‘Healthy Helpings’ cookbook fundraises for hungry locals

<p>The proceeds of “Healthy Helpings,” a student-created cookbook, go to Eilijah’s Promise, a local soup kitchen, and to Alzheimer’s disease research.</p>

The proceeds of “Healthy Helpings,” a student-created cookbook, go to Eilijah’s Promise, a local soup kitchen, and to Alzheimer’s disease research.

Volunteer Opportunities in Community Engaged Service, a group born out of the Rutgers School of Public Health, is in the process of watching two years’ worth of work turn into the second volume of a cookbook, “Healthy Helpings ... and a Few Tasty Transgressions.”

Megan Rockafellow, project manager of “Healthy Helpings,” said the proceeds from the book would go towards Elijah’s Promise, a volunteer-run soup kitchen in New Brunswick, as well as research for Alzheimer’s disease. The book retails for $20.

“We had the first edition of ‘Healthy Helpings’ in 2008 and we raised about $2,000 for Elijah’s Promise,” said Rockafellow, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health. “It has been two years in the making and we’re releasing our second edition.”

She said “Healthy Helpings” differs from conventional cookbooks through its incorporation of research and perspectives from various departments in the School of Public Health.

“We included the benefits of healthy eating from all of our different department perspectives, so there’s a person from Health Systems and Policy, … epidemiology and even biostatistics has their take on healthy eating,” she said.

The second edition of the cookbook has completely new recipes, she said. One of the recipes in the second edition of the cookbook is Harlem Gunness’ bhaigan chokha, or roasted mashed eggplant.

Rockafellow said Gunness’ reason for sharing the recipe was because it captured a snapshot of his Trinidadian heritage.

“My recipe stems from the indentured laborers who came to the island from East India since 1838 and have kept their tradition and culture throughout the years,” he said. “Bhaigan chokha is a vegan dish, and with the right amount of ingredients it is [tasty], nutritious and super healthy.”

Other recipes in the second edition of the cookbook include two contributions from Susan Joseph, a doctoral candidate in the School of Public Health.

“One of [the recipes] was lentils,” she said. “You have them in the dry form, so you can bypass the can form. I use a pressure cooker so you don’t have to do any prep work — you can just clean them with water, put them directly in the pressure cooker with water, and it cooks in about twenty minutes.”

She said cooking lentils in a pressure cooker as opposed to a slow cooker also retains more nutrition because it does not sap the lentils of their micronutrients.

She said the other recipe, tamarind salmon, has slightly more exotic roots, hailing from a recipe created by her mother-in-law who currently lives in India.

“[Tamarind salmon] is a recipe from Tamil Nadu in South India,” she said. “It’s a very authentic recipe so people might like the taste.”

Bernadette West, faculty advisor to V.O.I.C.E.S., said that she was responsible for collecting the recipes that would be compiled into “Healthy Helpings.”

West, an associate professor in the Department of Health Systems and Policy, said in the process of gathering recipes she often had to assess the healthiness of the submissions she received.

In certain situations, she had to adjust the recipe so it would better fit the mission of the cookbook.

Sometimes the recipe simply could not fit within the paradigms of the cookbook, she said. For this, the book had to include a section dedicated to “tasty transgressions.”

“We wanted to make sure that there were some recipes that were a little less than healthy,” she said.

West said that a big part of compiling the cookbook was also about collecting recipes from students and faculty that came from all around the world.

“We have a very diverse student body and a diverse faculty and staff, so we thought if we could get some ethnic recipes that represented the places that our students and our faculty come from that would make it very interesting,” she said.

The second edition has more ethnic recipes than the first, she said.

“We have a lot of recipes from East Asian countries, and we have some recipes from Eastern European countries,” she said. “We have recipes that have been in people’s families for many years and they’re very special.”

The cookbooks are currently at the press, Rockafellow said, and should be ready for sale in the upcoming week.

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