Cooking Matters @ Alliance: Class 1

The Fall Cooking Matters class has kicked off at Alliance Medical Ministry!

Cooking Matters is a six-week cooking and nutrition course that helps Alliance patients plan, shop, and cook healthy, nutritious, affordable, and delicious meals.  Alliance Medical Ministry is a site for this free, six-week program, coordinated with the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle. The first class for the Fall session was Monday, September 25th. About 13 participants and a few family members came together to make zucchini burrito boats.


The volunteer instructor for the fall course, Imani Allen, is our Nutrition Intern from North Carolina State University.  The class will be taught in Spanish as well, thanks to our volunteer interpreter Adrianna. Adrianna is also a former cooking matters participant!

The class started off by discussing some reason why participants wanted to improve their diets and change their eating habits. Participants also discussed what they hoped to learn from the six-week course. This included eating healthier on a budget, learning different ways to cook or incorporate fruits and veggies, and just improving over all health with their diet.

The class then headed into the kitchen to get started on the zucchini boats! Stuffed zucchini makes a great dinner and can be very versatile.


Zucchini Burrito Boats


  • 4 large zucchini
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained rinsed
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  •  ½ cup corn kernels
  • 1 jalapeno (or poblano pepper) cored, diced
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 1 packet of McCormick Taco seasoning
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar/Monterey jack cheese


1. Start by greasing a 9 x 13” casserole dish then set aside. Slice each zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a metal teaspoon, hollow out the center of each zucchini. Lightly brush the tops with one teaspoon of olive oil then place them skin side down in the casserole dish.

2. Next, warm the tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and the peppers and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add the rice, corn, and beans along with the taco seasoning. Stir everything together and continue to cook for about 5 minutes and then remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and spoon the filling inside each zucchini until they are full. Sprinkle each one with cheese and arrange them in the dish and cover with foil. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes.

4. Allow them to cool for 5-10 minutes then serve and enjoy! Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Volunteer Highlight: Alice Hinman, Apiopolis

The City of Raleigh is a-buzz with honey, hives, and honeybees, thanks in part to the dedication of Alice Hinman and her non-profit, Apiopolis. (You may recognize her from the cover of your Walter Magazine a few months ago.)

In Alliance's continuing efforts to be good stewards of our environment and our land in urban Raleigh, we added two bee hives to our pollinator garden and Community Garden earlier this year. 

When Alice learned of Alliance's interest in beekeeping, she immediately signed on to support our efforts.

"I was very impressed with the work Alliance does to promote health and wellness, not only by providing healthcare for uninsured working adults, but by planting a community garden on site to be able to offer their clients with hyper locally grown fresh produce to support a healthy lifestyle."

When Alice started Apiopolis, she sought to make a difference to honeybee health as well as the ecological health and well-being of Raleigh and all the organisms and people that live here. "I strive to do so in the most inclusive, joyful and artful way possible."

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Alice is a firm believer in community participation and activism.  In addition to keeping the hives of her clients, she also volunteers as the beekeeper at Passage Home's Community Garden.

Alice Hinman (L) with Alliance Community Garden & Wellness Coordinator Jesse Crouch (R) removing the wax capping from a frame of honey.

Alice Hinman (L) with Alliance Community Garden & Wellness Coordinator Jesse Crouch (R) removing the wax capping from a frame of honey.

"There are so many great organizations doing vital work in Raleigh. By collaborating and forming partnerships, innovative or obvious, we can support each other’s efforts and make our community stronger and healthier. Creating a truly sustainable local food system by necessity includes pollinators as well as all members of our community."

Honeybees are critical to the health of our community, but in recent years have been in decline in the face of numerous stressors.

"Honeybees are fascinating, beautiful creatures. There is never an end to learning about them, their inter-relationships with other species and kingdoms, and how best to care for them. I think accepting responsibility for the well being of something you love is the first step toward changing things for the better."

Clockwise from top left:  A frame of honey from one of the Alliance hives before removing the wax capping.  Honey dripping out of cheese cloth. Removing the wax capping from a frame of honey.

Clockwise from top left:  A frame of honey from one of the Alliance hives before removing the wax capping.  Honey dripping out of cheese cloth. Removing the wax capping from a frame of honey.

According to Alice, a honeybee colony is a superorganism where every individual works together for the best good of the whole. This includes microorganisms present in the hive, the comb and the shelter that houses it.

"I often think this is such an apt metaphor for human society, that if we regard our selves and our world as one big, functional, precious entity, we’ll work together to build the strongest, healthiest, most abundant and beautiful world possible for everyone and everything."


In Alliance's first harvest, our hives produced 1.25 gallons (about 15 pounds) of honey for our patients! 

We anticipate having another harvest in the summer 2018.  Thank you, thank you, to Alice and Apiopolis for lending her beekeeping expertise to our hives!

Interested in supporting honeybee health?  Consider a gift to Alice's iFundWomen campaign.

Patient Spotlight: Joyce Wiggins

Meet Joyce. Joyce is a mother and grandmother. With a family history of diabetes, Joyce has struggled to keep her hemoglobin A1c level down over the years. She became a patient of Alliance Medical Ministry in 2006, and sees Dr. Maggie Burkhead.

Now, Joyce is happy to report that she has successfully lowered her hemoglobin A1c and is off all medication. did she do it?

"Diet and exercise! I love learning, and when I found out Alliance had a cooking class and nutrition program, I wanted to get involved."

Cooking Matters @ Alliance is one of the wellness programs offered that educates patients on cooking, meal planning, and shopping for healthy foods on a budget.

"Cooking Matters made me more conscious of how I cook with vegetables and how I selected them. I have such a sweet tooth, but now I snack on peppers instead of candy. I have a love affair going on with veggies! After the class, I had a feeling of wanting to plant my own."

That's when Joyce learned about Seed to Supper, a five-week garden education program in partnership with the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle. Volunteer Master Gardeners teach patients how to grow their own vegetables, offering education around soil testing, pest control, and garden scheduling. 

At the end of the program, Joyce "adopted a box" in the Alliance Community Garden. "The whole summer, I've been getting veggies. Tomaties, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers, and okra. I'm roasting them, steaming them, and eating them raw."

What's up next for Joyce?

Joyce is passing along what she has learned to others. She is also helping teach a Cooking Matters Class! She has been very busy planning her fall garden. 

"If I didn't have Alliance, I'd probably be in the Emergency Room. The staff is compassionate, which helps people feel welcome and open up. It really means so much to have access to these programs through my doctor's office. If you change your nutrition habits, you can make a difference in your health."

Patient Spotlight: Angela Jacobs

Alliance patient Angela Jacobs was the recipient of a car through Wheels4Hope

Wheels4Hope is a car donation program that turns donated cars into local blessings. Their mission is to provide affordable, reliable transportation to economically vulnerable families and individuals who are referred to us by one of their partnering agencies.  Angela is the third Alliance patient who has received a car through this partnership!  

"Wheels4Hope has been great for me. I was able to receive an affordable car and the car itself is doing wonderful! This car has helped me and my daughters so much with commuting between work and picking them up from school. It has really helped out a lot." - Angela Jacobs

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Elaine Pleasants, Wheels4Hope Executive Director:

"Wheels4Hope was delighted to be a part of Angela's journey. We see everyday how transportation is so important in the lives of our recipients, and we know that Angela's Nissan will open so many doors for employment, education, and social opportunities for her and her daughters. This is the third car blessing we have celebrated with Alliance since our partnership began, and we are grateful for the work our community partners do in preparing clients for car ownership and self-sufficiency. We look forward to continuing our work together."  


Dr. Toby Bonar, Director of Pastoral Care & Counseling Program:

"Angela's dedication, humility, and resilience are inspiring, and she has encouraged us to continue to be creative in our caregiving. She is using her car to create more stability in her family and work life.  Having a partnership with Wheels4Hope allows us to expand our imagination to see new ways of improving the health and well-being of our community through quality transportation resources."


Raleigh Food Corridor Hosts Nutrition Hub Gathering

The Raleigh Food Corridor is a community project connecting people, ideas, and resources to build a better food system for all.

Alliance Medical Ministry is a nutrition hub of the Raleigh Food Corridor.

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A nutrition hub is a centralized community space that provides provide nutrition, health, and food-related services and education in a single location. Inter-Faith Food Shuttle and Passage Home are two other partners in the Nutrition Hub Project.

Are you interested in food security, community development in Southeast Raleigh, access to healthcare, and food and nutrition education? 

Join us at a Nutrition Hub Community Meeting!

Wednesday, September 20th, 5:30 - 8 pm @ Alliance Medical Ministry

RSVP here