Recipes for the cravers
Nutrition class offers many benefits

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

IQALUIT (Apr 26/99) - When translated into English, Avuttutt, the name of the prenatal nutrition program in Cape Dorset, means the cravers or the craving -- an extremely apt name considering all that the program does to fill the needs of women and their families in the south Baffin community.

"We're teaching ladies to learn and practice their cooking skills, ladies who are mothers now and moms-to-be," said Anik Desrochers, co-ordinator of Avuttutt since October of last year.

"We give information on the nutritional values of store-bought foods and on traditional foods."

Desrochers explained that the program was formed in 1996, when it was realized that many young women in Cape Dorset weren't learning how to cook and were using more grocery store food than the traditional, nutritional country foods used in the past.

"A lot of families just go to the store and buy ready-made food. Some of the young ladies don't really know how to cook," said Desrochers.

Three years later, two groups of about 10 women of varying ages, each meet once a week for an evening of cooking at the Peter Pitseolak school.

Desrochers said they often use ingredients they buy from the Northern or the co-op, but when caribou meat or other country foods are plentiful, they practise with more traditional recipes.

"An elder, Kanayuk Salomonie, comes in about once a month and teaches us to use the caribou. Last time, she made caribou stew. She's a really good cook that one," said Desrochers, who added that she felt secure the participants were taking what they learned back into their homes.

"I've had some feedback. They've phoned me a couple of times at home to say they're going to try this recipe."

While Avuttutt was formed primarily to learn the basics of nutrition and cooking, Desrochers noted that it had blossomed over the years and now played a much more fundamental role in the community.

Along with giving women the opportunity to socialize outside of their homes without their children -- free childcare is provided -- Avuttutt also functions as a sort of support group.

"It gives them a break and allows them to enjoy themselves and learn at the same time," said Desrochers.

And during an open house and community feast that the participants organized, cooked for and held on March 31, the amount of pride the women took in their newly- learned skills was evident.

"It was a good success. They put on a nice display just to show off what they learned. They were really proud of themselves and that was the main focus, to help with their self-esteem. People were really delighted."