Wellness & Garden Report: Late Summer 2016

Seed to Supper

Alliance Medical Ministry hosted its 5-week spring Seed to Supper course from March 30th to May 4th, where about 15 community members and patients gained valuable information and hands-on experience with gardening basics.  Alliance partners with Inter-Faith Food Shuttle and NC Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners to educate patients and community members on the process of creating and growing their own gardens. Upon completion of the course, all graduates received basic tools, organic fertilizer, seeds, seedlings, compost, and continued support.

Our summer/fall Seed to Supper course is currently underway!

Participants of the summer/fall course are scheduled to graduate on September 13th. Here's breakdown of the curriculum:

Week 1: Learning about soil, soil testing, building healthy soil, improving soil, composting, how to "double dig"

Week 2: Planning a garden: making a planting plan and map, crop rotation by plant family

Week 3: Planting a garden: preparing the soil, direct seeding, transplanting, seeding vs. transplanting, protecting young plants, vertical gardening

Week 4: Caring for the growing garden: watering, fertilizing, weeding, pest identification and management

Week 5: Harvesting and using your bounty: gardening for your health, crop-by-crop guide to harvesting and storing, nutrition, and cooking from your garden

If you're interested in taking the 2017 spring course, please contact Ashley Toscano at (919) 250-3320 x436 or garden@alliancemedicalministry.org.

Cooking Matters

Cooking Matters is a cooking and nutrition course that helps families 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 spring "Cooking Matters @ Alliance" course saw a total of 20 participants, not including family members who tagged along for the experience!  This year, the course is a bit different.  While still following the Cooking Matters curriculum, we've gone plant-based!  Some of the meals we prepared include a Creamy African Peanut Stew, Lentil Bolognese, Oatmeal & Quinoa Cookies, Spiralized Zucchini (zoodles) with  a Thai Peanut Sauce, Potato Bake, Black Rice and Vegetable Salad, Infused Water, Green Smoothies, and more!

Thank you, volunteers!

Alliance would like to give a special thank you to all the volunteers who made this course possible! We had various volunteers who led the class, helped with setup and cleanup, assisted participants, and translated for Spanish-speaking patients.

One of our amazing volunteers was Kim Campbell, a celebrity of the plant-based nutrition world! She taught the first class of the 6-week spring course, and will be teaching the first class again this fall.

Kim Campbell (second from the left) discussing plant-based nutrition with Cooking Matters participants.

Kim Campbell (second from the left) discussing plant-based nutrition with Cooking Matters participants.

Kim works at PlantPure Nation promoting a plant-based diet, teaching culinary skills to jumpstart participants, and developing recipes for their jumpstart program. Kim's experience at PlantPure Nation has allowed her to hone her culinary skills, particularly in understanding how to create flavors, textures, and presentations that appeal to mainstream consumers experiencing a plant-based diet of the first time.  Kim is also the author of the PlantPure Nation Cookbook. For more information and access to free PlantPure recipes, click here.

Interested in learning more about plant-based nutrition from leading experts in the field? Check out the free and online PlantPure Summit 2016 that begins September 7th.

Patient Spotlight

Cooking Matters Grad & Chair Yoga Regular: 
Maria Martinez

Maria joined Alliance Medical Ministry's practice about five years ago, and is a regular patient of Dr. Sheryl Joyner.  Maria has arthritis, which over the years has gotten progressively worse.  At its worst, Maria often woke up twice a night in pain.  About two years ago, she started participating in yoga at Alliance with instructor Elise Dorsett.  She has attended over 25 classes in this year alone!  "The yoga has helped me so much!  I feel better.  It helps me deal with stress, helps with circulation, and the pain is better." She does yoga and stretches at home in the morning to help with her arthritis.  "Elise could pinpoint exactly what was wrong with my shoulder. She identified a yoga exercise and stretch that helps with my fingers, neck and ankles."

This spring, Maria joined the Cooking Matters @ Alliance class.  This was the first plant-based Cooking Matters class offered to patients.  "I loved it!  I learned about some of the issues that dairy can cause for certain people, and have been eating more vegetables and grains."  Since taking the class, Maria has lost 20 pounds as a result of changes she has made in her diet.  "My health is better and my weight has improved."  

Maria's favorite recipe from Cooking Matters?  The Creamy African Stew:

Creamy African Stew

Serves:  6         Prep Time: 15 minutes      Cooking Time: 35 minutes   


 2 onions, sliced into half rings

 1 carrot, diced

 3 celery stalks, diced

 2 teaspoons minced garlic

 2 sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

 1 cup low sodium vegetable stock

 28 ounces canned diced tomatoes

 1 tablespoon curry powder

 1 teaspoon sea salt

 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

 1/3 cup natural peanut butter (100% peanuts)

 1 cup lite coconut milk

 1-15 ounces can chick peas, rinsed and drained

 2 cups chopped frozen spinach


1.     Add all the ingredients to a pot and cook over high heat until bubbly, 10-15 minutes. 

2.    Turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender. 

3.    Kim's hints:  I like to throw everything into a slow cooker and allow it to cook over medium heat for 2-3 hours.  Turn the heat to low cooking until you are ready to serve.  Serve as a stew or over brown rice. The flavors are perfect after they have cooked for the day.   

Inspired by Maria's journey?
Join us for our fall Cooking Matters course!

Cooking Matters is set to begin on Tuesday, October 4th at Alliance. If you are already registered, please arrive by 5:30 p.m. in order to fill out paperwork. The class will take place from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. The following five sessions will take place each Tuesday evening from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., with the last class ending on Tuesday, November 8th. 

Spots are limited, and the class is filling up quickly! Contact Ashley Toscano at (919) 250-3320 x436 or atoscano@alliancemedicalministry.org to register.

Chair Yoga

Do you have aches and pains? Do you need to de-stress?

We've got the class for you!

Chair yoga continues every Thursday evening from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Alliance. Patients have had great success in taking a step towards bettering both their physical and mental well-being. The class is taught in English and Spanish.

Walk with a Doc

Walk with a Doc is a great way to get up and get moving while engaging with Alliance's providers and getting to know other community members. Join us every fourth Thursday from 5:30 to 6:00 p.m. at Alliance. The walk is just over 1 mile. Water and snacks are always provided!


SalsaFit is a new program that was implemented this past July. Nearly 20 participants attended the 4-week Latin dance course taught by a volunteer and member of the Triangle Salsa Meetup, Allen Chavis.

What's the dirt on Alliance's garden?

We've been busy bees this summer! Alliance has harvested roughly 1,600 pounds of produce since February of this year!

Summer crops and flowers: Tomato, pepper, and eggplant varieties, okra, herbs (such as cilantro, parsley, lemon thyme, German thyme, sweet basil & Thai basil), cucumbers, yellow squash, patty pan squash, sugar baby watermelons, naranjilla, sunflowers, wild flowers, and zinnias

Our fall and winter garden is in the works!  Here's what we'll be planting:  Carrots, radishes, turnips, parsnips, rutabagas, kohlrabi, kale lettuce varieties, spinach, broccoli and/or cauliflower, cabbage varieties, and more!

Garden Volunteers

Our volunteers this summer have poured a lot of sweat into the garden with the hot days we've been having! Thank you for all your hard work! We've weeded, created support for tomatoes and cucumbers, harvested, watered, mulched, removed old plants, prepared the soil, planted transplants, sowed seeds, and have even done some litter pickup around Alliance.

A special thank you to Dana Comber! She's been such a huge help in the garden! With her nutrition background, she also hopes to get involved with our upcoming Cooking Matters course.

A special thank you to Dana Comber! She's been such a huge help in the garden! With her nutrition background, she also hopes to get involved with our upcoming Cooking Matters course.

Alliance has had individual volunteers who come out to support us on scheduled garden work days, but we've also partnered with various youth groups, churches, and companies. From June to August we've had the pleasure of working with the following groups and organizations:

Activate Good
Crossroads Fellowship
LOL (Living Out Loud)
Wake AHEC Summer Camp
Highland Youth
Our Lady of Lourdes