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When the pandemic brought her business to a halt, this chef tackled food insecurity with farm-to-table meals



But when Covid struck, everything came to a standstill.

“I didn’t know where my next penny was coming from,” said Ibraheem, who had to close her shop. “I didn’t know if I could pay any bills.”

Prior to the pandemic, Ibraheem had spent years volunteering in youth programs in the Chicago area, teaching young people faced with food insecurity how to grow and prepare vegetables from local community gardens.

When schools closed and many people in the community were fired or given leave of absence, she received calls from families of children she was teaching.

“Parents called to see if we had our ‘Young Chef’ camps and at first I thought they were going to find activities for their children. But I quickly realized they were looking for a meal, ”she said.

As a result of the pandemic, food insecurity in U.S. households with children has been estimated to have tripled, according to the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University. It is forecast that 42 million Americans, including 1 in 6 children, could experience food insecurity this year, according to Feeding America.

“At first a lot of people were too proud to say they needed help. They said, ‘Hey, I’m fine’ but you could hear the sound in their voice saying they were not fine,” said Ibraheem. “I told them I had lost my business and I was not doing well. As soon as you talk to people and see them every week, they open up. “

So she started a free meal program she called Kids with Coworkers – which referred to all the children who were at home with their parents at the time. She began cooking healthy meals and serving nine families in need every day.

“At first things started very small, it was very easy,” said Ibraheem. “But the need for food is so incredible. It just exceeded what we ever thought. It is not a matter of class, gender, or race. We’re in a pandemic ourselves. “

Word of her efforts spread quickly, and donations were received that allowed her to expand. Early on, she hired a school bus driver on leave to deliver the meals, and her team operates from a donated large kitchen.

As of March 2020, Ibraheem has provided more than 60,000 meals to more than 600 people.

“To see that people, especially families and seniors, have no food is unacceptable,” she said. “I wanted to make sure people could put food on the table.”

CNN’s Laura Klairmont spoke to Ibraheem about her efforts. Below is an edited version of their conversation

CNN: In which situations are the people in whom you help?

Chef Q. Ibraheem: Many of them are single parents, many are seniors. You have people who don’t have sick days, people who work [minimum wage jobs] where the last check comes, the last check comes.

When the pandemic broke out, so many families were struggling with childcare, finances and, of course, food insecurity. Families struggled to get the food on the table. In the beginning, one of the first parents I spoke to literally said they only had a few cans of soup in the house and they had five children. And that hit my heart so hard because I come from a single parent house.

I know so many of these families and the children and you don’t want your neighbors to be hungry. So it was really easy for me to say, “Let me cook.”

CNN: What is unique about your approach to the food you serve families?

Ibrahim: Cooking is my ultimate expression of love. You want to make someone happy. I started cooking because I was always around food. My father had a halal poultry shop. (And) there was my mother. And my mom said, “Hey, we can’t afford to travel all the time, so we’re actually going to be traveling through restaurants.” So we went to a different restaurant twice a month, on every paycheck.

It was very important to me to make sure that the meals were healthy and nutritious because you know that now you need these people to eat healthily. These are home cooking. Everything is made from scratch. We prepare everything. It takes a lot of time. We always make sure that there is something fresh on the plate. We are very vegetarian.

I wanted it to be the highest quality food I can get. So we get a lot of food from the community gardens we work with. I work with local farms and local producers, local artisans to make sure I can bring the best food to our dinner guests’ plates.

We are really creative when it comes to eating. We try to do the most beautiful coating we can do. We play with the textures. It’s very important for us to introduce our guests to different cultures, different foods, edible flowers and fresh sorrel at dinner just so they can understand, “Hey, there’s so much out here.”

CNN: What are your future plans?

Ibrahim: My dreams have changed. Of course I’ll do underground soup clubs. But in the long run I recognized the need for food and realized how big the problem of food insecurity is. So I’m considering taking on all of the components of my job and hopefully opening a communal kitchen and taking some of the teenagers I actually train and employing them. And I just agree with sustainability and keep it back in the community. I want to cook really good food. I want to take care of people. I also want to invest more in the community.

There has been a food insecurity problem in our country, but the pandemic has shed light on this important issue. I’ve seen people literally a paycheck away from not eating. This is heartbreaking. It’s incredible, but it’s so very real. And it happens all the time. And it’s important that we face this problem and make sure people are eating. So many people go without and there are people whom we still cannot serve. More people called every day.

I’m inspired to keep going because the need hasn’t stopped. It’s a great feeling to know that I can take the load off, if only a little. I give them a sense of understanding that we are in it together. The feeling of knowing that the people in your community care.

Would you like to get involved? Visit the Kids with Coworkers website and see how you can help. To donate to Kids with Coworkers through GoFundMe, click here

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Healthy Eating

Trisha Yearwood’s ‘Un-fried’ Chicken ‘Is So Good’



Trisha Yearwood enjoys southern staples like fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and other dishes to go with your ribs. However, there are times when she wants the taste and texture of these favorites with no added calories. One of the most popular recipes for her Food Network series, Trisha’s Southern Kitchen, is for “unroasted” chicken. It’s a simple technique for making meat crispy on the outside and tender on the inside that diners will love in a snap.

Trisha Jahrholz | Discovery press

Un-Fried Chicken is a simple weekday meal

Yearwood says this particular meal is easy for a weekday meal. It comes together pretty quickly and makes a great main course for kids and adults alike.

The country superstar uses white meat, boneless chicken breasts for this dish. They’re leaner and quicker to prepare than traditional bone-in chicken.

“Fried chicken is a staple in the south and you have to have it. But it’s not the healthiest. There’s a way to get the fried flavor of chicken without actually frying it, ”explained Yearwood.

She makes a mixture of buttermilk and hot sauce. After sprinkling the chicken with salt and pepper, she adds it to the buttermilk dredge. It’s a great way to tenderize chicken and can be cooked the night before it’s served.

Yearwood said there was no need to deep-fry, let the oven do the job

In a bowl deep enough to hold the mixture for coating, add breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, lemon peel, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Brush the chicken well and place in the refrigerator to set.

When you’re done, bake the chicken to the degree you want it cooked.

“This is not one of those things that people are going to say, ‘Oh, you did this well,'” she said. “I don’t want people to say, ‘This is really good for you.’ I want people to say, ‘That tastes good’. “

Trisha Yearwood’s tips and tricks for a healthier diet

The healthier versions of Trisha Yearwood's recipes are available on the Food Network website.Trisha Jahrholz | Jason Kempin / Getty Images for ACM

Yearwood shared her tips and tricks for healthier eating in an interview with NBC’s Today.

“I think the most important thing I’ve learned from trying to cook healthier is not to use any lower-fat substitutes like skimmed milk or to skip butter or cream. For me, I enjoy the flavors, and I prefer a bit of the good stuff and control the portions – that’s why I don’t use any sugar substitutes, ”the country superstar revealed.

“Besides that, I love dairy-free milks like almonds, and I love how you can turn raw cashews into a cream. I make this black bean lasagna, the Garth [Brooks] loves, and it’s layered with a vegan “ricotta” that I make from tofu, cashews, basil, and olive oil. This is not only good for vegans; It’s like, oh, that’s SO good and even tastes better than regular ricotta cheese, ”explained Yearwood.

Trisha’s Southern Kitchen airs Saturday noon EST on the Food Network.

The full recipe is available on the Food Network website.

RELATED: ‘Trisha’s Southern Kitchen’: Trisha Yearwood’s Mac and Cheese is a creamy, dreamy comfort food

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Healthy Eating

Popular Frozen Foods That Help You Lose Weight, Say Dietitians



Filling your freezer with healthy foods is one of the smartest strategies you can use when trying to shed a few pounds. Think of it this way: when you have frozen products and lean protein with you, you have a convenient, nutritious meal option – meaning you are less likely to resort to those processed snacks or high-calorie take-away items.

The best, Most foods do not lose any of their nutritional value when frozen, So you can be sure that your body is taking advantage of these vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients.

Nonetheless, not all frozen foods are created equal – at least from a health perspective. While some products can help you lose weight, others can do just the opposite thanks to high levels of fat and sodium. So if you’re looking to lose weight, we recommend adding a handful of popular frozen food dieters to your shopping list.


When in need of a simple weekday dinner after a long day at work, it’s hard to beat a veggie burger. Many of them are crammed with high-fiber vegetables and whole grains, and some even have a protein content comparable to that of meat. That means you’ll feel full for hours, says Melissa Mitri, RD for Wellness Verge.

“They usually only have 150 calories or less, which makes them a solid choice for a weight loss plan,” says Mitri. “Also, research shows that consuming more plant-based foods can aid weight loss and overall health.”

TIED TOGETHER: Get even more healthy tips straight to your inbox by signing up for our newsletter!

frozen edamameShutterstock

Frozen edamame serves as a phenomenal afternoon snack or as a high-fiber addition to stir-fries, grain bowls, and salads. And at around 17 grams of protein per cup, it’s one of the most filling plant-based snacks around. This is what Gabbie Ricky, MS, RDN strongly recommends keeping some edamame in your freezer. Did we mention that research shows that eating a high protein diet helps control your appetite and aid in sustained weight loss?

frozen spinachShutterstock

With little to no fat and high in fiber, it’s no wonder why spinach is a popular weight loss food. Fresh spinach can wilt in the refrigerator after just a few days, which is why it is worth buying it frozen – so you always have something to hand for side dishes, casseroles and more.

“Frozen spinach can be easily added to a variety of dishes including pastas, smoothies, and soups,” says Holly Klamer, MS, a registered nutritionist with MyCrohn’sandColitisTeam.

A 2015 study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that obese adults adding 5 grams of spinach extract to their meal reduced their appetite and craving for food for several hours. Another 2014 study in Appetite found that consuming 5 grams of spinach extract daily resulted in 43% greater weight loss than a placebo. This effect can likely be attributed to the thylakoids – plant membranes associated with a greater feeling of satiety because they delay fat digestion.

In other words, spinach can help you eat less by suppressing your appetite, which can lead to weight loss in the long run. Here’s an important effect of eating spinach, science says.

greek yoghurt barsShutterstock

When your sweet tooth strikes, you definitely want to have a box of these creamy goodies in your freezer, says Sarah Williams, MS, RD, Founder of Sweet Balance Nutrition.

“Greek frozen yogurt bars are a great low-calorie dessert option for weight loss,” she explains. “When people try to lose weight, they often avoid sweets altogether – which usually leads to burnout. Instead, add small treats regularly to keep them from feeling deprived during weight loss. “

As an added bonus, since they’re made from yogurt, these frozen treats often come with a healthy dose of protein and bowel-boosting probiotics.

frozen berriesShutterstock

Storing berries in the freezer is a good idea, according to Ricky, as you can add them to smoothies and baked goods without even having to defrost them.

Berries contain less sugar than many other fruits and are remarkably high in fiber. That might help explain why a 2015 study in Appetite found that people who were given a 65-calorie berry snack ate less food on a subsequent meal than those who were given candies of the same calorie content.


“Frozen shrimp are a low-calorie, high-protein food that can help keep you feeling full long after you’ve eaten,” says Klamer.

In fact, just a 3-ounce serving of shrimp has a whopping 12 grams of protein and only 60 calories.

Try baking, sautéing, or air-frying frozen shrimp and adding them to tacos, salad, and pasta for a more persistent meal.

frozen salmonShutterstock

When it comes to seafood, Mitri says salmon is a nutritional powerhouse that is not only high in protein, but also rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats can have anti-inflammatory effects in the body and were shown to have potential anti-obesity effects in a 2010 nutritional study.

Whether you’re baking, roasting, or grilling, frozen salmon fillets can make for a super-filling salad topper or an appetizer for dinner. Pro tip: sub-salmon for beef for a healthier homemade burger.

Cauliflower riceShutterstock

Cauliflower “rice” has just 29 calories and 4.7 grams of carbohydrates per 100-gram serving, making it an excellent rice swap for weight loss.

“You can easily add cauliflower rice to stews, casseroles, and even as a substitute for traditional rice in any dish you would normally serve,” says Trista Best, RD at Balance One Supplements. “Frozen cauliflower rice is probably the most versatile and convenient of them all. It cooks in minutes and provides almost as many nutrients as its fresh counterpart.”

If you’re struggling to get used to the idea of ​​cauliflower rice, Ricky suggests replacing half of your traditional rice with this low-carb alternative.

For even more weight loss tips, read these next:

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Healthy Eating

LB396 creates new opportunities for farm-to-school meals | Nebraska Today



Every weekend in Nebraska, you can visit over 100 farmers markets and buy dozen of locally grown fruits and vegetables. Or stop by one of hundreds of roadside stalls or dozen of you-pick establishments. Nebraska grows a lot more than cattle and corn. But most of what Nebraska students eat doesn’t come from the state.

“Research over the past few years has shown that more than 90% (of food) is imported from outside of the state,” said Benjamin McShane-Jewell, assistant extension instructor for Rural Prosperity Nebraska.

With Bill 396, however, he and others aim to change that relationship. The Adopt the Nebraska Farm-to-School Program Act, established by Senator Tom Brandt, retains funds to create new and promote existing farm-to-school nutrition programs. The bill was passed unanimously in May with two objectives:

  • Provide school children with fresh, unprocessed meals and introduce them to healthy eating habits. These include field trips to farms, cooking classes, and gardening and composting programs.

  • Grow Nebraska Farmers Income.

“Every year, $ 65-70 million worth of groceries is only bought for school programs,” said McShane-Jewell. “This is a huge market that has not yet been sufficiently developed for local producers.”

McShane-Jewell is based in Washington County and has worked with the Regional Food Systems Division of Rural Prosperity Nebraska for the past three years. Before that, he spent 10 years building urban farming projects such as community gardens across the country, mostly on a small scale.

“It gets really tricky when you think of a school district like Lincoln or Omaha that has 25,000 to 50,000 students every day,” said McShane-Jewell. “This amount is going to be hard to come by.”

Like an invoice LB396 provides funding, he said, to organize and establish farm-to-school programs on a nationwide basis, which requires extensive coordination.

Creating links between producers and schools is at the heart of LB396. This is where Sara Smith comes in. As a farm-to-school specialist for the Nebraska Department of Education, Smith is charged with organizing farming programs that connect schools with producers. One such nationwide initiative, Nebraska Thursdays, encourages schools to serve local meals on the first Thursday of each month. Another program, Harvest of the Month, features a different specialty crop from Nebraska each month and provides schools with the resources to serve these plants to their students.

“This is all an effort to lead schools towards products that can be grown in Nebraska in the hopes that we will see an increase in purchases from local growers,” said Smith.

“We spoke to a lot of buyers; they want to source locally. We spoke to local producers; they want to sell to schools, ”said McShane-Jewell. “We’re just trying to fill in these loopholes.”

One attempt to close such gaps in the 2021-22 school year is a school gardening program. Schools build greenhouses on the site and students are taught about agriculture. The food produced goes straight to the school cafeteria. But students are only one side of the coin.

“In 2022 we will be running training courses for producers across the state,” said McShane-Jewell. Hopefully this will help them interact with schools more confidently and work with them to produce what (the schools) need. “

While each school has different student bodies and resources, both McShane-Jewell and Smith have high hopes for the future.

“As they say, ‘If you want to get to the top of the trees, shoot at the moon,’ so I’m a big believer that we have to make it really big here,” said McShane-Jewell. “There are models out there that set targets for 10% or 15% locally. I would love to see Nebraska get really ambitious and think of 50%, 75%, 100% local.

“So much is produced in this state. It’s just: How do we turn the tide in the direction of another marketplace? “

One immediate step is the Mountain Plains Crunch Off, an eight-state contest that celebrates October as National Farm to School Month. Who can encourage most residents to “grind” a piece of fresh product?

“Nebraska has been the reigning champion for two years in a row,” said McShane-Jewell, “so let’s keep it going.”

You can find more information about the Mountain Plains Crunch Off here. For more information on rural prosperity in Nebraska, please visit here.

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