Residents at Carpenter’s Shelter Mix it Up in the Kitchen

Written by Katie Potestio, Master Food Volunteer

Last week participants in the Life Skills class at Carpenter’s Shelter, a homeless shelter in Old Town Alexandria, completed a three week healthy cooking series led by Master Food Volunteers Katie Potestio, Lise Metzger, Kristin Bruce, Desiree Morningstar, Nancy Broff, and Kim Frey. During the first class participants cooked a tasty Latin-style meal of black bean soup accompanied by cornbread and a corn and rice medley. The cooking was truly a team effort with contributions from very experienced cooks as well as novices in the class. In the second session the group whipped up some healthy whole grain breakfast items including banana-walnut oatmeal, applesauce French toast, and breakfast burritos (which included a special burrito-rolling tutorial!). Participants learned to be wary of the often empty “whole grain” claim on the front of food packages and to check the ingredient list on the food label for whole grain ingredients such as whole wheat.

The final session emphasized the longstanding healthy eating recommendation to eat more vegetables and some tips for how to eat a few extra during the day. The volunteers surprised participants with a creative way to fit more veggies in on a hot summer day – in smoothies! Using blenders donated by the community, participants created three delicious fruit smoothies including one green smoothie made with baby spinach. Blended in with fruit and sweetened yogurt the greens add an extra dose of nutrients and a fun color to this refreshing drink. The participants who dared to try the green smoothie agreed that it tasted good and said they would be likely to make it again. Other greens to try in the blender are chard, kale or bok choy. At the end of the night the volunteers surprised the class yet again by raffling off blenders that they had collected from community donations to eight lucky residents! Although making smoothies doesn’t require a recipe, below is the Green Smoothie recipe approved by the residents at Carpenter’s Shelter. Give it a try!

Green Smoothie Recipe   

Servings: 4

2 large oranges, peeled and segmented

1 banana (frozen in slices if possible)

2 cups frozen strawberries

4 cups baby spinach leaves

2 cups vanilla low-fat yogurt

1 cup ice (if bananas are frozen, omit the ice cubes)

½-1 cup liquid such as water, juice or milk (optional)


In a blender, combine oranges, banana, strawberries, spinach, yogurt and ice. Puree until smooth. Add liquid as needed to help with blending. Serve immediately and enjoy!

green smoothie

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