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2131 Beaufait Street
Detroit, MI, 48207
United States

(313) 923-3535 ext. 202

Cooking Matters Michigan

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

Filtering by Category: volunteer

National Volunteer Week


You're awesome.  Did you know?

 In case you haven't heard that in a while, we are here to remind you.

April 21st-27th is National Volunteer Week.  Although we appreciate the amazing work our volunteers do EVERY day, we want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you.

Whether you have volunteered for 8 classes or you are just being trained, each of you is essential to the success of our program.  When we say, "we couldn't do this without you"....we really mean it.  Volunteers are at the very heart of Cooking Matters.  YOU have the skills.  YOU are making the difference.  YOU are empowering families and helping fight childhood hunger in America.  We are just here to give you that opportunity.

 So, to sum up...


We know your schedules are tight, and taking the volunteer is yet another commitment on an ever-growing list of to-do's.  But please, if you have two hours a week to spare, we really need your ongoing help.  Maybe it's been a while since you volunteered...maybe you have completed your training but are wary about jumping into a class.  Know that we at Gleaners are here to support you.  Shoot Rebecca an know she's waiting to hear from you!

 So, to sum up...

The capacity of our program is limited by volunteer availability.   In order to help more families, we need your help first.  

We are revving up for a new batch of classes this spring/ keep an eye on the calendar/newsletter for opportunities that work for you.

Inaugural Day of Service Shopping Matters Group Training


National-Day-of-ServiceThe Inaugural Day of Service is this Saturday, January 19th. To honor this, we are hosting a group training for Shopping Matters at the Sterling Heights Walmart for potential facilitators.

For those of you interested in Shopping Matters, this event is a great way for you to receive face-to-face training so that you can lead tours of your own.  After taking part in a training, you can volunteer to lead a tour with us or organize and facilitate tours in your community!

Not familiar with Shopping Matters?

Shopping Matters is a one-time grocery store tour (built on the success of Week Five of the Cooking Matters for Adults course) that is designed to teach the primary food shoppers for households to select nutritious and low-cost ingredients.   A typical Shopping Matters tour lasts 1-2 hours and entails a grocery store tour guided by a trained expert (you!), a supplemental curriculum that elaborates on the topics covered on the tour, a post-tour survey, and a reusable shopping bag incentive.  Participants should walk away from a tour having learned key skills such as: buying fruits and vegetables on a budget, comparing prices, reading food labels, and finding whole grains.

Consider this an opportunity to participate in an ongoing service project in your community and highlight the work you do in a national context!

The training will take place this Saturday from 11am-2pm at the Sterling Heights Walmart located at 33201 Van Dyke Ave.

 To participate in the training, contact Jake Williams ( or Rebecca Blauw (


Volunteers Needed Throughout the Holidays


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!

Volunteer Spotlight: Gina Fox


Tell me about your family.

I have one son and a husband. We live in Grosse Pointe on the east side.  My husband and I both come from large families.  My son, Michael, is 27 and a first year practicing attorney. He doesn't cook though.  He's like the shoemaker's son who doesn't wear shoes!

How did you get involved with cooking and nutrition?

Growing up, if you ever needed to find my mom, she was in the kitchen.  You'd go in there to ask her a question, and she'd have you peel a potato or something, and then she'd answer your question.  I have my undergraduate degree in home economics and my masters in teaching.  I was a home-ec teacher for many years.  Back in the day, that's what they called it, it's "life management."  Out of six kids in my family, four of us are teachers.  I always felt that's what my mom really wanted- to be a teacher.  So she was always teaching us how to cook.

What do you do in your spare time?

I like to cook.  Because my husband and I come from such big families, we are constantly having gatherings.   I also love decorating.  I'm very hands on and tactile.  I volunteer with the organization humble design that helps furnish and decorate home interiors for moms and kids coming out of shelters or escaping domestic abuse.   Family and home takes up most of my spare time.

How did you hear about Cooking Matters?

I was actually watching TV one day and I saw Jake on FOX channel 2 doing a cooking demo.  I thought to myself, "this is something I can do."  I'm a retired teacher of one year, but once a teacher, always a teacher.

 Do you have a go-to recipe you'd like to share?



1/2 lb. lean ground beef

2 Tbs. Olive oil

1 medium chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped carrots

1 (19 oz ) can cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained

1 (14 oz) can low sodium chopped tomatoes

2 Tbs. tomato paste

1 large potato cubed

1 quart beef broth

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbs. Italian seasoning

1-2 bay leaf

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1/2 cup Ditalini pasta

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


1.  Brown ground beef in a large stock pot. Drain beef and set aside.

2.  Add olive oil to stock pot and sauté, onion, celery and carrots.

3.  To the pot, add reserved ground beef, rinsed beans,tomatoes, tomato paste, cubed potato, beef broth, garlic, Italian seasoning, bay leaf and salt and pepper.

4.  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat.  Simmer until vegetables are barely tender. Remove bay leaf 5.  Add pasta, and simmer for 30 minutes, correct seasonings and serve with grated cheese and a loaf of crusty Italian bread.

I make this recipe quite often. We are big soup eaters in my house and it feels like the weather is calling for me to make some soon.

This recipe serves 6.  As my grandmother use to say if more people arrive than expected "you can always add more water to the soup".

Goodbye Vani, You Will Be Missed!



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? 


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!

Volunteer spotlight: Hadley Hickner

dorothy hernandez

In Cooking Matters classes, we see improvement in skills thanks to the interactive nature and hands-on learning. Volunteer nutrition educator Hadley Hickner tells us she enjoys this aspect of the class and it's apparent in her teaching, such as the extra visuals like the whole grain model she brings to classes or even short performances (you should see her Vitamin A routine!).

Hadley works for MSU Extension as a nutrition educator so teaching others about making healthier choices is a passion of hers. She is applying for an internship on the road to becoming a registered dietitian. And on top of that she is teaching two classes now for us. She took a break from her whirlwind schedule to answer some questions for me.

Thank you, Hadley for volunteering for us and sharing your fun and informative teaching style with the families of Cooking Matters in Southeast Michigan!

Where are you from? I was born in Southfield and have moved around but always lived in the Detroit and surrounding areas.

Where do you live now? After graduation in May 2011 I moved to Midtown, downtown Detroit.

Where do you work? I currently work for Michigan State University Extension. I am a nutrition instructor for Wayne County. Government funds from the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) allow me to travel around the county to administer nutrition classes to schools, community centers and families.

Where did you go to school? I attended MSU for my undergrad and received a bachelor’s degree of science in dietetics. I am currently in the process of applying for internships to grant me the certification to be a registered dietitian—wish me luck!

What led you to go into nutrition? For a long time food and health along with the many functions of the human body had been of interest to me. Like most Americans my family is very affected by the rise of chronic disease and cancer so the subject I study really hits home. Although I admire and believe in treating and curing disease, my main focus is prevention. This means providing information about health, wellness and available resources to stop or delay the onset of illness.

What are your long-term career plans? I’d really like to continue my path in community nutrition. Many families are concerned with the rising cost of food. Regardless of the state of the economy I enjoy spreading information and tips on how to stretch a dollar through food selection and budgeting. I support any way that helps make healthful foods more available to our community including the mission of Gleaner’s Food Bank.

How did you hear about Cooking Matters? Why did you decide to volunteer? I came across while doing research on how to promote and advertise for MSU Extension. It didn’t take long for me to be pretty consumed in the content of the site and shortly after I was signing myself up to volunteer!

What do you like best about volunteering for us? My favorite part of the class is the integration of nutrition education and hands-on demonstration in the kitchen. I am a kinesthetic learner myself, so seeing the participants have a chance to do activities and learn cooking skills in the kitchen really promotes a successful outcome. The comfortable tone of the program allows me to constantly learn new information from the other volunteers, coordinators and participants.

Can you give a specific example of a highlight from class? I really enjoyed working with Cooking Matters for Families. I learned to love cooking by watching and helping my mother when I was younger (and I still do!). I remember being tiny and she'd let me use whatever spices, oils and flavorings I'd like to make a salad dressing- sometimes not-so-edible but she always said cooking was like art, it's hard to do it "wrong"

What do you like to do in your spare time? I love cooking, painting and dancing. I also enjoy outdoor activities in any season. When I’m feeling stressed, overwhelmed or need a break I like to make up my own silly yoga poses and stretch.

Can you share with us your favorite healthy recipe? The recipe I'd like to share is in season with the Chinese New Year; it's a Turkey Lettuce Wrap recipe. It’s great for lunch, dinner or even brunch. It makes quite a bit and the leftover filling can be refrigerated and combined with veggies for something like a turkey stir-fry later.

New Year's Lettuce Wraps

2 tablespoons sesame or vegetable oil 1 onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 1⁄2 pounds ground turkey 1⁄2 cup low-sodium chicken broth 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce 2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce 1 cup bean sprouts 2 carrots, shredded 24 large Boston or butter lettuce leaves Soy sauce, optional

Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add turkey and cook, stirring, until almost cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add broth and hoisin sauce. Stir, break up clumps, until the turkey is cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove mixture from heat and stir in teriyaki sauce, bean sprouts, and carrots. (You should have about 6 cups of filling.) Spoon about 1⁄4 cup of filling into the center of each lettuce leaf. Serve with soy sauce, if desired. ________________________________________ TD&N Nutrient Analysis (per wrap): Calories: 67; Total Fat: 4 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g; Monounsaturated Fat: 1 g; Cholesterol: 22 mg; Sodium: 112 mg; Carbohydrates: 3 g; Fiber: 1 g; Protein: 6 g — Recipe by Candice Kumai

Volunteer spotlight: Emily Hulscher

dorothy hernandez

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: 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: Viviane Cuenca

dorothy hernandez

Viviane Cuenca, a native Brazilian, had the opportunity to eat fresh fruits and vegetables as well as lots of beans and rice, the staple of her country. After moving to the U.S., she went into nutrition because it "would not only give me insight on the culinary and nutrition aspects of the U.S., as well as it would provide me with a great amount of exposure on how food is related to many medical conditions that afflict so many people in our society."

"I was always very interested in the medical field, and after moving to the U.S. I became even more aware of the relationship between nutrition and health," says Viviane, who lives in Canton with her husband. She moved to the U.S. in March 2006. She first lived in Pennsylvania. "Before coming to the U.S. I had never left my country," says Viviane. "I never thought that I would have a reason to leave Brazil until I met my husband. He is also Brazilian, but was living in the United States since he was a child. We met in Brazil when he was visiting his family and a year later we got married. Coming to the U.S. was not only a wonderful journey with my husband but also a great opportunity to meet amazing people and see the world from a different (perspective). It was very difficult in the beginning, being on a strange land, not speaking the language and having no family or friends, after all there was a language barrier. I was able to overcome the language barrier, meet really good friends through my husband and start a journey of my own."

That journey has led her to Cooking Matters. "Being a nutrition student, I wanted to practice what I have been learning in the classroom and get involved on issues pertaining to nutrition. I found Cooking Matters online when looking for some opportunity to volunteer using my nutrition background. I also strongly believe that every person has some talent that can be used to better our communities and make a difference in people’s lives."

Her first class was teaching a Cooking Matters for Adults at Friends of Parkside. "I really enjoyed our time at Friends of Parkside. We had a very participative and dynamic class with lots of people interested on the subjects presented. The moments that stick out from the class are the times when people eat the recipes that were prepared in class. This is true especially for the last day of class, when we made Hummus and Mango Salsa. These two very easy and healthy foods were a major hit in our graduation day. I was happy to see that people were enjoying the foods that were prepared with healthy ingredients in a healthy manner. I believe the recipes made the nutrition lessons more approachable to everyone in the class."

Viviane is currently a nutrition student at Wayne State University. Eventually her goal is to become a physician’s assistant. "I enjoy the medical field and I envision myself working in the community providing medical assistance. I also would love to teach people about prevention of disease through healthy lifestyles and healthy eating."

When she is not studying, she likes to spend quality time with her husband and "our two funny dogs." She also volunteers at Karmanos. She and her husband also love to travel and visit their families in Brazil. Naturally she enjoys cooking, "especially when there are family and good friends around. During this hot summer we have been eating a variety of foods that are mostly cold and easy to prepare. One of my favorites is a mix of yogurt with fresh fruits for snack or even dessert. I found this to be a good way to make my husband eat his fresh fruits. I use the recipe below, but may also throw in a banana, apples, nectarines or any other fruits."

Yogurt and Fruit Parfaits

Ingredients •3 cups vanilla nonfat yogurt •1 cup fresh strawberries •1 pint fresh blackberries, raspberries or blueberries •1 cup of granola, or walnuts

Directions Layer 1/3 cup vanilla yogurt into the bottom each of 4 tall glasses. Combine strawberries with the other berries. Alternate layers of fruit and granola with yogurt until glasses are filled to the top. Serve parfaits immediately to keep granola and/or walnuts crunchy.

Volunteer spotlight: Lindsey Snyder

dorothy hernandez

This month we are featuring Lindsey Snyder, who hails from the west side of the mitten and attends Madonna University, where she is studying dietetics and nutrition. Lindsey recently taught a Cooking Matters for Adults EXTRA Parents of Preschoolers where she immediately connected with the participants and put her knowledge to good use. She is signed up to do another class, this time a Cooking Matters for Kids later this month.

Lindsey lives in Farmington Hills and is originally from Hudsonville. Before coming to southeast Michigan, she attended college in Texas (Navarro College, which were the national champs in cheerleading in 2009) and Hawaii Pacific University (national champs in 2010, she must be a good luck charm!).

We caught up with Lindsey last week who took a few minutes to answer some of our burning questions:

Why did you decide to go into nutrition? I chose the dietetics program because of my interest in nutrition. I have always been interested in health and nutrition, but it wasn't until my first year of college when I took a nutrition class and took everything from it that I could to lose 20 pounds. Losing the 20 pounds allowed me to broaden my cheerleading career and allowed me to get two years of traveling and scholarships for living and school through cheerleading. In Texas and Hawaii I worked on general education classes and towards a psychology major.

Why did you decide to volunteer for Cooking Matters? I heard about Cooking Matters classes through the Madonna University Nutrition Network group and it sounded like a great program. I thought I could learn a lot about cooking and help people learn more about nutrition---it shocked me how much people didn't know!

Is there a moment from our class at Lincoln Park Head Start that sticks out to you in terms of reaching participants? Two moments really stick out and one would be after a month of Vinny [not seeming interested] he really started to care and ask questions at the grocery store. He made better choices after I explained to him why something was a better choice than another option. Also, when the mom and son [Sherie and Don] started to change little by little what they were eating and the mom tried cooking new things and making them lower in fat.

What are your career plans? What do you envision yourself doing after you graduate from Madonna? I would like to be a dietitian for athletes-such as being the registered dietitian for a sports team, preferably working at a university. Or possibly a dialysis clinic, because I have chronic kidney dysfunction and will eventually be on the dialysis before receiving a transplant. After graduating from Madonna I plan to work as an RD where ever I can get hired, and then attend grad school in kineisology or dietetics (depends on work and such).

What do you like to do in your spare time? In my spare time I like to work out, play with my two cats, and lay by the pool! I am interested in health, sports, and nature. I really enjoy coaching cheerleading, and gymnastics (I have done that for 7 years). I also still enjoy cheerleading and gymnastics!

Do you like to cook? Can you share your favorite healthy, budget-friendly recipe with us? I love cooking! I don't have much room to cook in my one-bedroom apartment, though. I like to freeze things ahead of time and then pull them out to thaw and make. I like to make chicken noodle soup with and vegetables I have. Also, I like to make wheat pizza dough, here is the recipe: Ingredients 1t white sugar 1 1/2 c warm water 1T active dry yeast 1T olive oil 1t salt 2C whole wheat flour 1 1/2C all purpose flour

Directions Mix sugar, salt, and warm water (dissolve)- and olive oil. Sprinkle yeast on top and let sit for 10min. Then add both flours and mix. Let rise in covered greased bowl for an hour or until double. I split the dough in half from there and then let it rise again in a covered greased bowl. I wrap them up and freeze them. When I am ready to eat pizza I thaw the dough, roll it out bake it for 10 min at 350, and then add the toppings and bake until done!! It's actually pretty good for whole wheat crust too!

Volunteer spotlight: Michele Kawabe

dorothy hernandez

Michele Kawabe wanted to be a dietitian to inspire others. "I was really overweight for many years," says Michele, who became a registered dietitian after graduating from Wayne State University in 2009. "I wanted to be a motivation for others. If I could do it, so could they."

Michele, who lives in West Bloomfield and grew up in Sterling Heights, changed her major from nursing to dietetics, earning a degree from Wayne State University. She first heard about Cooking Matters while she was a student when Rachelle Bonelli (former CM coordinator and current director of program services at Gleaners Community Food Bank) but her schedule was too jam-packed at the time. Once she landed a job in the field, she was looking for opportunities outside of clinical practice and reached out to us.

The desire to help others fits in well with her volunteer work with Cooking Matters. Michele, who works with inpatients with a local hospital system, says the best part about class is when people come up to her afterward to tell her how much she has helped them.

She said she enjoys building relationships with participants over the course of a class series and witnessing their progress week to week.

"The feedback is very gratifying to me," she says, recalling a participant in a recent class at Livonia Head Start where the woman told her she had lost weight by week 3 by adopting some of the positive changes discussed in class.

“Plus, it’s fun! Everyone in the class gets a chance to be involved and is able to take something away from the classes, and that includes me. … Recently a participant introduced me to freekeh, which is a grain used in Middle Eastern cooking - plus (I) get the heads up on some great restaurants in the area (had a delicious meal at Chef Stewart's Mind, Body, & Spirits in Rochester not too long ago).”

She was recently accepted to WSU's Master's in Public Health program so she'll be hitting the books again in the fall. Her focus will be in Health Promotion and Education. "I have a very hectic work schedule, but in my free time enjoy gardening, cooking (can't recall meeting a recipe I haven't tried to tinker with and make my own...), and I love to eat! I'm an avid walker (gotta burn it off...), and I've managed to talk my husband into taking tennis lessons with me this summer."

Michele shared with us her recipe for kasha with mushrooms and onions (below). Make sure to check out her variation on this healthy grain recipe!

Thank you, Michele, for all you do for us at Cooking Matters in Southeast Michigan!

Kasha with mushrooms and onions Recipe courtesy of Michele Kawabe 1 cup kasha (buckwheat groats) 1 egg 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth 1 tablespoon of butter 1 medium onion, chopped 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced

Bring stock to a boil in pot. In bowl, beat egg with a fork. Add buckwheat and mix well to combine. Heat sauté pan over medium heat. Using dry heat, add buckwheat/egg mixture, stirring constantly until mixture is dry and separates easily (should take about 3 minutes). Add buckwheat mixture to boiling stock. Lower heat, cover and simmer until all liquid is absorbed (note: cooking time will vary depending on brand and coarseness of the buckwheat—should take 7-10 minutes but may take longer). Let stand for 5 minutes then fluff with a fork. In separate sauté pan, melt butter, sauté mushrooms and onions until tender. Fold vegetables into fluffed buckwheat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Variation: instead of mushrooms and onions, try using scallions and nuts. Sauté as above until scallions are tender and nuts smell toasty. The nuts complement the flavor of the buckwheat nicely; I particularly like pecans in this recipe.

Volunteer spotlight: Jim Bologna

dorothy hernandez

(This month's spotlight brought to you by James Hartrick)

Jim Bologna is a new volunteer chef with Cooking Matters in Southeast Michigan. He is currently volunteering for a Cooking Matters for Adults EXTRA for Parents of Preschoolers course.

Jim originally wanted to attend the Naval academy but ended up going to Michigan State University. There he started his studies in the hospitality program. Jim quickly discovered that cooking was his favorite aspect of the program and that M.S.U. did not offer enough hands-on skills. He left M.S.U. for Schoolcraft College and quickly immersed himself in their culinary program.

While attending Schoolcraft College, Jim joined the culinary team and traveled with them to Singapore and Hong Kong. He also was part of a chef apprentice team that competed in the Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg.

Jim landed his first major job at the now-shuttered Golden Mushroom in Southfield as the Saucier Chef. From there he went on to chef at Morels, A Michigan Bistro restaurant in Bingham Farms where he worked his way up to the executive chef position. After their closure, Jim worked for two years as the executive chef at the Capital Grille before taking over as the executive chef at his current place of business, the Townsend Hotel.

In addition to his work in various Metro Detroit kitchens, Jim worked for the catering arm of Holiday Market in Royal Oak. He has also taught before volunteering for Cooking Matters at the Mirepoix Cooking School, which is also located in Royal Oak.

Jim heard about our program through one of his co-workers who knows James Hartrick, our AmeriCorps member.

Jim’s favorite aspect of Cooking Matters is that the classes are very hands-on, which helps participants get excited about the material covered in the classes. He gets a sense that participants really care about the Cooking Matters classes because of the number of questions that are asked in class. Jim said that the classes are important because they help people make good nutrition decisions and show them how to quickly cook nutritious meals. He specifically feels that Cooking Matters helps combat the urge to purchase quick and unhealthy food options. Jim feels that the Cooking Matters for Adults EXTRA for Parents of Preschoolers curriculum is particularly effective in that it helps change eating habits of not just the adult participants but also the eating habits of their children.

Our program is strong because of our amazing volunteers like Jim Bologna! We really appreciate all of time that they donate to their communities!

Volunteer spotlight: Tamara Landazuri

dorothy hernandez

At age 19, Tamara Landazuri had studied nursing for a couple of semesters and didn’t like it.

At that point the Quito, Ecuador, native took a break to decide what she wanted to do. She started thinking of going abroad.

“I thought if I got a degree (in the United States) it would open a lot of doors, I thought I’d have a lot of opportunities,” she said.

In 2001, Tamara came to Michigan through Au Pair in America.

“I wanted to learn English,” she says and figured she would be here for a year. Ten years later, the Quito, Ecuador, native has a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Madonna University and has been married since May 2009. She is currently working with our satellite partner, Generation With Promise, as a nutrition educator.

At a young age, she was always health-conscious, so it was a natural fit for her to go into nutrition.

“I think I got it from my mom who also cooked healthy like soups and salads. I remember going to the supermarket to do grocery shopping together and while I waiting in like I would look at nutrition magazines and cooking magazines ... I was a teenager, about 13 or 14.

“After I graduated from high school in Ecuador, I wanted to go into nutrition but (the college) didn't have it. It was very new. I started going to school for nursing then thought I would go for my master's in nutrition. After two semesters I didn't like it.”

It was chance that brought her to Michigan. She had the choice to go to New York, Chicago and Washington. She picked Michigan because, “I’d never heard of it before.” The other locations had strong Latino communities already and she really wanted to immerse herself in a new culture to learn English.

She admits the first three months she was homesick and the experience at first was rough. “I had second thoughts,” she said. “I was only 19 years old.” But she was committed to meeting new people and learning a new culture. The kids she took care of and TV helped her build her language skills.

After working with a family in Clarkston taking care of three young children through the au pair program, she changed her status to student. The au pair program helped pay for community college so she went to Oakland Community College for three years where she earned an associate’s in general studies before going to Madonna University.

She continued to work as a nanny during college. During her last year, she worked few hours here and there for a Naturopathic doctor. "My job consisted in assessing diets of children with possible food allergies, and modifying/developing new diets without the allergens.

"I first started working for Dr. Green as a nanny, her children had food allergies so that is how everything started," she says. "I learned a lot from her, and she knew I was studying Nutrition so she gave me the opportunity to learn/train/work in the nutrition area of food allergies."

Tamara joined Cooking Matters in the fall, translating a Spanish-speaking Cooking Matters for Adults class in Southwest Detroit.

Her warm, friendly personality as well as her Spanish helped break the language barrier in the class and it was apparent even to someone with limited Spanish-speaking ability, the women related to her very well.

This is the aspect of facilitating Cooking Matters classes that Tamara enjoys: the sharing between herself and the participants.

“What I like best … was the interaction with people,” she says. “I knew I was helping somebody through what I said in those classes. Someone took the info and used it. I hope they’re eating healthy now. (The classes) are very rewarding.”

Here, she shares her recipe for Quinoa Salad, to which she has made some tweaks from the original recipe. She loves to cook and does it often. She brought this salad to the potluck graduation at Piquette Square veterans housing.

Tamara's Quinoa Recipe Serves 4

Ingredients 1 cup quinoa (rinsed well if not prewashed) 2 cups water (or chicken broth if you want more flavor) 1/4 cup slivered almonds 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced 2 tablespoons olive oil 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley 1/4 cup raisins salt and pepper

Directions Quinoa cooks like rice. For this recipe you will add two cups of water, or chicken broth.

Bring the quinoa to a boil. Reduce heat, cover it and let it simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed (10-15 minutes).

Toast almonds over medium heat until golden and transfer to a plate. Saute garlic in olive oil until it has a golden color and reserve the oil.

Finally fluff quinoa. Add almonds, garlic, reserved oil, parsley, raisins and season with salt and pepper.

Volunteer spotlight: Lunch with Jay Haamen

dorothy hernandez

One of the many awesome aspects of being a Cooking Matters coordinator is meeting and getting to know the volunteers. As volunteer manager, I love to hear about what everyone is up to, how they came to Cooking Matters and most importantly steal their recipes (check out this month's find, The Perfect Roast Chicken, below).

I also love to eat so when I started thinking about how to go about this month's volunteer spotlight, I decided to combine the two. In my past life I was a journalist (and I still try to write as much as I can) so when thinking of my first victim for my poor attempt at writing profiles I asked Jay Haamen if he'd join me for lunch at Que Huong, a Vietnamese joint in Madison Heights.

Here's what I learned. DISCLAIMER: I was too busy scarfing my bahn mi sandwich so I apologize in advance, Jay, if this is not exactly what you said.

Jay Haamen would rather take a huge pay cut and do something he loved rather than work for a big pay day.

And he means it. Not too long ago he was the personal chef of a local wealthy family, cooking for athletes, musicians and public figures. Sounds like a dream job for chefs but ultimately it wasn't what he wanted to do.

Now he runs A Knife's Work full time, an event planning and catering business based in Ann Arbor that he started in 2005 with chef and partner Brendan McCall. They took the business full time in 2009.

While business is doing well right now he sees A Knife’s Work as a stepping stone to bigger and better things, such as his own restaurant. He’s planning a bahn mi lunch spot and food truck, seeing a lot of opportunity for such culinary ventures in Metro Detroit.

At random points throughout our lunch, he exclaims “I’m so happy right now!” You see, he had some really bad pho the day before so he was thoroughly enjoying this bowl.

Where were we? Oh yeah, he started cooking at a pretty early age. “My mom wasn’t much of a cook. So at age 8 or 9 I’d have dinner ready on the table for her. “

What did you cook for her, I asked? “Oh I don’t even remember. French toast? It was always breakfast.”

He didn’t take cooking seriously until after graduating high school when he got a job at Pronto in Royal Oak where he was willing to do anything just to get into the kitchen. He also started attending culinary school, graduating from Schoolcraft College.

One of his favorite aspects of Cooking Matters is the interaction with participants, “seeing how food matters to them. … They are so genuinely interested in learning new information, techniques and recipes.”

Volunteering for Cooking Matters is a natural for the chef, who loves people and loves food (us too!).

What stuck out the most for Jay was during the grocery shopping trip during week 5. One participant, who baked her own cakes for fun, mentioned she now read labels and would put back items on the shelf after perusing the ingredient list.

Thanks Jay for volunteering with us … and sharing the following recipe!

The Perfect Roast Chicken

1 Chicken – Fryer size (3-3.5lbs) Olive Oil Kosher Salt & Pepper – We like to use herbs too, but it's not necessary Root vegetables – half onion, 1-2 stalks celery, 1 carrot, 1 small parsnip and 1 potato Roasting Pan

Prepare the vegetables: Preheat your oven to 425°. Cut your vegetables in a 1/2″ dice/rough cut and place them on the bottom of your roasting pan. Season the vegetables lightly with salt, pepper and fresh herbs if available (thyme is a particularly nice addition).

Prepare the Chicken: Remove any liver, giblets or hearts from the chicken. Blot the chicken with a paper towel so it’s dry (this will help to make the skin crispy). Sprinkle the inside of the bird with a small pinch of salt and pepper. Tie the two legs together at the very end, with a bit of butcher's twine. Rub the bird all over with a light amount of olive oil and season with salt and pepper (don’t be afraid to be heavy handed, this is where you get your flavor). Place the bird atop the raw vegetables in your roasting pan.

Roasting: Place the bird in the oven at a reasonable distance from the heating elements. After the first 30 minutes in the oven, turn the heat down to 375.° The initial high heat helps to achieve the “sizzle” or caramelizing of the flesh that gives roasted meat its distinct flavor. We reduce the heat as the bird will benefit from finishing at a lower temperature after the initial caramelization. Roast the chicken for a total of 1-1.25 hours (depending on the size of the bird) or until the dark meat reaches 160°. To test your bird for doneness you can take a temperature reading by inserting a meat thermometer into the inner part of the thigh, close to the bone.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, let the bird rest for 30-40 minutes before you cut into it. This allows the temperature to reach its highest point (170-175°) and then drop to a temperature more suitable for carving.

If you cut into right away, the juices will bleed out, steam fills the air and the chicken goes dry. During roasting, the high temperatures pull moisture towards the surface of the meat. Letting the bird rest allows the moisture to retract back from the surface.

Enjoy your chicken with the vegetables you roasted in the same pan. Their flavor will be greatly enhanced by the juices and fats absorbed from the chicken.

Volunteer spotlight: Katherine Peters

dorothy hernandez

This month, we're featuring Katherine Peters (she's on the right in this photo). We first met Katherine earlier this year when she signed up to volunteer for Cooking Matters. Shortly afterward she was hired on as a staffer at Gleaners, heading up our Fresh Food Share program. The Troy native taught nutrition at an Eating Right class this summer at Detroit Northwest 7th Day Adventist.

She graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in nutritional science and did a three-year stint working with the Walter Reed project in Uganda as part of the Peace Corps. She initially was to work in HIV care and treatment but then started doing nutritional counseling. She developed programs, worked with agriculture and “everything you can imagine.” She extended her two-year service a year to do research protocols, looking to compare viral burden and pediatric HIV infections to nutrition status.

Sadly Katherine is leaving us to start up community nutrition clinics in Liberia. She took some time out from her busy schedule to tell us more about her plans.

CM: How did you like working in Uganda? Katherine: I loved it. It was definitely a huge adjustment. I had no running water … electricity went in and out. I didn’t have electricity for two months because a transformer blew. … I also had no refrigerator which always amazes people.

CM: It sounds like you were really busy with work. What else did you do while you were there? Katherine: Peace Corps gives you a lot of travel days so I spent a lot of time in East Africa. I went to local weddings, burial ceremonies … I tried to get as much culture as I could. … I also played soccer in a men’s league for 2 ½ years. The first time I played they were like “Who is this white girl?” but by the end I got their respect. My knees are all scarred [from playing].

CM: Tell us about your next adventure. Katherine: I will be going to Liberia. I have a six-month contract with the World Food Programme. … I think my title is nutrition and community health adviser. … [The position] was a perfect fit. I knew I wanted to go to graduate school in the fall. I love Africa and I’ve always wanted to work with the World Food Programme. It was a combination of location and the mission [in deciding to take this position].

CM: You are going to med school next year, right? Katherine: Yes. I’ve gotten into four schools and I have to decide within the next couple of weeks because there is a deadline. I also have an interview later this month.

CM: What field of medicine are you looking to get into? Katherine: Ultimately I want to do international work. … Doctors Without Borders is applicable to that kind of work [I’m interested in].

CM: How did you hear about Operation Frontline/Cooking Matters? Katherine: After I got back to the U.S. (in December 2009), I knew I wanted to do volunteer work because that’s important to me. … I saw the listing and thought, “Oh this is perfect.”

CM: What do you like best about volunteering for Cooking Matters? Katherine: I really enjoy seeing people remembering information from week to week … the continuity of information.

CM: Is there a specific example that sticks out in your mind? Katherine: During the grocery store tour. We talk about reading food labels but when we were in the store a woman picked up a loaf of bread and read the label and said “Oh this is not a whole grain!”

Thanks, Katherine, we will miss you!

We asked Katherine to share a favorite recipe with us.

Udon Noodles with Walnuts and Pomegranates
1 10.25oz. pkg. dried udon noodles
1 lb. broccoli, cut into small florets (3 cups)
1 small red bell pepper, dice (1 cup)
2 Tbs. toasted walnut oil, divided
1 12 oz. pkg. extra-firm tofu, drained and cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp.)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 Tbs. maple syrup
1 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
5 green onions, whit and green parts, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1. Cook noodles in boiling salted water 3 minutes. Add broccoli and bell pepper and simmer 2 more minutes. Drain.
2. Heat 1 Tbs. oil in skillet over medium heat. Add tofu cubes and cook 10 minutes or until browned, turning occasionally. Remove from heat, add garlic, and stir 30 second or until garlic is fragrant. Stir in walnuts, maple syrup, and remaining walnut oil.
3. Toss pasta mixture with tofu mixture, pomegranate seeds and green onions.

Volunteer spotlight: Allison Klein

dorothy hernandez

Q. Where do you live now? Where are you originally from? A. I live (and grew up) in the Birmingham area, though I spent a number of years in Connecticut, Los Angeles, and then Washington, DC for college and the following years.

Q. Can you tell us about your Le Cordon Bleu experience? When and why did you go to school there? Where were your restaurant internships? A. I had the opportunity to complete an intensive summer culinary and pastry program at Le Cordon Bleu Paris during college. It was a 10-week session, with 8 weeks of classes and then a 2-week internship. It was an incredible experience to not only experience living in Paris, but also to get to put some formal training behind what had always been a love of mine. Two summers later with a couple of months back in Michigan, I interned at Tribute Restaurant in Farmington Hills, under the original executive chef there, Takashi Yagihashi. I somewhat lucked into this fantastic opportunity to work garde manger (the cold appetizer and salad station) at the restaurant which during that time was ranked as one of the top 50 restuarants in the nation by Gourmet magazine.

Q. I know you have come back to cooking after years working in health care. What helped you make this decision? A. Despite having enjoyed my time in culinary school and interning in kitchens, I wasn't sure I wanted to commit to cooking professionally, particularly due to the lifestyle choice of giving up all your nights and weekends! I graduated with a degree in Psychology and worked as a consultant in the health care field (with a focus on how to improve quality of care) for 7 years after school. Ultimately my heart was not in the work though, and while it was a difficult to decision to leave a comfortable career, I decided that it wasn't worth the time and stress for something I didn't feel a strong personal connection to. So I took a bit of time off and eventually found my way back to the kitchen - I'm now working at Pinwheel Bakery in Ferndale, and I've found that I get to do something I really enjoy...and I don't have to work the crazy restaurant nights/weekends schedule that I always feared!

Q. What do you like best about teaching in Cooking Matters? A. I really enjoy that we focus on sharing experiences and knowledge with the participants as opposed to just lecturing as if we have all the answers. I always like to talk through how people might tweak recipes to make them more suited to their own tastes, kitchen supplies, etc, and it's a fun way to learn new ideas myself. I think it's important for participants to not be afraid to be creative with the recipes. And I'm 2 for 2 now in classes where a participant suggests that a good addition to the veggie lasagna would be some sausage! It may not be exactly the intent of the focus on eating healthier, but if it's a way for them to cook for themselves and include some vegetables along with it, I figure it's not a bad thing.

Q. Why does cooking matter to you? A. To me cooking is all about connections. You create a connection with someone when you cook for them, bringing them nourishment and enjoyment. When you cook with someone, you're connected in the shared goal of putting a meal on the table. I also enjoy shopping at farmers markets as a way to connect with the people and places my food comes from.

Q. Can you share with us your favorite healthy recipe on a budget? A. I never have a good answer when people ask for a favorite recipe, but here's one I turn to often if I need a quick, filling and super cheap meal: (Editor's note: Allison brought this recipe to class and it is delicious! I personally cannot wait to go home and try it with some potatoes and spinach and of course some hot sauce.)

Curried Lentil Vegetable Stew

Serves 6 1 tbs vegetable oil 2 carrots, diced 1 small-medium onion, diced 2 ribs celery, diced 2 cloves garlic, minced 1” piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced (optional) ½ tsp salt ½ tsp ground black pepper 1 tsp curry powder 1 tsp ground cumin 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes with their juices 1 C lentils (brown, green or red), rinsed and drained 2 ½ C water

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add carrots, onion, celery, garlic, ginger, and salt and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften. Add pepper, curry powder, and ground cumin and sauté for 1 minute or until spices are fragrant (toasting the spices this way brings out more flavor).

Add the tomatoes with their juices, scraping bottom of pan with a spoon to pull up any browned bits. Add lentils and water. Bring mixture to a boil, and then lower heat to low and simmer partially covered (lid cracked open) for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. When done, the lentils will be tender. Depending on which color lentils you use, they may take longer to cook or require more water. Add water by the half cup if mixture becomes too dry during cooking.

Serving suggestions: Spoon lentil stew over cooked rice, brown rice, barley, or quinoa. Top lentil stew with a dollop of plain yogurt and/or a squeeze of lime juice.

Recipe options: Add any other vegetables to the pot that you like along with the onions (for example, bell peppers, zucchini). Use different mixes of spices to give a different flavor – for example, add cayenne pepper or hot sauce for a spicy stew. You can also turn this into a soup by adding more water.

Volunteer spotlight: Amanda Kischuk


This month, we're featuring Amanda Kischuk, who did an Eating Right class for us in the summer and is signed up for her second class at Redford Interfaith food pantry. She recently received her dietitian tech certification and is currently pursuing a dietetics internship while working full time, and of course volunteering for us! She took some time off from her busy schedule to answer a few questions.

OFL Detroit: Where do you live? Amanda: Allen Park

OFL: Where did you go to school? What is your degree in? Amanda: I graduated from Central Michigan University with a Bachelor of Science, Major in Dietetics.

OFL: Why did you go into dietetics and nutrition? Amanda: I decided to major in Dietetics because it is a field that gives you the opportunity to truly help people. I wanted a job that I felt good going to every day, not one that is just about the paycheck. I have been fortunate enough to be raised with a healthy lifestyle and I want to share my knowledge and passion for nutrition with as many people as I can.

OFL: Where do you work now? Amanda: A health and wellness company called Summit Health.

OFL: How did you hear about OFL? Amanda: I discovered OFL while I was searching for nutritionist jobs. I'm so glad that I did! (So are we!)

OFL: What do you like best about volunteering for OFL? Amanda: My favorite thing about volunteering with OFL is answering the questions the participants have about eating right. There is no better feeling than seeing the light bulb turn on above their head when I explain something to them. I think the most important thing people take from the nutrition part of the class is learning to read and understand a nutrition facts label.

OFL: What do you do in your spare time? Amanda: I look for jobs and opportunities to get my feet wet in the nutrition world! I also love running, playing tennis, and anything else that keeps me active and outdoors.

OFL: Do you like to cook at home? Amanda: Yes. I love having the Eating Right book at home as a matter of fact. The recipes are easy enough for me and very affordable!

OFL: Can you give us a nutrition tip or share a healthy recipe with us? Amanda: I can give you a lot of nutrition tips, but I'll keep it short. When planning meals make fruits and veggies the focus of the meal and throw in lean protein, whole grain carbs, and healthy fats for extra nutrition. Everything in moderation, of course.

Volunteer spotlight: Ina Cheatem


This month we're featuring one of our most hardworking volunteers, Ina Cheatem, who has her own healthy cooking and personal chef business. Since joining OFL, she has done an Eating Right (with 20 people!) and is signed up to do another Eating Right later this month. She took some time out from her busy schedule to answer a few questions from us. Also check out Ina's healthy dessert recipe for bread pudding below.

Q. Where do you live? A. I live in Novi, MI

Q. I know you’re originally from Germany. When did you arrive in the U.S.? What brought you here? A. I moved to the US almost 11 years ago. I met my American husband while he was stationed in Germany with the US Army at that time.

Q. What is your culinary background? A. I have been passionate about cooking healthy food for more than 15 years. I always enjoyed delighting other people with healthy food creations and my strong urge to feed others ultimately led me to open my own personal chef company. During high school and college in Bielefeld, Germany, I was first exposed to the culinary industry while working for multiple restaurants and hotels in various positions, including a position with a local catering leader that provided culinary services for small (5000 people) events.

Q. I just saw on Facebook that your business is 1 year old. Can you talk about the ups and downs of launching your own healthy cooking and personal chef business? Why did you decide to launch this specific type of business? A. I decided to open my own business last year, because I was unhappy with my "real" job and decided it was finally time to pursue my real passion - healthy cooking! People have always told me to make a business out of my love for cooking, and I did! Initially, things moved ahead very slowly, partially, because of the bad economy. However, this gave me the time I needed to set everything up properly (website, marketing materials, menus, agreements, etc) and slowly transition into my new venture, while still having the security of the regular job. It was a huge learning experience for me and mostly lots of fun, and maybe, sometimes, a little frustrating :) The best advise I can give to anyone that wants to turn their dream into reality is this: Follow your bliss and you will be surprised how many doors will open for you! Just be patient!

Q. When you have spare time, what do you like to do in terms of hobbies? A. I love to read and spend time with my kids. Also, I love to workout daily: boxing, running, weight training, yoga, cardio, rock climbing....anything that challenges my body!

Q. What drew you to OFL and why did you want to volunteer? A. As a strong advocate for healthy eating and good nutrition, I want to make a difference in my community by helping people eat and live better. My own experience with food insecurity and poverty is another reason why I am volunteering my time with OFL. It makes me happy to brighten someone’s day with cooking, even if it is just for the 2 hours a week that I am with them.

Q. You have completed an Eating Right with us. How did you like the experience? What did you like best about it? A. Loved the experience! My class was great! Close to 20 fun people. I enjoyed sharing some of my knowledge with the group and truly loved spending every minute with them.

Q. You went with seven other OFL Detroit chefs to Washington, D.C. for Chefs Move To Schools launch event in June. Can you share a little bit with us about how that day went, what you learned and your impressions of hundreds of chefs coming together for this cause? A. Wow, yes! That event was something else. Being part of such an important movement (ending childhood obesity) was a very powerful experience! In particular also because it was at the White House with the First Lady in attendance! The day was great. We attended a breakfast symposium in the morning before heading to the White House at noon. Before listening to Michelle Obama's speech, we had the pleasure of meeting some really inspiring chefs that have already made some HUGE advances in improving the school lunch system in their communities. Other interesting visitors and guest speakers included: The White House Assistant Chef, The Secretary of Education, celebrity chefs from the Food Network, and more.

Q. Can you tell us a little about your Chefs Move to Schools progress? What school are you working with? What stage are you at? A. Since my trip to DC, I have adopted the Novi Public School District. I am meeting with their Food Director this Friday (9/10) to discuss details of my involvement. Very excited to get started! First activities will probably focus on educational activities on the elementary school level, such as: food tastings, food demos, etc...we will take it from there.

Here is a budget-friendly healthy dessert recipe from Ina.

Harvest Bread Pudding By Ina Cheatem Serves 8-10

1 1/2 cups skim, soy, or almond milk 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted 4 egg whites 1/4 cup brown sugar 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon 1/4 tsp. ground allspice 1 tbsp. vanilla extract 12 slices high-fiber or whole wheat bread, in 1/2 inch cubes 2/3 cup raisins 1 large apple, seeded, peeled, and shredded

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. 2. Spray a 9X12 inch baking dish with cooking spray. 3. Combine all ingredients, except bread and raisins. Mix well. 4. Add bread and raisins and let stand for 5 min. so bread can soak in the wet mixture. 5. Spoon mix into baking dish and bake for 30-40 min. or until nicely browned. 6. Let sit for 10-15 min. before serving. 7. Enjoy :)

Volunteer perspective: 'I too have been inspired'


My name is Kelly Lashbrook and I am a new volunteer recruit for OFL. I came to know of the organization through MSU Extension, another service organization. I was looking for a possible new career path and have always had an interest in nutrition, which became more center stage when my son was born. I blindly called up the organization in Detroit wanting to ask career questions and I got to speak with Sarah Stephison. We had a great conversation; she was so inspiring and I could tell she loved what she did and believed in it. She explained the nutrition classes: How there was the partnership between the Chef and Nutrition instructor; how they targeted low-income families and how they got to eat and go home with groceries to make the food for their families. I couldn't believe how much sense that made.

Sarah said they were always looking for volunteers so I went to volunteer training and was so impressed. It was such a positive group -- all loving food, fun, and healthy eating and all wanting to help make a difference. I started training with Rachelle Bonelli as a volunteer coordinator for a couple classes in my area.

It has been a wonderful summer of classes. Watching participants get excited to tell us what they cooked from last week's classes. Telling us who in their lives ate the recipes and liked them or how they would adapt the recipes to match their own tastes. Watching participants eat a food they have never ever tried or heard of is very rewarding. I feel very lucky to be a part of this organization and surrounded by such positive hardworking people all striving to get the participants to make positive changes.

I too have been inspired. I wanted to help women and children learn to make healthier choices for their families and OFL definitely has allowed me to accomplish that goal and more. I am lucky that they believed in me and I definitely believe in this organization. Glad to help whenever and however I can.

Volunteer spotlight: Tricia Bischoff



At the Urban Farming Summit, I (Dorothy) met the lovely Trish, whom I immediately recruited as a volunteer for OFL. With her passion for health, nutrition and food sustainability she was a perfect fit for the program. She's already done a Kids Up Front class this spring.

The mother of two took some time to answer some questions. Here's what she shared with us.

Q. You are currently a dietetics student at Madonna. What led you to decide to pursue this route?

A. After the birth of my first son, and being inundated with baby talk and all the other baby stuff, I wanted to have some adult conversation and stimulate my brain beyond “Mommy Brain” so I decided to take a course at community college.  Nutrition had always been an area of interest for me so it was a logical choice that basic nutrition was the course I chose.  The science behind food and its interaction within the body was (and continues to be) fascinating.  I was hooked!  Since that first class in 2006, I’ve continued my nutrition education and have moved from community college to Madonna University pursuant of a dietetics career.

Q. Why did you volunteer for OFL?

A. Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeast Michigan is an affiliate food bank of OFL.  I’ve volunteered for the Pontiac Gleaners in their food distribution operation for the past eight months and was notified of OFL nutrition education courses while sorting food earlier this year.  The educational component of Gleaners through OFL instantly piqued my interest.  Having a philanthropic belief system, I wanted to do my part in nutrition education as well as hunger relief.  I loved how OFL focused on realistic nutrition within the budget of those that it serves.  Working with a chef to facilitate learning of nutrition via hands-on meal preparation encompassed another love of mine—cooking.  After attending an orientation and gaining more insight of the OFL programs and curriculum, the decision to sign-on with OFL was easy.

Q. Your first class for us was Kids Up Front with Peaches and Greens. What did you like best about teaching that class? And, what do you like best about OFL?

A. Working with Kate and the kids from Peaches and Greens was great.  The kids even after a long day of school were eager to learn.  Of course, cooking and eating food added to their enthusiasm.  Activities that incorporated nutrition education and physical fitness were instrumental in applying the nutrition knowledge they were gaining.  It was always amazing to me to hear their recall of the previous lesson and how their food choices were impacted by the lessons.  We were making a difference and it was evident in the stories the kids shared.  The well-developed curriculum and well-trained OFL staff provided for a very positive learning environment for the children and teaching environment for the chef and nutrition educator.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your background (i.e. education, family, where you're from)?

A. Michigan has always been my home from attending public schools in Sterling Heights in the 1970s and 80s to obtaining my BS in 1992 from Western Michigan University in Secondary Education and currently at Madonna University in Livonia.  It is now where I choose to raise my children, Josh (5) and Joe (2) with my husband Scott.

Q. What are some of your interests?

A. I enjoy organic gardening and have dedicated much of our backyard this year to preparing a garden.  The kids have been instrumental in maintaining regular watering not to mention the soaks they have given me.  Family time is the most special to me.  I work hard at my studies.  I’m deeply involved in Native American ceremonies which help to provide balance in a chaotic life.  Sundays my family attends a lovely Methodist church.  When I have time for myself, I like to read nutrition literature, paint and sew.  And, I’m a fan of Biggest Loser.

Q. After you get your degree from Madonna, what would be your dream job?

A. I’m very interested in food sustainability and the impacts of food choices on our environment.  I’d love to incorporate my education background with nutrition in the efforts of increasing awareness of each.  Possibly this will be an inclusion of sustainable agriculture with Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move and the further enhancement of Chefs Move to Schools with school gardens and hoop houses as supplements to reading, writing, and arithmetic curriculums.

Q. As a mother, what are some tips in getting kids to eat their veggies?

A. Kids need to be involved in making choices and preparing meals.  Choices should be healthy ones, such as which vegetable do you want for dinner green beans or broccoli? I personally feel when choices are allowed and children are actively involved in preparation they are more apt to eat the foods provided.  Remember that kids require multiple exposures to foods before trying them.  Their tactile sense is greater and texture is often more the issue for little ones than with adults or older children.  Don’t give up.  Those little guys and gals may surprise you one day by asking for salad on their plate.  Planting a vegetable garden allows children the chance to see how vegetables develop and if they are involved in planting, growing and harvesting more than likely they will be involved with eating.  For those kids who just won’t budge, sneak vegetables into the foods they like especially those that have a creamy consistency like mashed parsnip and potato.

Q. Finally, can you share with us one of your favorite recipes that you like to prepare for your family?

A. I like to sneak healthy stuff in when I can.  Here is a great recipe that sneaks in avocado, applesauce, flax and a nice supply of omega-3 fatty acids.

Banana Walnut Muffin

1 ¾ cup whole wheat flour (can use gluten free flour pancake mix)

3 Tbsp. ground flax

½ cup oatmeal

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

3 med. mashed bananas

1 tsp. vinegar (add this to the milk)

1 ½ tsp. vanilla

¼ cup butter or margarine

½ avocado (creamed—no lumps)

½ cup applesauce

½ cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

½ cup milk (soymilk works too!)

¾ cup chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 350°F. Cream avocado and butter with sugar.  Add one egg at a time and mix until fluffy. Fold in applesauce.  Alternative between dry and liquid mixture additions.  Add mashed bananas and mix well.  Fold in walnuts.  Bake in greased muffin pan for 22-27 minutes. Makes 12 large muffins.  Enjoy!!