Cooking Matters

Cooking Matters @ Alliance, Class 2: Doha Medani, Summer Intern

The Cooking Matters class reconvened this past Tuesday for more fun in the kitchen! The theme of this class was incorporating whole grain, vegetables and fruits into breakfast, lunch and dinner! This week showcased three different recipes: quinoa egg muffins for breakfast, quinoa and spinach salad for lunch and a yummy quinoa porridge for dinner! 

Class began by reflecting on the progress towards the challenge presented last class: how to incorporate at least one serving of fruits and vegetables a day. Participants discussed the importance of reading food labels, especially when identifying whole grain products. They practiced reading through labels of food items in the Alliance kitchen. Of course, knife and oven safety skills were reviewed and then the fun started! 

The instructor for the course, Lindsey Miller, decided to switch things up this time! The class was split into groups so that each group prepared a recipe while the other group had the opportunity to explore the community garden! The conversations in the garden centered around the pros and cons of preparing various vegetables to ensure nutritional quality. 

Participants found some okra, peas and other yummy snacks while they were waiting to cook!

The instructor emphasized that a great way to save money is substituting expensive foods in recipes with cheaper ones that have similar tastes and nutritional value. For example, the source of grain in this class was quinoa but Lindsey mentioned that brown rice, whole wheat couscous, whole grain pasta could all be great, cost-effective substitutes. Also, the pecans in the salad could be substituted for peanuts, cashews or almonds. In the salad recipe, swiss chard from the Alliance community garden was harvested and used instead of spinach! It's important to use what's available to you!

Just like last class, everyone went home with a bag produce. Interfaith Food Shuttle provided 70 pounds of produce! This week's bag had mushrooms, green bell peppers, Swiss chard, spinach, tomatoes, onions and peppers! 

Next class promises an interesting lesson on organic versus conventional foods along with skills to prepare more meals and snacks at home! Stay tuned.


Egg and Quinoa Cups


2 eggs

1/4 cup cooked quinoa

1/4 cooked sweet potato

1/3 cup mixed vegetables of choice

Veggie ideas: broccoli, spinach, onion, squash, peppers, carrots  

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease muffin cups 

2. In a bowl, whisk eggs and add cooked quinoa and the remaining ingredients

3. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes


Quinoa and Spinach Salad


1/2 cup uncooked quinoa (you can substitute couscous, brown rice, whole wheat pasta) 

6 cups spinach 

1 large apple, thinly sliced 


1/2 cup raw pecans 

1/2 cup dried cranberries

4 ounces goat cheese 


1/4 cup lemon juice 

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp. honey 

1 1/2 cup Dijon mustard 


1. Bring 1 cup water to a boil. Rinse and drain quinoa and add to boiling water. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 12-15 minutes. 

2. Make dressing by whisking ingredients together

3. Place spinach in a large bowl and add cooled quinoa, apple slices, and additional ingredients 


Quinoa Porridge with Apples


2 cups cooked quinoa 

1 apple 

1/2 honey 

1 tsp cinnamon 


1. Add quinoa, almond milk, cinnamon, and honey to a pan and cook over medium-low heat.

2. Peel and dice the apple and add to pot 

3. Mix well, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to low and stir. 

4. Cook for 5-10 minutes

Cooking Matters @ Alliance, Class 1: Doha Medani, Summer Intern

Alliance Medical Ministry patients socialize and enjoy the meal they prepared together.

Alliance Medical Ministry patients socialize and enjoy the meal they prepared together.

The summer 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 Summer session was Wednesday June 14th. Approximately 11 participants and a few family members came together to make colorful vegetable fajitas! 

The volunteer instructor for the Summer course is Lindsey Miller, a graduate of Public Health from Appalachian State University who will be attending graduate school in the Fall. The class will be taught in Spanish as well, thanks to volunteer interpreter! Esther Jimenez joined as the volunteer interpreter at this kick-off session.

The class kicked off with a conversation on the importance of food our lives, the barriers we face to nutrition, and what patients hope to learn throughout the course. This week's lesson plan discussed the food groups, the importance of variety and how to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in meals. The course aims to answer many common misconceptions about nutrition and wellness, including organic versus conventional foods, how to best prepare and store produce and poultry, grocery shopping guidance and more.

After discussions, patients got in groups and made delicious vegetable fajitas and pico de gallo! Inter-Faith Food Shuttle provided 40 pounds of produce for patients. Some of the produce used was provided by the garden right here at Alliance! At the end of every class, participants were provided with a bag of produce to take home and incorporate in their meals the rest of the week! This week's produce bag included mushrooms, yellow squash, tomatoes and jalapeños. 

There's still room!  Alliance patients that are interested in joining the Summer class can contact the Garden and Wellness coordinator, Jesse Crouch,  Participants must commit to all six weeks of class, with no more than 2 absences to graduate. 

Colorful Vegetable Fajitas Recipes


  • 8 (8 inch) whole wheat flour tortillas 
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced 
  • 1 pound dry beans (black or pinto) can substitute canned beans
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced in strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced in strips
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic 
  • 1 yellow squash, halved and sliced into strips 
  • any other of your favorite vegetables, diced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Rinse and soak dry beans overnight. Rinse and cook in a crockpot on low for 4-6 hours until beans are soft. (if you don't have a crock pot follow directions for stove top cooking
  2. Follow directions for cooking rice on stovetop (rice cookers are great, easy and convenient)
  3. in a 10 inch skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onions, red and green bell peppers, and garlic; stir to coat with oil. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook for 5 minutes. Stir squash into vegetables.  
  4. Season vegetables with cumin, chili powder, and black pepper. Add additional seasoning to taste. 
  5. Cook for 5 more minutes or until vegetables are soft.
  6. Spoon vegetable mixture evenly down the centers of tortilla
  7. Add beans, rice, pico de Gallo, salsa , avocado and/or hot sauce.
  8. Roll up tortillas, and serve.

Pico De Gallo


  • 3/4 pound tomatoes (about 2 medium), seeded and finely diced (1 1/2 cups) 
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro 
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped white onion 
  • 1 small fresh jalapeño or Serrano Chile, finely chopped, including seeds, or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, or more to taste 


  1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Season to taste with additional chile and lime juice. This salsa keeps in the refrigerator for up to one day.
  3. Before you serve it, stir it well and drain any excess liquid that has accumulated in the bowl.