Archive for November, 2011

Volunteer spotlight: Emily Hulscher

Editor’s note: The original recipe had a couple of errors so Emily made some revisions.

In her spare time, Emily Hulscher likes to experiment with recipes.

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

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.

November 30, 2011 at 3:52 pm 1 comment

Cooking Matters volunteer chef named winner in national recipe contest

Chef Barb Hughes teaches a Cooking Matters for Adults class in the GCFB kitchen.

We are proud to say the winner of the Asian category in Cooking Matters recipe contest is one of our own, chef Barb Hughes.

Barb won for her recipe for Asian Chicken Salad. Thanks Barb for all you do and congratulations!

Asian Chicken Salad
By Chef Barb Hughes
Bloomfield Hills, MI

4 Chicken Thighs*
1 1/2 head of Iceberg Lettuce, roughly chopped*
1 Red Bell Pepper, cut into thin strips
2 Green Onions, cut into long strips, on an angle
1 small apple, cut into matchsticks*
8 Peapods, thinly sliced lengthwise
1-4oz can Mandarin Orange sections, drained; reserve juice
1/4 c Slivered Almonds


Whisk together:
2 TBS. Peanut Butter
1 TBS. Brown Sugar
2 tsp. Soy Sauce
1 TBS Reserved Mandarin Juice
2 tsp. Vinegar, any kind
2 TBS. Vegetable Oil
1 clove Garlic, finely minced
1 circle Ginger, 1/4 inch thick and finely minced
3 drops Hot Sauce such as Franks or Tabasco


Preheat oven to 350′.
Spray baking sheet or casserole dish with Vegetable oil. Bake thighs for 45 minutes or until they reach an internal temp of 165′. When they are done, pull from oven and remove skin. Shred meat with 2 forks and set aside.

While Chicken is baking prepare salad ingredients and make dressing.
To serve: moisten salad ingredients with 1/2 of the dressing and then gently fold in Chicken and top with the rest of the dressing.

Chef’s notes: Ideally prepared with leftover, cooked Chicken.
Greens can be any combination such as 1 head of Romaine and/or Spinach about 4 cups, total.
Apples are optional.
Can also add julienned carrots.

November 25, 2011 at 6:31 am Leave a comment

Happy Thanksgiving

Next to Halloween, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for obvious reasons: cooking a lot and then eating it all!

Yesterday at my Cooking Matters for Teens class, chef and registered dietitian Julie Fromm brought a delicious recipe for Pumpkin Parfaits. One of the girls in the class had requested last week a Thanksgiving recipe, specifically pumpkin pie. At our site there is no oven but Julie came up with this recipe, which I think is much tastier than the typical pie. If you’re still looking for a dessert idea for tomorrow’s big feasting day, try this simple recipe, which cuts out white sugar and uses maple syrup and reduced apple cider for sweetening. We put the parfaits in the freezer to set up and it took about an hour, hour and a half.

Pumpkin Parfaits
By Julie Fromm, RD

1 envelope plain gelatin
1 cup apple cider
¼ cup maple syrup
One 15oz can pumpkin
One 12oz can evaporated skim milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
(1 ¾ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice may be substituted for the above 3)

Plain or vanilla non-fat or low-fat yogurt
Crumbled cookies, like gingersnaps

In a small bowl, combine gelatin and a small amount (2T) of the apple cider.
Heat remaining apple cider in a sauce pan and boil until reduced to 1/3 volume.
Add softened gelatin to sauce pan and heat until gelatin is dissolved.
In a large bowl (or an electric mixer), stir together maple syrup, pumpkin, evaporated milk, vanilla, salt and spices. Stir in warm gelatin mixture. Mixture should chill overnight to set up OR individual servings can be poured into clear cups/glasses and put into freezer to set up quicker.

To serve, layer pumpkin filling alternating with yogurt and top with cookie crumbs.

November 23, 2011 at 2:39 pm 4 comments

Thoughts on doing the Food Stamp Challenge

In the documentary “Food Stamped,” nutrition educator Shira Potash goes grocery shopping with a man who is on food assistance. He prides himself on being a budget shopper but the foods he chose during this particular trip were far from nutritious: ramen noodles, pork and beans and other processed foods that were very cheap but not very nutrient-dense.

The Food Stamp Challenge is typically a weeklong undertaking that puts people in the shoes of those who rely on SNAP funds. Over the past couple years, food stamp use has increased

After doing the Food Stamp Challenge for a few days, I could see why people on a fixed budget go for foods such as the ones the man was putting in his cart: they are cheap and they are quick, and when you’re juggling work (sometimes two jobs) with family, making meals from scratch is not a priority. The week I did the challenge was particularly tough on me as I had evening classes on three nights and then worked late the other two at my other job; juggling two jobs is something I only do once in a while but for low-income families that’s the reality if they want to be able to pay the bills and put food on the table. I could see why many participants at the beginning of CM classes say that they don’t have time to cook; neither did I.

I also found myself grabbing some candy that was set out at my other job for Halloween; I almost never go for sweets. If I had been eating like I normally do, I would’ve easily passed them by because I would not crave them. But it was toward the end of the challenge when my food was running a bit low so I only had a sandwich and apple for lunch. When I saw the candy I didn’t hesitate to grab a handful of empty calories.

I have to admit that I came up short. I’m pretty sure I had a calorie deficit on some of the days (except for the candy binge). I ended up paying for dinner one night because I felt bad making my friend pay and then once I got to Chicago, where I was visiting my family over the weekend, my challenge ended.

But for five days I stuck to it as much as I could. Other than the food we made in our classes, dinner on Wednesday at a friend’s and two lunches that other friends bought for me I lived off the food I bought on Sunday.

There was a part in “Food Stamped” when the filmmakers, Shira and her husband, in the grocery store trying to figure out what to buy and they decide to forgo coffee for a week because it wasn’t in the budget. Shira’s husband says that things that they thought of as staples were now luxuries. There’s also a part where they go dumpster diving for bread and making sure to find as many free samples as possible. One of the free samples they snagged was cheese, which they rationed for a special treat at the end of the week.

Their ground rules were:

    Whole grains, protein, vegetables and fruits at every meal
    To buy as many organic foods as possible and very little processed food
    To submit their menu for a nutrition evaluation

I was impressed by their ambitions to buy organic as possible because I know that wasn’t a consideration for me because here, you pay a premium for organic. I was trying to stay within budget. And they wanted to have protein at every single meal yet the only animal products that I could see that they bought were eggs and a can of tuna. Everything else was beans and peanut butter. From what I saw in the movie, it looked like they were sticking to their menus but turned into the Bickersons toward the end of the week, edgy because of the stresses of the challenge, no doubt. They did manage to save some of their best ingredients for last, capping off their week with a dinner of salad and frittata for their friends.

In comparison, I did not do as well as they did. I think it is doable to live off $31.50 a week and have nutritious meals but it’s tough. You need to:

    You plan every meal and snack and make a list; there is no way you can wing it at the store and stay within your budget.
    You opt for non-animal, economical sources of protein; during my week I got enough turkey for five sandwiches, 3 chicken breasts and a dozen eggs. I could’ve gotten more fruits and vegetables had I just gotten beans and peanut butter for my sandwiches.
    Buy seasonal produce (especially important in ensuring you eat enough fruits, I only had four apples and 2 bananas so that came out to only one serving of fruit a day and it wasn’t even enough for the week)

Even though it wasn’t varied or met the recommended amounts for optimal nutrition, I felt like I had just barely enough food. But what about families of four? The rice and beans I made wouldn’t last a family a whole week, maybe 2 days.

Did you do the challenge? What were your thoughts? Share them with us!

November 9, 2011 at 6:01 pm Leave a comment

Volunteer spotlight: Phil Jones

Phil Jones is the chef and GM of Colors Detroit.

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.

November 7, 2011 at 1:06 pm Leave a comment

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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.