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Cooking Matters Michigan

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

Filtering by Tag: Nutrition

Volunteer Spotlight: Daniela Flores

Rebecca Blauw

Tell me about your background

I was born in Mexico City but I never lived there. Because of my dad´s job we had the opportunity to live in different cities of Mexico, but I basically grew up in Toluca which is a nice town located in the southwest of Mexico City. My mom and dad are both engineers and they grew up in Veracruz, which is a port city in the Gulf of Mexico. I have an older sister, her name is Michelle and she is a Psychologist. I love my family, and I’ve learned from each one that life is to enjoy, to work hard, and help others as most as we can.

I went to college in Mexico City, at Universidad Iberoamericana, and I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Food Sciences. Some years later I went back to get an undergraduate course as a Diabetes Nutrition Educator. Last year I got married, and because of my husband’s job we moved to live to Detroit for one-year period. By the way, a great experience in our lives!

What lead you to pursue nutrition?

My mom is a great person, she always has been an educated woman interested in learning new things, and so I remembered when I was a teenager that she once showed me a book of Nutrition. I remember that I got really interested on what I read, and thought that when I grew up I wanted to become a Nutritionist!

I have always thought that nowadays people are more interested in learning about what is good or better for their health when they eat, but sometimes they are also confused with many information they see or hear everywhere. My main interest is teaching people how to become healthier, and the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Giving them tools to learn more about health and nutrition, like being a “health advisor,” so they can decide better choices.

What lead you to Cooking Matters, and what keeps you volunteering with us?

Since I was a child I learned from my family to work for a better society, wherever we live. And if we are able to use our time to volunteer, let’s take that opportunity!

So, when my husband and I moved to Detroit, my personal life changed in different ways because I used to have a job in Mexico, and many activities. Suddenly I found myself with plenty of time to make the most! That’s why I decided to find a volunteer program, and I thought this should be a great opportunity for me.

I love challenges, so this is Cooking Matters for me. Additionally, I felt so excited to find a place where I could contribute in the nutrition field, as well as keep learning.

Do you have any highlights from a class that you can share?

My native language is Spanish, but I learned English at school and when Vani told me that there was a group of Latino women where I could be a volunteer, because of the language situation, I felt really excited. Then I found out that being part of this course in Mexicantown meant more than giving the lessons in Spanish. This was about cultural empathy with each woman. I worked with Tamara as the coordinator and John as the chef, great people that also integrated very well their knowledge with the classmates, resulting in a multicultural team experience! I also remembered that at the end of the course everyone was speaking “Spanglish” (combination of Spanish and English) and the language was not anymore a barrier, because we all have common interests which were to learned from each other, and have a great time!

Tell me about your family, what you do in your spare time

Because my husband’s job assignment is only for one-year, we are enjoying our stay at the maximum! We like going to the museums exhibits, the parks, concerts, and sports games. We enjoy traveling, and walking in Downtown River walk. We also like trying new food- basically local Michigan products. I have also learned from Cooking Matters to cook Michigan recipes! We really love the state of Michigan. And, regarding the weather, we like it a lot. This is the first time in our lives that we have experienced the four seasons of the year and each one is amazing, we even love the snow!

We also enjoy running, cycling, swimming, and reading, watch movies, and spend time at home.

Do you have a favorite recipe you would like to share?

Before I got married my mom taught me different recipes, and we did a recipe book so I am going to share one of this recipes. I love seafood for example tuna, which is mainly a source of protein and iron and is also and easy dish to prepare. So this is a dish made with tuna with a Mexican style.

Mexican style tuna- 4 portions

Ingredients: • 2 cans of tuna (water), drained • 4 tomatoes • 4 cloves of garlic • 3 canned chipotle peppers • 1 can of peas • 1 tablespoon olive oil • Chopped Parsley

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add tomatoes. Let them cool. 2. Blend tomatoes, garlic and chipotle peppers 3. In a saucepan heat the olive oil over medium heat. Adjust the heat to low and add the tomato mixture using a strainer and then season. 4. Add drained tuna over medium heat 5. Add peas and chopped parsley, toss until well combined.

Serve it with tortilla chips.

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.


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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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!!

Chefs Move To Schools: OFL Detroit volunteers talk about what's next in the fight against childhood obesity


Last night we held a panel of seven of eight chefs who went to Washington, D.C., earlier this month to help first lady Michelle Obama launch her Chefs Move To Schools campaign, her latest effort to fight childhood obesity. The chefs -- Aaron Bruck, Ina Cheatem, Barbara Hughes, Jim Kokenyesdi, Karen Lee, Stewart McWilliams and Pat Parko -- shared their experience of being among hundreds of chefs nationwide who descended on the nation's capital on June 4, the challenges they face and what's next in their mission to help schools serve healthier meals to students.

The chefs discussed at length some of the challenges they'll face in the schools' kitchens, ranging from funding (according to this Washington Post article, the federal government allocates $2.68 per child per lunch) to resistance (i.e. administrators or complicated relationships with vendors and catering companies). During a breakfast symposium hosted by Share Our Strength before the launch event on the South Lawn, the chefs learned that while this is a very huge task, it's important to take baby steps, i.e. start by planting a garden and getting the discussion going.

We know it's not going to happen overnight but with the dedication of these chefs, as well as others across the country, this is a huge step forward in fighting childhood obesity.

Chef Jim summed it up best when he talked about how he alone couldn't change 20 schools but by building a network of equally passionate chefs, as a team they can work together in helping students eat healthier.

Thanks, chefs, for all you do and we look forward to seeing your passion translate into healthier food for students.

Also, a big thank you to Stewart McWilliams who graciously hosted our group at his restaurant Mind, Body and Spirits. For pics of the awesome food and even more awesome chefs, check out our Facebook page.

Nutrition Quiz


The Detroit Free Press published a great Nutrition Quiz this week about that hard-to-pronounce grain - quinoa. We at Operation Frontline are infatuated with the little pseudocereal, often pairing it with the Ratatouille recipe in our classes.

So why is quinoa so great? According to (is there really a,

1. It’s a VEGETARIAN solution, a balanced-amino-acid source of high quality protein.

2. It’s a SENIOR solution, a high-iron food that raises the hematocrit, delivers more oxygen to the brain, fights senility.

3. It’s a DIABETIC solution, a very low-glycemic-index cereal type food.

4. It’s a TASTE SOLUTION, quite delicious.

The president of the Quinoa Corporation, named Gorad, raves about the properties of the food, saying,

"Quinoa's most pragmatic quality," observed Gorad, "is that it's a basic food with strong earth energy. People who try it categorically respond, 'This tastes good!"

If you've never tried quinoa, this website has some great recipes. The Closet Cooking blog also has some delicious quiona recipes.

Now to test your knowledge -

1. First, some history: Where is the grain grown, and which ancient civilization first harvested it?

a) The Mayans in Mexico

b) The Incas in the Bolivian Andes

c) The Sudanese in the Sahara

2. How do you pronounce quinoa?

a) "Kwin-oh-ah"

b) "Co-in-ah"

c) "Keen-wa"

3. How much more of the daily value of protein does quinoa contain than whole wheat and rice, respectively?

a) 4.2% and 8.7%

b) 9.6% and 12.3%

c) 19.0% and 22.4%

4. Quinoa is significantly higher than whole wheat in lysine, an amino acid. Among other uses, the nutrient-absorbing lysine has been used for which condition?

a) Warts

b) Psoriasis

c) Herpes

For the answers, click here.