I have begun a new adventure!
I have always felt very strongly that each and every person is worthy of good nutritious food. The fact is, in this country not everyone has access to healthy ingredients. Additionally, due to lack of information and resources many people are unfamiliar with the affordable healthy foods available in their region. This week marks the second of seven I will be leading cooking classes with Cooking Matters. Cooking Matter is a branch of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign.
The No Kid Hungry campaign is ending childhood hunger in America by connecting kids in need with nutritious food and teaching families how to cook healthy, affordable meals, through Cooking Matters. With the help of volunteer culinary and nutrition experts, participants learn to shop smarter, make healthier food choices, and cook delicious meals. – cookingmatters.org
One of my top resolutions for 2013 was to find ways to give back to my community through food. I heard about Cooking Matters from a friend who was volunteering in San Francisco. Using the Cooking Matters website I quickly discovered how to become a volunteer in my region. Though nation wide, Cooking Matters is coordinated on a local level by community organizations. Solid Ground is responsible for all the classes in the greater Seattle area.
Cooking Matters serves a diverse audience of low-income families, who bring the richness of their backgrounds, cultures, languages and kitchen practices to Cooking Matters classes. Most are enrolled in food assistance programs including SNAP (food stamps) and free or reduced-price school meals. Many also count on food pantries when other food sources run out. – cookingmatters.org
Each class series is presented by a four person team made up of a Cooking Matters Program Coordinator and three volunteers (see below). I am the chef instructor for this series. While I don’t have a professional background my experience in the kitchen and desire to teach more than qualifies me to take the chef role. This will be my first series with Cooking Matters but the other volunteers have participated numerous times during the last few years.
At the heart of Cooking Matters are the chefs, nutritionists, and support volunteers who donate their invaluable time and extraordinary talents to help low-income families develop the skills they need. Join us on the frontlines as a Cooking Matters volunteer in one of the following roles:
- Chef Instructors teach adults, kids, and teens how to cook and shop for healthy, low-cost foods. They combine their own knowledge and experience with the lesson plans and recipes provided in the Cooking Matters curricula. Chef volunteers are usually either graduates of or enrolled in a two-year culinary training program or have at least two years working as a cook or chef.
- Nutrition Instructors teach adults, kids, and teens how to make healthy choices. They use the lesson plans and instructional materials provided in the Cooking Matters curricula, along with their own expertise. Nutrition volunteers are typically graduates of or enrolled in dietetics programs or have at least two years working in a nutrition or dietetics position.
- Support Volunteers help before, during and after classes. Duties may include shopping for food, handing out and collecting class materials, engaging reluctant participants, helping with set up and clean up, or taking photos during class to help record the Cooking Matters course experience. – cookingmatters.org
During the cooking portion of each class I will lead both parents and children in the preparation of two recipes. The remaining class time is dedicated to addressing basic practical nutrition information. Due to the location of the class series it is unlikely that I will take any pictures while I am working with the participants. However, I will be trying some of the recipes we make before each class and those I will share with you. You can also find healthy cooking tips and many recipes used in the classes on the Cooking Matters website (Tips and Recipes).
Last week our family tried Baked Flaked Chicken. It was very similar to something my mom used to make. The recipe is a great one for getting kids involved in the cooking process. There are three simple steps to this recipe and even very young children can help with one or two of them. I remember my Mom made this by scooping some crispy rice cereal or corn flakes into a clean plastic bag. She let us crunch it up a bit, then added a few seasonings before shaking and baking the chicken pieces. This recipe has a little more nuance but it is worth the extra effort. The chicken comes out super crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. Though the original recipe calls for removing the chicken skin I opted to leave it on. I hope you give this budget, and family, friendly recipe a try.
Baked Flaked Chicken
Don’t let the steps intimidate you this is a very simple recipe. It can be prepared quickly for a weeknight meal and should be a hit with the whole family. This is a great recipe to involve kids, even toddlers can help crush the cereal or shake the chicken in the flour. You’ll need a cookie sheet plus two medium bowls and a shallow dish (or a clean bag, a medium bowl, and a shallow dish).
From Cooking Matters (see original recipe)
Prep time: 15 minutes, Cook time: 20 – 25 minutes; Yield 8 (4 oz.) servings
- non-stick spray
- 2 pounds of chicken legs, skin removed if desired
- 1/3 cup whole wheat flour (may substitute brown rice cereal for gluten free)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup non-fat milk
- 3 cups of corn flakes or crispy rice cereal
- optional: 1/2 – 1 teaspoon herbs or spices (dried herbs, cumin, paprika, or chili powder)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray a cookie sheet with a light coating of non-stick spray, set aside.
- In a small bowl or a clean plastic bag – combine the flour, salt, pepper, and any additional spices.
- In a shallow dish – lightly beat the eggs and milk with a fork.
- In a third medium dish – place the cereal and crush the pieces lightly with the back of a spoon.
- Line the dishes up so you can work from flour to cereal and place the prepared cookie sheet within easy reach.
- Coat the chicken with the flour and spice mixture by rolling in the flour or place all the pieces into the bag, twist it closed and give everything a few good shakes. Dip the chicken pieces into the egg mixture one at a time so that the egg coats the flour. Finally roll the chicken in the cereal. Each piece should be fully coated with cereal. Place the coated chicken on the cookie sheet and repeat until all the chicken has been coated.
- Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees.
Approximate Nutrition Information: (with either cereal) 228 calories, 9.4 g fat, 13 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 20 g protein, PP= 6