March Volunteer of the Month

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Adriana Sierra has volunteered with Second Harvest since 2010, sharing her culinary talents through bilingual healthy recipe demonstrations and nutrition presentations. This is her first-person account of struggling to maintain a healthy diet after immigrating to the US, and how she shares what she learned with others in our community.

The culinary arts have been my passion since I was a child. I remember my career began at the age of 6 years old in my hometown Cali, Colombia, alongside my mother. My mother was an excellent cook, and she always encouraged me to help her in the kitchen with day-to-day fresh and healthy cooking and event catering, where I would help bake delicious wedding cakes.

My passion for healthy eating and cooking further developed in 1996, when I decided to move with my daughter to the United States and settled in Los Gatos, California. As a newcomer to this country I found it difficult to find meals similar to my home country, meals that were loaded with fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes and grains. Instead I noticed the North American diet consisted of fast foods, frozen meals and a lot of processed food items and a lot of time spent driving. As an immigrant, I wanted my daughter and I to fully embrace this new North American culture, thus we only watched English speaking television, and mingled with native English speaking individuals. We even embraced this new way of eating processed foods and ready-made frozen meals. For a while it was very convenient, it was fast, I spent very little time in the grocery store and the stove! It made sense, I had so much more free time now to work and learn English. It wasn’t long until we began to gain weight and feel sick all the time. This is when I realized that the foods we were eating had a big influence on our physical health. And so, I decided to go back to eating the way we used to back home in Colombia.

This was not an easy transition, but with a little discipline I was able to take little steps to change our eating habits. One step I took was to shop for more fruits and vegetables at the farmers’ market; this was just how we did it back home. We also started eating in more often. Once I realized how much I enjoyed cooking and sharing these fresh and healthier delicious meals, I decided to start a career in the Hospitality Management field. I attended the Culinary Arts program at Mission College.

I joined Second Harvest as a volunteer in 2010, when my daughter who was an intern helping develop the Starlight Nutrition Education Pilot, invited me to participate as a guest Chef for one of their classes. She asked if I could develop a healthy cooking demo class that was not only culturally appropriate for the population of Watsonville, but that it was also affordable for low-income families and those enrolled in the CalFresh program. My first class was a group of 60 migrant parents at Starlight Elementary. I was very happy to be a part of this project, as it allowed me to share simple tips and knowledge on how to create delicious, healthy meals, loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables, low in fats and sugars.

I firmly believe that people can improve their health with very little effort through conscious and simple cooking habits. I also enjoyed sharing my recipes, and my passion for healthy cooking with families who lack the financial resources and knowledge to create their own healthy and conscious meals in their homes. Thus, I am happy to continue to teach through the Passion For Produce program.

Please feel free to visit Organic in Home Cooking’s Facebook page or email me to stay in touch or contact me about how to take the first steps to eating healthier, delicious and affordable meals!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/organicinhomecooking?ref=hl

Email: adrianasierrag@yahoo.com

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Nací en Cali, Colombia, y desde pequeña me sentí atraída por las artes culinarias. Empecé mi carrera como chef cuando todavía era una niña, ayudándole a mi madre a cocinar y preparar  pasteles de bodas en nuestra propia casa.

En 1996  decidí trasladé a vivir a los Estados Unidos con mi hija que era un niña. Me establecí en Los Gatos CA.  Recién llegadas a este país encontré que aquí era más difícil llevar una dieta llena de frutas y verduras y era más fácil comprar comidas preparadas. Al incorporar esta nueva dieta, sin muchas frutas y comprando comidas preparadas amentamos mucho de peso y en muy poco tiempo nos enfermamos., ya que nuestros cuerpos estaban acostumbrados a comer más frutas y verduras con nuestros alimentos. Fue entonces que  decidí  hacer cambios en la manera de comer. Decidí volver a una dieta similar a la que habíamos tenido en mi país natal.  Tuve  que empezar a cocinar más saludable para poder regresar  mi cuerpo a un estado saludable.  Esto no fue fácil pero con un poco disciplina pude seguir pasos para llegar ahí. Empecé a comprar mis vegetales y frutas en los mercados de agricultores de sobre ruedas,  dejé de comer platos precocinados por alguien más, e hice la decisión de empezar mi carrera  en la industria del turismo en el colegio misión.

Comencé mi trayectoria de voluntaria  con el banco de comida second harvest hace aproximadamente 2 años atrás; por medio de una hija que ya era voluntaria  con second harvest, y  me invito a participar en un programa de nutrición para presentar mi conocimiento de chef y como cocinar los vegetales en una forma nutritiva y deliciosa con un presupuesto bajo. Presente a un grupo de 60 padres migrantes en la escuela elementaría starlight.  Ese día  me lleno de mucha satisfacción el saber que estaba compartiendo algo muy simple para mí, pero algo que es muy difícil para nuestra comunidad a la cual usualmente se le complica cocinar o darle un buen sazón sus vegetales o cocinar con vegetales de temporada, sin grasas, etc. Desde entonces decidí continuar colaborando con el banco de comida, compartiendo mis recetas, mi pasión por cocinar,  mi sabiduría, y mi sazón con padres y familias que no tienen los recursos económicos de pagar por los servicios de chef profesional.  A mí me llena mucho de satisfacción, el saber que por medio de ensenar a cocinar vegetales, hacer jugos saludables, lasañas, pasteles  saludables.  Creo firmemente que las personas pueden mejorar su salud con muy poco esfuerzo y pueden obtener hábitos muy sencillos de cocinar.

Me gusta viajar por el mundo observando y aprendiendo de otras culturas y de su arte culinaria, porque siempre hay algo nuevo  que se puede incorporar a la nuestra cultura.

Pueden visitar mi página web en el Facebook y mi correo electrónico para que se pongan en contacto conmigo cuando lo deseen. https://www.facebook.com/organicinhomecooking?ref=hl 

 

 

 

 

Posted in FoodBank Blog

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