Contact Us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

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 Tag: recipe

Blogger Extreme Food Makeover: Judgment time

dorothy hernandez


Update: Please check out Stephanie's blog post. It pains us to say that Stephanie is bowing out of the voting process. We thank Stephanie for working so hard on her entry and for her social media prowess. Your lasagna, salad and cookies were definitely a hit!

Hey, everyone, your postess with the mostest here. For the Blogger Extreme Food Makeover, I gave the bloggers the challenge of making over a certain unhealthy dish while incorporating at least one out of the three secret ingredients: curry powder, plums and fennel.

From Indian-inspired fare to lightened-up comfort food classics, the bloggers brought it. Here are their tantalizing healthy makeovers!

Here's where you come in: Vote by commenting below, Tweeting us @cmdetroit or by stopping by our Facebook page. EVERYONE who votes will have a chance to win a gift card. We'll be picking at random every day so make sure to vote early and vote often!

Colleen Berendt, "Fried chicken" with chili corn muffins and healthy coleslaw Aly Darin, Healthy Almond Chicken Lisa Howard, Curried Pizza with Kale, Lentils and Peppers Dave Moss, Indian-inspired turkey burger, sweet potato fries and roasted plums for dessert Stephanie Zielinski, Eggplant Zucchini and Portobello Lasagna with Meat Sauce, Mixed Greens and Michigan Apple Salad and Power Peanut Butter and Sea Salt Cookies

Volunteer spotlight: A'Donna Fuller

dorothy hernandez

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

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

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Awesome Angel Hair

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

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

Volunteer spotlight: Janice Gardler

dorothy hernandez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nana’s Pasta Fagioli Soup


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

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

Volunteer spotlight: Rohani Foulkes

dorothy hernandez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Volunteer spotlight: Henriette Hajjar

dorothy hernandez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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: Sam Bullock

dorothy hernandez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cucumber Salad

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

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

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

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: Phil Jones

dorothy hernandez

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

Mujuddarah Recipe Serves Four (4)

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

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

Volunteer spotlight: 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.

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

dorothy hernandez

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

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

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

Congrats on your selection Ina!

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

Volunteer spotlight: Stewart McWilliams

dorothy hernandez

Teaching low-income families how to cook healthy meals at home on a budget is something close to chef Stewart McWilliams' heart. As a child, he learned how to cook for his family, reading cookbooks and following along. By the time he got to high school, he knew he wanted to be a chef.

At L’Anse Creuse, where he went to high school, he was a part of the vocational center there and took culinary classes. He then took his talents to South Beach where he pursued a culinary arts degree at the well-regarded Johnson and Wales culinary school.

With degree in hand he returned home to Michigan. His first job was with the former Wolverine Banquet Center. His next job was with Rochester Hills Beer Co., where he started off as sous chef, working his way up the ladder to corporate executive chef, his current title.

When asked why he wanted to volunteer for Cooking Matters, he says, “(Growing up) I know what it’s like to have one meal a day … it’s hard to do. “After I got established (in the industry) I felt it was time to give back and help kids going through what I went through.”

Since approaching us last year about volunteering, Stewart has already taught 5 classes, and is currently teaching Cooking Matters for Families at Pure Word Missionary Baptist Church. He was also one of eight chefs representing us last year at first lady Michelle Obama’s kickoff event for Chefs Move To Schools.

When asked what was a class highlight for him, he wrote in an email, “I would say, I was doing a class and several people in class had never cut up a whole chicken before, so showing everyone how to do that and having them help and then the next week hearing how two people did it at home and were successful with it and even took my suggestion of making stock out of the carcass and then turn the stock into soup.”

Thanks Stewart for all you do!

Here’s a recipe from Stewart that can be made for under $10 if you have the spices in your pantry.

Herb Roasted Whole Chicken with asparagus and Quinoa Pilaf 1 whole chicken 1 cup water 1T Dried Oregano 1t Dried Basil 1t Garlic Powder ¼ t Dried Rosemary ¼ t Thyme ½ t salt ½ t pepper 1 pound asparagus 1 T olive oil 1 ½ cup Quinoa 1 cup low sodium chicken broth 2 cups water 1 carrot 1 celery stalk 1 small onion 2T canola oil

Pre heat oven to 450 degrees, place chicken in a roasting pan add 1 cup of water, in small bowl mix all spices, salt and pepper. Sprinkle mixture over chicken place chicken in oven for 15 minutes or until skin is brown. Cover chicken with aluminum foil, reduce oven temperature to 350 and cook for 45 minutes or until chicken reaches 165 degrees.

While chicken is roasting, rinse asparagus cut off bottom white part, toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil place in an oven safe dish cover and cook in oven for 15 minutes.

Wash carrots, celery and onion and dice. In a 4 quart pot over medium heat, add canola oil and sauté vegetables for 5 minutes add quinoa, 2 cups of water and 1 cup chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat cover and cook until all liquid is gone about 15 minutes.

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: 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!!

Food budgeting: Feeding a family on a food stamp budget


Did you see the AP article that featured three chefs planning meals for a family of four on $68.88 a week? Check it out here if you missed it. Food budgeting is an important topic that we cover in Operation Frontline classes. Two of the chefs went over budget so after reading the story, I started thinking about how I would go about it, and most importantly stay within budget. I figured that with my OFL experience and limited budget myself as an AmeriCorps, this was right up my alley.

Last week I got my box of fresh, beautiful produce through Fresh Food Share, which is a community-based food distribution program run jointly through the Green Ribbon Collaborative (made up of Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeast Michigan, Greening of Detroit and Eastern Market). For $17 this month's box contained oranges, apples, grapes, romaine lettuce, garlic, carrots, celery, potatoes, eggplant, broccollini, tomatoes and the most gorgeous peppers I've ever seen. Armed with enough produce to get through the week (and I'm sure far beyond that), I already had a good foundation for my meals. In our classes we like to tell our participants to take stock of what they have and build from there so you're not buying superfluous goods, especially with produce, which goes bad really fast. Other than berries, bananas, peppers and cilantro, I pretty much stuck to the veggies that were in my box (I got the $10 box, which still had more than enough produce for the week).

The budget buster is almost always the protein, which made up a huge portion of the chefs' budgets in the article. I usually buy meat from Honey Bee Market in southwest Detroit because they have such great deals, including chicken legs for 49 cents a pound and tilapia for only $2.99 a pound (compare that with $9.99 sometimes at Whole Foods!!). I picked up beef for stir fry so I could use up some of those mouthwatering veggies in my produce box and tacos for meat. Honey Bee also has very cheap produce and I almost always pick up peppers, cilantro and avocadoes there on my way home from work.

For staples, I pop in to Kroger near my apartment. You really can't go wrong with the 10 for $10 deals plus they have good meat sales. You can get a whole chicken for less than $1 per pound and that chicken goes a long way in feeding you for the week. I also got a big bag of rice here for $2.69 but I like to buy my rice at Asian markets--you definitely get a lot more bang for your buck. Same goes for seasonings such as soy sauce and sesame oil. You can get a much bigger bottle of these things than the smaller container found in the international aisles at the supermarket.

Finally one last tip for shopping on a budget is to shop in season. Strawberries are one of my favorite fruits but they're pricey most of the time--except for now. I saw strawberries for $1 at Meijer this week while shopping for a class; at Kroger they are on sale for 2 for $3.

Check out my menus and shopping list here and here. I ended up with nearly $6 to spare but I had some of the items on hand such as soy sauce and sesame oil.

What about you? Share your own menus and shopping list in the comments below!

Wheatberry salad recipe by OFL volunteer Karen Lee


For my graduation classes I (@Dorothy) like to have a potluck party. Last week I had three graduations so you know what that means--tons of good eats! I made mini chocolate cupcakes with prunes for my Hazel Park class and then some zucchini chocolate chip cookies for my River Rouge class. Gotta sneak those veg and fruits in somewhere! One dish I thought was spectacular was chef volunteer Karen Lee's wheatberry salad. I had never tried wheatberries; I enjoyed the heartiness of the grain, which was dressed in a super delicious vinaigrette. After I begged Karen for the recipe, she graciously sent it to me. Check it out and try it for yourself! I really like the combo of onion, edamame and black beans, but this can also be adapted to your personal tastes and preferences.

Recipe: Wheatberry Salad 1/2 c of Wheatberries 8 oz. of black beans 1 cup grape tomatoes 1/2 cup of edamame 1/2 cup red onion, diced 3 T olive oil 2 T red wine vinegar salt and pepper to taste

Directions 1. Simmer the wheatberries in 4 cups of water for 55 minutes until tender. Drain & rinse under cold water until cool. 2. Mix with 8 oz black beans, 1 cup grape tomatoes cut in half, 1/2 cup Edamame, 1/2 cup red onion. 3. Make the dressing with the olive Oil, red wine vinegar and salt & pepper to taste.

Notes from Karen:

That's really all there is to it! I have used other veggies, cukes, carrots, celery; and other beans white or pink kidney; and lima beans in place of Edamame. I think it is the perfect salad and is my go to when I want a quick bite. The original recipe is from a magazine and I use it because it has whole wheatberries in the recipe which I like both the taste of and the nutritional value. They're very high in fiber!

We love our volunteers!


 We've said it many times and we'll say it again: without the great volunteer chefs and nutritionists who generously donate their time to OFL Detroit, we would get nothing done! In 2009, we had a total of 41 classes. We currently have 42 classes on the books for 2010, 41 of which are before the end of May! So that means lots of volunteer hours logged. To show our hardworking volunteers some love, we threw a Volunteer Appreciation Party at the Crofoot Feb. 24. Check out some snaps from the soiree.


Special thanks to Chef Michael Geiger from Eastern Market who did an awesome demo on Vietnamese fresh rolls. Even our seasoned (ba-dump-bump, I slay me with my puns) chefs picked up a few new tricks and tips. Here's Michael's recipe for Vietnamese fresh rolls and dipping sauce (sorry, no pics of the rolls because we ate them all and went back for seconds).

Vietnamese Summer Rolls and Dipping Sauce

Recipe by Michael Geiger, Eastern Market

  • 6 oz rice vermicelli or rice sticks
  • 10 oz boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and julienne
  • 2 cups of shredded romaine lettuce
  • 1 english cucumber, peeled, seeded and julienne
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • cup of fresh mint leaves
  • cup of fresh Thai basil
  • 10 rice paper wrappers ( 8 1/2 inch round)
  • cup of roasted peanuts, chopped

Procedure: 1. Cook the vermicelli in a large pot of boiling water until just tender, 1-2 minutes. Drain the noodles, rinse with cold water, and drain again. Set aside.

2. Fill a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Add chicken breast, reduce to a low simmer, and cook until opaque in center (instant-read thermometer should read 165°F when inserted into thickest part of breast). Transfer the chicken to a bowl and allow to cool. Once cool, shred chicken with hands.

3. To assemble rolls, add warm water to a large shallow bowl or pie plate. Moisten 1 wrapper in the water and place it on a clean cutting board. Place about 1/2 cup of the noodle mixture, approximately 1 oz of shredded chicken breast, some julienne carrots, julienne cucumbers, and a few cilantro leaves, mint leaves, and Thai basil in the center (add a few chopped peanuts at this point if desired.). Fold in each end of the wrapper and roll to completely enclose the filling. Repeat to make 10 rolls.

4. Slice in half and serve with dipping sauce.

Dipping sauce

1/4 cup Vietnamese fish sauce (nuoc mam) 1/3 cup sugar 3 T sugar 3 T rice vinegar 2 T water 1 large garlic clove minced 2 tsp chili sauce

How to make healthy "gingerbread" houses for the holidays


We here at Operation Frontline Detroit are busily preparing for healthy snack workshops that we're holding for kids on holiday break. We spent an afternoon playing with our food--and then eating it--in order to get ready for this fun project we'll be doing in a couple of weeks. We love our job! Check out our handiwork:

 Making traditional gingerbread houses can be unhealthy with all the sweet treats, i.e. candies, chocolates and royal icing. This holiday why not try making a healthier home--and then eating it when you are done!

Here's how to make a basic house with suggested ingredients. Play around with what works for you. For example, I (@Dorothy) used peanut butter, which made for a great smelling and tasting home that unfortunately did not last two "remodelings." If you're looking to eat your house immediately, then peanut butter may be the way to go. Otherwise, the best "glue" that we found was cream cheese (try to use low-fat!) and a homemade prune paste/puree that one of our resident chefs, Dameon, made at home.


Graham crackers (if you can try to get the best quality graham crackers because you will have a better foundation for your house)

Cream cheese, prune puree or peanut butter for "glue"

Decorations: fruit leathers, shredded coconut, whole-grain cereals like frosted shredded wheat or Cheerios, dried fruits, pretzels, nuts

A pie plate (foil is fine) or paper plate. If you're going to make a village like what we did above, some inexpensive vinyl tablecloths will be good for laying out the village "grass" or "concrete" or whatever look you're going for.

Steps for a basic home:

1) Set aside six graham crackers. For kids, let them use a plastic serrated knife. These surprisingly work well with cutting. Two will be the sides, two will be for the roof and two will be cut to be used for the "gables."

2) Place one graham cracker on a flat surface. Angle the short end of another cracker from the center of the long side to the center of the cracker, slice off the edges on both sides so you will end up with a graham cracker that has a triangle on one side. Repeat with another cracker. You'll find that it might be difficult to do this without breaking some at first. No matter--you can just use the 'damage' as a snack!

3) Using your "glue," smear it over the edges of your crackers, putting a pointy cracker with an uncut cracker, (place it lengthwise), then glue on another pointy cracker and finally glue on another uncut cracker. At this point you will have a rectangular home that needs a roof.

4) Put some more glue on the edges of the two other crackers that you set aside and place them carefully on top of the other crackers, making a triangular shape at the top. There's your roof!

 5) Here's the fun part: Decorating! This is where your imagination will run wild. Use the fruit leathers as shutters and/or walkways. Pretzel logs are great for fencing or the sides of the house if you're going for a log cabin. Dried fruits make great various decorations on the home. To make roof shingles, mini shredded wheats with frosting give off a realistic snowy look (try cutting them in half so the house isn't so top heavy) or use banana chips. The sky is the limit!

6) Admire your home--or dig in!