Archive for February, 2010

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.

Chef Dave Andrejko and OFL coordinator Sarah Stephison.


Chef Jerry Aulph and culinary student Mary Gisslander talk shop.

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).

Chef Michael Geiger conducts his demo from the Crofoot's DJ booth. He must feel at home because he is also a DJ!

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

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

February 26, 2010 at 10:40 pm Leave a comment

Portion Distortion: How Much You Should Really Be Eating

One of the main themes that we talk about in our Operation Frontline classes is appropriate portion sizes. In the past twenty years, portion sizes in restaurants and in grocery stores have bulked up a bit, from muffins to soda to the size of our dinner plates. As a result, we not only eat more, we buy more. Needless to say, we as a nation have a bit of a weight problem, not to mention other health issues such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.


To help you visualize this portion distortion, Divine Caroline had a great series of photos. Here are a few:

Photo Credit: Divine Caroline

To burn off the extra 145 calries you gained just by choosing the 20 oz. bottle over the 8 oz. bottle, you would have to walk up and down stairs for about 30 minutes.

Photo Credit: Divine Caroline

To burn off the 360 calorie difference between these two tubs of popcorn, you would have to play basketball for about 45 minutes.

Do we have you convinced?

You can take the Portion Distortion quiz here to test your knowledge on portion sizes and how they have changed in the past twenty years.

To learn more about portion sizes and food labeling that appear on the products you buy, check out this video put out by The New York Times.

February 25, 2010 at 8:49 pm Leave a comment

Graduation day

We’ve just wrapped up a series of Eating Right classes from southwest Detroit to Inkster to Lincoln Park. It was a great session with a very good graduation rate. Since I’m (@Dorothy) in a festive mood, I wanted to share these pretty cupcakes that volunteer chef Katelyn Dinkgrave concocted. The recipe is from our Eating Right book and is made without any eggs–it’s actually very close to a vegan recipe since it uses no animal-based products. I wanted Katelyn to draw upon her baking and pastry expertise and asked her how we could jazz up the cake, which doesn’t call for any icing or accoutrements.

She came up with the idea to make a simple chocolate ganache using semisweet chocolate chips and 1 percent milk. So it’s a little bit healthier than a typical ganache, which uses heavy cream. She put a light dusting of powdered sugar and topped it with fresh strawberries. Our Inkster grads loved them!

February 17, 2010 at 3:00 pm Leave a comment

Reducing Childhood Obesity and Malnutrition

This week, I (Diana) was lucky enough to be on a conference call with Tom Vilsack, the Secretary of Agriculture, along with hundreds of other representatives of anti-hunger organizations, schools, and those concerned with child nutrition. The conference call, which detailed the Obama administration’s call to improve the Child Nutrition Act, came a day after the official launch of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign and two days after his speech at the National Press Club, where he insisted on eliminating “Pepsi, French fries and Snickers bars from the nation’s schools.”

Michelle Obama's Launches her Let's Move campaign. Photo Credit: Share Our Strength

Working for a program that deals with nutrition for low-income families, it has been fantastic to see the political will on the federal level to address the issues in our food system. Janet McLaughlin, director of Operation Frontline, was able to attend the First Lady’s announcement of Let’s Move, saying,

It might seem odd for an anti-hunger organization to be at an anti-obesity event. But there is a natural alignment. Hunger is, at its core, a health issue. Whether we call ourselves anti-hunger activists, health advocates, or anti-obesity campaigners, we are all working to ensure that kids eat the nutritious foods they need to lead active and healthy lives.

I believe our role as a nonprofit with a mission to “end hunger and poverty” is to use our efforts and influence to ensure that kids with the least get the most benefit from the Let’s Move campaign.

As I wrote in a previous post, the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act is a critical moment in improving school lunches and other federally-funded programs. In Vilsack’s statement with the press and on the conference call, he made certain priorities known – a “wish list” for what he would like to see in the new Child Nutrition Act:

  1. Allocate more resources to ensure that all children who qualify for federal programs through the act (including school lunches and breakfasts) actually benefit from them
  2. Increase participation in schools offering breakfast and lunch programs
  3. Improve nutritional quality of meals offered through schools
  4. Reach children through non-school days
  5. Improve the message of quality and nutrition in schools (such as the items found in vending machines)
  6. Encourage schools to implement wellness policies, which promote physical activity
  7. Provide more information for parents and children about the meals being served in school
  8. Strenthen the link between local farmers and schools

Photo Credit: Let's Move

The message offered both by Vilsack and the First Lady is one that is both refreshing and inspiring for those of us who work to eradicate childhood hunger. I feel that I can tentatively say – Yes, they finally get it. I sincerely hope that this new campaign is successful!

February 12, 2010 at 7:49 pm Leave a comment

Food budgeting: Feed a family of four on $10? You bet!

Chicken is always a good budget choice for dinner but squash definitely will let you stretch your dollars because it's in season right now.

In Week 5 of our Eating Right class, we issue a challenge to participants: using what you’ve learned over the past few weeks, plan a meal for a family of four for $10 or less. Many participants are confused at first–can it be done? Of course!

Using several strategies, there are many ways you can save money at the register. Some of the things we discuss include:

  • Clipping coupons (check out this post for more on coupons)
  • Shopping with a list (so you don’t end up with the fifth bottle of ketchup in your cupboards or forget the basil)
  • Eating before heading out to the store (so you don’t indulge on the free samples of doughnuts)
  • Using the unit price (the cost of an ounce, a pint, a pound or other amount) to compare the cost of food in different sized containers
  • Buying in bulk

That last one can really save you some big bucks. One of the participants in my (@Dorothy) current class in Inkster is a real savvy shopper. She definitely stood up to challenge and created not one but two shopping lists and meal plans. She ended up going with her spaghetti plan because it was cheaper. She used the store flier to plan and figure out the prices and the price tag for her meal (which included garlic bread with parmesan, which ultimately was cut from the list) was more than $16, well over the $10 parameter. But she brought a spreadsheet that compared the retail price to what she usually pays (she always buys in bulk to stretch her $200 monthly food budget) and that price was several dollars less than the retail price.

For those who aren’t as money savvy as Robin, I just came across a great article by Cooking Light that offers different meal ideas for a family of four for under $10.  And there is not one meal including ramen noodles or PB & J in sight! I think the roast chicken with potatoes and butternut squash sounds perfect for a winter’s night. What do you think? Check out the list here.

February 3, 2010 at 6:41 pm Leave a comment

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 71 other followers

Cooking Matters Twitter Feed

USDA Statement

This material was partially funded by the State of Michigan with federal funds from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by way of the Michigan Nutrition Network at the Michigan Fitness Foundation. This work is supported in part by the Michigan Department of Human Services, under contract number ADMIN-10-99011. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Michigan Fitness Foundation or the Michigan Department of Human Services. In accordance with Federal law and USDA policy, these institutions are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, political beliefs or disability. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720- 6382 (TTY). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides nutrition assistance to people with low income. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more contact the toll free Michigan Food Assistance Program Hotline at (855) ASK-MICH. Space-Limited USDA/DHS/MNN Credit Statement This material was partially funded by the State of Michigan with federal funds from the United States Department of Agriculture Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by way of the Michigan Nutrition Network at the Michigan Fitness Foundation. These institutions are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, political beliefs or disability. People who need help buying nutritious food for a better diet call the toll free Michigan Food Assistance Program Hotline: (855) ASK-MICH.