September 25, 2012

Cooking with Rubicon: Healthy eating for healthy employees

Recently I had the privilege of participating in a major employee wellness event at the Rubicon Program of the East Bay. This non-profit provides employment, housing, mental health, legal and other supportive services to thousands of low-income individuals each year in some of the East Bay's hardest hit communities.  

They have about 150 employees and most of the of them were able to attend the event. Two years ago, four of their staff passed away in close succession and the organization began a focus in earnest on employee health. This organization has spirited and dedicated leaders who are clearly inspiring their staff to lead healthier lives.

I spoke to them about my basic views about food and nutrition - don't worry about the details and  eat fresh food of many colors you cook yourself rather than packaged and processed food. It was great fun to follow with a cooking demo projected on the screen. My sous chef was one of the male employees who admittedly had spent very little time in the kitchen over the years.

By the time he loosened up his vise-like grip on the chef's knife and was no longer nervous in front of the video camera, he was macerating garlic and dicing red onions like a pro. He finished up and wowed the crowd with the magic cherry tomato trick. As the wellness event focused on food, exercise and mindfulness, we kicked off the physical activity section with the electric slide.

They do it differently in Richmond than in Oakland so it took me a little while to get the hang of sort of a hokey-pokey move. But I got it going with help from my new friends. What a fun day with so many people of good will who do so much for so many.