Fifth day of the Liverpool Healthnic workshop

28 November, Merseyside Refugee Support Network’s fifth and final Healthnic cooking session.
Before embarking on cooking the dishes that participants planned at the last session, there was a discussion and activity which aimed to deepen and expand knowledge of the many ways to use herbs and spices in cooking.
After researching herb and spice combinations essential to many cuisines across the world, each group produced a specific combination – Jerk seasoning (Caribbean), Garam Masala (Indian subcontinent) and Baharat (Middle East) – grinding a mix of spices with a pestle and mortar (new words for some participants towards overcoming language barriers and building the glossary). Everyone had a mix to take away to inspire and enhance their everyday cooking at home and share with friends and family. Participants developed an increased awareness and knowledge of spices and combinations including those regularly seen on supermarket shelves.
The activity further strengthened the sense of community with the group. As beautiful aromas filled the air, individual stories and memories about childhood and home were shared about tastes, smells and feelings which engendered a sense of security and pride about home. By sharing memories and focussing on similarities across cultures and countries an appreciation and understanding of all cultures was enhanced developing a greater sense of inclusion for all.
Cooking the final intercultural meal began with participants relaxed and enjoying the experience, incorporating all the knowledge from the previous sessions about healthy eating, nutrition, diversity and affordability.
Healthnic brought diverse communities together but was not just an exchange of cultures and cuisines it was a vehicle to learn and reflect about the health benefits of new and older recipes transforming the taste and diversity of each culinary dish.
Next, digital story-telling.

Fourth day of the Liverpool Healthnic workshop

21 November, Merseyside Refugee Support Network’s fourth session of the Healthnic workshop was jam-packed with activities, planning, reflection, learning and cooking with a focus on maintaining a healthier diet.
So, to give energy levels a boost participants formed three groups (‘carrot and ginger’ – immunity boost, ‘beetroot and lemon’ – immunity boost and ‘kale and lime’ – moisture and detox) and made a juice cocktail from vegetables, herbs and spices. A significant quantity was produced so everyone could savour a shot of each distinctive cocktail. All that was needed were the disco lights, as the atmosphere buzzed with discussion about individual taste preferences. The sweetness of the blood red beetroot shot took it to the top of the charts, whilst the bitterness of the pea green Kale shot came last.
Now super energised, knowledge on the properties of herbs and spices was presented including information about how herbs and spices help maintain vitamins and add flavour.
In groups stories, reminiscent of a cherished childhood meal were shared, fascinating tales including the Caribbean breakfast of blue crab, callaloo and bread fruit. These reminiscences informed how particular foods, herbs and spices have come to influence flavours and tastes across cultures and generations.
Next, in an individual exercise, participants reflected on their personal diet and considered changes that could be introduced towards a healthier eating regime and its value.
Returning to group activity, participants used a recipe board to plan and cost ingredients for a dish in the final cooking session next week. Prime consideration was given to healthy, nutritional and affordable foods. With the consideration of Healthnic’s inclusion goal each participant modified the dishes with a culinary influence from their own country.
Finally, it was time to cook and eat. Today, each group was produced a different course for lunch using local and seasonal produce flavoured with herbs and spices.
Socialising over the meal of vegetable soup, beetroot salad and apple, cinnamon and nutmeg crumble everyone conferred about the benefits of whole grain over “white” grain and reflected on the cost of the ingredients for each course, reinforcing the question of affordability, nutritional value and importantly of taste, when using fresh local and seasonal ingredients linked with nutritional value and taste.

Third day of the Liverpool Healthnic workshop

The third session 14 November introduced herbs and spices with a focus on culinary and medicinal uses.
All together we talked about how we used herbs and spices. In three groups – Chives, Parsley and Coriander, our first activity matched a spice and herb with a description of its medicinal properties as its health benefits. Spontaneously stories were shared about natural remedies that have been handed down through generations “from home” and are still used today.
Our facilitator Rosie, asked everyone if they could identify the contents of a small jar of herb salt (basil, garlic and raw salt) through smell and taste. Then in a group activity we chose a cocktail of herbs from the garden considering taste preferences and medicinal qualities – for example – mint, calendula petals, garlic and salt.
Everyone had their individual jar of herb salt to take home, store for a week in the fridge and use. Preserving herbs this way allows them to be used like a stock cube.
Next, each group prepared a seasonal salad with their group herb (chives, parsley or coriander) to be the dominant flavour – transforming its taste of season.
The salads were served with baked potato and Ali’s delicious tomato smoked beans flavoured with garam masala and smoked paprika, a cheap and nutritious autumnal meal. The discovery of new tastes and unusual flavours in today’s lunch drew consensus that previously held reservations about using herbs and spices in home cooking were to be abandoned.
After eating we were joined by Ewan and he introduced the group to digital storytelling. He showed examples of several two minute digital stories created in the Erasmus+ Tell Your Story 2016 project. This helped our participants focus on their own stories in a context of food.

Second day of the Liverpool Healthnic workshop

November 7, we returned to the John Archer Hall kitchen for the second session of the Liverpool Healthnic workshop. This day focussed on using seasonal and local vegetables.
Three groups were formed, each with diversity of participants, for an activity to identify which English vegetables were in season throughout the year. This exercise was enriched with information about differences in duration of the seasons and seasonal produce from the various home countries.
November is a season of abundance in England so we have plenty of fresh and economic vegetables available. In our next activity, we created a recipe board for a dish influenced by each member of the group.
The predominant ingredient used by the three groups was tomato because of the abundant harvest available from the community garden – combining economy and nutritional value. Each group chose a dish to cook and illustrated the influences with national flags.
A traditional Turkish tomato omelette (menemen) was cooked in a frying pan with vegetables and eggs and given an English finish by grilling the top until the egg was cooked through, served with a Sudanese Peanut salad and Pakistani chapati.
Sharing ideas, working together and eating together is enhancing the bonding of our Liverpool Healthnic family.

First day of the Liverpool Healthnic workshop

It was the last day of October and the first day of the Liverpool Healthnic workshop at the John Archer Hall based in the heart of the Toxteth community.
Session one began with introductions and all together we shared with what we had for breakfast – tea and toast the most popular start to the day!
We began to build group relationships through open discussion with a few icebreakers, using pieces of fruit (healthy eating being a focus of the day) and learnt a little about each other.
In groups we exchanged ideas about the essence of our diverse traditional cuisines with the similarities that exist across ‘borders’ transpiring naturally.
All together we discussed and agreed joint aims and rules for our sessions to create an enjoyable, respectful and safe experience.
in groups, we began baking bread. This was a bonding as well as educative activity in which we shared expertise, tips and stories. With sticky fingers, we learnt more about each other, and worked out stretching and pulling until the dough was smooth and ready to shape and bake.
While the bread baked, we explored the John Archer community garden and picked coriander to add to the soup that was provided for lof unch and mint for tea.
As everyone was smelt and tasted the wide variety herbs, memories and stories flooded out with stories from England, Pakistan, Turkey, Sudan, Tobago and Burundi.
As we returned to the kitchen the beautiful aroma of baking bread whetted our appetites reminding us it was time for lunch. The bread was sliced into ‘doorstep’ chunks and served with a bowl of nutritious carrot and lentil soup.
Over lunch, our Heathnic community continued to discuss the essence of our cuisines and agreed plans for the next session.

Closing of the cooking part of the Greek Healthnic workshop

The Vardakeios School started its local Healthnic workshop on the 16th of October and closed the cooking part of the seminar last Thursday, on the 15th of November.
The participants of the workshop is a mixed group of 16 immigrants and local unemployed people consisted of people coming from Albania, Argentina, Egypt, Hungary, Poland, and Greece. The sessions were held twice a week for 4 hours each time.
Through experiential activities, the group used their memories, acquired habits, personal preferences and cultural elements all related to food in order to approach food culture in a more interactive way. The facilitator of the workshop, Maria Krina, used this process as a vehicle to create a strong bonding between them but also to show them easy ways for nutritional yet multi-collective diet. What remains as a feeling from all the people involved in this undertaking is the optimism that people can always find ways to connect with each other especially when they collaborate in issues such essential as food. Creating, sharing, feeling, tasting, learning together was a beneficial and inspiring process that keeps on giving meaning to our everyday life. An experience that helps us come together with people we think as “strangers” in a respecful, collaborative and creative way.

A short description of the sessions

First week
During the first two workshops, we worked on getting to know each other and creating a bond by sharing personal information and baking bread together.
All different cuisines started to unfold their secrets allowing us to talk about seasonal products, wholemeal grains and their importance for a healthy diet.
Second week
We embarked on a journey into time sharing memories and understanding that each dish is the mirror of the history of the land and its inhabitants.
The group expressed a strong need for learning more about healthy eating, so during the workshops this week, we talked a lot about ways that can help us change our diet and establishing more healthy habits. We recorded our weekly menus and started thinking of the changes we would like to make.
We talked about the importance of water in our diet and watched a short film about Dr. Masaru Emoto’s water experiment.
But since cooking is the issue and the joy we improvised integrating all the different cooking ways and newly acquired knowledge and made salads using buckwheat, millet, lentils, and fresh vegetables and talked about the importance of the six tastes.
Third week
We started by cooking different pumpkin pies and learning to roll the dough. Filo in Greek!
We shared different recipes and from those countries that have no such tradition, we used dough recipes changing them in order to be healthier using whole meal flour and less salt.
While waiting for the pies to bake we did a new healthier weekly menu and each one made a self-contract about the changes he or she wanted to make. We decided to make our own water experiment energizing personal water bottles using the words LOVE and HEALTH.
Then we created six new recipes, which, while integrating all cooking traditions, had a more “Greek” flavor.
Fourth week
We cooked the recipes of the previous week.
● Stuffed zucchini with herbs and a traditional Albanian sweet dish with wholemeal rice long forgotten even in Albania with a Greek touch.
● Lentils “giouvetsi” with wholemeal pasta in the oven and lentil salad in a Greek – Hungarian way.
● Cabbage with rye and herbs and “politiki”, cabbage salad with a lot of Egyptian and Polish influences.
Herbs and spices appeared on our tables and new knowledge about their uses together with the magic of their aromas made our day!
We shared stories the aromas brought up and had a lot of fun together with a bitter-sweet sentiment of nostalgia.
Fifth week
We cooked the leftovers of the ingredients improvising with a stronger touch of herbs and spices, as we never had food leftovers!
● Broccoli balls with an Argentinian – Egyptian sauce
● Millet “puree” with yogurt and spices
● Chickpeas balls with yogurt sauce
● Pie with “horta” ( greens)
Each dish had its own unique spice mix each group created that made the difference.
1. marjoram, caraway seeds, fennel seeds, green pepper and a pinch of coriander for the pie
2. cumin, caraway and fennel seeds, black and red pepper, oregano and spearmint for the chickpeas
3. wicker, black cumin and fenugreek seeds with a few allspice berries for the broccoli
We came up with easy, healthy solutions about shopping and cooking fast and easy nutritious dishes.
We looked at our contacts to see how we are progressing and we all did well. We were all very supportive of each other, making jokes about the difficulty we all have to change.
We set a date for the next meeting around the table sharing what all will cook at home. So we will start working for creating the digital stories in a warming, festive way eating food cooked with love and lots of new knowledge.

The digital storytelling part will follow for the next three weeks with meetings once a week where the participants will have the chance to create their own digital stories related to food.
If you want to know more about all the local Healthnic workshops that are now in progress and watch the produced videos visit the project’s platform at and download the guide to learn how to build and run a Healthnic workshop:

Italian Healthnic Workshop – Last day

The last day of the Healthnic workshop saw an all-day final working session where participants developed their Digital Storytelling videos on the values, meanings and possibilities offered by setting food and healthy diet as a common ground to facilitate mutual recognition, respect, dignity and integration.

Participants started with a sharing session on the lessons-learnt during the previous days, focusing on the individual competences and awareness around food, pleasure in learning, cooking and tasting new recipes, self-n-mutual recognition as part of community made of human, each with its personal stories, values, tradition, preferred flavors and memories.
After some group-work sessions, up to five Digital Storytelling videos have been created, and later the first one which has been finalized was presented in the very final moments of the day. All the videos will be available shortly on the Healthnic platform.
These days have been an intense and moving experience, and with the colleagues from Diciannove I want to deeply thank all the participants for the enthusiasm and the warm feeling of belonging that we shared. Food, health, individual stories allowed us to break all the borders and share a deep and a releasing feel of belonging.
As Virgian Wolf once said “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”

If you want to know more about the Healthnic worksop and see the Digital Storytelling videos of the experience, visit the project’s platform at and download the guide to learn how to build and run an Healthnic workshop here:

Italian Healthnic Workshop – 3rd day

The 3rd day of the Healthnic workshop is dedicated to deepen how an healthy diet, both on daily and weekly basis, can be enriched in term of variety and taste from the use of local products. We ask to local farmers and community-based organizations to present their work, specifically concerning the how-to empower local farmers.
We focus on the connection between the re-discover of local traditional and healthy ingredients, the strengthen of local community, the economical positive feedback of a healthy and wealthy territory, the benefit of a balanced diet, the re-interpretation of traditional recipes dedicated to the fundamental re-use of alimentar left-overs. After these debates and share, we all cooked together, combining left-overs with potatoes from the mountains producers, ending up in a tasty dinner with 5 different colorful version of the traditional „gnocchi” (potato dumpling).
Quoting Francois de la Rochefaucauld, „eating is a basic need, but tasty and clever eating is a work of art”.
If you want to know more, visit the project’s platform at and download the guide to learn how to build and run an Healthnic workshop here:

Italian Healthnic Workoshop – 2nd day

Second day of the Healthnic workshop in Luserna San Giovanni. The day has been dedicated to the discovery and rediscovery of spices and their hidden flavors. After the colleagues from Diciannove gave an introduction to the spices and their qualities, all participants played with consonants and dissonances of flavors, such as sweet, salty, bitter, sour …
the kitchen was filled with the aroma of local and foreign spices that helped to give unusual flavors to the recipes created and proposed by the participants. After share the cooking, we all savored the dishes together.

Discovering, tasting and inhabiting flavors, consonances and dissonances is an important moment in every individual story, because as Feuerbach claimed, “man is what he eats”.

If you want to know more, visit the project’s web platform at and download the guide here:

Healthnic Local Workshops have started in Italy

Diciannove held the first day of the healthic workshop in Luserna San Giovanni (To). Despite a terrible rain-storm, the atmosphere was warm. After introducing the rules of the workshop in term of respect, dignity and equality of all participants, the day was dedicated to build up a community climax through some icebreakers and sociometric games. We started to familiarize between a variety of origins, which included Male, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Guinea, Torino, Pinerolo, Sardinia, Benevento, Bussoleno and Genoa.
We shared some preferred recipes, then cooked and eat together to taste the flavor of the territory. Because as Jean Brunhes said, “When it comes to eating, territories have to be incorporated”.
If you want to learn more about the healthic workshop, visit the project web platform at and download the guide here: