I must have driven past the Church Health Center hundreds of times on my way to and from school. The word “health” makes it fit right into the backdrop of the Memphis Medical District, but the CHC uses the word in its broadest sense. They offer classes and facilities to people at a small cost based on family size and income level. The classes include yoga, pilates, diabetes management, smoking cessation, nutrition planning– the list goes on and on. I had the privilege of helping their nutritionist, Carolyn, prepare for her healthy cooking class.
Chef Carolyn teaches several classes a day to members of the CHC. This means lots of ingredients to wash and chop, many little bowls to fill with pre-measured ingredients (don’t we all secretly wish we could cook this way?), and eventually quite a few dishes. Volunteering here was fun for me because I love to just knuckle up on that blade and chop to my heart’s content. On the day I helped, there were apples and leeks to be chopped, eggs to be separated, three different kinds of pepper to measure, and lots of plates to distribute.
Carolyn made brunch food– a lovely leek and egg breakfast casserole and an apple raisin crisp. The class ends with sample helpings, so I can tell you with confidence that both recipes are delicious. The class felt like a live taping of an actual cooking show, complete with the magic oven that has a pre-made version of whatever is being baked. As a person who used to pretend to have her own cooking show, this was amazing to me.
The class was extremely informative and quite interactive. My favorite tip: remember to measure the oil that you put into a pan every time. A slip of the hand can double or triple the amount of fat you use to cook! The patrons felt very comfortable asking questions about substitutions or cost-saving tricks. I love that there were young people and older people learning about healthier cooking. This class is not about dealing with existing health concerns by modifying the diet; it is about living a healthier life to prevent these health crises. Carolyn’s mentality is that, in the aggregate, “lots of small changes can lead to big results,” and I agree. I look forward to saying, “Yes chef!” in the future.
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