Home Food Take time for home cooking to celebrate National Nutrition Month

Take time for home cooking to celebrate National Nutrition Month

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Jana Renner, Special to the El Paso Times
Published 4:59 p.m. MT March 23, 2021

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LSU Ag Center area nutritionist Quincy Vidrine uses an air fryer to cook fresh vegetables at the Alexandria Farmers Market. Vidrinie said they want people to cook fresh, healthy food when using air fryers.

March is National Nutrition Month, so it’s a perfect time to talk about some of the things the Paso del Norte Health Foundation and its partners are doing to improve the health of our community.

The foundation’s Healthy Living priority area supports a variety of programs throughout the Paso del Norte region that provide educational and promotional programs, such as nutrition and cooking classes, that influence behavior in selecting, preparing, cooking and eating healthy foods.

La Semilla Food Center is a nonprofit organization that operates in El Paso and Southern New Mexico whose mission is to build a healthy, self-reliant, fair and sustainable food system in the Paso del Norte region. Its Edible Education program is made possible through funding from the Paso del Norte Health Foundation.

The Edible Education program engages with participants in a hands-on experience growing and cooking fruits and vegetables. One aspect of La Semilla’s school programming is Family Cooking Nights. During Family Cooking Nights, students each receive a kid-safe knife so they can practice chopping and cooking vegetables alongside their grown-ups and allow community members to share their knowledge and recipes as they prepare and enjoy a home-cooked meal. Family Cooking Nights are a collaboration between La Semilla and Ngage NM.

During the pandemic, Family Cooking Nights shifted to a virtual format, allowing La Semilla to bring Edible Education right into people’s homes. In addition to the abrupt necessity for home cooking, cooking meals at home is often healthier and less expensive than eating at restaurants.

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“As the pandemic began and part of our eating culture with local restaurants was limited, more people found themselves cooking meals at home,” says Elizabeth Anichini, director of La Semilla Food Center’s Edible Education program. “People have found comfort in food traditions and new recipes and even got creative around celebrating holidays.”

Participant families receive a box of fresh produce delivered to their home, La Semilla’s Farm Fresh team sources ingredients from farms that are working toward agroecological practices, including paying living wages to their workers. It’s important to look at buying local produce as an investment in our own community and community members who are employed by local growers who grow sustainably and ethically.

To do this, all of the Edible Education recipes center locally grown vegetables and grains in plant-based meals. The recipes are flexible and follow the seasons to incorporate produce available from local farms.

The program’s March cookbook includes recipes for homemade tostadas, toppings and turnip salsa. Anichini shared the recipe for Turnip Salsa. This recipe was initially developed as a radish salsa by Samantha Cortez’s students at Vado Elementary and has become an Edible Education program favorite. When turnips are in season, they work great in this recipe as well.

Radish or Turnip Salsa

Ingredients:

• 1-2 jalapeños, finely diced

• 1/2 large red onion, finely diced

• 1 pound radishes or turnips, diced

• 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped

• 1 tablespoon lime juice

• 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

• 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

• Step 1: Finely dice turnips, jalapeños and onion and add to bowl.

• Step 2: Chop 1/2 bunch of cilantro and add to the large bowl with lime juice, salt and pepper. Mix until well combined.

• Step 3: Serve and enjoy!

To learn more about La Semilla’s Edible Education program, visit lasemillafoodcenter.org.

Families of school-aged children can enroll in La Semilla’s May Cooking Night on May 25 at the following link: https://tinyurl.com/MAY12FCNEP

Farm Fresh Boxes are available weekly for pick up or delivery at La Semilla’s website. La Semilla accepts SNAP, and the Double Up Food Bucks program makes Farm Boxes 50% off for SNAP users.

Jana Renner is program officer for the Paso del Norte Health Foundation. She may be reached at jrenner@pdnfoundation.org or 915-218-2616.

Read or Share this story: https://www.elpasotimes.com/story/life/2021/03/23/take-time-home-cooking-celebrate-national-nutrition-month-la-semilla-food-center-edible-education/6974114002/

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