Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a mother and my children are grown. I have been in the food industry all of my adult life. A few years ago I watched a movie called A Place at the Table that totally changed the way I think about everything related to food. That’s how I found out about Gleaners and the Cooking Matters program. I know about food, am good with people, and have time to volunteer, so I was hoping I could make a difference.
When did you first get involved in the food industry?
My first job was at the local Dairy Queen when I was 13 years old. I saw other kids my age working there and asked how they were able to get a job when they were so young. They told me to go to the counseling office to get a green card saying my grades were high enough to handle working and studying. I wanted a job to make money, so I did it. It’s been a natural progression from there. I moved on to dishwashing, waitressing, and cooking. I went to culinary school to study cakes and pastries. I have one more semester left to finish my degree. Right now I’m a cake decorator for Costco. Once I started working around food, I never stopped except to focus on photography for three years – but depending on what you photograph that could be food related too!
What ingredients do you always have in your kitchen?
A wide variety of fruits and vegetables, and Greek yogurt. I was a vegetarian for several years before I slowly started reincorporating meat into my diet, but mostly we eat fruits and vegetables at home.
What is your favorite thing about volunteering with Cooking Matters?
I’m volunteering in my 4th Cooking Matters class and have worked with teens, middle school students, and now kids in the 3rd to 5th grades. I like seeing kids try to eat stuff that they’ve never seen before. Some of them are convinced that they won’t like certain things, but when they taste them they get it right away.
Is there a recipe that you would like to share?
One of my favorites is actually a Cooking Matters recipe: Southwestern Black-eyed Pea and Corn Salad. I like to change it up depending on what I have on hand; it’s so easy. I’ve started taking this salad to parties when I know that the only food options will be hamburgers, hotdogs, and desserts.
Southwestern Black-eyed Pea and Corn Salad
Serves 10, 3/4 cup per serving
1 medium bell pepper
1 small red onion
2 (15½ ounce) cans black-eyed peas
1 (15¼ ounce) can corn kernels, no salt added
3 Tablespoons canola oil
2 Tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
- Rinse and dice bell pepper, removing core and seeds. Peel, rinse, and dice onion.
- If using, rinse and chop cilantro leaves.
- In a colander, drain and rinse black-eyed peas and corn.
- In a large bowl, add pepper, onion, peas, corn, cilantro if using, and remaining ingredients. Mix well.
Dried black-eyed peas may be cheaper than canned. If using dried, cook according to package directions until peas are soft but not mushy. Drain, rinse, and add 3 cups cooked peas to salad. Use leftovers in other recipes later in the week.
Try chilling the salad. Serve it over cooked spinach or kale.
Use any type of vinegar you have on hand. Try balsamic, cider, or red or white wine vinegar.
Use black beans in place of black-eyed peas if you like.
When corn is in season, use fresh in place of canned. Cook 4 medium ears corn. Remove kernels from cob with a knife. Add to salad.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.
I am a happily married mother of 13-year-old twin boys. My husband works for Ford and I am employed by the Livingston Educational Services Agency doing nutrition education with the PE-Nut Program in elementary schools. We are an active family, doing lots of traveling, hiking, bicycling and geocaching together. We lived in Salvador, Brazil from 2011-2014, enjoying travel to many parts of South America as well as going on safari in South Africa. We have a dog and a hamster who have not yet learned how to get along with each other.
What made you decide to pursue a career in dietetics?
My Grandma (who has passed) was very focused on preventive health and nutrition back in the 70’s, before anyone knew the value of good food. I spent a lot of time with her and picked up her love of healthy, natural, clean eating. I also worked for 17 years in a pediatric dental office with practitioners who preached a healthy diet to their young patients. I love how something as enjoyable as food can make such a difference in many areas of body health, actually healing the body the way medicine does, but without the side effects. I left the dental field in 2003 and returned to school for a degree in dietetics.
How did you find out about Cooking Matters?
We had just moved back from Brazil and I was looking for some experience in my new dietetics career path. I had done some other volunteer work with Gleaners in the past and thought it was a good organization that fulfilled a crucial need in our community. I saw the Cooking Matters program on their website and felt it would be a good fit for my interests and talents.
What is your favorite thing about volunteering with our program?
I love the other volunteers and coordinators I have worked with. They are great people who have such a passion for helping others. It is such a fun class for the teachers as well as the students. Everyone enjoys it.
Do you have any tips for those who are trying to make healthy lifestyle changes this year?
The biggest thing I have learned about health is that we need to keep moving. In any way possible. Your brain, body and emotions are much more fit with regular exercise. I have stopped trying to make things physically easier for myself. I take stairs, walk when I can, bike to the store (don’t forget a bag or basket for purchases), and do yoga in the house. Nearly everything I have heard and read in the past five years emphasizes the importance of physical activity.
Is there a recipe you would like to share with us?
I love to make my own applesauce. It is lower in sugar than the jarred version, and I can use whatever apples are in season or my favorite – Jonathans. Plus you can serve it warm and add yummy toppings, like curled apple peels, shredded carrots, raisins, chopped pecans, or even granola. Here is what I do.
8-10 apples, cored and peeled
(If you have a food mill, leave the peel on until finished cooking for a nice pink color)
1 cup of water
1 Tbs. lemon juice (optional)
1/4 cup white or brown sugar (optional)
1 tsp. cinnamon or 2 cinnamon sticks (optional)
- Cut apples in quarters or eighths, depending on their size.
- (a) If cooking on stove, put water and lemon juice in a large pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat, add apples and cinnamon, cover and simmer on low for 20-25 minutes, until apples are mushy. Turn off heat and let apples cool slightly, remove cinnamon if using sticks, stir in the sugar, then smash with a potato masher or food mill.
(b) If cooking in a crock pot, add apples, sugar, water, lemon juice and cinnamon. Cover and cook on low for four hours.
- Turn off the heat, let apples cool slightly, remove cinnamon sticks, then smash with a potato masher or food mill. The potato masher creates a “chunky” style applesauce. The food mill gives a slightly smoother texture. If you like it pureed, use a food processor or blender.
You can add this to muffin recipes in place of oil (pureed works best), or use with fruit in a blender for smoothies, or mix in with plain yogurt for some flavor, and even add with drizzled honey on top of ice cream.
A huge thank you to Kelly Surmann and Chris Kemski from Madonna Univeristy for creating a wonderful new promotional video for our program.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Deborah. I have been cooking in the field for 10 years now. I come from a family with lots of women and my grandma was the one who allowed me to spend the most time with her in the kitchen. As I got older, I had the opportunity to nanny for a Greek family, where the wife showed me various traditional dishes and even complied a recipe book for me. Upon leaving high school, I chose to go into the Culinary program though Schoolcraft. I also did a supplementary training in Boulder, CO that was focused on using whole foods and cooking without, i.e. dietary restrictions such as gluten-free, vegan, raw, sugar-free etc. I have worked in every facet of the culinary field, from restaurants to catering and even school lunch programs. I am now in a place where I am developing and growing my own business; I have personal clients that I cater weekly meals to as well as parties. It is very exciting to watch it unfold.
When did you first become interested in cooking?
As far as I can remember, I always loved being in the kitchen. I would throw dinner parties for my friends throughout high school so I could test my skills. I have always loved the idea of good food, good people, good conversation and good drink. I love the community that comes from sitting around the table to a good meal. And I have the ability to recreate that every time I cater a party.
What ingredient do you use most?
The one staple in my kitchen is organic Chicken Stock. I make my own, over a period of about 14-16 hours. It adds such richness and depth to dishes.
What is your fondest food memory?
Last year, I was able to attend something called Outstanding in the Field. It was a beautiful experience. A group of individuals tour the country, find various farms, have a guest chef come in and prepare a meal based upon ingredients the farm provides. They, then, set up a huge 100 person table, with white linens, in the middle of the farm, and everyone sits to eat what the chef has prepared. It totally encompasses my idea of communing at the table.
How did you end up volunteering for Cooking Matters?
I am a firm believer in that what we receive in life, so must we give back. Because I have experience in the culinary field, and love to teach that which I have learned, Cooking Matters seemed prefect. And it is. J I completely love and feel blessed for the opportunity to be apart of.
Do you have a favorite recipe that you would like to share?
One dish I am completely loving right now is this:
1 ea. Turkey Breast
1 T. Oregano, dried
1 t. Fennel Seed
1 T. Salt, divided
½ T. Pepper divided
4 T. Olive Oil, divided
1 ea. Celery Root
2 c. Chicken Stock or Water
1 ea. Fennel bulb
Method: Heat oven to 425
Season Turkey Breast. In large sauté pan, heat 1 T. olive oil. Sear Turkey Breast until golden brown. Finish cooking in the oven.
For celery root, peel outer layer. Cut into large chunks and place into medium saucepan. Fill with chicken stock, if using, or simply water. Once celery root is soft, remove from heat and drain liquid. Place into mixing bowl. Mash with paddle or whisk attachment, adding in 1-2 T. olive oil and seasoning with salt and pepper.
For the fennel, de-core, and slice in to half inch slices. Toss with 1 T. olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in oven at 425 for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
On a plate, place celery root mash, then turkey breast, and top with fennel. Enjoy!!
Tell us about yourself.
I am a single parent and have a teenage son. I took an early retirement from the post office a few years ago. I spend most of my time volunteering because it’s what I like to do. I’m a professional volunteer now. I grew up in Detroit and have lived here my whole life.
How did you find out about Cooking Matters?
It was at my son’s school. They did a phone blast to recruit parents who wanted to take a cooking class on healthy eating on a budget. I was a participant, and I really enjoyed it. After class I was so enthused. It thought this was something I could learn to do. I talked to Julie, the chef from Henry Ford, and she gave me Rebecca’s business card. I’ve been volunteering for a little over a year now.
Why do you think it’s important to eat well?
It can help you live longer, for one thing. When you know better, you do better. I never used to think of food as something that was important for health. I always thought of it as more of a hunger pill – something to fill you up. It can be easy to reach of a bag of chips instead of an apple, but you just have to do it. A lot of healthy living is doing.
Do you have any tips for shopping smart on a budget?
I do a lot of my shopping at Honey Bee Market. I go to the reduced shelf at the grocery store and look for fruits and vegetables that have been marked down to a great price. Just because something has been reduced doesn’t mean that you can’t use within the next few days or chop it up and freeze it for later. Sometimes items that are on sale are things I don’t usually use, so I try to buy only what I need. I purchase my meat from Eastern Market. I keep a list of what I need and prices and get it fresh at the counter.
You’ve just begun a term on the Volunteer Advisory Committee. What are you looking forward to about serving on the committee?
I’m looking forward to finding ways to expand Cooking Matters classes so that more people can learn about the it and have the experience that I did. We have a very diverse community in Detroit, and I would like to help reach everyone with this program.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Alabama. I am married and the youngest of six. I started my first career in upstate New York after completing my 1st bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. My job relocated me to Michigan in 2000 where I worked as a Software Engineer until 2009. I am a recent 2015 graduate of Eastern Michigan University with a 2nd Bachelor’s degree in Dietetics. I am currently busy studying for the RD – Registration Examination for Dietitian Nutritionists. I was recently awarded a Community Service Award by my church, Triumph Church, during the 2015 Pastor’s Scholars recognition program. This honor was bestowed upon students who were actively involved in volunteerism and community service while maintaining high academic levels
When did you decide to pursue a career in dietetics?
After spending 24 years in the field of Computer Science, I was looking for something that would really be helpful to others. I wanted to provide information for healthy living through healthier diets for others live longer, quality lives. I enjoy baking and I really enjoy cooking and modifying recipes to make them healthier. We all enjoy eating! We all can do better, sometimes by making very simple changes if we only have the information. When we know better, we can do better. In addition, diabetes has impacted my loved ones – my father, many in his family, and even my husband. Making informed eating decisions are an important part of maintaining a healthy weight, preventing or delaying the complications of diabetes, reducing the risk of other chronic disease or managing chronic diseases, and promoting overall health.
What led you to Cooking Matters?
I learned about Cooking Matters while attending a SEMDA (Southeastern Michigan Dietetic Association) meeting. I was inspired to volunteer with Cooking Matters because the program offers nutrition information to participants to help them make healthier choices and cook meals that are delicious, healthy and affordable, which are exactly some of the reasons I pursued a career in dietetics.
What is your fondest food memory?
I really love fruit. Growing up in Alabama, I loved visiting my grandparents who had a farm. On the farm, my grandfather had all kinds of fruits and vegetables. I can remember being able to pick strawberries, apples, plums, pears, peaches, and figs. He also has watermelon, cantaloupes, honeydew melons, and all kinds of different vegetables and nut trees. My grandmother was an excellent cook who made wonderful dishes out of the harvested produce.
Is there are healthy recipe you would like to share with our volunteers?
While in school I did a demonstration on how to make a dessert pizza that is not only delicious, but full of nutrients and not just empty calories. The pizza is made with a cookie crust that can be made from scratch or you can use a pre-prepared cookie dough or cookie mix. What I really like is that you can make your own cookie crust and that way you can control the amount of butter and sugar that’s used.
The toppings on the cookie crust include a cream cheese mixture as the “sauce” which is topped with fruits of your choice. This is great because you can select your favorite fruits. If you want to save a little money, because fruit can get a little expensive, you can select fruits that are in season which will be cheaper or catch them on sale.
Yield: 12-16 servings Prep: 35 min. + chilling Bake: 15 min. + cooling
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour (or whole wheat)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces cream cheese, softened (or reduced fat)
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup whipped topping (or fat free topping)
Sliced fresh strawberries
Kiwifruit, peeled and thinly sliced
Fresh blueberries, blackberries, raspberries
Or fruits of your choice
- In a small bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and extracts. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture and beat well. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Press dough into a greased 12-in. x 14-in. pizza pan. Bake at 350° for 12-14 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack.
- For topping, in a small bowl, beat cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Add whipped topping; mix well. Spread over crust. Arrange fruit on top. Store in the refrigerator.
© Taste of Home 2014 – Adapted from Summer Dessert Pizza