By: Morgan Carey
The Let’s Eat Healthy Community Grant program of Dairy Council of California provides community health organizations additional funding to enhance programs within their communities. A shining example of the program’s success is North Valley Military Institute’s video series, “Cooking with Families: A Creative Twist on Familiar Foods,” hosted by Chef Gaby.
Families at North Valley Military Institute, based in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Sun Valley, came together for the cooking series. It was a way for the community to celebrate National Nutrition Month and National School Breakfast Week while also providing a learning opportunity to cook more balanced meals at home together.
“Cooking With Families” features a dairy-inclusive healthy take on familiar foods and meals with an emphasis on simplicity, access and availability. The series was designed to inspire families to cook together, try new foods and flavors and make healthy eating decisions at home.
The family cooking series included a total of four classes at North Valley Military Institute Food Pantry and partnered with a Let’s Eat Healthy champion, Chef Gaby Schuster. Since Chef Gaby is based in Bellingham, Washington, sessions were delivered virtually and implemented by the Community Schools Manager ad and Let’s Eat Healthy Initiative member, Yadira Sanchez. The first half of each class included a cooking lesson, then the second half was dedicated to a live Q&A so participants could interact, share their successes and challenges, and ask Chef Gaby specific recipe questions. The Q&A portion almost always ran long because families were so engaged! Prizes such as sheet pans and silicone muffin cups were raffled off at the end of each class to encourage participation and attendance.
Recipes included Banana Carrot Breakfast Muffins and Pancakes, Creamy Cheesy Cauliflower Sauce, Arepas With a Twist, and Two-Bean Casserole With Cornbread Crust. The community-informed recipes combined flavor and nutrition in a creative way and could be easily adapted based on foods available in the kitchen.
The final class also included cooking stations so families had the opportunity to make, taste and enjoy all four recipes together. Participants were recognized for their dedication and presented with a certificate of completion by Dr. Mark Ryan, Superintendent of the military institute. Families also received a tote bag with nutrition resources, an apron and gift cards to the nearby grocery store so they could shop for ingredients and make the recipes at home.
A total of 28 individuals participated in the series and evaluation of the series demonstrate, 82% of participants rated the program as being “excellent,” and 10% as “very good” or “good”; Nearly all of the participants agreed that they gained helpful information on nutrition and cooking that will increase their likelihood of sharing and cooking the presented recipes.
Bring “Cooking With Families, A Creative Twist on Familiar Foods” to your community year-round. All cooking videos and recipe cards in English
and Spanish can be found at HealthyEating.org/CWF.
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