“You’d think that someone who works in a restaurant would know how to cook, but all I do there is throw pre-prepared mixes together,” says Maria, “Oh, and fry everything.”
As a single mom, Maria doesn’t have much time to cook when she returns home from work exhausted, nor does she really want to spend more time cooking after a long workday of frying and mixing.
With the arrival of her second daughter, Maria began to think more about her family history of diabetes, and when she heard about a Cooking Matters class being offered at the Head Start program her daughter attends, she decided to sign up.
During the class, Maria learned how to make things like cakes, salad dressings, macaroni and cheese, and pasta sauce from scratch. She knew it could be done, but it always seemed like a chore or project. “I had no idea how simple it could be!” Maria soon realized that with a little extra planning she was saving a lot of money. “I don’t run out of money for food as often anymore,” Maria notes.
“Now I’m always thinking about eating healthy,” says Maria. “My family is benefitting a lot from the new ways I have learned to combine fruits and vegetables, which before we ate very rarely.” During the grocery store tour, feeling ambitious, Maria grabbed fennel, which was an unknown vegetable to her and decided she would learn how to cook it. After speaking with the chef instructor she made a plan to add it to a vegetable and alphabet pasta soup.
The following week Maria returned triumphant. She used the fennel in the soup and her children thought it was both fun and delicious. Her excitement in class was palpable, and one of the other mothers in class, initially skeptical of such a vegetable laden soup, asked her for the recipe.
A month after the course, Maria’s friends began to ask her “Are you eating less? How are you losing weight?” Maria’s response to them was, “No, I’m eating differently.” She feels better – she feels like she had more energy – but she also feels proud that she now serves her children food that is nourishing. “It feels good to know what good food is,” she says.