Cindy Gershen, who owns the Sunrise Bistro in Walnut Creek and teaches a healthy cooking class at Mt. Diablo High in Concord, shared two recipes, along with some basic cooking tips and terminology. She encourages students to experiment with seasonings. This way, each dish comes out a little differently, based on individual tastes.

QUINOA WITH SHAVED BRUSSELS SPROUTS AND GROUND TURKEY (serves 4-6)

Fun fact: Quinoa is a nutritious whole grain from South America. It is also a complete protein. It is gluten-free and has a low-glycemic index.

Before you start:

1) Put on an apron; put your hair up if it goes below your shoulders.

2) Wash your hands with hot water and soap, and dry with a towel.

Cooking:

Read all directions before starting. Ingredients are capitalized.

Step 1: (Whole grains usually take the longest to cook, so you start them first.)

QUINOA: 2 CUPS QUINOA, 4 CUPS WATER

Combine 2 cups quinoa with 4 cups water (2:1 ratio) in a pot. Bring to a boil. Turn heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Let cool five minutes. Fluff with a fork. Quinoa is cooked when each grain is translucent and the white germ is visible.

Step 2: (While quinoa is cooking)

MIREPOIX: 1 CUP EACH: CARROTS, ONION, CELERY, SEASONING (TO TASTE), 1/2 CUP OIL

Using a knife and cutting board, dice your onion, carrots and celery into very small pieces. In a pan, add oil and heat pan over high heat. Add onions, celery and carrots. Sweat the vegetables until they are soft and tender and have a nice browned color. You can cover with a lid to keep in the heat. Add seasonings to give it additional flavor (Italian; Mexican: chili pepper, garlic, cumin, cayenne). Mirepoix is the base for many dishes, including soups, stews, chilis and more. Using different spices will change the flavors. Be creative!

Step 3: (Have one person do each of the below, if working with a team)

BRUSSELS SPROUTS: 3 CUPS BRUSSELS SPROUTS, SHAVED; 2 TBSP. OIL, 1 TBSP. BUTTER, SALT (TO TASTE).

Wash Brussels sprouts. Using a cutting board, chop off just the very tip of the Brussels sprout and then thinly slice each sprout (also called shaving). In a large pan, add oil and heat. Add Brussels sprouts, then season with salt. Saute until lightly browned and bright green.

GROUND TURKEY: 1 LB. GROUND TURKEY, SALT AND SPICES (TO TASTE), 1 TBSP. OIL.

Heat oil in pan. Add ground turkey and begin to cook, breaking meat apart with wooden spoon. Add salt and seasonings (if desired). Cook until no more pink shows and meat is slightly browned.

COMBINING FOR A MEAL

You can mix the above elements all together, or leave some parts separate. If you are vegetarian, you can leave the turkey on the side. I like to mix everything together. It makes a wonderful meal! Enjoy!

WHOLE GRAIN CORN/OATMEAL/WHEAT PIZZA CRUST

Ingredients:

1 tsp. yeast

1/2 cup warm water

1 cup cornmeal

3/4 cup boiling water

2 cups flour mixture -- equal parts (2/3 cup white flour, 2/3 cut wheat flour, 2/3 cut oatmeal)

2 tbsp. olive oil

You will need three bowls: one large and two small

Read all directions before starting.

Step 1: Sprinkle YEAST over warm water in a small bowl; set aside to let yeast dissolve.

Step 2: In a small bowl, add 1 CUP CORNMEAL to 3/4 CUP BOILING WATER. Mix to combine, then set aside.

Step 3: In a large mixing bowl, add the FLOUR MIXTURE with a GOOD PINCH OF SALT. Make a well in the center of the flour, and add the YEAST MIXTURE and the OLIVE OIL. Gradually stir the flour into the liquid using a wooden spoon, then your hands. Then begin to add the cornmeal mixture. Continue to mix until the dough is "raggedy."

Step 4: Turn dough onto lightly floured board, then knead for about 10 minutes or until dough is silky and smooth.

Step 5: Rinse mixing bowl and dry with towel, then rub lightly with olive oil. Place kneaded dough in bowl, cover with a damp towel, and set aside to rise for two hours or until it has doubled in size.

Step 6: Put some olive oil in your hands and rub it all over the dough, like you're putting on sunscreen. Roll out the dough flat, then put it on a flat pan.

Step 7: Heat the oven to 400 to 425 degrees.

Step 7: Add toppings. Be creative. You could put roasted tomatoes or other vegetables on top, or crushed tomatoes, salsa, and a little bit of cheese and meat.

Step 8: Put it in the oven until the cheese browns, the crust is not soft and the crust is brown underneath. Cooking time could range from 30 to 45 minutes, depending on your oven.

Step 9: Enjoy!

COOKING BASICS:

Spice and herb combinations (for flavorful cooking)

Italian style: salt, pepper, fresh garlic, yellow onions, garlic powder, Italian herbs, oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary and sage (fresh or dried)

Mexican style: salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, chili powder, garlic (powder and fresh), cayenne, cilantro, onions. (Chile powder actually is a blend of dried, powdered chiles, cumin and oregano.) Another chile powder commonly used and gaining popularity outside of Mexico is chipotle. In fact, it is a jalapeño that has been dried and smoked.

Soups: salt, pepper, dried herbs, fresh parsley.

Cooking oils: poly- or monounsaturated fats such as canola, safflower or rice bran oil

Stock basics:

4 pounds bones (chicken or beef, roasted)

1 1/2 gallons water

4 cups mirepoix (large chop)

Sweat mirepoix until soft. Add bones and water, then cook gently for about two hours in a covered pot or until the stock tastes rich and full. Strain stock and discard vegetable solids and bones.

COOKING TERMINOLOGY:

A mirepoix (pronounced meer-pwah or mi-pwa) can be a combination of celery, onions and carrots. There are many mirepoix variations, which can sometimes be just one of these ingredients, or include additional spices. Mirepoix -- raw, roasted or sauteed with butter or olive oil -- is the flavor base for a wide variety of dishes, such as stocks, soups, stews and sauces. The three ingredients are commonly referred to as aromatics.

Sauteing is a method of cooking food that uses a small amount of oil or fat in a shallow pan over relatively high heat. Ingredients are usually cut into pieces or thinly sliced to facilitate fast cooking. The primary mode of heat transfer during sauteing is conduction between the pan and the food being cooked. Food that is sauteed is browned while preserving its texture, moisture and flavor. If meat, chicken, or fish is sauteed, the saute is often finished by deglazing the pan's residue to make a sauce.

Sweating vegetables is a technique that uses a gentle heat to soften vegetables and gently draw out their flavors. The idea isn't to brown or caramelize them -- instead, the mellow aromas from the vegetables should mingle with the rest of the dish without dominating it.

Theresa Harrington covers education. Reach her at 925-945-4764. Follow her at Twitter.com/tunedtotheresa.