CEDAR FALLS – There is a silver lining in the COVID-19 pandemic for Luann Alemao. “People are at home and spending time in the kitchen. And some of them are wondering what to do. They have never really cooked before. So I’m teaching them the basics.”
Alemao, a longtime food and nutrition educator and “Spoon It with Luann” cooking class instructor, is recording cooking and food preparation videos and posting them on her Facebook and Instagram pages (Luann Alemao and Associates).
The self-professed foodie has created a series of how-to’s, including roasting garlic, making lower-sugar granola, kneading bread, bean short-cuts and tips on how to stock a pantry and budget-stretching meal ideas. In the coming weeks, she wants to focus on selecting olive oil and its nutritional benefits, selecting greens, making vinaigrette, cooking with herbs and more. An upcoming class will show how to build a meal with what’s already in the fridge.
She confesses it’s been fun coming up with ideas.
“Like bread. Lots of people have bread machines, but I like kneading bread because it can reduce stress. That’s something we all need. Using your own hands to work the dough is a good stretch release and can help with your sense of well-being. And you get bread,” said Alemao, laughing.
Her bean detour is using the slow cooker. “It turns beans into a fast food. Instead of soaking the beans for hours, and then draining, I put the beans in the Crockpot and let them cook overnight. Then I rinse and bag ‘em up and freeze ‘em. They’re ready right out of the freezer whenever I need them for a dish. People think cooking is time consuming, and it can be, but there are more efficient ways to do things so we can create healthier meals.”
Her live cooking classes are much more complex with students working together to create multiple dishes and serve a meal. This current back-to-basics approach reminds Alemao of her days spent teaching junior high school home economics.
Alemao also talks about nutrition, a subject near and dear to her heart as a national Blue Zones speaker. “Health and wellness are so important, even more so now to keep our immune systems intact and sharp. My classes are on hiatus, and I thought about what I could do – why don’t I show cooking and food and Blue Zones principles at home, so I decided to do these videos.”
Her husband, Gary, is her cameraman. The two-minute videos are edited and then posted to Facebook and Instagram, with a goal of two to three videos each week. She plans to take an online Zoom class to eventually offer longer videos and more in-depth recipes and cooking techniques.
Learning to cook, or adding new skills to your repertoire can be a source of great satisfaction, Alemao said. “You’re seeing the process through from beginning to end. You can involve your kids so they can learn some of these life skills. Make dinner together.”
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