Newly donated mobile cooking station at Children’s Hospital of Orange County allows its patients to have fun with cooking.
Families and patients of the Children’s Hospital of Orange County will learn about nutrition, how to cook simple snack recipes, basic kitchen skills, and engage in fun cooking competitions alongside some of O.C.’s top chefs. All thanks to a recent addition to the hospital – a mobile cooking station adoringly named Charlie Cart.
The fully-stocked station was a recent donation to the hospital assisted by the O.C. non-profit organization MaxLove’s culinary medicine program Fierce Foods Academy, which has offered monthly cooking classes for pediatric cancer patients throughout the county. Since the cart was originally designed for classrooms rather than hospitals, which have various regulations, CHOC’s Clinical Nutrition and Lactation Department worked hard to modify the program so it suits the hospital and its patients’ needs.
Now young patients can sauté, bake, blend, mix and enjoy delicious and nutritional snacks – and have fun while doing it. Caroline Steele, director of the Clinical Nutrition and Lactation Department at CHOC, shared her enthusiasm about the hospital’s nutrition goals with Charlie Cart:
What was the inspiration of incorporating the culinary program into CHOC?
Nutrition is always about using food to promote health or reduce symptoms of disease. As registered dietitians, we acknowledge that as a country, we rely more on convenience and take-out foods now than 20 or 30 years ago. Fewer people have an understanding of cooking. We wanted to bring our nutrition recommendations back to food by offering guidance on easy, healthy recipes that families can make together.
When was this culinary program launched at CHOC?
We launched a hospital-wide Food and Nutrition Philosophy a year ago (in January 2017). Our goal was to provide a consistent message to our patients, families, visitors, and staff in the education we were providing, food we were offering our patients and in our cafeteria, and food our associates received for celebrations. This was a continuation of that initiative.
How was the curriculum altered to fit the Fierce Foods Academy program at CHOC?
The curriculum for the Charlie Cart (the mobile cooking cart) was designed for use in schools. The curriculum was great, but we needed to make some modifications with regards to food safety, because our patients may be ill or have compromised immune systems. For example, many of the original recipes made bulk amounts of a food that all students could then try. Our recipes don’t have any bulk items or communal dishes—everything is individually portioned out.
How and when do the children get involved with the culinary program?
We are still in the process of determining the full scope of this project. Our goal is to offer classes on a regular basis that our patients and families can attend. We also intend to use it for demonstrations in common areas of the hospital, such as the cafeteria or patio, for families, visitors, and staff.
Hummus in a Blender
Before getting started: If using dried beans, soak them overnight, and cook them ahead of time. To cook garbanzo beans, place them in a stockpot with water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a rolling boil. Skim the white froth from the surface and discard. Turn down heat and simmer for 2 hours with the lid ajar, or until the beans are tender but not falling apart. Add 2 teaspoons salt, stir, and let cool. Reserve ½ cup cooking liquid. Refrigerate beans until ready to use. Makes about 2 cups.
- ¾ cup dried (2 cups cooked), or 1 (16-ounce) can garbanzo beans
- 2 lemons
- 1 small clove garlic, peeled
- ¼ cup tahini (or 3 tablespoons for mortar-and pestle version)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
- 1 scant teaspoon kosher salt
- Pinch of paprika
- Pita bread, carrots, and cucumbers, for dipping
- If using canned beans, open can and strain beans into a bowl, reserving the liquid in a small measuring cup. Set aside.
- Juice the lemons and measure ¼ cup juice.
- Slice garlic in half.
- Add the beans, ¼ cup lemon juice, tahini, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, salt, garlic, and ¼ cup of the reserved bean liquid to the blender.
- Blend for 30 seconds. If the texture is dry, add 2 more tablespoons reserved liquid. Blend at the highest speed for 2 minutes until very smooth.
- Spoon hummus into a shallow bowl. Top with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.
- Paprika to be added as garnish after individual servings have been passed out to students.