Cooking with your Three Sisters


Native American and Hispanic families of New Mexico have used the "Three Sisters" in their diets for centuries. Who are the "Three Sisters"?

In recent times, the diets of Hispanic and Indian people have been affected by the modern world. There is evidence to show that this has caused an increased incidence of diabetes. But, the people of the Southwest are gradually finding their way back to healthier diets. Can the Three Sisters help?

The Three Sisters of New Mexican Agriculture

The Task

You and your partners are a team of specialty cooks. You have decided to write a cookbook using the Three Sisters to provide recipes for a healthier diet for diabetics.

In order to complete your project you will need to:

  • Make a list of questions you need to answer, for example:
    • Who are the Three Sisters?
    • What is diabetes?
    • What foods should diabetics avoid?
    • What foods should diabetics eat?
  • Research your answers using the references listed in Resources, below.
  • Write a short explanation of how the Three Sisters might help correct diabetes. You will use this information as the introduction to your cookbook, Cooking With Your Three Sisters.
  • Interview grandparents and other elders. Have them give you old recipes that they remember using in their families.
  • Interview a health provider who can help you determine the nutritional value of the recipes, especially in relation to whether or not they will be good for diabetics.
  • Make conversions to a set of the old recipes that you will put into your cookbook making sure the changes will make the recipes more nutritious for diabetics.
  • Create your Cooking With Your Three Sisters cookbook.
  • Use the original recipes and your converted healthy versions and prepare lunch for the class.
  • Conduct an experiment to see if your classmates can tell the difference between the recipes using sight and taste indicators.



  • A Taste of Mexico by Linda Illsley
  • Indian Givers by Jack Weatherford
  • Native American Gardening Projects by Michael J. Cudto and Joseph Bruchac

Web sites

The Process

  1. Divide into groups of three or four. In your group you will have a computer expert, a writer/researcher, and an organizer.
  2. Discuss the project within your group.
  3. Brainstorm how you will work together.
  4. Go to resources and explore.
  5. Note and bookmark you findings.
  6. Brainstorm the questions your team will ask in the expert interviews before you invite your experts to the class.
  7. Each team will conduct interviews with the experts they have found. Encourage the rest of the class to use the information they hear as they see fit for their research.
  8. Meet as a team, analyze your findings, and develop your cookbook.
  9. Conduct the experiment with the class.


Your projects will be assessed in two ways. First, your group work will be assessed using the Collaborative Learning Rubric.

Then, both your cookbook and your science experiment will be assessed and given an evaluation.

Learning Advice

Be sure to have one member of your group keep a record of all your findings. You might want to keep a journal of everything you find and do.

Create a word processing document and copy the URLs that are of interest to your group and then save them on your disks. Also save graphics or pictures you might want to use in your cookbook or experiment on your disk. Create a file folder for each type of information you save so that your work is easy to find.


After completing this WebQuest you will have a better idea of the effect diet has on diabetes. You also have learned how to use the computer as a resource, how to create a cookbook, how to cook for a group of people, and how to conduct a real life science experiment.

  • Do you think your classmates will change recipes at home because of what they learned?
  • Do you think diet affects other health problems such as asthma or obesity?
  • Do you think you could use the computer to investigate other areas of interest?

This page written by Rose Naranjo & Robin Rodar