October 7, 2022

Nourishing Neighbors Blog – Get Fresh Edition

Dietitian Mallory Drake and Chef Mike Stellaccio setting up for Get Fresh

Our MANNA dietitian’s work hard to create exciting and hands-on ways to deliver nutrition education to our clients. One of our favorite MANNA events is our Get Fresh cooking classes. These classes entail cooking with our MANNA chef’s and nutrition education presented by our dietitians.

During the pandemic MANNA had to pivot this hands-on experience to a virtual model. This transition made Get Fresh more accessible to clients, but unfortunately removed the element of cooking along and taste testing recipes. This August Get Fresh returned in person for the first time since the pandemic hit. This was an exciting moment for our clients and staff. Tonya Cooper RD, LDN, our Manager of Nutrition and Client services said, “COVID may have changed the trajectory of group education at MANNA, but I’m so excited to be able to have clients back in person as well as educate our online group!”

This three part series consisted of summer topics related to no heat cooking, shopping for balanced snacks, and cooking with seasonal produce. For those of you that weren’t able to attend, follow along to get an inside look at our summer Get Fresh series!



Preparing for these presentations starts with a brainstorming meeting among our dietitians. We review client feedback and requests from previous sessions, brainstorm seasonal nutrition topics, and collaborate with our MANNA chefs on recipes that we think clients will enjoy. Once topics are selected our dietitians and chefs work together to create a menu for the evening. Most Get Fresh classes will consist of 2-3 small meals to prepare. Our dietitians and chefs will prepare samples of each of the dishes being featured in the live cooking demo for clients to take home and enjoy.

Registered Dietitian Emily Sadowy RD, LDN said, “Preparing for Get Fresh can be a really enriching experience because it gives me the opportunity to think outside of the box and develop creative ways to teach our clients. It also allows me to view food from a different perspective as I work with the chefs and learn from them”.

Along with preparing the food, our dietitians work hard to create interactive and educational nutrition education sessions. Topics for these sessions will correlate with the foods that are being prepared during the cooking demonstration. Continue along to find out what delicious meals and topics were covered in this season’s series of Get Fresh!


Lights Camera Action:

Dietitian Emily Sadowy and Chef Mike Stellaccio preparing Chicken and Vegetable Curry

Our first session of the series focused on cooking with seasonal produce. Dietitian Emily Sadowy RD, LDN and Chef Mike Stellaccio selected a chicken vegetable curry and a roasted vegetable summer salad dish to prepare. Emily and Mike picked these dishes to show the versatility that vegetables can have. These dishes featured in season vegetables for the month of August such as zucchini, eggplant, and green beans. Emily explained in her presentation that buying produce that is in season can contain a higher nutrient value and is usually cheaper than vegetables out of season. Her main take away for clients in this session was to, “Try to incorporate a wide variety of vegetables based on what is available to you and find what’s fun for you!”

Dietitian Danielle Talenti and MANNA client preparing overnight oats.

Our second Get Fresh class focused on no heat cooking. This topic was helpful after the 90-100 degree heat waves we had this summer. Dietitian Danielle Talenti MS, RD, LDN and Chef Mike Stellaccio focused on quick and easy balanced meals that could be prepared with very little prep. Danielle said, “Summer can be such a busy time for people. I think it is important for clients to know that creating a balanced meal is possible with very little time and cooking equipment.” Mike and Danielle prepared crunchy tuna wraps, and overnight peanut butter oats.

Dietitian Mallory Drake providing a nutrition education session to MANNA clients virtually and in person.

The last session in our series was presented by Mallory Drake MPH, RD, LDN, CHES. This was Mallory’s first Get Fresh series as a MANNA dietitian! Mallory stated that, “It was really fun to be able to see clients come together and interact as a group both in person and virtually.” The topic of this session focused on ways you can build a balanced snack at your local corner store. Mike and Mallory prepared a mango and black bean quesadilla. Throughout the session Mallory stressed the importance of incorporating carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to create a balanced snack. Mallory highlighted that, “Sources of these macronutrients can be found anywhere you shop. Knowing what to look for allows you to also create something you enjoy!”

MANNA’s Chef Mike Stellaccio worked alongside the dietitians and clients helping to whip up these delicious summer entrees. Mike said, “My favorite dish to create during this series was the chicken vegetable curry. I enjoyed this dish the most because it helps people get outside their comfort zone. This recipe comes off as challenging but is really easy to make. It also features so many different ingredients.” During each cooking demo, our in person participants helped to assist our dietitian and chef! One client shared that, “Get Fresh has been so helpful for learning new cooking methods and techniques!” Mike also shared with us that his best kitchen tip for this series was, “When using a knife to prepare ingredients, keep your fingertips tucked and take your time!”

Get Fresh is a great way for us at MANNA to get to know some of our clients on a deeper level and creates a community for our clients. Clients shared that some of their favorite aspects of attending include being able to try the food and to join each other back in person. It was also shared by a client that our series helped with allowing them to be open minded to trying new food and provided helpful tips to control diabetes and blood sugar levels. Get Fresh happens on a quarterly basis and while many clients join us for Get Fresh, these classes are also open to the community! If you are interested in joining us for our next series stay tuned via the MANNA newsletter, email, or MANNA’s social media.