Learning to eat healthy in Porters

Vivian Willingham gets served a full vegetarian dinner, while Douglas Thompson and Brianna Thomas wait their turn at the “Fill the Plate, Feed the Mind” workshop held last Tuesday at the Porters Community Center.

AIDA MALLARD/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 2:56 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 2:56 p.m.

The nearly 65 adults and children attending the “Fill the Plate, Feed the Mind” workshop were treated to a healthy vegetarian dinner and cooking demonstrations with lots of nutrition and healthy living information in the mix.

The workshop was held last Tuesday at the Porters Community Center.

Stefanie Hamblen, author of HogtownHomeGrown.com, presented a cooking demonstration peppered with information and tips on healthy eating, shopping within a budget, advantages of buying locally grown food, encouraging children to help with meal preparation, and other information.

And the adults who registered at the door received $15 gift cards to Ward’s Supermarket.

The workshop was sponsored by the Twenty Pearls Foundation, the charitable arm of the Gainesville chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and Plum Creek Timber Co., the largest landowner in the United States. The “Fill the Plate, Feed the Mind” program is funded through a $9,600 grant from Plum Creek.

The next workshop will be held May 23 at Caring and Sharing Learning School at 1951 SE 4th St.

Hamblen’s food demonstration and dinner featured similar food planted in the Porters Community Garden located across from the center.

The menu included pan roasted corn trio, potluck potato salad, sweet and sour cucumber salad, and roasted green beans with grape tomatoes with four different seasonings, including grated nutmeg, lemon zest and lemon juice, olives and capers with fresh ground black pepper, and slivered almonds sautéed in unsalted butter.

There also was ice cream provided by the Porters Community Neighborhood Organization.

Gigi Simmons, president of the Porters organization, said the workshop worked well with the Porters community purpose to promote quality and healthy lifestyles for its residents.

During the workshop, Simmons also recognized the winners of the “Biggest Weight Loser Challenge,” a 16-week competition sponsored by the Porters organization that encouraged participants to eat healthy and exercise. Receiving trophies were Elaine How, who won the challenge by losing 19 pounds, and Olivia Lewis, the runner-up who lost 13 pounds.

Cynthia Moore Chestnut, event organizer and vice president of the Twenty Pearls, was pleased with the event.

“What an extraordinary event,” Chestnut said. “We were so pleased with the level of participation at Porters Community Center. It further affirms why “Fill the Plate, Feed the Mind” is so important in providing healthy eating tips for families.”

Chestnut also commended the children.

“They’re the best mannered children, attentive and respectful and a great group of youngsters,” Chestnut said. “Everyone (adults and children) enjoyed eating vegetarian without the label that it was all vegetarian. It tasted great.”

“We want to do as much as we can to transform our community one day and one step at a time,” said Florida Bridgewater-Alford, president and CEO of Twenty Pearls.

“Porters is on the rise,” Bridgewater-Alford said. “I applaud what you’re doing in the community.”

During her presentation, Hamblen emphasized the importance of buying food grown locally and during the season. She said buying locally grown food is good for the environment and for the economy. “Food not in season is more expensive,” Hamblen said. “Fresh-picked food tastes better.”

Hamblen also was pleased with the event.

“I thought it was great,” Hamblen said. “When children see adults cooking, the more likely they are to taste something different.”

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