Monday, July 2, 2012

Cooking Matters: Sitting in on a mock course

I've talked to you about Share Our Strength before- but mainly in regards to their chief fundraising activity -their annual Taste of the Nation events that take place nationwide.  Share Our Strength is a far more than just tasting galas, however and the funds raised by those events go to a variety of truly incredible outreach programs that they have created.

Of course the main mission of Share Our Strength is as their motto proclaims- "No Kid Hungry"- they are pledging to end childhood hunger right here in the United States.  The exceptional end of Share Our Strength and one of the reasons that I will normally drop all other obligations or commitments to hang with their people or help them out, is because they are not an organization that is just pumping money into things without a good eye on how those funds are used, and how impactful they will be in the long run.  One of the programs that I am most impressed with is Cooking Matters.

Last week I had the opportunity to learn about Cooking Matters by participating in a mock class.  Cooking Matters, in its most basic terms, teaches parents, and their children, how to cook.  It is so much more however than how to add heat to some ingredients and make a meal.  Every course, offered through community centers, churches, etc is hosted by both a chef and a nutritionist and the six week course concentrates on everything from knife skills, to comparing ingredients to give the most nutrition, to introducing the participants to brand new to them foods, fruits and vegetables.

The evening that they invited us in, they prepared a "typical" meal- starting with whole wheat pineapple carrot muffins, and black bean and corn whole wheat quesadilla's and a mango salsa.  The chef walked us through how to cut into a mango, the right way to season the ingredients, and the safest way to cook them together.  The nutritionist pointed out the pairings of food, the different subsitutions that can be made to keep things healthy without losing flavor, and the best ways to get food like barley palateable to those who may be averse.

Different colors representing all those vital nutrients!
The course spends a fair amount of time in the kitchen, but they don't stop there.  All graduates of the course receive a cookbook made especially for the program, they receive the ingredients necessary to make the meals they made in class at home each week, and on the last weeks they are brought to a local grocery store and led through each aisle pointing out the most nutritious and cost affective items that they can serve to their families. 

The ideas presented within the Cooking Matters curriculum are not new- they are classic, time old truths that so often get forgotten for supposed convenience.  It seems so much easier and cheaper to hit a drive through for dinner and throw back a hamburger and fries than it does to go to a grocery store, purchase ingredients that so often can carry what seems like a hefty price tag, and then spend time at home cooking a meal.  The classes educate them all on how easy cooking can be, the enjoyment that can come when it is made into a family activity, and the ability to stretch one meal into several with leftovers. 

Cooking Matters leaves no stone unturned with their work, making sure that every person who completes the course walks away not only with skills, but knowledge.  Their success stories clearly portray that those graduates understand the full impact of "healthy eating" on their children, and how it doesn't need to be anymore expensive than those nightly take out meals. 

Cooking Matters is always looking for volunteers- so if you have some time to assist the team in these courses, or you know someone who might benefit from such a course, please visit

1 comment:

Michelle Collins said...

I was sorry to miss this event, but I'm a big fan of Cooking Matters. They're doing great things!

Restaurant Reviews: A dead art?

Last December I declared 2023 the year I would return to food writing.  It was a bold statement (even now as I look at my last published dat...