Cooking Matters Michigan Turns 20!

October 30, 2015 at 2:02 am Leave a comment

Volunteer Spotlight: Maxine Edwards


Maxine Edwards

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.


Fruit Pizza

Fruit Pizza

Yield: 12-16 servings          Prep:   35 min. + chilling     Bake: 15 min. + cooling



1/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

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



  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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


August 25, 2015 at 5:01 pm Leave a comment

Volunteer Spotlight: Angelina Adkins


Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I love what I do: cooking and teaching others how to cook. It’s my passion. I love working with children and believe in educating them early on finance, budgeting, shopping, and cooking – basic survival skills that they will need to make their way in the world.

I graduated with my Associates degree in Culinary Arts from Henry Ford College on May 9, and will finish my second degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management next year. I’ve been invited by Henry Ford College to go to China for a 15 day study abroad program next month. We’re going to Beijing, Shanghai, and Qingdao, and will visit the Great Wall and Forbidden City. I am beyond excited!  I am also in the Bake Club, Ice Carving Club and Student Council. In Ice Carving Club, I have been in many competitions, but nothing like Frankenmuth Zehnder’s Snowfest. It is one of the top snow and ice sculpting events in North America. In January 2015, I won two bronzes metals. I am going back in 2016 for my gold.

I am the proud mother of two gorgeous young ladies, Nubiannaa, who is 15, and Brianna, who is 12. Both of them love to cook, but they don’t want to be cooks. They are my inspiration. I love my babies.

How did you first become interested in cooking?

I come from a large family with 13 kids total, and we grew up under the poverty line. I cooked a lot when I was young. We had to get creative to make things last. Sometimes it was hard to get one meal on the table, let alone three. I didn’t know it at the time, but the things I was learning then are the things I am doing and teaching now.

When did you decide to take a more formal approach to the culinary arts?

I had a few jobs in the cooking field, and the last one was at a little mom and pop restaurant. They suggested that I go to school to get my culinary degree because they could see that it’s my passion. At first I enrolled at Oakland Community College, but it ended up being a little too far to drive. I switched to Henry Ford College, which also has a great program. It’s allowed me to participate in some great things and great events. I’ve met some great people, including a few celebrity chefs, and made great connections.

What inspires you as a culinary instructor?

My inspiration is helping others. I want everyone to learn how to feed everyone in their house real well with what they’ve got and not have to cook the same thing all the time. I want to show people that they can have variety and more healthy items.

What tips do you have for eating well on a tight budget?

Use the internet. You can find almost anything on there, even on a budget. Use recipes as a guideline, or look online for recipes that use the ingredient you already have. Always start your shopping trip at the outside of the grocery store.

What do you like about volunteering for Cooking Matters?

I loved all the classes I taught, but I especially like working with children. They have so much enthusiasm and a willingness to try anything.

Do you have a recipe you would like to share?

Spinach Pie


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds spinach, rinsed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 8 sheets phyllo dough
  • 1/4 cup olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly oil a 9×9 inch square baking pan.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion, green onions and garlic, until soft and lightly browned. Stir in spinach and parsley, and continue to sauté until spinach is limp, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, ricotta, and feta. Stir in spinach mixture.
  4. Lay 1 sheet of phyllo dough in prepared baking pan, and brush lightly with olive oil. Lay another sheet of phyllo dough on top, brush with olive oil, and repeat process with two more sheets of phyllo. The sheets will overlap the pan. Spread spinach and cheese mixture into pan and fold overhanging dough over filling. Brush with oil, then layer remaining 4 sheets of phyllo dough, brushing each with oil. Tuck overhanging dough into pan to seal filling.
  1. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Cut into squares and serve while hot.


  • For bite sized pies, layer about 4 or 5 sheets of phyllo dough, brushing each with olive oil. Cut into 5 Spinach Piestrips. Take 1 tablespoon or more of spinach mixture place on one end, and fold phyllo dough over until you reach the other end. Follow baking time and temp, or freeze for later.  Makes a quick and healthy after school or work snack or even lunch.
  • Aluminum foil or parchment paper can be used to keep food moist, cook it evenly, and make clean-up easier.

Read more about Angelina in this Al Jazeera America article.

July 31, 2015 at 10:23 am Leave a comment

Volunteer Spotlight: Lee Visci

Lee Visci
Tell us a little about yourself.

I am an engineer, a wife, and a mom. I just retired from General Motors after 38 years – 34 of that were spent in Engineering. I am going to enjoy a fantastic Michigan summer while I figure out what to do next. I am married to Don and we just celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary last month. I have two daughters, Katharine and Elizabeth. Katharine just graduated from Michigan State, and will do her student teaching in Chicago in the fall. Elizabeth is studying business at Western Michigan.

What is your fondest food memory?

Graham Cracker Pie! This is a dessert that my grandmother made at the holidays, and my entire family went nuts for it. We ate the leftovers for breakfast. It is basically a cooked vanilla custard in a cinnamon-y graham cracker crust, topped with more crumbs. I am now the designated family Graham Cracker Pie maker – and I make 8 of them every Thanksgiving and Christmas, because everyone wants one to take home! It is a labor of love, because I literally dirty every pot and pan in my kitchen in the process.

How did you find out about Cooking Matters?

Before retiring, I started looking at the list of volunteer opportunities that General Motors posts on our company website. The program sounded just perfect for me – and so far, it is!

What are your hobbies?

Cooking, of course! My favorite day is Saturday, when I start at the Royal Oak Farmer’s Market. I get inspired by ingredients, and then spend Sunday in the kitchen cooking and prepping for the week ahead. I also love to walk, do crossword puzzles, travel (doing the planning is almost as good as the going) and putter in my back yard. Now that I am not working, I would like to see if I can get better at golf. I love to play with my husband.

Why does cooking matter to you?

Cooking is just the precursor to having my family together around the table. It is fun for me to find new recipes and try them out on my family. And cooking is the very best way to make sure that the money I spend on food is not wasted. Again, since I am not working, it has become a game to see how I can use everything in the refrigerator without waste.

Do you have a favorite recipe that you would like to share?

Kale Salad with Pecorino and Walnuts! I love the Smitten Kitchen blog – and I stole this from there. It has become a family favorite. I just made it yesterday – and the leftovers are great for lunch the next day!

Kale Salad with Pecorino and Walnuts
“Please consider this a tale of two recipes, one that’s bare bones (add the raisins, walnuts and crumbs without the extra prep) and one if you’d like to get a little more depth from each. Both work, but the slightly longer prep (toasting the nuts, the crumbs in olive oil, plumping the raisins, etc.) really makes the salad sing and will not be regretted. You can choose your own adventure, too, doing more for some ingredients and less for others.

1/2 cup (105 grams or 3 3/4 ounces) walnut halves or pieces
1/4 cup (45 grams or 1 1/2 ounces) golden raisins
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup panko (15 grams or 1/2 ounce) or slightly coarse homemade breadcrumbs (from a thin slice of hearty bread)
1 tiny clove garlic, minced or pressed
Coarse or kosher salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch (about 14 ounces or 400 grams) tuscan kale (also known as black or lacinato kale; this is the thinner, flatter leaf variety), washed and patted dry
2 ounces (55 grams) pecorino cheese, grated or ground in a food processor, which makes it delightfully rubbly (1/2 cup total)
Juice of half a lemon
Freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes, to taste

Prepare walnuts: Heat oven to 350. Toast walnuts on a baking sheet for 10 minutes, tossing once. Let cool and coarsely chop.
Prepare raisins: In a small saucepan over low heat, simmer white wine vinegar, water and raisins for 5 minutes, until plump and soft. Set aside in liquid.
Prepare crumbs: Toast bread crumbs, garlic and 2 teaspoons of the olive oil in a skillet together with a pinch of salt until golden. Set aside.
Prepare kale: Trim heavy stems off kale and remove ribs. I always find removing the ribs annoying with a knife, because the leaves want to roll in on the knife and make it hard to get a clean cut. Instead, I’ve taken to tearing the ribs off with my fingers, which is much easier for me. Stack sections of leaves and roll them into a tube, then cut them into very thin ribbons crosswise.
Assemble salad: Put kale in a large bowl. Add pecorino, walnuts and raisins (leaving any leftover vinegar mixture in dish), remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and lemon juice and toss until all the kale ribbons are coated. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt, pepper and some of the reserved vinegar mixture from the raisins, if needed. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving, if you can, as it helps the ingredients come together. Just before serving, toss with breadcrumbs and, if needed, a final 1 teaspoon drizzle of olive oil.”

June 11, 2015 at 1:53 pm Leave a comment

Volunteer Spotlight: Heather Langille


Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in Nova Scotia, Canada, and have lived in many places in Canada, from the “far east” in Newfoundland to the far north in the Northwest Territories. My work as a Registered Dietitian with a Masters in Health Education has mostly been in public health and health promotion, with a focus on disease prevention. I moved to Michigan about eight years ago after living in Windsor, Ontario for 12 years. I met my husband who was also a member of an outdoor recreation club here in Detroit. We shared a passion for cycling and many other outdoor adventures. We currently live in the country on a dirt road where we love to explore back roads and hiking paths, on bike and on foot.

How did you first become interested in nutrition?
This question definitely takes me back, more years than I care to remember! But, I have enjoyed cooking and baking since I was a teenager. Since then, I spent my summers on my bike, getting me from place to place, in my neighborhood and beyond. When it came time to choose a university education, it seemed like a natural progression for me to learn more about nutrition and health.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering for Cooking Matters?
Being a part of helping participants demystify nutrition and gain new skills when it comes to making healthy food choices is a real treat for me. I get especially excited when participants share their food experiences and skills with one another in the group.

What is your favorite fruit?
As with many of my “favorite” foods, they change with the season. But, right now, with Spring finally here in Michigan, I would say that strawberries are my favorite fruit. I enjoy them in many forms – in a smoothie, with yogurt or vanilla ice cream, as part of a salad with lots of greens and a balsamic vinaigrette , and, of course, strawberry shortcake made with biscuits piled high with sweet, juicy strawberries and a dollop of real whipped cream. I also love them just as they are, with no preparation other than washing. They are like Mother Nature’s candy!

Do you have any good tips for eating well?
Understanding that all foods can fit is an important part of eating well. This means there is no such thing as a “good” food or a “bad” food. I like to think about foods to eat “most of the time” and foods to eat “occasionally”. Also, learning how to prepare a variety of meals at home that are quick, easy, tasty and healthy will go a long way in eating healthy foods most of the time. For example, start by trying to make one of the recipes from Cooking Matters at least once per week. Keep in mind that by making one small change at a time, it is easier to develop more and more healthy food habits.

Do you have a recipe you’d like to share?
Although I’ve tried and enjoyed several of the recipes found in the Cooking Matters manual, lately I’ve been making some version of the Mango Salsa, especially as we enter the Summer months when I tend to grill more. I sometimes add a can of black beans and some frozen corn, or I will replace the cucumber with chopped jicama for a slightly different texture. The great thing about this recipe is that it is so versatile and goes with many dishes, from grilled turkey burgers or grilled chicken breast to being a sandwich filling in a burrito.

Mango Salsa

Serving Size
Serves 6, 1/2 cup per serving

2 large ripe mangoes
1 small cucumber
2 medium green onions
1 medium jalapeño pepper
2 medium limes
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Optional Ingredients
1 medium bell pepper
¼ cup fresh cilantro

Cutting board
Measuring spoons
Medium bowl
Plastic wrap
Sharp knife


  • Rinse mangoes, cucumber, green onions, jalapeño pepper, limes, and bell pepper, if using.
  • Peel mangoes. Cut mango flesh from the pits.
  • Cut cucumber in half lengthwise. Remove seeds. If using bell pepper, cut in half lengthwise. Remove stems and seeds.
  • Dice mangoes, cucumber, and bell pepper, if using. Finely chop green onions.
  • Cut jalapeño pepper in half lengthwise. Remove stems and seeds and dice.
  • If using, rinse and chop cilantro.
  • Cut limes in half. Squeeze juice from each half into a medium bowl. Discard seeds.
  • Add mangoes, cucumber, green onions, jalapeño, salt, and cayenne pepper to bowl with juice. If using, add bell pepper and cilantro. Mix well.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

Chef’s Notes
Mangoes usually feel a little softer when ripe. If mangoes are not in season or not in your store, use canned peaches or pineapple, packed in juice. Drain before using.

Serve salsa as a dip with Homemade Corn Tortilla Chips. Or, use as a topping for fresh fish or pork, black bean soup, or tacos.

May 7, 2015 at 12:34 pm Leave a comment

Voice It!

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As a part of her doctoral dissertation, all-star Cooking Matters volunteer Viki Shayna has spent the better part of the last two years investigating how participating in Cooking Matters changed experience with food for women with diabetes.  Her findings were incredible. “Women living in Detroit who attended the Conner Creek Medical Center programs and who completed Cooking Matters were invited to complete a survey and participate in seven-weeks of follow-up classes that combined photography and discussion. The PhotoVoice method was used to collect data, and a phenomenological framework was used to evaluate the data. A comparison group allowed statistical analysis of quantitative medical measurements.

Statistically significant results indicated that women who participated in Cooking Matters had lower Hemoglobin A1c values than those who did not, and that these values continued to drop over a nine-month time period after the classes ended. Furthermore, participants exercised more, ate breakfast more often and read labels more often than non-participants. Participants suffered from less hunger issues than non-participants. Cooking Matters was found to be a financially feasible means to improve the lives both qualitatively and quantitatively of those who participate in the program.”

You can see the photos taken by the women who participated above.

April 8, 2015 at 1:00 pm Leave a comment

Volunteer Spotlight: Anna Bialk

CMK Grad

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am from Port Huron, but moved to Detroit to attend Wayne State University. That was when I really got to know Detroit and love Detroit. I started working front of the house in restaurants to support myself during college. I knew cooking was a passion, but it was always on the back burner until I decided to pursue it in 2007. I enrolled in the culinary program at Oakland Community College. When I started volunteering for Cooking Matters, it really changed the way I think about food. So many people are not aware of how easy it is to make healthy meals, or that they can do it on a budget.

How did you connect with the Cooking Matters program?

A friend told me about it. I was a little skeptical until I got involved. It’s really amazing to take what I know and share it with others who will make that knowledge useful for them. It’s a natural fit for me to help out in this way.

What ingredients do you always keep on hand?

I love fresh vegetables. I try to use them as much as I can when I cook at home. I always have milk and eggs I the refrigerator, which is really useful when cooking from scratch. I also keep lots of spices and fresh protein on hand. I try to stay as vegetarian as possible, but I also appreciate meat.

Do you have any tips for shopping smart?

I’m always keeping an eye out for produce on sale at different markets, and buy in bulk. I also look for store brands when it will save me money.

What do you do in your spare time?

I love spending time with my chef friends. I also enjoy music and the outdoors.

What is the best thing you’ve done with a Cooking Matters class so far?

In the last kids class I did, we made veggie superheroes and fruit faces. I laughed so hard!

Is there a recipe that you would like to share?

Curry Veggies and Tofu with Brown Rice

1 cup brown rice

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into one-inch cubes

2 carrots, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 onion, diced

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste or 1 tablespoon curry powder*

2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1 cup coconut milk

1 cup frozen peas

1 cup frozen okra

1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves

Cook the rice according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, transfer to a plate.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the skillet. Add the carrots, onion, and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften. Mix in the curry paste or powder.

Add the broth and coconut milk to the skillet and bring to a simmer. Add the tofu, peas and okra and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle with the basil and serve with the rice.

*If using curry powder, salt dish to taste.


April 8, 2015 at 1:36 am 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.

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