Monday, July 12, 2010

First Look at "Let's Cook," The New White House Cooking Video Series

Premiere video after the jump: Sam Kass and chef Marvin Woods make 6 family dinners for 4, for $68...
Update: The second installment of the series, featuring chef José Andrés is here.
When First Lady Michelle Obama hosts her first-ever live webchat tomorrow at 10:00 AM EDT, she'll be doing it from the just-revamped Let's Move! website.

One of the best new elements of the site is the Let's Cook video series, which will feature the White House chefs, joined by guest chefs, demonstrating how to make healthy, affordable family dinner recipes. Food affordability is one of the pillars of Mrs. Obama's campaign, and the new series will show that it's possible to not break the budget, and still create culinary delights that are also healthy. (Above: A screenshot for the new video series)

The premiere video stars Sam Kass and Atlanta's chef Marvin Woods, demonstrating not just one recipe, but six recipes for complete, nutritious dinner meals for four, built around vegetables, whole grains and low-fat proteins--including tofu--with very low food costs. It's $68.00 for the series of dinners, which are based on Woods' own "Droppin' Knowledge" cooking aesthetic, which is described as his "inventive take on food rooted in Northern Africa, South America, the Caribbean and the Low Country." Woods joined Mrs. Obama to help launch Chefs Move To Schools, and he's a popular TV chef and cookbook author.

Encouraging increased consumption of fruit and vegetables is one of the goals of Mrs. Obama's childhood obesity campaign, as is making it easy for busy families to get cooking, so Kass and Woods show how to make the family dinners based around three key items, cooked on one day and then re-purposed through the rest of the week (they choose Sunday): Turkey, pork tenderloin, and tomato marinara--with plenty of vegetables included. This translates across the week to meals centered around Roast Pork Loin, Turkey Meatloaf, Turkey (or Tofu) Chili, Asian Pork and Vegetable Stir, Mediterranean Chicken, and Cajun Chicken, each accompanied by two healthy side dishes.

Kass and Woods also give tips on cooking technique for maximum flavor, improvising in the kitchen, and guidance for stretching the food dollar at a moment in time when produce is regarded as expensive.

Never mind organic, and frozen vegetables are fine...
"One of the things I tell people about affordability is you can use frozen veg," Woods says in the video. "So you can go to your big box stores and get a big box of frozen veg. That's all you have to do."

"Highly affordable," responds Kass.

"Exactly," Woods says. "It doesn't have to be organic, and you know, all those things people are stuck on. Just get some veg."

There's even a shopping list included with the recipes that are demonstrated in the video, for maximum user friendliness. There's also nutrition information per serving included; giving parents accurate nutrition information is another pillar of the Let's Move! campaign.

The week of recipes:

Sunday: Spice Roast Pork Loin, Sweet Potatoes, Cooked Green Beans - $14.25 for 4 servings (above)

Asian Stir of Pork and Vegetables - $7.50 for 4 servings

Turkey (Or Tofu) Chili and Pearl Barley with Mix Green Salad $7.55 for 4 servings

Turkey Meatloaf, Whole Wheat Pasta with Basil and Ricotta - $9.90 for 4 servings

Mediterranean Chicken, Pearl Barley with Feta Eggplant - $15.00 for 4 servings

Cajun Chicken and Brown Rice with Black Eyed Pea Pileau - $13.80 for 4 servings

*White House video; Photos from Let's Move!