Cooking Up Healthy Traditions (podcast)

Aug 24th, 2017 | By | Category: Featured Articles
Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church Class

Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church Class

They’re cooking up healthy food traditions at The Happy Kitchen, known in Spanish as La Cocina Allegre.

Joy Casnovsky, Deputy Director of the Sustainable Food Center, managed The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre®  when we did our interview in 2013. The Happy Kitchen is a cooking and nutrition program of SFC.

I met with Joy in the teaching kitchen of the non-profit’s facility located in East Austin, near the MLK metro rail station.

She told me SFC (with roots going back more than 40 years when it was part of Austin Community Gardens) reaches out to interested members of Austin’s under-served communities and — at no charge. They teach them how to grow their own food; this can be in a backyard, community or school garden.

They help these folks to navigate farmers markets and to connect with local growers; and then, through The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre®, Joy says participants take the next step toward healthier eating by learning how to prepare delicious, family and budget friendly meals.

Everything SFC does revolves around “the mantra: Grow. Share. Prepare.” The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre® is based on what Joy calls the Facilitator Model.

“We have about 40 community based facilitators who are moms and dads and anyone in the community who wants to participate,” said Joy. “We train them, and then with our support, they go back into their communities and teach cooking classes at schools, churches, recreation centers — wherever the people are.” She added whenever anyone is learning something new, possibly life-changing, doing so in a familiar environment with familiar people, customs and languages “facilitates” the learning and the change.

Joy Casnovsky of the Sustainable Food Center’s The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre® program says community facilitators receive continuing education. So down the road, they might learn a new recipe or a new technique, or share something they’ve discovered with their fellow facilitators.

SFC also offers of public classes — these are for the whole of the Austin community — that are fee based. The fees will help sustain The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre® and allow the program to offer free classes to those in under-served communities. “There’s been a great deal of interest in cooking classes from the public at large,” Joy told me. “People are more interested in where their food comes from and how to prepare nutritious meals, but so many of them were never taught to cook from scratch.”

Public classes take place in the Sustainable Food Center’s  teaching kitchen on east 17th street.  Classes are from one hour lunchtime lessons to longer after work hands on learning opportunities, thus giving everyone an opportunity to get happy in the kitchen.

NOTE: This is an encore broadcast from 2013.

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  1. I’d like to see classes on growing/cooking/eating to prevent or manages diabetes.

  2. Small specific classes emphasizing all related skills to a task: how to prep seafood, everything from deveining shrimp to shucking an oyster to boning a filet; how to prep/breakdown birds/ fowl, starting with the feathers; A Mother Sauces class; how to make and suggestions for use of each mother sauce.

  3. Hi Ken,

    All of our classes focus on using local ingredients from your own backyard or the farmers’ market in economical ways that prevent/control diet-related disease. I invite you to check our our class line up! We also offer gardening classes, which can be found on our website too: ~Best, Joy Casnovsky, Program Director of The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre

  4. i would like to see classes about specific regional foods, like indian or thai. also specifically vegan or vegetarian classes.

  5. I would love to see classes on complete meals using seasonal veggies also to include crock pot preparation meals that include slow roast meats.