January 14, 2009

A Note from Gail

Gail, a Bread for the City client, is a cook at a senior assisted living facility, and also cooks for her church. She attends Bread for the City’s Fit for Fun cooking classes, and is using the recipes at work and at her church to provide more nutritious meals. “I’ve also signed up for the food pantry,” says Gail. “I used to eat most of my meals at work, but now I can have a home-cooked meal at my own home every so often.”

I have a job but no health insurance. I have high blood pressure and hypertension, and need medicine for both. My friend told me that Bread for the City’s medical clinic would be able to help me. So I came here to see what it was all about – and I found so much more.

Once I was here, I spoke with Sharon Gruber, and she invited me to come to the cooking classes. I’ve learned so much from these classes! And I already thought I knew about cooking – I cook for my church, and I work as a cook for a seniors’ assisted living center.

Usually there are about five of us in the class, and Sharon brings some food in and we try it, and talk about how it’s made, and talk about how we can make it on our own.

I learned all kinds of things in the class, like how sugar-free things aren’t always good for you. It’s weird. But Sharon helps us figure it all out. We learn to read the labels on food packages, which is not something I ever used to do because you’d go into a store to read labels and you wouldn’t be able to leave until it closes.

But I’m learning about what to watch out for. Like I’ve always figured that juice was good for you. But it turns out that juice can have a lot of sugar in it – you have to watch out.

I’m also learning how to flavor things without using all the salt. We learn about different seasonings, like a Japanese mixture called gomasio that’s good on vegetables.

I really never liked brown rice before, even though I’d tried to cook it. It doesn’t go with gravy! But I’m learning how to make it work (and gravy’s not so great for you, anyways). And another time we cooked sushi rice and added a drop of honey – it was delicious! And we’ve tried avocado, which I’m getting to like.

So now I’m taking the recipes to use at my job and at my church. They’ve had the same food there for so long, and I’m just doing things like reducing the amount of salt and cooking with better ingredients. Things that just make it healthier. For the most part nobody notices, but I now know how much healthier it is for everyone so it’s something I’m going to keep doing. And I’m going to keep coming to Bread for the City, because I’ve only just started learning.

Gail cooking for her family on Christmas Eve--looks good!

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