Monday, March 1, 2010

We all have a teacher that has changed our lives forever. For me my kindergarten and 4th Grade teacher would always be one of my alltime favorites. As a chef instructor I could only hope that of the many students I teach, that I serve as someone's favorite.

Recently I completed a City Harvest Upper Room series. An extraorinary team was organized. Melissa a fellow chef, served as the co-facilitator/chef, Dawn was our nutrionist, Dave the Class Manager, Aliyah our support team and I served as the chef and co-facilitator. Together we provided people at the Church in Brooklyn with healthy recipes, nutritional exercies and a fresh view on eating right.

Original I signed up for the class as an opportunity to team up with my friend and co-worker Melissa. At the end I wouldn't have it another way. Every Wednesday we worked together to stress the importance of reading labels, chosing low-sodium products and using new ingredients to create delcious and healthy meals.

While I have a great appreciation for food, every week I looked forward to Dawn's nutritional segment. I wanted to understand labels better, wanted to understand the why's behind the do's and don'ts on what to eat. For instance, I knew it was healthy to eat whole wheat bread, but I didnt understand how important it was until I saw the wheat bread v. white bread demonstration. I knew about saturated fat, but it became vivid after seeing the Blubber Burger exercise. I knew I should incorporate more vegetables, but would never think about making a vegetarian lasagna. It began to make sense and fall into place. I took part of the discussions, not just as an educator, but as soemone who too had questions. I gave feedback and shared with everyone how they inspired me to eat better. And while I am always trying to lose a couple of pounds, I saw this as a lifestyle change rather than a diet. Slowly I began incorporating some of the many things I learned into my life. I noticed that I automatically began looking even closer at food labels, purchased more 100% wheat products, and began eating better and incorporating some of the same ingredients we were introducing to our students like barley, whole wheat lasagna and no salt tomato sauces. I have become more conscious of the amount of salt I use when cooking, and have begun adding more herbs and acids to boast up flavors. I even began carrying a baggie filled with raw almonds, pumpkin seeds and raisins after Dawn thought my salty version needed a change.

All these things are just a few of the things I took away from the series. Moreoverly, I took with me a bunch of new friends, and the memory of students who too seemed affected by our class. We all discussed the little alterations we were making along the weeks, and hopefully these new practices will stick. Together we made a difference and perhaps will be viewed by some of our participants as a favorite or instrumental leader in their learning experience with food.

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