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'Cooking with Dr. Singh' a success for North Bay Regional Health Centre Foundation

'A lot of our health can be improved through a preventative approach, meaning eating healthy, exercising, drinking lots of water and getting sunlight. Since the launch of his first virtual cooking class in July 2020, more than $61,000 has been raised for the community’s healthcare needs

Rooted is all about the people and places that make us proud to call our community home, sponsored by Leon's Furniture.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has led people to find different ways to connect with their family, friends, coworkers, and their community in general.

Dr. Ravinder Singh is no exception.

“When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I started holding contests on Instagram, just for something to do,” he says.

“I would put a question up such as; tell me a story about your grandmother's cooking, or what’s your favourite dish and why. I would then choose a winner out of all the stories.”

The General Surgeon at North Bay Regional Health Centre says one of the winners he picked was Kendra Clarke who works at the North Bay Regional Health Centre Foundation.

The two had a chat shortly after and, “She came up with the idea of doing cooking classes and it basically snowballed from there,” says Singh.

Over the past few months, Singh has put together a virtual cooking class called, “Cooking with Dr. Singh” with proceeds supporting a variety of different projects at NBRHC, including the purchase of state-of-the-art surgical equipment, the patient clothing cupboard, and Regional Aboriginal Mental Health Services.

Singh says all they ask is for a donation and then you are registered for the class.

“Once you make your donation you receive access to the ‘live’ class via Zoom and also receive access to the recorded video after the class,” says Singh.

“The classes are usually about an hour long. A week before the class, the instructions and recipes are sent out to the people who have registered and the classes are held over Zoom. I go through the step-by-step process for what we are cooking and then, by the end those participants have a new skill set in terms of a dish and then they have dinner ready for that night as well.”

Since the launch of his first virtual cooking class in July 2020, more than $61,000 has been raised for the community’s healthcare needs.

Singh says cooking has been a skill that he has learned and gotten better at throughout his life

“I’ve been cooking since I was 10 years old. My mom started teaching my siblings and me around that time,” he says.

“Even before that, we would always be in the kitchen watching her cook. So for a long time, it has been an interest and a passion for me.”

Singh says learning this skill can lead to a lot of health improvements over the course of someone’s lifetime.

“A lot of our health can be improved through a preventative approach, meaning eating healthy, exercising, drinking lots of water and getting sunlight,” he says.

“Our health care system was originally built around dealing with emergencies, and now we are dealing with chronic issues that really can be preventable. I’m very pro-eating healthy and learning how to cook healthy in order to prevent chronic illness in the long run.”

Singh adds, “Something else I want to promote is that certain Indian food can be unhealthy, but what I’ve tried to do is make it in ways that make it healthier for people to eat, but still tasteful.”

He says it is very easy to find other methods of eating rather than cooking for yourself, but it is not always the healthiest option.

“There is so much access to food that might not be the healthiest choice when you look at options on delivery apps on your phone or just picking something up and ordering out. What people don’t realize is that a lot of that food is not generally healthy,” says Singh.

“We don’t know how much salt is in there or what ingredients might be used versus what you are making for yourself at home.”

Singh says learning to cook for yourself and doing it well is not a skill that will happen overnight, but over time you will see progress.

“I think people who have the interest and the passion will always try to learn. You always hear the excuse of there not being enough time in the day but, there probably is, you just have to be willing to make that effort. And it doesn’t just come overnight, I’ve been cooking for years and years and it’s about building up that skill a little bit over time.”

Singh says the feedback from the cooking classes has been very welcoming and he sees this as an opportunity to connect with the community and show a different side to how people view their doctors and physicians.

“I think that it doesn’t matter whether you are an athlete or a physician, the community or the public will have a certain image of you based on what they see,” says Singh.

“I think this is an opportunity for the community to see who you are as a person, versus who you are based on your occupation. I think these opportunities create a strong connection with the community.”

Singh has been with the North Bay Regional Health Centre for the past 12 years and says the bond between the community and the local hospital is a strong one.

“I think the NBRHCF has done a great job connecting and engaging our community. That is how you build relationships, by spending time with people in the community and investing in the community. I’ve noticed how involved people from the community are in a lot of different things and I think the Foundation does a great job staying in touch and raising funds for medical equipment and programming to serve our community, which in turn helps people when they need it.”

The next cooking with Dr. Singh class will take place in June. You can click this link to find out more information on how to register. Singh will also be matching community donations up to $10,000. 

If you have a story idea for the Rooted series, send Matt an email at m.sookram@outlook.com

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