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What’s Cooking? A Creative Solution for Shelter Residents

by Caitlin McFeely, Communications Associate, Children's Health Fund

How would you create a homemade meal if you had no kitchen space and only a microwave oven to cook it in?  You’d probably have to be very creative to find a solution that was not only tasty, but nutritional as well.

Today, I am heading to a New York City shelter -- where Children’s Health Fund’s New York Children’s Health Project (NYCHP) provides services for kids and families -- to take part in a new cooking class that teaches moms in the shelter just that…how they can create a healthy and delicious meal, all in the microwave.

The idea for a microwave cooking class was devised by NYCHP’s nutrition team when they saw the many challenges families living in shelters faced when it came to food security.  The temporary apartments in this particular shelter have no kitchen space, only a microwave and a small refrigerator. Without a stove, many of the residents had difficulty preparing meals and oftentimes were forced into making unhealthy food choices—like fast food or frozen meals—when it came time for dinner. 

Once a month, NYCHP Nutritionist Victoria Stein prepares a menu of easy recipes (including desserts!!).  Prior to the class, Victoria maps out the meal she will help the moms learn to make, ensuring the ingredients are healthy, easy to find, and affordable.  On class days, the group gathers in the shelter, learns to cook the meal together, and then sits down to enjoy their creation.  In addition to teaching them how to make the meal, Vicky also gives the moms nutrition tips and teaches them about microwave safety.  It is a great way for the moms to come together, socialize, and learn how to provide healthy meals for their kids, given their current situation.

I must say, I am not sure what to expect from today’s class (where we will be cooking chicken parmesan, whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce, and cheesecake).  Will that really taste good when cooked in the microwave?  I guess I will find out soon enough.

Be sure to check Children's Health Fund’s Twitter for live tweets from the class and check back here tomorrow for my reaction and for some photos. 

Have you tried any microwave recipes you’d like to share?  Let us know.