07/02/2014 08:28 GMT | Updated 08/04/2014 06:59 BST

Food and Family Fun on the Big Rig Mobile Kitchen

They were wrapping up for the day, but she mentioned the free cooking classes taking place in Fresno the following weeks. I was familiar with the Food Revolution, and was excited to be a part of its mission!

Story by Ramona Rivera

As a radio broadcaster I get to attend many fun events with my son, and this time it was the Fresno Fair. While we were on a hunt for a Fair favorite cinnamon roll, we happened to see Jamie Oliver's Big Rig mobile kitchen off to the corner, and the idea of a cinnamon roll totally escaped my mind. Instead, curiosity got the best of us and we proceeded to the Big Rig. It was there we met Mary Grace (a food champion) outside of the Big Rig.

Discovering real food

They were wrapping up for the day, but she mentioned the free cooking classes taking place in Fresno the following weeks. I was familiar with the Food Revolution, and was excited to be a part of its mission! We had seen Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution on TV and I was shocked at how bad processed food really is for you. It never clicked until we saw how a chicken nugget is really made and we haven't had a desire for one since! ...THANK YOU JAMIE!

The first cooking class we took on the Big Rig was called "All about Eggs," and now my son treats me to his delicious eggs with Greek yogurt on top! "It's just like they taught me in the cooking class," he says as hands me a homemade breakfast. He's got more cooking skills than I had at his age, and I'm proud of that!

From one generation to the next

My cooking skills weren't too refined when I became a single, working mother. I had to get that eating-out routine under control, and stop pulling into a drive-thru to order dinner. I have to admit my cooking skills have come a long way the past 10 years. My mother passed away when I was 15 so I only got a few cooking tips from her. I learned the rest from my aunt who was taking care of my sister and me. My aunt had 2 sons and a husband whom loved homemade tortillas, BBQ, and potatoes. For us, eating out was also the quickest and least expensive way for us to feed a family of 6 while I was with my aunt. She did the best she could with what she had, and I'm grateful for that. I still treat myself to some of our families Tex-Mex recipes like her homemade mole whenever I go home for a visit!

I am so happy I took advantage of the free cooking classes on the Big Rig. I feel it encouraged and educated my 10-year-old son about the importance of making positive food choices. When I was his age growing up in a low income family I didn't have a choice of what I ate. I recall standing in line at our local church with my mother just to get a bag of whatever food people had donated. Now I'm blessed with the resources to purchase healthy options like almond milk, whole-grain bread, and cage-free eggs, and we enjoy many fruits, nuts and vegetables.

Cooking and learning together

We had so much fun cooking and learning together. We learned new methods to cut our veggies, and how to walk with a knife in the kitchen. Now all I hear my son say is "KNIFE, KNIFE, KNIFE," as he holds it tip down to the ground and places it next to the sink instead of inside the sink. Thanks for that little nugget of wisdom! The classes are kid-friendly and everything is easy enough to do at home. The recipes don't require many ingredients or much time to prepare, and I just love that!

We met other families who were also familiar with the Food Revolution and care about what is on their children's plate. I met one lady who works in a school cafeteria, and she shared how changes are needed if we want our children to establish healthy habits. We both agreed it has to happen in the kitchen at home as well, and that we are on the right track by having our kids learn some new recipes with us. The hour went by too fast because of all the fun and food we were having. As our time on the Big Rig came to an end we loaded up with all the recipes they provided for us in the class. The class was such a hit that once we were home I signed us up for another class before they rolled out of Fresno.

I remind my son how lucky we are to live in a state where Farmers Markets are plentiful. The best part of a farmers market for him is all the free samples we get to try before bringing it home. We have learned that less is best as far as ingredients go and keep it pretty simple when we make a dish. It's so refreshing that my son and I can cook a meal together and know it's both delicious and good for us! Thanks to Jamie Oliver's Big Rig for stopping by our city and HIGH FIVES to the food champions for giving unselfishly of their time and talent to teach and cook with us. Thanks to Jamie, we see food differently and look forward to try out the new recipes we got from the Big Rig cooking classes. My goal is to get my son on track to a long, healthy life by providing healthy food choices for him in the kitchen.

About the Author: Ramona Rivera is a native of San Antonio, TX and is currently residing in Fresno, CA. Her previous life challenges keep her focused on a healthy future for her and her family. A radio personality for Buckley Broadcasting you can catch her on-air 7 days a week online at or see her & her son's fun adventures via Twitter: @yourgirlkitty