WHAT’S COOKIN’ | Boys andamp; Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe | SierraSun.com

WHAT’S COOKIN’ | Boys andamp; Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe

Amy EdgettSierra Sun

Amy Edgett/Sierra SunChristin Wilcox ladles up love and lentils for the Boys andamp; Girls Club children March 10.

Christin Wilcox, club chef at the Boys and Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe loves children, good food and a healthy lifestyle.Her history testifies: She and professional chef husband Jacob Bird began volunteering at the club three years ago as guest chefs for the Club’s Chop Shop, an after school culinary arts program where children learn the basics of kitchen safety, recipes and the etiquette and respect required to create edible delights together. andamp;#8220;The teamwork and respect for individual actions can be applied throughout the life of the youth,andamp;#8221; said Wilcox, who celebrated her first anniversary as Club Chef this month.Wilcox and Bird have operated in a variety of capacities in the restaurant industry. Wilcox served in the andamp;#8220;front of the houseandamp;#8221; for five to six years, while Bird worked as chef de cuisine at the Biltmore and Charlie Palmer’s Steak House. They operated the Vulcano Lodge in Guatemala in 2006, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner with a staff of three. andamp;#8220;We created whatever we wanted, using only fresh, seasonal items brought in by boat [the only access],andamp;#8221; said Wilcox.Her love of nutritious food is evidenced by clear cutting the andamp;#8220;crapandamp;#8221; in the Club kitchen. Out with the hydrogenated oils, the teddy grahams, snack crackers and excessively sweet treats. andamp;#8220;When the children first come in, they want to make cake and have vanilla ice cream,andamp;#8221; said Wilcox of initial Chop Shop suggestions. She transitions the recipes to homemade granola bars, bran muffins and vegetable stir fry, using fresh and economical ingredients.The first to third grade class whipped up restaurant-quality egg drop soup. One mother come in to say the family made it at home the next day for breakfast. andamp;#8220;This reaches farther than the kids,andamp;#8221; said Wilcox. andamp;#8220;It’s rewarding and awesome they take it home to their families.andamp;#8221;Wilcox promotes a healthy lifestyle, and reaches out to community members. A three-week pilot program, Healthy Bodies, held in partnership with the North Lake Tahoe Family Resource Center, Nutrition Coalition with Maria Martin, a NC member and wellness dietitian and Jill Whisler, Tahoe Forest Health System dietitian addressed many issues, such as portion control and using the right cooking ingredients. Attendance was overwhelming, and participants learned to read labels and incorporate alternative snack foods such as smoothies. An easy to remember mantra was initiated: Go, Slow and Whoa! Go foods are the good: Fruits, nuts, leafy greens and legumes. Slow foods are those OK in moderation and Whoa foods are once in a great while treats.Wilcox packs her Club kitchen with go foods: Whole grain flours, peanut butter, oats, raisins. After snack is served, one portion only, the children may have an apple or an orange if they are still hungry. The only drinks are milk and water. Even better, the milk is poured from gallon jugs, into reusable cups, reducing waste.Her no-nonsense approach possibly stems from a Business Administration degree from Colorado State University in Fort Collins. The fact Wilcox doubled majored and also achieved a B.A. in Language Arts and Culture attests to the fact she is smart, motivated and cares about culture. What better way to demonstrate than feed our children nutritiously and engage them with life skills and respect?andamp;#8220;The kids are so excited abut Chop Shop, some aspire to become chefs,andamp;#8221; said Wilcox.

The annual appreciation breakfast for past and current donors will be held June 5 at 9 a.m., Boys andamp; Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe, 546-4324, 8125 Steelhead Ave., Kings Beach. Wilcox and husband Bird will participate for their third year.

2 Tbsp. olive oil1 finely chopped onion2 finely chopped celery stalks2 finely chopped carrots1 finely chopped zucchini squash1 finely chopped red bell pepper1 tsp. salt8 cups vegetable or chicken broth1 pound lentils picked and rinsed2 bay leaves1/2 tsp. garlic powder1/2 tsp. onion powder1/2 tsp. white pepperPlace olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, celery, carrot, zucchini, bell pepper and salt. Cook 5-7 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add broth, lentils, bay leaves and remaining spices and increase heat to high. Bring to a boil, then cover at a low simmer 35-40 minutes. Serve immediately with a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream. Yields 6-8 servings.