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12/31/2015

A Family Meal at Children’s Bureau

Hispanic chefs top culinary initiative in Los Angeles

Today, a group of Hispanic chefs from Los Angeles participated in “A Family Meal”, a charitable initiative that aims to teach low-income Hispanic parents to prepare economical recipes with a high nutritional content.

“Our goal is to reunite families around kitchen tables and teach children to cook at an early age in effort to prevent obesity and hunger in our country,” explained Joey Leff, founder of the program.

The workshop, which today celebrated its third edition, was held with 60 Latino mothers eager to learn new recipes to increase the variety of nutritious food in their household.

“I enjoy learning more about nutrition and how to prepare food in a healthy way,” said Ana Limeta, a Mexican mother who attended the workshop.

Andreina Torres, a mother of Mexican origin with a four-year-old girl and a baby of five months in her arms explained, “My eldest daughter is a very picky eater and I’m always trying to learn new dishes.”

During the workshop, conducted at Children’s Bureau, the well-known Peruvian chef, Ricardo Zárate, demonstrated how to make three simple dishes with fresh ingredients from a local farmers’ market.

“We are cooking a meal on a budget of less than twenty dollars for families of four: mom, dad, and two children. And we are doing three different types of dishes,” said the Peruvian chef.

Accompanied by Salvadorian Cook, Jonatan Vázquez, Zarate presented three recipes that feature zucchini and carrots as the main ingredients.

He demonstrated how to cook dozens of small muffins and frittatas by using a variety of vegetable combinations and spicing them up with secondary ingredients.

After the culinary lesson and recipe tasting, mothers received printed copies of the recipes with nutritional information and instructions for preparation.

The founder of the program explained that the food used in the workshop was donated from a local famers’ market within two miles of Children’s Bureau. This farmers’ market also donated vouchers to all the workshop participants to use at the farmers’ market.

The three workshops that “A Family Meal” has held are with chefs who speak Spanish, since the program is primarily aimed at Hispanic communities in Los Angeles with low financial resources.

“The most wonderful thing has been seeing the interest in families and all the questions they ask,” pointed out the founder of the program, who also emphasized that children and adolescents want to learn how to cook alongside their mothers and grandmothers.

“It’s wonderful because that’s precisely what we’re trying to achieve,” she said.

Looking to the future, “A Family Meal” plans to work on expanding to other regions and demographic groups that have the same need to develop low-cost, healthy meals.

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