Here is an article written by a VT dietetic intern who is working with the Virginia Cooperative Extension office based at the Brambleton Center:
On Wednesday, January 23, 2013, a diverse group of eleven TAP (Total Action for Progress) Head-Start parents and volunteers congregated at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Salem for class one of “Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters” class. The goal of these classes is to bestow a set of cooking skills which will help participants learn about, plan, shop for, and prepare economical, nutritionally balanced meals. The classes span six weeks and will demonstrate multiple skills in the areas of nutrition, cooking, and budgeting so participants feel confident enough to prepare a meal that provides proper nourishment for their families. Cooking Matters is nationally sponsored by the ConAgra Foods® Foundation and Walmart. The program is being funded locally through the Community Investment Grant which was awarded to TAP and its partners including Virginia Cooperative Extension.
During the first class, participants learned healthy cooking basics. MyPlate (the USDA’s new nutrition guidelines) was explained in detail and participants were taught how to analyze and read a food label. The cooking portion of class included kitchen safety basics such as hand washing and knife safety. Knife techniques were explored and participants joined together to produce their lunch which included “The Works Pizza” (a crisp whole wheat pizza dough topped with a rich tomato sauce, reduced fat mozzarella cheese, and a plethora of sautéed vegetables), and “Northwest Apple Salad” (diced local apples tossed with crunchy roasted walnuts and creamy honeyed yogurt and topped with a dusting of cinnamon). Before eating, participants were shown how to read a recipe, were introduced to cooking terms and common ingredient measures, and shown what appropriate and inappropriate portions looked like.
The participants included a mixture of people from men to women, some cooking experience to none (one participant had never held a knife!), and various ethnicities. The volunteers which helped to put on this event were as diverse as the participants. A Family Nutrition Program assistant, Margarita Cubas, served as a Spanish translator for those participants not fluent in English. Deb Chappell, Extension Agent for Virginia Cooperative Extension, opened the class with introductions and ice-breakers. Virginia Tech Dietetic Intern, Sarah Marshall, led the nutrition portion of class using her knowledge obtained from her nutrition undergraduate program at James Madison University. Another Virginia Tech Dietetic Intern, Amanda Gilley, led the cooking section of class using her culinary nutrition knowledge obtained from her undergraduate program at Johnson & Wales University. Another family nutrition program assistant was in attendance to help with activities, and a Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Master Food Volunteer assisted in the kitchen.
At the end of class, laughter and questions drifted around the room as participants and volunteers sat together to enjoy the meal. Each participant left class with a grocery bag of ingredients to practice healthy cooking techniques at home. The atmosphere of the class showed participants and volunteers alike that cooking really does matter to not only improve the health of our citizens but to strengthen the community.
Northwest Apple Salad- From Cooking Matters Manual
Chef Linette True: Portland, Oregon
Serves 4, ¾ cup servings
Prep time: 10 minutes; Cook time: 5 minutes
2 medium Granny Smith Apples
2 tablespoons dried fruit (such as raisins or cranberries)
3 tablespoons plain low-fat yogurt
1 tablespoon whole, shelled walnuts
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tablespoon honey
1. Rinse and remove cores from apples. Do not peel. Cut into 1-inch pieces. Place in medium bowl.
2. Add dried fruit and yogurt to bowl. Mix well.
3. In a small skillet over medium heat, toast nuts until golden brown and fragrant. Watch closely so they do not burn. Remove from pan and let cool.
4. Chop cooled nuts with a knife. Or, put in a plastic bag and crush with a can.
5. Add crushed nuts to bowl. If using, add honey. Toss and serve.
Nutrition Facts for ¾ cup serving:
Total Fat: 1.5g
Sodium: 10 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 13g
• Use any kind of apple in this recipe
• Use any kind of nuts in place of walnuts. Nuts can be toasted in an oven at 350°F for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant. Nuts can also be ommitted.
Submitted by Amanda Gilley, Virginia Tech Dietetic Intern currently working with Virginia Cooperative Extension