Born to parents from Milan, Italy, where cooking fresh foods from scratch every night is the norm, Margherita Scussat was dismayed to learn that not every American ate the same way. In fact, so many of her fellow high school students ate horribly that she decided to show them how easy it was to eat healthy. During the summer before her sophomore year at Dos Pueblos High, Scussat launched CookItEasy.org, where she’s since uploaded more than 35 recipes based on ingredients that are both nutritious and affordable.
“It’s a website to promote healthy home cooking, particularly among young people, especially college students who are living alone for the first time and juggling school and other responsibilities,” she explained. “Young people are known for relying too heavily on fast foods and pre-made foods, which have been proven by numerous studies to have negative health effects.”
CookItEasy.org was quickly endorsed by the Santa Barbara Unified School District, and Scussat’s marketing efforts — which have been funded in part by donations from individuals and companies — also led to publicity in student outreach at UCSB, UCLA, and Stanford. She’s seeking the support of like-minded nonprofits to spread the word even further, and is interested in taking her guidance into the real world. “It would be great to partner with some cooking schools and have some classes of my own,” said Scussat, who is now a senior at D.P.
Many of the recipes reflect favorites from her childhood, like pasta with mushrooms, but she also goes global, showing how to make tacos and tikka masala as well as presenting vegetarian and gluten-free alternatives.
“I’m trying to prove that healthy home cooking can be fast and affordable, said Scussat, who translates every recipe into Spanish. “It doesn’t have to be the burden that some people make it out to be.”See CookItEasy.org.