Cooking as therapy
There are few things in life that bring such immediate satisfaction as sitting down and enjoying a tasty snack. My goal each day in Cooking Class is to supplement that enjoyment with an understanding of where our food comes from, how it is made, and how knowing what goes into our food can help us to make healthy food choices.
Although the common theme of the classes is learning to prepare healthy food, I maintain the premise that simply being in the kitchen opens infinite opportunities for therapeutic activity: Students apply critical thinking skills to recognize and measure ingredients; basic motor skills are engaged in holding and using kitchen tools; examining the recipe as a group is an opportunity for students to utilize reading skills as well as verbal and social skills. The list of benefits goes on and on and at the end of it all we are left with not only the gratification of having accomplished a series of tasks, we are able to sit down and enjoy the product of our labors as reinforcement for a job well done.
In my mind, nothing heralds the start of the holiday season quite like the smell of freshly baked gingerbread! Something about the special blend of spicy ginger and clove with hints of fragrant nutmeg and cinnamon just makes us feel comforted and warm. This recipe produces a loaf of moist, cake-like gingerbread.
This recipe is relatively low in sugar, calling instead for black strap molasses. Unlike refined sugars, molasses contains trace amounts of vitamins and significant amounts of several minerals. Blackstrap molasses is a source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron; one tablespoon provides up to 20 percent of the daily value of each of those nutrients. The fact that this recipes calls for no egg or dairy products also makes it entirely vegan. The addition of it being infinitely simple to make is a great holiday bonus.