Students from East L.A. and Boyle Heights helped produce "Mi Vida, Mi Salud Cookbook." Photo by Margaret Molloy.

Students from East L.A. and Boyle Heights helped produce "Mi Vida, Mi Salud Cookbook." Photo by Margaret Molloy.
Students from East L.A. and Boyle Heights helped produce “Mi Vida, Mi Salud Cookbook.” Photo by Margaret Molloy.
Dozens of simple yet nutritious recipes are featured in “Mi Vida, Mi Salud Cookbook,” a new collection put together by 16 youth leaders from the Weingart East Los Angeles YMCA Youth Institute. The beautifully illustrated tome contains healthy variations on standards like lentil soup, Mexican rice and pozole, as well as creative options like kale pomegranate salad and pumpkin smoothie.

“My favorite are the veggie wraps. They were easy to make and so good,” says Crystal Meza, 18, a recent graduate of Roosevelt High School. “The book taught us to eat healthy but make it creative. It’s fun to make it look pretty.”

The high schoolers from East Los Angeles and Boyle Heights were completely responsible for all aspects of the book, from recipe selection to design.

“It’s good to learn how to cook, so you don’t only eat junk food,” says Erick Flores, 18, who graduated from Garfield High.

“My mom laughed cause she didn’t think I was going to be able to do it,” said Flores, who thinks that young men should learn how to cook as a matter of “gender equality.”

Flores and Meza, who are a couple, met as part of the YMCA’s youth leadership program, which offered classes in nutrition and food justice.

The book was an outgrowth of Proyecto MercadoFRESCO, a collaboration between the YMCA and the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health which helped convert local corner stores into appealing spaces offering healthy foods.

Copies of the book are available for a donation. Contact David Valdez at DavidValdez@ymcala.org for more information.

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