I can’t be there to get it done.

Often times, I’ll have the hubs and/or the kid assist me with food prep. It’s a great way to cut down on the time it takes to prepare a meal, and it brings us all together in a fun activity. Another way I save time is to use the Crockpot.

By cooking a meal for us to eat together, I’m not only ensuring we eat a healthy meal, but I’m also ensuring I get some time with my guys to just sit down together over a meal and talk about our days – about how work was for the grownups and how school was for the kid. It serves as a way for us to connect, in our busy, busy lives. I know this will only become more and more important as the kid gets older.

When I was a kid, eating dinner together as a family was a big deal. I can’t imagine a life of not sitting down, at a table and eating at least one meal a day with my family.

Making time to eat together as a family is not only important to the family unit, but according to Washington State University when families eat together:

· Children do better in school and have fewer behavior problems. · Teenagers are less likely to use alcohol or drugs. · Communication between children and adults improves. · Children understand their family's values and traditions. · Meals are more nutritious and healthful.

October is National Eat Better, Eat Together Month. I encourage you to click here for more information, recipes and ideas on how you and your family can start the tradition!

Bree Glenn blogs on The Mom with Moxie about living life, to the fullest and finding humor, in life’s little – and not so little – messes. She’s a wife, mom and PR exec trying to juggle family, work, life and everything else. As someone who has dealt with health issues, weight issues, financial issues, job issues, etc., she feels she can provide a unique point-of-view, on life – and how to live it to the fullest, despite whatever trials life may throw at you. She’s also an avid supporter of social media and enjoys connecting with online friends and meeting new ones through Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Bree and her husband, MenDale, live in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, with their son, “The Kid.”

Shopping Matters teaches participants how to read food labels, use unit pricing

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Mary Bailey, Cooking Matters for Adults participant at Mercy Primary Care, has her shopping routine down. She always has a list and makes sure to eat something before going to the store so she doesn’t shop hungry.

But even the savvy shopper picked up a few new tips and tricks after taking the grocery store tour with fellow Cooking Matters classmates as well as Shopping Matters participants on July 10 at Walmart in Sterling Heights.

“I was not really savvy with unit prices before,” she says.

While shopping, she said she compared the unit prices of the Great Value cooking spray vs. Crisco and realized Great Value was the better deal.

As a participant in the class, she also learned how to cook healthier. “I learned how to cook without a lot of salt and oils. Now I make my own seasonings.”

Her cart was full of whole foods, such as cantaloupe, cottage cheese, lemon and limes, squash and onions, brown rice and salmon in her cart. Using some of the planning skills taught in the previous lesson, she swapped out the broccoli and spinach that was on her list for the available and more budget-friendly squash.

Another skill the tour aims to teach participants is reading labels. For Shopping Matters participant Jennifer Morris, the Detroiter learned to pay more attention to the products. She primarily eats a vegetarian diet and had her cart full of dried beans and veggies to make a meatless chili, she said. The idea to make chili came to her after walking around with her group. She also said the tour helped her make more informed choices about which foods to get.

Angela Davenport, who was in the Shopping Matters group, said the tour helped her make better choices.

“Before I was just grabbing what I saw … (the tour) was very good,” she said.

These ladies, along with about 10 other participants, were able to apply their newfound budgeting skills, thanks to a donation of $150 gift cards by the store.

“As a company, we’ve always had good relationships with Gleaners” and other community organizations, said store manager Rob Aquilina. He said each store works with specific agencies in their areas to give back to the community.

When asked if Walmart would do more tours with Shopping Matters, he said, “I’d love to be more involved and see what we can do.” He added Walmart is committed to the food bank, which aligns with one of the company's three main values: fighting hunger, education and work force development.

Volunteer spotlight: A'Donna Fuller

dorothy hernandez

"Giving back to the community through Cooking Matters has been the most rewarding thing I have done throughout my culinary career."

Like many chefs and cooks, A'Donna Fuller's love of cooking was inspired by her mom. Now a personal chef, A'Donna finds joy in cooking for others.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I spent most of my childhood in Detroit. I went to college in Columbus, Ohio. I eventually ended up in the Ypsi/Ann Arbor area.I got my feet wet in formal culinary training at Washtenaw Community College although most of my professional training came from studying Culinary Management (Art Institute in Novi). I still take continuing education classes taught by leading industry experts at Schoolcraft College and anywhere else I can find culinary classes.

I spent my entire childhood watching my mother take great pride in planning and cooking family meals, host fabulous dinner parties, and even cater for some celebrities. When I had the wild idea to go vegetarian as a teenager, my mom gladly took on the challenge of making 2 meals every night - one meal for my father and siblings and a hearty and fresh meat-free option for me. She was so creative, I was never bored with her take on vegetarian meals and couldn't wait to get home just to see what she would come up with next!

How and why did you end up pursuing a career as a personal chef? There was nothing I loved more than watching my mom meticulously plate meals and plan dinners as a kid. She took great pride in cooking and presenting meals like it was a sport. Watching her developed my obsession with cooking, food science, and planning menus for parties.

I was first introduced to the idea of becoming a personal chef through an article I read long before I ever took my first culinary class. I found all the information I could find about the personal chef industry and decided to give it a try. Years later I joined the American Personal & Private Chef Association - they give me all the training I need for the personal chef aspect of culinary arts. I have always enjoyed helping people and cooking, so being a personal chef was a perfect fit. After hearing about the burnout chefs often experience in commercial kitchens, I could not stand the thought of stepping into a commercial kitchen. This is when I ultimately decided to make my way into the private sector.

Tell us about your business. What do you specialize in? Bella Donna Cooks! is a personal chef business that helps families and individuals that are too busy to cook, don't know how to cook, or have recently been diagnosed with a health condition prompting them to make immediate changes to their diets. Even though I love to cook everything, I specialize in vegan, diabetic, low carb, and petite pastry options. Although my primary line of work is as a personal chef, I also teach culinary classes, do cooking demos, do social catering for intimate events and host cupcake decorating parties for kids and adults. If it's in the culinary arena, I will do it!

Why did you start volunteering for Cooking Matters? I thought it was the most amazing idea that a structured program like Cooking Matters existed. I feel it is imperative to make sure everyone knows about healthy eating on a budget. Even though I own and operate a business that does just that, I honestly find it hard to associate a fee with helping people to eat healthy! I am so happy to have the opportunity to pass on the knowledge of healthy, quick, fresh, and budget-friendly meals through Cooking Matters. Giving back to the community through Cooking Matters has been the most rewarding thing I have done throughout my culinary career.

What has been a highlight from class for you? Please give a specific example. First Dorothy, Vani, and the volunteers that I have worked with are amazing! They are supportive and trust my opinions.

The biggest highlight from the last (Cooking Matters for Adults) class (at Go-Getters) was during frittata week. Once I saw the puzzled looks on the students' faces when I announced the recipe name - I asked the students to think of a quiche and an omelette having a baby. Most said "Oh, I get it!" ....then a slightly different response, a student quipped "I don't eat eggs!"....I asked her why and she just couldn't give me a "good answer." I put her in charge of cracking all 12 eggs, helping to season the egg mixture, and when the frittata was done, I personally served her first and said "Just try it." I went to the back and started washing dishes. I came back out and guess what? Her plate was empty! I asked her what happened to her frittata, she said "I ate it, and it was good...this is something I could see myself making for me and my family!" I was so excited that she even tried it, but the fact that she was willing to duplicate the recipe at home and started asking questions about other ingredients she could put in it? I was floored! It is incredible to be able to introduce new concepts, foods, and techniques that people so often overlook.

What is your favorite aspect of being a chef? I love researching recipes and shopping in unconventional places for unique ingredients. I really like introducing new foods to people. Especially foods that people think are "too healthy" to possibly be good! I live for the moment when my dish is served, and I get to see their faces light up after eating a dish that I made.

You have a knack for budgeting. What are your top tips for cooking healthy on a budget?

The biggest tip is to be prepared! #1- Plan your meals for two weeks at a time if at all possible. This gives you the opportunity to share as many ingredients across as many dishes as possible. Plus I see way too many people only buying their groceries for 1-2 days at a time. Not only is it a time killer, but you tend to overspend this way. #2 - Keep staples on hand (seasonings, canned goods, frozen vegetables/fruits, even having some frozen meats). These staples will almost always complement your meals, so when you make your grocery list - you will not have to buy nearly as much. Stock up on fresh fruits and veggies when they are on sale, bring them home and cut up what you think you may not use within 3 days, and pop them in the freezer in small portions. If packaged properly, they will last for months - reducing your grocery bill over time. You can use them for healthy desserts, smoothies, soups, stews, and sauces. #3 - Last but not least, do not throw away extra food or let any food spoil if you can help it - you can do this by re-purposing food that is from leftovers. Did you shred too much chicken for your chicken tortilla soup? Freeze the extra chicken and pull it out later in the week to make chicken wraps, chicken salads, or chicken enchiladas.

When you're not cooking, what do you like to do in your spare time? I love to go to the local museums and check out new exhibits and will often find a new restaurant in the area to try right after visiting the museum. I love to listen to smooth jazz and Stevie Wonder!

Finally, can you share with us your favorite budget-friendly, healthy recipe? Here is my favorite vegetarian recipe that I submitted to a vegetarian website - around $4.75/recipe!

Awesome Angel Hair

1/2 pound angel hair pasta (whole wheat or Dreamfields low carb brand) kosher coarse sea salt, for pasta water 4 tablespoons olive oil 1 heaping teaspoon garlic, minced 1 tablespoon dried basil 1 tablespoon dried oregano 1 (8 ounce) can chickpeas, drained 2 cups frozen or fresh broccoli 1 (8 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained (no salt added) *optional - fresh parmesan to sprinkle on top

1. Prepare the angel hair according to box directions. While the pasta is boiling, prepare the sauce. In a saucepan or wok, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Adjust the heat to low and add the garlic to the pan, and saute for 2 minutes. 2. Add the dried seasonings to the pan. Drain the pasta and slowly add the pasta into the olive oil mixture, stirring after each addition (this is to make sure the pasta is evenly coated with the sauce). 3. After all the pasta has been added, toss in the chickpeas, tomatoes, and broccoli. Toss until well combined and the broccoli is heated through, plate and serve!

Volunteer spotlight: John Heikka

dorothy hernandez

For the past few months we have had the invaluable help of John Heikka, our chef intern extraordinaire. John just recently wrapped up his internship with us and put into words his experiences and shared with us what brought him to the wonderful world of cooking. He is also teaching a class in Pontiac as a volunteer so we are happy to keep him among our volunteer ranks!

Here's his story:

I’ve been married to my wife Jan for 25 years, and while we have had some challenges like any couple. She is the absolute best. I appreciate so much her ongoing support throughout the last and very trying 6 years. Jan is the cook for a day care in Sterling Heights and amazes me with how many different dishes she can produce with a microwave and rice cooker (their facility does not have a stove). We have two great kids, Robert and Sandra. Robert is now 19 and enrolled and excelling at CAD design at ITT Tech. Robert is a volunteer in our church’s children’s ministry and works as a counselor at “Kids Camp” every summer. Sandra is 12 going on 38. She is certainly an incredibly gifted and talented young lady. Sandra also is a volunteer in our children’s ministry where she teaches and sings. She is currently taking piano as well. Sandra is a straight A student and a member of a student organization dedicated to fighting hunger. She is also my “Sous Chef” at home. They are the best people I know and I am looking forward to going back to “hanging” with them, since my schooling is over.

I am a Detroiter and darn proud of that. I grew up the literal definition of a “fan (atic) of the Lions, Tigers, Pistons, Wings and Wolverines. I graduated high school in 1973 from East Detroit and studied for three years at Sacred Heart Seminary to become a Catholic priest. Got that one wrong! I like Catholics, nothing personal, but I’m not even Catholic anymore. In the early 80’s I met Jan, and left my pursuit of an accounting degree for marital bliss. Back then you could get a job, work hard and just keep moving up. I did just that working for a commercial leasing company and a sub-contractor for 20 years in collections and customer service. I also became an amateur baseball umpire while volunteering at church in the children’s ministry.

I lost my job with the now defunct sub-contractor in November 2005 and we ended up losing our house and basically, as it seemed, our life. I had two surgeries including a heart repair procedure, and after that it was just impossible to land a job that lasted. The four of us currently abide in a 950-square-foot apartment in Warren. I hope to change that soon!

Finally, someone told me that I need to go back to school. So I said, if I have to go back to school, then I am going to have fun. So I enrolled back at Macomb Community College in the Culinary Arts program. I had spent some time teaching kids how to make bread and thought maybe there will be something there for me. And thus, in my last semester I landed a wonderful opportunity for an internship as a chef instructor at Gleaners Community Food Bank in the Cooking Matters program.

My ultimate goal is to be involved with food education. Food is certainly a magical thing. Can you think of any major life event/celebration that does not involve food? Most of them do. Food culture is a part of our families and society. I want to see well executed and simple foods of our traditions come back to our life events and certainly our families’ tables as a way to bring people together again. Somebody has to teach the skills and recipes that have been laid aside by past generations.

But for now, I will pursue a career as a prep cook or institutional cook and further hone my skills. But if the opportunity presents itself, I’ll jump on anything that involves the educational end of cookery.

Why he wanted to get involved in Cooking Matters I was never a “restaurant guy” prior to my enrollment at Macomb and I’ve always had a passion for teaching. So it was a natural fit to develop my skills and confidence while having fun. You should love what you do and do what you love.

It all started early last November when I was conversing with Kathy Grech, our table service instructor at Macomb about how people are just going to have to learn how to take a chicken apart again due to rising food costs. She immediately told me to contact Jake Williams and I did. I would have been happy to just volunteer as a chef/instructor, so being offered the internship was like winning the Super Bowl.

Overall, the class participants were the main highlight. The opportunity to be part of a team teaching a lot of the basics I learned in school in a manner that has such potential to effectively change lives both mentally and physically, is just phenomenal.

I recall early on in a Kids Class in Highland Park this little quiet girl who appeared to be shoved aside by her classmates, telling me after the class in a barely audible volume, “Thank you.” You never know if they are abused, malnourished, bullied or all the above. Her face, voice and those two simple words will never leave me. It’s also what began to build a passion for food education and I knew I was in the right place.

One week we were doing Banana Quesadillas and the coordinator for the class left the honey and peanut butter in her vehicle overnight in the middle of winter. Our coordinators are all great, however they happen to be human, just like the rest of us. The honey needed to be mixed with the peanut butter and some cinnamon. I looked over and saw the participant visibly struggling to mix these extremely cold items. As I saw the clock ticking, I then decided to just put the stainless steel bowl on the stove and whisk as fast as I could. I knew it work, but not a few people around the room were looking at me in an interesting manner. The quesadillas were great. (Editor’s note: This was me. Sorry, John! –dorothy)

Just recently we completed a Spanish speaking class in Mexican Town and the ladies on their way out telling me in their broken English that they learned so much and “Gracias” was really cool stuff. Not so much their words, but their facial expressions make my day, because people lives are being changed for the better.

Every Week One class I do now usually has a sauté’ opportunity and I love asking them why chefs toss items in the pan. Every time somebody will say,” To mix all the items?”. And I always respond, “Well…that is part of it, but don’t I look cool!?!”

His secrets in the kitchen Attitude. Your determination to succeed will be influenced by your determination. There are two kinds of kitchen experiences, success and education. Granted education can be a little disappointing, but if seek out the knowledge you were missing and are determined, then success will be yours! In my perfect world, every kitchen has some cast iron cookware. It is economical, easy to clean and heats very evenly. I’ve used my Dutch Oven as a deep fryer. This stuff lasts forever.

Thirdly, salads are generally under used in everyday home cooking. They are healthy and interesting. To me, 4 ounces of beautifully seasoned and grilled beef tenderloin on top of some leafy greens with walnuts, gorgonzola cheese, dried cherries, and red onions with a nice homemade vinaigrette is just heaven! Fruit salads are great all day as well.

My most humbling experience came this last semester in school. I was going to make a tomato fennel soup, which in the past was really good with a lemon/lime gremolata garnish. In the middle of winter I decided to use fresh roma tomatoes instead of canned. It was a very educational experience. The tomatoes being out of season were so acidic, that the soup was complete disaster. I just kicked myself all the way home.

My most memorable moment came at home prior to Christmas. I was baking cinnamon bread while my wife and the kids were decorating the tree. The pine scent and the cinnamon aroma just says family and Christmas like nothing I’ve ever encountered.

Relaxing Everyonewho is involved in cookery has a “food” activity that they find relaxing. For me, it is grilling some sort of protein or baking bread. I will still knead my bread by hand periodically. It’s good exercise! “Foodieism” can be a bit of a mental illness for some us.

I enjoy playing “competitive putt-putt” with my family. It gets verbally brutal, but we have fun. Also, you can find us in the fall picking apples and other produce when it’s available.

The whole family is big sports fans. We all play and spectate, especially pro football.

A healthy recipe This is one of my new favorite recipes for a side dish. Simple and elegant. Very nutritious.

QUINOA-PILAF STYLE

Onion, small dice 3 oz. Olive Oil 1 Tbsp. Quinoa, rinsed 4 oz, or ½ cup Water or Vegetable Stock 8 fluid ounces or 1 cup Kosher Salt To Taste Pepper To Taste

1. In a small sauce pot, heat the oil and sauté the onions over medium heat for a couple minutes till they start to turn clear. 2. Add the quinoa and brown very slightly. 3. Add the stock or water and season with salt and pepper. For this recipe volume start with ¼ teaspoon of both. 4. Bring to a boil and immediately turn heat to low. Cover pot with lid and simmer till Quinoa has absorbed all the liquid.

Chef’s Notes:

You can add any vegetable with the onions. Any spice can be added with the salt and pepper. Any herb can be added at the very end.

You can adjust the salt and pepper at the end of cooking.

Volunteer spotlight: Janice Gardler

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Meet Janice Gardler, a registered dietitian with an impressive resume full of a wide-ranging positions in the field. Also, check out her recipe for her Nana's Pasta Fagioli soup. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Born and raised in the southeastern suburbs of Philadelphia, I’m a true “Philly girl.” I grew up in a household where education was very important. Through college, I studied at Catholic schools. Eventually I earned my master’s degree. Fifteen years ago, my husband and I moved from the Philadelphia area to metro Detroit with our three young children. In moving, I left a job I loved at a teaching hospital that was like family to me. It was where my three children and myself were born. I had most recently worked there as an outpatient nutritionist/registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator. Arriving in Michigan, I focused on settling my family in their new environment. I quickly became involved in my children’s schools, Girl Scout programs and sports activities.

What led you to go into nutrition and become a registered dietitian? In my early high school years, we had a career center at school that was staffed with women who listened and offered good direction. Back then, I knew I liked working with people, had always enjoyed studying science and had thought about a teaching degree. That combination added up to dietetics/nutrition science. My various work experiences in high school and college continued to strengthen my passion for and interest in the nutrition field.

Tell us about your career in dietetics. Where have you worked? Before working in hospitals and even studying dietetics in college, my work in the health care field began young – at the age of 16. After graduating from college, I spent a year in a dietetic internship in New York City. All those experiences helped me become a motivated young professional. As a young clinical dietitian, I had an insatiable desire to provide my patients with the best nutrition care I could offer. At the same time I began my master’s degree, I took a job at a teaching hospital where I engaged in experiences I had been seeking – such as, teaching medical interns and residents, dietetic interns and staff, and classes of inpatients. I moved into an outpatient nutritionist position after a few years. I worked with a wide variety of patients and taught various group classes for specific needs. Before our family’s move to Michigan, I helped start up our hospital’s accredited Diabetes Education Program, and I became certified as a diabetes educator.

How did you hear about Cooking Matters? Why did you decide to volunteer? I first heard about the program at the March 2011 SEMDA meeting. Sarah Mills, a registered dietitian from Gleaners Food Bank, had a table with information and encouraged registered dietitians to sign up for training. I decided to volunteer because I knew teaming a chef and a registered dietitian could make a strong impact with a clear message. And it would be fun!

What do you like best about volunteering for us? I enjoy seeing a new class bond throughout the weeks and form a strong connectedness. We all share our knowledge with each other. I always learn so much from the chef, coordinator and participants.

Can you give a specific example of a highlight from class? The Cooking Matters participants enjoy the grocery tour and they are amazed about the content of packaged foods that are presented during the tours. The grocery tour gives the participants a great experience where they can pick out specific food items and we can discuss the nutrition significance of the products that they are interested in knowing more about.

What do you like to do in your spare time? How I use my time has changed in recent years since my youngest children are away at college. I enjoy hiking, biking, gardening, traveling, reading, watching movies and weaving reed baskets for family and friends. My favorite pastime is planning, preparing and enjoying a good meal around the table with family and friends.

Nana’s Pasta Fagioli Soup

INGREDIENTS

    3 tablespoons olive oil ½ -1 pound ditalini pasta -whole wheat 1 onion, diced 1 tablespoon dried parsley 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 ½ teaspoon dried basil 1 – 29 ounce can tomato sauce 1 ½ teaspoon dried oregano 6 cups water 1/3 cup grated cheese 1 – 15 ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed 1 – 15 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

DIRECTIONS 1. In a large pot over medium heat, cook onion in olive oil until translucent. Stir in garlic and cook until tender. Reduce heat , and stir in tomato sauce, water, parsley, basil, oregano, cannellini beans, kidney beans an d grated cheese. Simmer 1 hour. 2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Stir into soup.

Volunteer spotlight: Rohani Foulkes

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As a child, Rohani Foulkes would go to the farmers market with her family, $5 in hand and a curious mind. She says she and her brother would be free to walk around and buy whatever they wanted. "I distinctly remember loving that place, the smells, the vendors and all of their produce and I especially loved the smell of our home when we’d unpack our bounty of things such as fresh cilantro, basil and lemonade fruit home," says Rohani.

Her love of cooking, sharing and eating is apparent as she teaches a group of women at St. John Riverview Senior Wellness Center, where she is volunteering for a Cooking Matters for Adults class.

The chef and teacher answered a few questions for us about her plans and her thoughts on her new hometown, Detroit.

You came to Michigan from Australia. Are you originally from there? Can you take us through your journey from Down Under to the Great Lakes State?

A snowball fight brought me here actually. I met my now husband in 2010 when I came out to the U.S. to work with the United Nations, Education outreach division in New York City. I initially lived in a little studio in Chelsea then thanks to a chance encounter moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I was out with a friend one night and while walking down Bedford Avenue copped a snowball and that’s how we met. So, after two years of flying 10,000 miles at 24 hours every few months we finally decided to settle on his hometown here in Detroit.

Now that you are a Michiganian, what are your plans, career wise? Do you have plans to open a restaurant or some other type of food-related business? I think that no matter where you are in the world it’s important to understand that place in that time and I think that Detroit needs skilled people willing to share skills and empower others to do good things and in turn contribute to their community. Something I’ve quickly come to understand about Detroit are the very many community members enthusiastically working to rejuvenate the city and empower its people. Something interestingly organic to Detroit is the greening and urban farming movement and I’d love to learn as much as I can about this. I'm a chef by trade and more recently a high school teacher and I’d like to combine these skills, working in collaboration with other local organizations/businesses to offer vocational training in my own kitchen someday.

How and when did you get interested in cooking? I have ALWAYS been interested in cooking, it was the first and only thing I wanted to do for the first two decades of my life and I still love it. When I was little my mother would take my little brother and I to the local farmers markets every weekend. We would be given a grand total of $5 each and be free to stroll around and buy what ever we liked. I distinctly remember loving that place, the smells, the vendors and all of their produce and I especially loved the smell of our home when we’d unpack our bounty of things such as fresh cilantro, basil and lemonade fruit home. I love markets, I love food, I love cooking, eating and sharing.

What is your education and experience in the culinary arts? I started out by making little treats for my family and moved into a full-blown trade apprenticeship when I was 15. I worked at a number of restaurants, hotels and cafes but probably the most fun was a resort island in the Great Barrier Reef off the north coast of Australia. Probably the most confronting thing I ever came across in a cookery sense was seeing an enormous sea turtle and Dugong (I believe you call Manatee) being slaughtered for a ceremonial feast in the Torres Strait Islands, an indigenous tribe off the very tip of Australia, which is where my mother is from.

Why did you decide to volunteer for Cooking Matters? That’s a pretty simple answer, because I can. As I mentioned prior, I think it’s vital in any situation to contribute, I have skills to share and the time to offer and from what I understand that’s as good as gold in this situation. As a newbie to the city I also think it’s important to get out and about and involved with the community you’re a part of.

Is there a specific moment or highlight from a class you have done so far that is most memorable to you? The women who make up the class at St John’ Riverview Senior Wellness Center … have been lighting up my Wednesdays for the past 5 weeks. They’re genuinely interested and engaged in what they’ve signed up for and they bring a lot of life and laughs to the lessons.

(Also,) the first time I saw Dorothy so swiftly yet meticulously pack her boxes and bags of equipment and the day that (class assistant) Gaurang (Garg) attempted to do the same, hilarious times!

When you are not cooking, what are your other interests? Hilarious times!

Can you share with us your favorite healthy, budget-friendly recipe with us? I love this recipe, I created it for the no/reduced salt class, it’s easy, it's tasty and just as good as leftovers!

Chicken Dumpling soup Total Time: 30 min Yield: 4 to 6 servings (about 60 mini meatballs) Ingredients Soup • 2 to 3 tablespoons cooking oil • 1 large onion, diced • 2 carrots, diced • 1/2 stalk celery, diced • 4 to 6 cups chicken broth • 1 cup fresh cut green beans • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley • 2 bay leaves

Dumplings • 1/4 cup plain bread crumbs • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten • 1 tablespoon 2% or skim milk • 1 tablespoon ketchup • 3/4 cup grated Romano • 2 teaspoons of no salt seasoning • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper • 1 pound ground chicken

Directions 1. In a medium bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs, parsley, eggs, milk, ketchup, Romano cheese, and the salt and pepper. Add the chicken and gently stir to combine. 2. Using teaspoon measure and form the chicken mixture, with damp hands, roll the chicken pieces into mini meatballs. 3. In a small amount of cooking oil, working in batches, add the meatballs and cook without moving until brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Turn the meatballs over and brown the other side, about 2 minutes longer. 4. Meanwhile, in another skillet, using a small amount of cooking oil, sweat the onion, carrots and celery. Add chicken, broth, green beans, celery salt, parsley and bay leaves and bring to a boil. 5. Add the meatballs to the soup base and serve.

No Salt Seasoning Total Time: 5 min Yield: Approx 1 Cup or 16 servings for seasoning Ingredients

    5 teaspoons onion powder (or flakes depending on added salt in certain brands) 1 tablespoon garlic powder (or flakes depending on added salt in certain brands) 1 tablespoon paprika 1 tablespoon dry mustard 1 teaspoon dried thyme 1/2 teaspoon pepper 1/2 teaspoon celery seed (powdered if possible)

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a small jar with a shaker top. Use for seasoning broiled fish, poultry, cooked vegetables, soup and stews, or place it on the table to be used individually.

Volunteer spotlight: Henriette Hajjar

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Chef volunteer Henriette Hajjar brings to Cooking Matters her fusion style of cooking, her boundless energy and her passion for helping the community. She signed up to volunteer just a couple of months ago and is already teaching her second class. When asked why she got involved, she says, "I felt responsible to answer the call and go for it and help. It is beautiful to give and share the gift that you have been blessed with, especially when you share it with someone who doesn’t have it and this is why I did decide to get involved in Cooking Matters." Not only is the caterer working on a new restaurant as well as volunteering with Chefs Move to Schools, she is also a mom. The busy chef took a break to answer some of our questions.

You have lived in many different parts of the world. Can you tell us a little about where you have lived and how and when you ended up in Michigan? Where are you originally from? Aleppo (Syria – Middle East ) is my home town, where I was born to an Italian Armenian Mom and Palestinian Dad ……. I lived in Syria for a while then the family decided to move to Turkey, where i learned a lot about their cuisine and the fantastic authentic food that they have. Also I lived in Athens, Greece, where I felt in love with their cooking and the simple dishes that they have. Then I lived in Jordan for a while there too. That was my last station before I moved permanently to Michigan when I got married and I had to follow my heart and settle down in Michigan, which I love a lot.

When did you start cooking? Why did you go into culinary arts? My love of food began when I was a child, as I grew up in a family filled with cooking and parties … I was born and raised in an Arabic/Italian/Armenian family where food is one of the most important pillars in the family and community. I hold my mother responsible for inspiring me to become a chef. She loved my way and insisted to let me help and cook for the family so every weekend my duty in the house was to go shopping for groceries with my mom and come home, clean, cut, organize and cook for family and friends. Having a restaurant business in my mom’s family made it easy for me to go and help on the weekend and after school. My love for cooking was so obvious to everybody in the family .

Tell us a little bit about your restaurant and the plans for your next restaurant. My previous restaurant, Flairs Mediterranean Fusion, is a new generation of Mediterranean food (Fusion): balanced, fresh and very high-quality ingredients in a comfortable atmosphere. Our menu covered the Mediterranean region fusing Italian, French, Moroccan, Armenian, Middle Eastern, Greek and more.

The new restaurant that I am working on is Skewers Plus: the whole idea is to go fresh and healthy with natural cooking on the charcoal for simple and delicious food.

I know you are involved with the Chefs Move to Schools initiative. At which school do you work? How long have you been involved? What does your work there entail? What are the future plans/goals? I am at Deerfield Elementary School in Novi. I have been involved in Chefs Move to Schools since 2011. What I do is prepare the dish that the students are going to try for that specific day, introducing the new MyPlate, talk about a new healthy way of eating, educate them nutritionally, let them try the sample that we made and see their reaction to the new food that we are presenting that day.

Why did you decided to get involved in Cooking Matters? As an active member in my community I felt responsible to answer the call and go for it and help. It is beautiful to give and share the gift that you have been blessed with, especially when you share it with someone who doesn’t have it and this is why I did decide to get involved in Cooking Matters. Helping others and seeing them happy makes me happy too.

What do you like best about volunteering? In my volunteering I am learning a lot as much as I am teaching. I love meeting new people, being exposed to a different environment, and seeing the others happy for what I give.

Is there a specific moment or highlight from a class you have done so far that is most memorable to you? Yes ….my previous class (at ACCESS) was hilarious, loved the group and their culture and the funny thing ... is they were so excited to cut and chop and prep the food even before me explaining what we need to do … I had a great time.

Can you share with us your favorite healthy, budget-friendly recipe with us? Simple Tomato Sauce Preparation Time: 10 min Cooking Time: 15 min Ingredients • 2 cups chopped tomato • 1 teaspoon basil, chiffonade • 1/2 teaspoon garlic • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning • 1/3 teaspoon black pepper • 1/3 teaspoon salt • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil • ½ cup of parmesan cheese • Enough wheat pasta for two

Instructions 1. Put olive oil and garlic in pan. Cook on medium heat until garlic is slightly brown. 2. Add chopped tomato, basil, Italian seasoning, black pepper and salt. 3. Cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes. 4. Cook pasta according to package directions. 5. Add cooked pasta to the tomato sauce and stir for couple of minutes. 6. Serve hot with sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Meet the newest Cooking Matters coordinator, Vani Sohikian

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Still only 23 going on 24 (her birthday is in a couple of weeks), Vani Sohikian has already worked at the top levels of food policy, to interning at the USDA to working in U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow's office. But the public health professional believes it’s work at the ground level that matters, which brought the Dearborn native to Cooking Matters. Vani is our newest Cooking Matters coordinator. Along with coordinating classes, she will also be the main point of contact for volunteers in terms of recruitment and training. The Dearborn native earned her bachelor’s degree in anthropology and zoology. During her undergrad studies, which she says were heavily nutrition-based and offered her a different perspective on the field, she partnered up with a professor of nutrition evolution. This experience led her to pursue her master’s in public health. It was during her master’s program that she worked with the USDA as an intern in the child nutrition division in summer 2010. She worked primarily on HealthierUS School Challenge, which is part of first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign. Vani explained the HealthierUS School Challenge is a voluntary initiative to make schools a healthier environment for the students in a variety of ways, from making lunch menus healthier, offering fruits and vegetables every day, serving whole grains, cutting out convenience foods such as chips and other snacks and including nutrition education and physical education. Schools who meet these criteria are then awarded designations from bronze to gold. Her duties entailed reviewing applications and updating the website, on which she would post tips from gold-designated healthy schools. It was during this internship that she started to question the legislative process. Her next internship brought her to Sen. Stabenow’s office. During her time there, not a lot of major legislation was pushed through and she saw firsthand the role partisan politics can play in constraining the process. As a coordinator of Cooking Matters, she says she gets to see impact of her work immediately. “Telling someone how to eat healthier and see look on their face, it’s really rewarding,” she says. “It’s really exciting to give (participants) simple tips and see how that can change a person’s view,” she said, adding “it’s exciting to see a whole staff passionate about what they do.” Her goal as a Cooking Matters coordinator is to reach those who may be reluctant to sign up for a Cooking Matters class. “There is a big population who aren’t willing to take it but would really benefit,” she says. “We are not reaching this audience.” When she is not thinking about how she can play a major role in finding innovative solutions on solving hunger and obesity from a public health perspective, she likes to play tennis and is starting to cook more and experiment in the kitchen. She says she’s learned that life doesn’t always turn out according to plan (“I thought I would end up at the USDA”) so for right now she is focused on doing “whatever I can to maximize reach to people. The goal is to see food access, obesity and hunger not be major issues.”

Volunteer spotlight: Sam Bullock

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Chef Sam Bullock is trying to change the negative perception that nutrition is unattractive, one recipe and person at a time. A native of Detroit, Sam approached us last year about volunteering for us with an interest in working with youths. He is signed up to do a kids class this month and taught a class at Shear Head Start during the fall.

The Beverly Hills resident answered some questions for us about his career and love of cooking. Thanks for all you do, Chef Sam!

Why did you go into culinary arts? I pursued culinary arts in order to satisfy a commitment to my passion! Love of cooking has been a part of my history, beginning with cooking in the kitchen with my parents and grandparents, and on to experimenting and creating on my own throughout my later years.

Where did you go to school? I graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA, with a BA in Business Administration, followed by an AAS in Culinary Arts from The Cooking & Hospitality Institute of Chicago - Le Cordon Bleu.

Where have you worked? During my professional cooking career I have worked for many well-known Chicagoland restaurants including Charlie Trotters and Tru, as well as Metro Detroit restaurants including Shiraz, Coach Insignia, and Andiamo Italia.

What brought you to Cooking Matters? I volunteered for Cooking Matters because I see a need in sharing tools and resources designed to establish and enhance better eating habits for us all! Wellness and nutrition can be commonly viewed as difficult and unattractive. My goal is to change this perception, one person and recipe at a time if need be.

Is there a highlight from class that you would like to share? During the class I participated in at Shear Head Start there were many notable moments. One in particular was the Barley Jambalaya recipe prepared during the first class. I recall the students commenting the dish looked to have too many vegetables, not enough meat, and no salt so it couldn’t taste good. Many of the students were unfamiliar with barley in general. However when the dish was completed and tasted by the group, many liked it and could not believe we were able to create something as tasty with the small amount of ingredients on hand. I found this to be a pivotal moment in bridging the divide to better nutrition and wellness that may have existed within this group.

When you are not working, what do you like to do? In my spare time I enjoy reading, movies, and gaming. I enjoy a night out just as much as time spent at home with family and friends.

What are your favorite restaurants in the area? My favorite restaurants include Chen Chow Brasserie in Birmingham and Town Tavern in Royal Oak. My all time favorite place to eat is the annual TasteFest held in Downtown Chicago (yes! -dorothy)!

What would your last meal be? If I had to select a last meal, it would be braised beef short ribs with foie gras, micro greens, and pesto mashed potatoes, a spin on a dish prepared by a chef friend of my at the No. VI Chop House in Novi. I don't eat this dish often, and don't eat much beef for that matter, but this is my last meal, isn't it?

Grilled Salmon w/ Cilantro and Lime Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 6 minutes Servings: 2

Ingredients: • 1 T shallots, chopped • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro • 1/4 - 1/2 cup lime juice • 3/4 T olive oil • 1/4 t salt • 1/4 t freshly ground pepper • 2 (4oz) salmon fillets • 2 Fresh cilantro sprigs

Prepare: • Combine shallots, chopped cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, salt & pepper in a bowl. Pour over salmon. Preheat grill to medium / medium-high; coat grill rack with nonstick cooking spray. • Grill on rack, covered with grill lid, 6-8 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork. Garnish with fresh cilantro sprigs.

Cucumber Salad

Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes Servings: 2

Ingredients: • 1 t sesame oil • 1 T rice vinegar • 1 T mirin • 1 T chopped fresh cilantro • 1/2 cucumber, scored and thinly sliced

Prepare: • Combine sesame oil, rice vinegar, mirin, and cilantro in a bowl; add cucumber and toss until well coated. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours; let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Yes we kale

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Kale is a superfood that's enjoying its time in the spotlight, according to this article on NPR. From the guy who's got Chick-fil-A up in arms about his "Eat More Kale" slogan to its ability to be turned into yummy, savory chips, this green is not only good for you but quite tasty. My favorite way to have kale is the aforementioned chips (I tear dinosaur kale into pieces, sprinkle with olive oil and salt and then bake on parchment paper for 30 minutes at 200 degrees).

Salads are also a great way to eat more kale. A big part of the fun of working at Cooking Matters is the potluck at the end of a class series. Here's a great recipe, which volunteer Katie Lee brought to a potluck at Hamtramck Public Library a couple of months ago. Sorry there are no pics of the actual salad ... it was so popular we ate it all!

Confetti kale Recipe courtesy of Katie Lee 6 cups chopped kale 1 clove minced garlic 2 Tbsp olive oil

*In large frying pan sauté kale over medium heat, stirring constantly for 10 minutes.

Mix in: 3/4 cup corn 1/2 chopped red sweet pepper 1/4 cup water 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 tsp pepper

*Cook for 10 minutes.

Serves ~4 people

Volunteer spotlight: Emily Hulscher

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Editor's note: The original recipe had a couple of errors so Emily made some revisions.

A desk drawer is typically not the place where you would find opportunity, but that's exactly what happened to Emily Hulscher.

Emily, a registered dietitian who works at Health Emergency Lifeline Programs (HELP) , says she stumbled upon an old Cooking Matters book that someone left behind in the desk. Lucky for us, she reached out to us and we put her to work quickly. Emily has taught two classes so far and is working on a class for her clients at HELP.

The Canton native lives in Royal Oak now. She graduated in April 2011 from the Eastern Michigan University Coordinated Program in Dietetics, earning a bachelor's degree. She took some time out to answer some questions about her career and her plans with us.

What led you to go into nutrition and become a registered dietitian? I started at Eastern with intentions of finishing a degree in psychology, and I actually didn’t even know what dietetics was at that point! One of my required health classes was taught by a dietitian and through conversations with that professor, I realized I was actually much more interested in nutrition than psychology. In fact, I realized that nutrition had been a major interest of mine for a long time, but I always thought it was just a part of living, not necessarily the workings of a career path. I didn’t stray too far from my roots—I completed a minor in psychology to supplement my counseling skills.

What are your long-term career plans? I have plans to get a master's degree in public health or dietetics. In the long term, I hope to stay working in the Detroit community, empowering citizens to take charge of their health through nutrition.

How did you hear about Cooking Matters? Why did you decide to volunteer? I came across a Cooking Matters booklet that was left in a desk drawer at my work. I did a Google search to find out more and this put me in touch with Sarah Stephison ... I decided to volunteer because I wanted to improve my public speaking and teaching skills, as well as to hopefully bring a Cooking Matters class or two to my clients at HELP.

What do you like best about volunteering for us? Can you give an example of a highlight from class? There is so much that I love about Cooking Matters. On the basic level, I love the Cooking Matters curriculum & program in general. Each class is broken up in a way that is easy for clients to grasp. I also love being able to team teach with CM staff and other chefs. I think it is a real benefit to the participants to be able to pick the brains of both a registered dietitian and a chef … plus, it really helps to have someone to fill in the gaps of my culinary knowledge, and vice versa. Hands down, the best part about volunteering with Cooking Matters is hearing that I’ve actually been successful in encouraging individuals to change their lifestyle habits. There couldn’t be a warmer feeling than that! (Emily is so modest; in October, she sent me an email saying two ladies in her Cooking Matters EXTRA for Diabetes at the Reuther Older Adult and Wellness Center told her, "You are really enthusiastic and you make us want to actually change how we live." -- dorothy)

What do you like to do in your spare time? In my spare time, I like to spend time with my boyfriend Adam, work out, and experiment with new recipes. I’ll be the first to admit that I am somewhat of a novice in the kitchen, but I’m definitely improving!

What is your favorite healthy recipe? My favorite recipe to bring to any event would have to be Fruit Salsa & Cinnamon Chips. A friend of mine shared this recipe with me in high school, and I have used it about 100 times since then. The best part of this recipe is that it sounds fancy, but it’s really just a bunch of cut-up fruit. Also, you can use any kind of fruit for this recipe, as long as it’s cut up small enough. I try to make my choices as colorful as the season allows.

Fruit Salsa & Cinnamon Chips Serves about 10

Fruit Salsa: 2 kiwis, peeled and diced finely 1 Golden Delicious apple - peeled, cored and diced finely 1 Red Delicious apple - peeled, cored and diced finely 1 pound strawberries, stems removed and diced finely 1 orange, peeled and diced finely (with as little pith included as possible) Seeds of 1 pomegranate (all the other fruit should be cut to the size of a pomegranate seed) Juice from 1 lime

Cinnamon Chips: 10 (10 inch) flour tortillas Cooking spray 1 cup sugar 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions In a large bowl, thoroughly mix kiwis, Golden Delicious apple, Red Delicious apple, strawberries, oranges and pomegranate seeds. Add fresh lime juice and coat fruit. Cover and chill in the refrigerator at least 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Coat one side of each flour tortilla with cooking spray. Cut into wedges and arrange in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle wedges with desired amount of cinnamon mixture. Bake in the preheated oven 8 to 10 minutes, watching them carefully. Repeat until all tortilla wedges have been cooked. Allow to cool approximately 15 minutes on a baking rack. Serve Cinnamon Chips with chilled Fruit Salsa.

Volunteer spotlight: Phil Jones

dorothy hernandez

Like many chefs, Phil Jones got his start in food very early on. “I’ve always cooked,” says the chef and GM of the upcoming Colors Detroit restaurant, which is located in Detroit’s Harmonie Park and is slated to open this month. “I have pictures of me when I was 6 at my first food booth.” From those humble beginnings selling Jamaican meat patties to his current gig at the Restaurant Opportunities Center establishment, Phil has been cooking in some capacity for the past 40 years. The self-taught cook’s first job was at a small Christian nightclub on the west side of Detroit where he worked as line cook, server and dishwasher. He moved up the Detroit culinary ranks, with stints at Fishbones and the Rattlesnake as well as catering for the Edsel Ford House and Embassy Suites. Most recently he ran his own catering company, Jones Urban Foods. He took on the GM/chef job at Colors in June after he was getting phone calls from “all over” urging him to take the position. The restaurant will be a training center and restaurant that will serve international food with a focus on local ingredients. “We’ll be playing to the history of ethnic food” in Detroit, Phil says, noting that the Motor City is home to diverse populations such as African-American, Greek, Arabic and Hmong communities. These communities are “growing all over the place … we want to celebrate who’s already here.” The goal is to have 80 percent of the foods at Colors come from local producers, which Phil acknowledges is ambitious “but it can be done.” To demonstrate their commitment to locally sourced ingredients, they will publically track how much Michigan-made food they use at the restaurant online as well as at the restaurant. At Colors, “the goal is to create a worker-owned business,” Phil says. The restaurant will train workers to not only work at Colors but to run their own businesses; for example, Colors will be training workers to become entrepreneurs, with the opportunity to run their own pop-up restaurants. Colors aims for a new model that empowers workers by maintaining high principles that include fair wages and benefits, Phil says. The goal is to work with 100-150 workers a year. Aside from getting Colors off the ground, Phil maintains a high profile in the local food community. He is vice chair of the Detroit Food Policy Council and played an integral role in the discussions to bring Whole Foods to Midtown. While teaching his first Cooking Matters for Adults class at Hannan House, Phil invited the participants to take a tour of Whole Foods, enhancing the education for the women beyond sharing his vast knowledge of food. The class had such an impact that months later, while Phil was at the building that houses his restaurant, one of the women was taking a tour of the art gallery upstairs and spotted him. “She hugged me and said how much the class has changed her life,” he said. “Something as simple as learning how to cut up a whole chicken has stayed with her. “That’s why I do (the Cooking Matters classes),” he said. Phil shared with us the following recipe for Mujuddarah.

Mujuddarah Recipe Serves Four (4)

1 Cup Brown Lentils ¾ Cup Long Grain Rice 2 Cups Diced Onions 2 Tbs. Cumin Seed Toasted 1 Tbs. Sea Salt 4 Tbs. Olive Oil 4 Cups Water ½ Cup Sliced & Sautéed Onions for garnish

1. Slowly caramelize onions in olive oil until, soft, sweet and browned over low heat in a 3 -4 quart pot. 2. Add rice and coat with oil in pot and slightly browned. 3. Add water to pot and bring to a boil. 4. Lower temperature to a vigorous simmer for twenty (20) minutes. 5. Grind cumin seed into fine powder and add to pot. 6. Return pot to heat and continue cooking for ten (10) minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. 7. Garnish with sautéed onions and serve. 8. Serve with yogurt and / or a light salad for a great meal.

Volunteer spotlight: Alex Zurkiwskyj

dorothy hernandez

Working as an office manager in a real estate office made Alex Zurkiwskyj realize she was just working a job and it wasn't a career. So Alex, who holds a bachelor's degree in communications, decided to study nutrition, enrolling at Oakland Community College in 2009 and starting full time at Madonna University.

The Ferndale resident says she has faced lifelong issues with weight and during her mid-20s, she started making some healthier changes on her own. After a while she decided to take the plunge and study dietetics on an academic level.

After graduating from Madonna, her plans include an internship so she can get credentialed as a registered dietitian. She wants to focus on outreach and preventive health and is interested in women’s health. She’d also like to teach at a university and pursue an advanced degree in human nutrition or public health.

She is currently involved in the Michigan Service Scholars AmeriCorps program in which she is completing 300 hours of community service in a year in addition to her coursework at Madonna University, where she is also president of Nutrition Network. She has done most of her service hours at Gleaners, not only doing Cooking Matters classes (she has done four series and has signed on to do a fifth) but also assisting with Summer Food Service and Kids Helping Kids.

Not surprisingly, food plays a central role in Alex's interests. She dreams of being a farmer (before class one day, she was reading "A Dirty Life," a memoir of a writer who leaves behind NYC for a life on the farm with her husband). She also loves experimenting with "old school" ways of preserving and cooking, from canning to making everything from scratch. One day as she sat down to her home-cooked meal, she realized everything was homemade, from the hummus to the pita to the falafel.

Alex shared her recipe for falafel with us. Thanks, Alex for everything!

Falafel 1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained 1 onion ½ c. fresh parsley ½ c. fresh cilantro 2 cloves garlic 1 egg + 1 egg white (or 1 flax egg sub.*) 2 tsp cumin 1 tsp coriander 1 tsp salt 1 dash pepper 1 pinch cayenne 2 tsp lemon juice 1 tsp baking powder 1 T olive oil ¾ c. whole wheat bread crumbs 1 c. panko bread crumbs

In food processor puree onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro

Add chick peas, pulse until combined.

In small bowl combine egg*, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, cayenne, lemon juice and baking powder.

Add egg mixture & olive oil to chickpeas, stir to combine.

Slowly add bread crumbs.

Form into balls, flatten into patties. They will be wet and have a tendency to fall apart so handle them carefully.

Lightly coat with panko bread crumbs. Spray both sides with cooking spray. Place on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.

Bake at 425° for 25-30 minutes, flipping once.

*flax egg substitute: 1 T ground flax seed + 3 T water. Stir and let sit for 20 minutes.

Volunteer spotlight: Paula Lund

dorothy hernandez

Meet Paula Lund, a Northville resident who has been actively involved with Cooking Matters as a class assistant since the beginning of the year.

She and her husband moved here from Milwaukee three years ago. They have two daughters -- one is an attorney in Hong Kong and the other works for the British Consulate in Chicago.

In Milwaukee, the couple owned a children's bookstore for seven years. She grew up on a dairy farm in Door County, Wisconsin, the youngest of thirteen children. "We grew our own vegetables, butchered our own meat, drank our own milk, and lived between a cherry farm and a strawberry farm. How's that for healthy living?" Paula says.

Aside from volunteering for us, she is also volunteer at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen and tutors children at the Detroit Leadership Academy, where she recently volunteered as a class assistant.

"I wanted to volunteer for Cooking Matters because I love to cook and think it's important to help people get comfortable and creative in the kitchen. As a new resident to Detroit, I was able to pick and choose the organizations where I would devote my time. Gleaners has a wonderful reputation and I'm proud to be associated with this organization."

Her favorite classes have been with kids, particularly at the Detroit Leadership Academy where she knew many of them personally.

"The perk of being a class assistant is getting to know many of the coordinators, chefs, and dietitians. Each bring a unique talent to their classes and I've enjoyed working with them all."

Coming from a large family, Paula says her mom was an excellent cook. "I have a cookbook that is a culmination of 35 years of recipes. I have recently been giving relatives and friends copies and encouraging them to share as well."

Here she shares her recipes for black bean soup as well as asparagus soup. "Most people don't realize how easy soups are to make and certainly are a healthy way to get your veggies," says Paula.

Asparagus Soup

1 cup onion, chopped 6 green onions, sliced 3 tablespoons butter 1 ½ cups fresh mushrooms, sliced 1 pound fresh asparagus, cut into ½ inch pieces 1 can (49 ½ ounces) chicken broth ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped ½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon dried thyme ¼ teaspoon pepper 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper 2 cups cooked wild rice 3 tablespoons cornstarch 1/3 cup water

In a 3 quart saucepan, sauté the onions in butter for 4 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and cook until tender.

Add the asparagus, broth and seasonings; cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the rice.

Dissolve the cornstarch in water; stir into the soup.

Bring to a boil; boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Black Bean Soup

3 cans (15 ounce) black beans, rinsed and drained, divided 3 ribs celery with leaves, chopped 1 large onion, chopped 1 red pepper, chopped 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped 4 garlic cloves, minced 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 cans (14 ½ ounce) vegetable broth 1 can (14 ½ ounce) diced tomatoes 3 teaspoons cumin 1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander 1 teaspoon hot sauce ¼ teaspoon pepper 1 bay leaf 1 teaspoon lime juice sour cream chopped green onions

In a small bowl, mash one can of black beans and set aside.

In a large pot, sauté the celery, onion, red pepper, jalapeno and garlic in oil until tender.

Stir in the broth, tomatoes, cumin, coriander, hot sauce, pepper, bay leaf, remaining beans and reserved mashed beans.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Discard the bay leaf. Stir in the lime juice.

Garnish each serving with sour cream and green onions.

From Novi to nationwide: Ina Cheatem's recipe chosen for publication in cookbook

dorothy hernandez

Last year, Ina Cheatem moved to Novi Community Schools as part of Chefs Move to Schools. This year, she is garnering national recognition for her work with Novi Meadows 6th Grade Upper Elementary School where Ina and her team developed Aztec Grain Salad, which was just selected by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) for publication in the Recipes for Healthy Kids cookbooks!

The Recipes for Healthy Kids Competition is an initiative of Let’s Move! with the support of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Challenge brings together food service staff, chefs, students, and community members to develop creative, nutritious, tasty and kid-approved recipes that schools can easily incorporate into National School Lunch menus. The goal is to help to increase students' intake of: 1) whole grains; 2) dark green and orange vegetables; and 3) dry beans and peas. T

Her Team Recipe was selected by a judging panel as one of the top 30 recipes out of more than 340 recipes submitted as a part of the Recipes for Healthy Kids Competition. The recipe will be published and the team highlighted in cook books for home and school use.

Congrats on your selection Ina!

Here is the recipe: Aztec Grain Salad This South American high-protein grain, combined with aromatic, roasted squash, apples, and dried cranberries is served as a side dish and is a great addition to almost any entrée. Ingredients • 1 3/4 cups of Butternut squash, raw, seeded, peeled, in 1/2 inch cubes (308 gr) • 1 tbsp of Canola Oil (14 gr) • 1 3/4 cups of Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, in 3/4 inch cubes (308 gr) • 1 1/3 cups of Quinoa, white, dry, uncooked (210 gr) • 1/3 cup of Dried cranberries, sweetened (42 gr) • 2 1/2 tbsp of Orange juice concentrate (30 gr) • 1 1/4 tbsp of Olive oil (15 gr) • 1 tsp of Honey (7 gr) • 1/3 tsp of Dijon mustard (1.6 gr) • 1/10 tsp of Salt (0.4 gr) • 1 pinch of Ground pepper (0.2 gr) • 1/2 tsp of Ground cinnamon (1 gr) Preparation 1. Preheat oven to 400 F. 2. To cook quinoa, pour quinoa into small (for 6 servings) or large (for 50 servings) saucepan. Add water in a ratio of 1 part quinoa: 2 parts water, i.e.: for 50 servings use 11 cups dry quinoa and 22 cups water. Bring to a boil. Once water is boiling, turn down heat, cover with lid, and let simmer for 15-20 min. or until all water is absorbed into the quinoa. Let cool. 3. Combine apple and squash cubes in a small (for 6 servings) or extra large (for 50 servings) stainless steel bowl. Add canola oil and toss well. 4. Pour apple and squash mix onto a full size (for 50 servings) or half-size (for 6 servings) aluminum sheet pan and place in oven. Roast for 10-15 min. or until butternut squash is soft, yet still firm, and slightly brown on the edges. Let cool. 5. In a small (for 6 servings) or large (for 50 servings) stainless steel bowl, combine: orange juice concentrate, olive oil, honey, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and cinnamon. Whisk into a dressing. 6. In a small (for 6 servings) or large (for 50 servings) stainless steel food pan, combine: quinoa, apples/squash mix, cranberries, and dressing. Toss well to combine. 7. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours so flavors can combine. 8. Serve chilled.