PLANT POWER - New Herb Garden Inspires Women
March 19, 2015
“Wow! That chocolate mint is strong,” declared a surprised woman nibbling on a few just plucked leaves.
Volunteer cooking instructor Lynne Burrell nodded her head in agreement as she motioned to the other eight women to cut their own sprigs from the redwood planter box packed with a variety of aromatic, tender greens.
Epiphany Center’s Hands-on-Healthy Cooking Classes are pressing and practical, offering low-income women, many of them struggling mothers in recovery, lessons on how to cook and eat wholesome, nutritious meals for themselves and their little ones. “My goal is to make it easy, affordable, fast, tasty, and sustainable for them,” says Lynne. After clipping and gathering a basket brimming with freshly harvested oregano, rosemary, chocolate mint, chives, and thyme, the women convene in the agency’s communal kitchen. As they collaborate, chopping, dicing, and mixing, the women learn how to craft healthy meals without boxed goods and preservatives.
“I brought in some store-bought bottled salad dressings,” said Lynne, holding up a few familiar looking grocery store staples. “If you read the label, you will see most dressings are basically high fructose corn syrup mixed with canola oil. Canola oil is man-made, and recent scientific studies have found it raises blood pressure, increases insulin resistance, and shortens lifespan. Today, I thought it would be fun and helpful to make our own salad dressings infused with fresh herbs,” said Lynne.
Groups of as many as a dozen participants with varying degrees of culinary skills gather together for one hour twice a week.
“I think I heard if you roll the herbs before chopping them, the taste is stronger,” said another woman as she demonstrated for the others.
The bi-weekly classes are part of Epiphany Center’s comprehensive program designed to strengthen the city’s most vulnerable families and to enhance the physical, social-emotional, intellectual and spiritual growth of each person in their care.
“The women were really excited to learn how to use fresh greens from the garden, not only for their own homemade salad dressings today, but in their future cooking endeavors,” said Lynne. “Before the dressings were bottled, the enthusiastic new chefs were already dreaming up ways to package the herbs as holiday gifts.”
A very special thank you again to Boy Scout Troop 14 for beautifying Epiphany’s garden! These hard working, creative volunteers built a stunning redwood herb planter box and filled it with fresh oregano, thyme, rosemary, chocolate mint, and chives. These young men are truly incredible! Thank you, Boy Scout Troop 14!
About Epiphany’s Hands-On Healthy Cooking Classes
Epiphany celebrates the value of protecting the planet and making healthy choices every day. The agency’s Hands-On-Healthy Cooking Classes run by Lynne Burrell teach the women, many of them mothers or soon-to-be mothers how to appreciate wholesome living and food choices in hopes that the habits will be sustainable for themselves and their little ones.
Help us continue offering life-changing programs such as Hands-On-Healthy Cooking Classes for San Francisco's most vulnerable families. Donate online here.