Demystifying Nutritious Food

Agustina is elated to know that cooking nutritious food is within reach of everyone, not just the wealthy. She attended a cooking demonstration given by Church World Service, local partner Fundasaun Sosial Naroman (FUSONA), and the area’s health office. The purpose was to show participants that good nutrition is simply a matter of knowing how to cook, combine and serve locally available foods, and to encourage them to try these practices at home.

Agustina and her classmates thought that wholesome food required expensive ingredients and equipment and involved a lot of complex activities. Like many other mothers, she has mostly served only rice porridge to her children aged six months to two years without incorporating any other protein or vegetables. Full tummies didn’t translate into healthy babies, due to the lack of calories and dietary diversity, so she didn’t need a lot of convincing to attend the class.

She, her husband and their four children have participated in other aspects of improved farming promoted by the program, so they have vegetables, meat and eggs to eat. She was impressed that, in her words, “All you need to do is cook them together and feed them to the children to improve their health.”

She learned a variety of ways to mix rice porridge with vegetables like cooked pumpkin, water spinach, watercress, tomato, or carrot. Each of these vegetables can be used separately or together, and if she didn’t have those, any other vegetables would do. Adding eggs for protein is easy enough for her and other attendees to achieve, and if they had beef floss (dried shredded beef) or chicken, or any other meat, those could also be used as well. Once the concept was clear, they realized the possibilities were endless, and they could be flexible in their approach depending on what they had on hand.

The cooking demonstration demystified the concept of “nutritious cooking” for the attendees, showing that anyone can do it by making use of what they grow in their home gardens and no expensive ingredients needed to be purchased. This activity gave mothers insight on nutrition and child health and making use of their agricultural production. It also served as a reminder of the importance of handwashing and sanitation. Agustina promised herself that, upon returning home, she would practice the menus she learned during the cooking demonstration.

Timor-Leste Liquiçá Program
Led by Church World Service and Local Partner Fundasaun Sosial Naroman (FUSONA)


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