Cooking Matters: Fast Food and the Blubber Burger

Chances are you’ve eaten a meal from a fast food restaurant recently. That’s because 80% of Americans eat fast food at least once a month, according to Business Insider.

But residents of a Food Desert (a low-income area where a significant number or share of residents live more than 1 mile from a supermarket in urban areas and more than 10 miles from a supermarket in rural areas) often eat fast food meals more often than the “average American.” That’s because in a Food Desert, such as the one in southeast Raleigh, the absence of grocery stores is compounded by the abundant presence of fast food restaurants.CM.IFFS cobranding.logo2

And that takes a toll on health.

Which is why IFFS teaches Share our Strength’s Cooking Matters courses, engaging families with limited resources in hands-on, skills-based classes about eating healthy on a budget. One class in each six-week course specifically addresses how to choose wisely when eating away from home.

“Cooking at home tends to not only be cheaper than eating out, but it also puts the families in control of what they are eating,” explained Becky Dobosy, IFFS’s Cooking Matters Satellites Coordinator. “When eating outside the home, it’s harder to determine exactly what you are consuming, especially when it comes to fat and salt intake. In the class we talk about little steps to making healthy substitutions and reducing portion size.”

‘Healthy Starts at Home’ is the Cooking Matters for Families lesson where parents and their children learn the basics of reading nutrition labels and then have the chance to visualize the nutrition information for common fast food meals through the ‘Blubber Burger’ activity.blubber-burger-drawing-table-2--edit

Kids start by drawing pictures of fast food meals the kids would normally order. Then, using nutrition facts, everyone calculates the total fat in the meals they drew.

Next the kids grab a hamburger bun and a tub of Crisco and, using the equation 4 grams of fat = 1 tsp, measure out the total fat from their drawing onto a real life hamburger bun. It creates quite an impressive visual!

“In my experience coordinating Cooking Matters classes, hands-on learning is the most impactful with the kids,” said Dobosy. “Including a hands-on activity that lets them explore and experience a lesson makes them much more likely to remember it.”blubber-burger-kids-teach-parents--edit

The children then have the opportunity to tell their parents what they’ve learned.

“The kids are always shocked and grossed out by seeing the amount of fat in their meal represented by the blubber burger,” said Dobosy. In our families class they are very excited to share what they learned with their parents, and their parents are equally surprised.”

The lesson concludes with families learning how to prepare Baked Flaked Chicken with Sweet Potato Fries as an alternative to fast food for dinner.breading-chicken--edit

“Now that families know how much fat is in their favorite fast food items, they will start making changes to the way they order,” said Dobosy. Many of the participants make goals to swap fries with side salads, avoid sugary sodas, or eliminate their consumption of fast food altogether.”

If you would like to learn more about Cooking Matters or are interested in teaching classes (in either English or Spanish), contact Fiffi Negussie

By Lindsay Humbert, IFFS Digital Media Specialist. Contact:

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponBuffer this pageEmail this to someone


What’s the Best Way to Transform our Food System?

by Sarah Paxson
Pink and Red

…by reaching the kids!

A new article suggests that teaching children about food and helping to expand their food preferences is the highest priority in turning our food systems around.  The article says that “kids’ food preferences and knowledge about what and how they eat is heavily influenced by parents, teachers, childcare professionals and other adults around them” and that it is for this reason that the explosion in recent years of healthy food programs for kids may be the single most promising means for transforming our food system as a whole.

Programs like Cooking Matters teaches the youth of America a new way to look at food than the way they see in commercials, on the shelves of our grocery stores, or even in the lunch line at school.  “Whenever kids are able to take ownership over something like cooking the food themselves, it creates a stronger connection,” says Sarah Elliott, farm-to-school program manager at REAP Food Group in Madison, WI.

Read the full article and see how our Cooking Matters courses read the kids.

Knife Safety

Cooking Matters for Kids offers a fun curriculum for teaching kids how to make healthy choices and prepare food, either by themselves or with their families and friends.

Knife Skills

During this particular class, the culinary instructor taught children two key principles of safe cooking:  hand washing and knife safety.  Our culinary instructor taught each of the children, which ranged in age from five to ten, how to safely use a knife… a skill they put into use later on in the class by cutting fruit for a fruit salad!

Cooking Matters Class Graduates!

All fifteen participants graduated last Wednesday from the Cooking Matters for Adults class at Community Workforce Solutions in Raleigh.  Participants were enthusiastic as they learned from their wonderful volunteer instructors about knife skills, reading food labels, and new recipes for healthy snacks that they can prepare themselves.  Some of the recipes they tried included Mini Pizzas, Baked Pita Chips with Hummus, Peanut Butter Banana Roll Ups, and Barley Jambalaya.  Check out the photos of some of the great foods they put together in class!

Community Workforce Solutions is an organization dedicated to supporting persons with disabilities or other barriers to employment as each individual strives to achieve the employment and community integration goals of their choice.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

New Chefs-To-Be in Town

Congratulations to our most recent Cooking Matters graduates!

Over the course of six weeks, fifteen kids from Apex UMC’s Fiesta Cristiana Spanish worship service chopped, sliced, mixed, and roasted on their way to healthy eating.  Led by enthusiastic volunteer nutrition and culinary instructors, the children experimented with new foods, learned the importance of eating a variety of colors of fruits and vegetables, and practiced reading food labels.  Some new favorite healthy recipes included the Pasta with Roasted Vegetables, Baked Flaked Chicken, and of course the Veggie Pizza!  Look out for some super future chefs in Apex!


Budget Conscious Cooks

IFFS works with dedicated Cooking Matters satellite partners to help even more families learn to cook healthy meals on a limited budget. This ‘Quick Chef’ Cooking Matters class in Warren County is run through our UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention satellite partnership!

Thank you HPDP for all your hard work in making sure Cooking Matters throughout North Carolina.

via “Budget-conscious cooks learn how to prepare healthy meals.” – The Warren Record