Basic Needs shares delicious recipes with CSUMB students

California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) and the Basic Needs Initiative program teamed up on Sept. 10 to present students with healthy, on-the-go meals that can be affordably recreated at home. The Basic Needs team and Care Manager Joanna Snawder-Manzo virtually hosted a live cooking demonstration of her two quick and easy recipes: gazpacho and acai bowls. 

“I am excited to spotlight faculty and student recipes,” Snawder-Manzo said, starting her demonstration by giving a brief overview of the program’s mission. “We will be highlighting quick, easy and healthy college meals for CSUMB students to make while at home.”

Snawder-Manzo led students through her first recipe, gazpacho. Looking for a smooth and creamy texture, Snawder-Manzo reminds students that the cold soup can be made thicker by reserving some ingredients to finely chop and add towards the end. 

One main ingredient of the gazpacho was tomatoes. “Tomatoes have lots of water,” Snawder-Manzo said. “They will help give it that soupy texture.” 

Snawder-Manzo’s gazpacho requires lots of blending. Traditionally from Spain and served with bread, the customizable recipes for gazpacho are endless. Sticking with a summer garden soup version, Snawder-Manzo also included cucumbers, red onion, cloves of garlic, freshly torn basil and her secret weapon: avocado. 

Basic Needs student assistant Sabrina Lee shared her advice when chopping onions. “If you leave the butt of the onion on while you cut, it won’t make you cry or tear up.”

Throw some red wine vinegar or citrus to add acidity, top with some olive oil and you have a perfect gazpacho that “tastes like summer” Snawder-Manzo said. Chill for at least two hours before serving. The gazpacho nicely accompanies bread, crackers, chilled shrimp, boiled eggs or salad. 

Moving on to the acai bowls, Basic Needs Social Media Assistant Jarely Fraga-Lopez informed students that Trader Joe’s accepts CalFresh, a program that grants eligible students a grocery allowance to ensure their nutritional needs are met. 

Snawder-Manzo used an acai packet from Trader Joe’s and said, “the acai berry is usually frozen or in juice because it’s only ripe and fresh for a short period of time. To be shipped, it needs to be frozen.”

Snawder-Manzo leads students through a hands-on açaí bowl cooking demonstration. (Photo/Cassidy Ulery)

Additionally, a handful of frozen berries and mango chunks were added to the mixture. Frozen banana, raw cacao powder and NuttZo- the organic, seven-nut spread, joined the batch for a delicious marrying of ingredients. Those without access to NuttZo can substitute almond or peanut butter for the same effect. 

While Snawder-Manzo used filtered water to help blend the bowl together, coconut water is another healthy alternative, providing electrolytes, nutrients and a touch of flavor. 

“Check to see if your blender has an ice cream setting,” Snawder-Manzo said. “You want the acai bowl to have the same consistency as ice cream.” 

Topping off the bowl with blueberries, shredded coconut and granola, Snawder-Manzo virtually sparked the appetite of every Otter watching. Healthy, delicious and requiring minimal prep or cook time, acai bowls can be eaten as breakfast, for a snack or even as a dessert. 

Both recipes featured in the demonstration were gluten and dairy free. One lucky Otter was the winner of a blender, which was the essential cooking device in both recipes. Another five students were the recipients of $25 e-gift cards to help purchase groceries. 

CSUMB and the Basic Needs Initiative are pairing up weekly to bring students the gift of home cooking. Next week, boba tea and blueberry muffin cups are on the agenda. Students that tune-in will be entered into a raffle to win a $25 e-gift card, courtesy of Basic Needs and CalFresh. 

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