How I Cook to Stay Healthy, Every Day!

By Vivian Tran

            I love to cook healthy foods for my family.  Every Sunday, I cook for the whole week and it takes me all day.  I couldn’t finish without some help from my mom and my sister.  They help me to wash, chop, and prepare in advance.  I cook, and I clean up after I’m done.

I like to cook pork stir-fry, chicken deep fried, and every kind of soup.  I use marrow bones, beef or pork.  After three hours of cooking in a huge pot, I let the broth cool down and store it in small containers.  My mom reheats some every day and adds fresh vegetables.  Sometimes she cooks some fried fish or shrimp stir-fry to make our meal more interesting.

For breakfast, sometimes we have eggs over easy or sometimes I buy frozen breakfasts that are low fat and have fewer calories for my family to eat.  I also like to drink lots of water and eat a lot of fresh fruit.

Sometimes my daughter makes special cookies for dessert.  She can follow a recipe herself, but I help her with the oven.

I think about eating healthfully every day.


Food and Nutrition, by Letizia Coppola

     Food is important in everyday life.  What we eat transforms into energy, protein, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals.  We should all eat a healthy diet in order to make our body work efficiently. All these things are important for our metabolism.

     Today, there is a lot of variety in foods we can choose, like poultry, meats, grains, seafood, fruit, and vegetables.  The best way is to cook from scratch and avoid packaged food.  Packaged food has lots of preservatives in order to prolong shelf life and prevent food spoilage.  Some foods are very addictive, even carcinogenic, and should be avoided.

     I believe that eating a good, healthy diet, getting a good night’s sleep, and taking a nice walk in the morning can boost the immune system and protect our body from degenerative diseases like cancer, stroke,  and diabetes.  Nutrition is the key to healthy aging.


submitted by Nardy Martinez

My favorite activity in winter is going outside with my children to build a snowman. I also like to stay inside when it’s too cold outside. When we build a snowman, instead of a carrot for a nose, we just get a thick stick and put it on. Also my kids have contests to see whose snowman is better and I judge them. I love doing activities in the snow and especially with my children because they love the snow much more than I do.


Letizia Coppola shares some appreciative comments about her sister, Rosaria.

My favorite person is my sister, Rosaria.  She is a little older than I am.  She is sweet, lovable, and very creative.  She can sew, knit, and crochet.  She is also a great cook and, I believe, the best chef in Virginia.  She is very involved with her friends at church since they often call on her for a recipe.  She is a good mother and a good wife, but most of all she is my sister and I love her.


Hi, my name is Letizia Coppola.  I’m from Italy.  I live in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, which is a beautiful area. I come from a big city, Naples, Italy. When I first moved here, I thought, “Oh, my. Where am I, Little House on the Prairie?”  I had never seen people riding in a horse and buggy before, but there is a big Mennonite community here. The mountains are just lovely.  It’s nice, peaceful, and quiet. People are very nice and polite. You don’t find that in the big city.

All my life, I wanted to pursue more education. In Italy, public education is available through high school, but my parents could not offer me more. When I finished my school of obligation, my mama told me, “It’s time for you to go to work.”  So I did begin work in a factory job sewing nightgowns and women’s apparel. I loved that, but I never learned design. I enjoy learning and starting classes again may be my opportunity to pursue some of my dreams.

My name is David Hernandez and I am a Mexican American. I love sports. I am also a sous chef and I love to cook.  I love cars, too. One of my passions is music. Another thing to know about me is that I am a really funny person and easygoing.


My name is Nardy. I’m from El Salvador, and I live in Harrisonburg. I work at Cargill and I have three kids. I like to listen to music. I have a lot of friends.

When I was in my country, I was studying for business management, but after many years of study I left my country. That’s the reason I didn’t finish my schooling. Now I am back to study again. I want to earn a degree and finish school. I was in Iraq for 20 years, but life over there is very different.  All the rules confused me when I came here. The most important thing here in the U.S. is you have to work.  It takes time. I get more tired with a lot of stress. Another important thing is you have to pay tax.  In Iraq, I played soccer besides my school and my job. I had a good schedule for that for part of life. Everyone needs  sport for good health. Now, every week I am working more than 40 hours and still trying to come to class. I want finish my GED class and get my diploma, improving my English and finding a better job. I like studying computer science and will try hard to make my dream come true.


     When I was young, I lived in Vietnam.  I was often out of school because my parents could not afford payments.  My parents tried to work hard to get us back into school every month.  Vietnam has an unfair educational system and you have to pay for everything.  I studied English for three years in high school, but the teachers’ English was very bad.  They taught grammar but their pronunciation sounded funny.  I feel like I learned nothing.  Now, after coming to America, I started English classes two years ago at MTC.  The teachers help me understand the rules of English and how to say things.  I understand what people are saying to me.  I’ve learned a lot.  I can help my children at home with homework, meet with my children’s teachers, and help my parents  with hospital visits.  It has been very important for me.

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