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Desert Mission Food Bank Demonstration Chef Cooks Tasty, Nutritious Dishes

desert mission food bank demonstration chef
Ed Debiec, the demonstration chef at Desert Mission Food Bank, helps clients learn new ways to cook simple, healthy dishes based on donations.

Quinoa and Black Beans is on today's menu at Desert Mission Food Bank.

Did you know, Chef Ed Debiec tells a client, that quinoa (KEEN-wa) dates back to the Incas and Romans and it's considered a superfood, the "Mother of Grains," because it's so high in protein?

Desert Mission Food Bank, one of the community programs of the John C. Lincoln Health Network, distributes more than emergency food boxes to those who need extra help in our community.

As part of its health initiative to reduce childhood obesity and to improve overall nutrition, Chef Ed, the only on-site food bank demonstration chef in the Valley, offers cooking advice and shows families how to cook low-cost, simple, nutritious meals, based on the donations of the week.

So one day, he might be cooking up halibut, lightly sautéed with salad on the side, thanks to a donor who really likes to fish in Alaska every summer. Another week, it's Baked Lemon Chicken to take advantage of the seasonal citrus donations to the Food Bank.

Chef Ed became a chef after retiring from education as a teacher and administrator. He fulfilled his dream to go to culinary school and attended the Institute for Culinary Education in New York City at 62.

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"It's sort of like Iron Chef without the exotic ingredients," he said. "It's a creative process for me. I check and see what we have and make decisions about what to cook. We want people to understand that they can create good healthy food on a budget. I feel like I'm contributing to their health and well being."

And that's the bottom line, said Sharon Pierson, Food Bank director.

"We always have focused on health in our Desert Mission programs," Pierson said. "You can spend the same amount on healthy food as on junk food. Having a demonstration chef gives families someone to really talk to about nutrition, health and their own family needs."

Learn more about Desert Mission Food Bank at JCL.com/foodbank.

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