December 16, 2009

Cooking Class Kickoff

On Monday, December 14, we kicked off a new cooking class at Bread For the City’s Southeast Office. The Northwest cooking class has been well underway, and now we’ve taken the maiden voyage to start one up on Good Hope Road. We had a grand time making delicious, healthy, and easy Mediterranean food. Sharon Gruber, our Nutrition Consultant, taught us how to make Greek salad, Syrian rice and lentil mujadara, and carrots in orange sauce.

Before we started cooking, Sharon taught us a bit about whole grain versus white products. In the process of turning whole grains to white grains, a vast majority of the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals are lost. For instance, 75 percent of the iron in wheat is in the germ and bran, both of which are removed in the process of making whole grains into “white” products. And this is why Sharon made sure that the rice we cooked was whole grain, so we can get what our body needs. A common complaint about cooking brown rice is that it takes too long, but Sharon suggested that you can submerge the rice in water the night or morning before you plan to cook it, and by the time you’re ready to start dinner, it’ll only take 20 minutes.

Throughout the class, we all learned a number of helpful tidbits about various foods, such as grating a little lemon zest onto your salad, which helps the liver with its detoxification process. We were reminded not to peel off the cucumber skin as we chop it up for the salad, because the skin is full of nutrients. Even each of the spices and garnishes we added to the carrots had an important health component: cinnamon slows the release of sugar in the blood (great for diabetes), cumin is good for the heart, and parsley—and anything green—is good for the blood.

As we sat down to the meal, we devoured the delicious food and had enough to share with staff at the Southeast Office, enjoying a delicious family dinner. Sharon reminded us to listen to when we feel satisfied, not full. It’s all too easy to go over the threshold that our body needs, especially when the food is so good. Needless to say, we all had seconds on the carrots and salad, which disappeared quite quickly!

Each of the participants was delighted with the meal. “The carrots would be a good holiday dish. I can take them to a potluck,” mentioned Linda H. Diane stated, “I like to learn about good ways to fix foods I can eat that are good for me, because I eat a lot of foods that aren’t so good.” We’re hopeful that the class can be a learning experience for all of us as we continue to improve our eating habits. Every time I attend a class, I surely learn an abundance of new health information! We look forward to continuing the program as we begin to become stronger advocates for healthy living within the communities we serve.

Here’s the ingredient list if you’re interested in trying these delicious recipes for yourself!

Greek Salad
-Romaine lettuce
-Feta Cheese
-Lemon (juice squeezed for dressing, grated zest/peel for garnish)
-Olive oil (dressing)

Syrian Mujadara
-Brown rice (twice as much rice as lentils)

Carrots in Orange Sauce
-Baby carrots
-Orange juice
-Fresh parsley (chopped in at the end for flavor/garnish)

1 comment:

Mari said...

Cooking brown rice doesn't take THAt long. I cook brown rice all the time. It takes about 20-30 minutes. But I like my rice a little firm.
I use brown sushi rice and buy them in the 20 lb bags. I pour rice into a pot, rinse the rice about 2 or 3 times, then eyeball the amount of water to remain. I put the pot on the stove at high medium heat (gas) cover and wait for boiling. Once there is some boil action going, I stir with wood spoon, stir, and cover again at low heat. I might add some water. I check and 20-25 minutes later I got hot rice.
When I had a decent rice cooker, the brown rice seemed to cook no slower than the rice rice.