New moms in eastern P.E.I. enjoy taking part in cooking class

Mary MacKay
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Eight-month-old Josie Flynn is excited about enjoying the yummy results of her mother Mary Flynn's labours in the kitchen at the Main Street Family Resource Centre in Souris. Flynn was one of the participants in the recent no-cost educational healthy eating program for new parents.

There’s more than just good food on the menu at the Main Street Family Resource Centre in Souris.

The cozy onsite community kitchen is abuzz with lively, informal, informative conversation about breastfeeding, cloth diapers and a lot more as the many mothers make light work of the dishes on this day’s dining list.

“I’m pretty good in the kitchen, but when I come here I get to see other people, plus the kids aren’t allowed in here. When I cook at home I’ve got two little kids who are all over me wanting to help,” laughs Kinsey Cheverie of Souris as  wee ones enjoy some fun playtime in another part of the centre.

This no-cost cooking class has been offered in various forms at the Main Street Family Resource Centre in the past.

“The last couple of years we’ve gotten funding from the (annual Souris) Village Feast that’s held in the summer. It’s huge. They feed a thousand people,” says Barb Lundrigan, executive director of the centre.

“They’ve been very generous with us in giving us money to run the program, so we can offer it cost-free basically.”

This particular program presentation is aptly named Paulette’s Picks for instructor and nutrition therapy consultant Paulette Burrill.

“I am trying to teach them healthier options for easy-to-prepare foods,” she says of her menu for the once-a-week program that was spread over six weeks.

Some of the cooking categories covered were breakfasts, snacks and Christmas sides, all of which included healthier versions of the typical fare, such as a sugarless cranberry sauce and kale chips with healthy dip options.

“Just things that people wanted to try that they were kind of scared to at home because it would be wasting money if you don’t like it,” Burrill says.

“I just tried to focus on real whole foods, things they could do themselves (from scratch). You can put it all in the food processor, so it’s very easy. It’s just that people didn’t know they could do it.”

While some people might turn up their nose at the thought of kale chips, Jen Savard of Savage Harbour couldn’t stop after the first one.

“It’s a little bit of an acquired taste, but when the kale chips came out of the oven I couldn’t stop eating them at the end of it,” she laughs.

“On Saturday at a Christmas market, somebody was selling kale and I bought some. I would have never bought kale normally.”

The homemade dips, such as guacamole and baba ghanoush, were an adventure into new cultural tastes.

“It opens your eyes to new types of cooking using ingredients that you don’t usually use at home,” Savard says.

“I find at home I kind of get in a rut and cook the same things over and over again. So far in taking this course I’ve learned the benefits of using coconut oil instead of vegetable oil or margarine or butter. It’s really good for you as long as it doesn’t say refined (on the bottle).”

Allison Burns of Souris signed up for the class to get a different perspective on cooking for her family.

“Not learning how to make it from scratch, but getting more ideas,” she adds.

However, there was a day when Burns wasn’t keen on trying some of the items on the freshly made menu.

“It was when we made the guacamole and baba ghanoush. I guess I’m picky. I didn’t think I’d like the dips at all, but I liked both of them,” she says.

“I think it’s cheaper (too). If you go to the grocery store it’s $5 for a (container) of dip but with two avocadoes we made a big bowl that we all shared.”

Mary Chaisson of Souris West is home with her three-month-old son, so socializing was at the top of her interest list.

“It was the social aspect, but also just to try to break myself of old habits, learn some new tricks and maybe try to eat healthier,” she says.

“A lot of us cloth-diaper our babies and are breast feeders and that sort of thing. I think we’re all kind of looking for ways to do things naturally so the babies that we’re raising will benefit from that as well.”

In addition to being introduced to new edibles such as kale, Savard is now a big fan of using non-refined coconut oil, which is a more healthful alternative to other oils.

“I never used before, and now I use it every second meal,” she says.

“You always pick up a little something. Some things you might already know, but you always get to learn a new way of doing something.”


Garlic Cauliflower "Mashed Potatoes"

Adapted from

Serves 6-8


1 large head cauliflower

5 large cloves garlic


2 tbsp coconut oil

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Freshly ground black pepper to taste


1. Fill up a large pot (steamer) with water and put on the burner on high heat.

2. While waiting for the water to boil, wash and trim a large head of cauliflower and cut up the florets and stem. Peel and cut up the garlic.

3. Once the water in the pot is boiling, throw in the stems, half the florets and all the garlic. Salt everything liberally, then add the remainder of the cauliflower.

4. Steam until everything is soft, about 10 minutes.

5. Once it is cooked, dump into a strainer to remove the excess water.

6. Then dump everything into a food processor (fitted with an S blade) and add some fresh cracked black pepper, ground nutmeg and coconut oil.

7. Finally process everything until smooth. These faux “mashed potatoes” reheat beautifully.

Organizations: Main Street Family Resource Centre

Geographic location: Eastern P.E.I., Souris.The

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