After getting off to a slow start, yesterday’s networking event turned out to be a huge success. More than 30 women joined us from from Ilitha Labantwana, QQ crèche, Philani Nutrition Centres (including outreach coordinators, cooks and crèche teachers), Ubuhle, Ilitha Family Learning Centre and Marsh Memorial Home.
CHOSA asked Mamelani Projects to lead this workshop. Mamelani is a health and wellness organization that works with individuals and organizations alike. They address issues including HIV/AIDS, TB, hygiene and healthy cooking. Last year they released a cookbook of inexpensive vegetarian recipes that are tasty and produce highly nutritional meals. The idea is not to convert people to vegetarians, but rather to show the value of using veggies to cook and to give nutritious options for families that can’t always afford meat. To cater to CHOSA, Mamelani focused on meals that can be produced for large groups of children (up to 150) and specifically address the health needs of children.
We cooked four dishes: split pea soup, mashed pumpkin, sweet potato and butternut mix, vegetable and bean curry with rice, and stewed fruit with yoghurt. The ingredients for all four dishes, which produced more than enough food for the 30+ adult participants, came out to about R600 ($60).
Throughout the process there were a number of “YOH” moments. (In other words, moments where the women were amazed and clearly excited, thus exclaiming “YOH!”, a South African slang equivalent of “WHOA!”) The first of such moments came when the women from Mamelani took the peels from all the veggies they had cut up (except the potatoes, which they explained to be too starchy) and started to boil them down to make a broth. When we were getting feedback at the end, many people expressed that this had been the most important lesson as it enables them to make even more use of the veggies they have already cut up. Another “YOH” moment came during cooking of the curry dish, when the women explained the nutritional importance of protein and different ways to get inexpensive protein into your meal. In this case, it came in the form of beans and even peanut butter, which they added to the curry (although we couldn’t taste it later).
After the cooking, everyone gathered around a big set of dining room tables to eat which was followed by an impromptu yoga routine. The food was delicious and the conversation buzzed. There was a lot of legitimate amazement of what can be made without meat and everyone seemed excited to take their new recipes back to the kids and communities they feed!