Professional chef offers tips for Native American cuisine
BEMIDJI - Freddie Bitsoie puts on quite a show. And he has plenty of advice about food.
"A good cook knows how to season food, salt is not needed on the table," said Bitsoie, a professional chef who provided private cooking lessons Wednesday to eight members of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Council Education Program (SNAP) with six members from the Leech Lake, White Earth, Grand Portage, Mille Lacs, Bois Forte and Fond du Lac reservations.
The SNAP nutritional educators have quarterly workshops on food preparation and distribution.
A day earlier, Bitsoie, who specializes in Native American Cuisine, conducted a community cooking lesson at Leech Lake Tribal College.
On Wednesday, Harmony Natural Food Cooperative teamed up with the Indigenous Environmental Network to host the chef at Harmony's Community Kitchen in Bemidji.
"Foods we are blessed with are designed for a purpose," said Bitsoie. "We need to utilize their original purposes."
According to Bitsoie, instead of purchasing processed soup, make your own, it's important to know your ingredients. He supplied the educators with several recipes and multiple tips.
"I'm not against purchasing canned vegetables, but if you do, rinse them once and rinse them again," he said.
And he had more advice.
"Do not use iceberg lettuce, no nutritional value - just water," Bitsoie said. "Instead purchase mixed greens. Spinach is great. Make your own vinaigrette. Remember, if it's swimming it's too much."
"Preparing food has become a lost art," said Joanne Mulbah, SNAP-Education Program Manager. "Our emphasis is to use native foods, find healthy recipes and conduct cooking lessons, often one on one on the reservations. His class re-enforces using the whole food, not processed foods."
Bitsoie is a member of the Navajo Tribe in Arizona. His next venture is a cooking show entitled "Rezervations Not Required," a cooking and travel program told through the unique perspective of indigenous cultures.
"This has been so exciting I learned searing walleye with sumac," said Ruby Lowry with the Leech Lake Indian Reservation. "The idea of using squash instead of potatoes is a great idea. It has more nutrients, I can't wait to try it."