Volunteer spotlight: Hadley Hickner
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 cookingmatters.org 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