Our Kitchen Passes the Test - Capital Area Food Bank
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Our Kitchen Passes the Test

By Cam Henry November 26, 2013

Our state-of-the-art testing kitchen once again has everyone chatting.Sure, people know that our resident dietitian Jodi Balis offers up recipe ideas such as What to Do With Thanksgiving Leftovers.

Yet many people still didn’t know until a recent article in the Washington Post that our focus on healthy, fresh food means that we have people making delicious meals in ourcalling-all-volunteers-feb kitchen as part of a test.

Not just any meals. Meals that are easily made with food bank food items, and can serve a family of four for less than $8.

Not comfort food, comfortable recipes

Kate Sherwood, the executive chef at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, shares recipes with volunteers from different food bank partners.

With an eagle eye, she hovers over the amateur cooks, each standing at his or her own cooking station donning an apron, making a dish they have never made before.

Sherwood, a volunteer herself, is looking for any little hitch in the recipes.

Is there an ingredient people are not comfortable with? Are people raising their eyebrows when the recipe asks them to “puree” something? Sherwood fears that someone might skip her healthy recipe if there is something in it that is not in their comfort zone.

She has advice for each cook. How to better chop an onion. Why we should rinse canned vegetables if they are not salt-free. How to properly roast garlic.  Her goal is to have the volunteers learn from their kitchen experience while at the same time, giving her an insider’s view of how amateur cooks interact with new recipes.

Once the dozen or so dishes are complete, everyone sits down to share. But unlike other meals, the cooks now become critics, required to write down their impressions of the dishes.

Sherwood feverishly takes notes while they share their thoughts on whether the dishes were easy to make, tasty, and whether the cooks could picture themselves using the recipe at home.

If it gets the thumbs up on all three of those tests, the recipe becomes part of our Healthy Recipe Database, currently chock full of tasty meals that are low in calories and sodium and high in protein.

Those same recipes are also printed on cards in English and Spanish and be distributed with food at more than 500 agencies.

Our commitment to healthy eating goes beyond offering fresh healthy food to our recipients. We help our community enjoy nutritious food, and show them the link between hearty, low-cost meals and overall wellness.