Healthy Cooking Squared

“Getting and staying healthy” was the motto for the cooking class held on January 18 at The Port Workspaces in Jack London Sq. Students got, “moving…, on a Saturday afternoon”. The group was eager to get started on their path to a healthier lifestyle. A few guests were so excited that they arrived to class an hour early to make sure they got a good seat. Surprisingly, once again, there was a guest attending the class celebrating their 21st birthday. 😉 Accompanied by his wife, the birthday boy appeared happy to be there and was all smiles as the class all joined in to sing Happy Birthday.
The afternoon got off to a start with introductions. Once everyone was familiar with the panel, the host Diema (Chef Dee) Ellingberg answered a few questions presented by the class. After Chef Dee finished with Q and A, certified personal trainers Jamaal Dennis and Altovise Williams of The Inner Athlete Fitness Studio provided some wonderful advice and also answered various questions asked by students. Next the class discussed the benefits of juicing and took a vote on what combination of juice they wanted to try. The options were; The Mean Green (1 green apple, 3 stalks of celery, ½ a cucumber, 3 kale leafs, a handful of parsley and thumbnail (1/4 in.) ginger), Pink Lady ( 1 pear, ¼ of a pineapple, 1 whole beet and a thumbnail (1/4 in.) ginger) , Mojito (handful of mint, 1 medium sized cucumber, ½ lime and 1 pear) and Tasty Treat (1 pear, 1 apple, ¼ of a pineapple, 3 kale leafs and ½ a cucumber). Majority ruled and Pink Lady was declared the winner. The class seemed to enjoy the sweetness of pear and pineapple combined with the earthiness of the beet and a little spice from the ginger.
With a little energy boost provided by the freshly prepared juice, a few of the students were brave enough to tackle a 30 minute workout routine instructed by personal trainers Altovise and Jamaal. The class did exercises ranging from jumping jacks to high knees. The Trainers were attentive to the needs of every student and also provided modified exercises techniques for every exercise they performed. Guests that were unable to do the workout assisted and watched Chef Dee finish preparing two different variations of chili. One was a Turkey Chili and the other a 3 Bean Vegan Chili. Chef Dee started preparations the day before by preparing the base for both chili’s at the same time. To do this you’ll need; 12 roma tomatoes (small dice) 4 large carrots (small dice), 1 ½ yellow onion (small dice), 1 large green bell pepper (small dice), 3 medium size cloves of garlic, 1 bay leaf, 1 tsp each of cumin, paprika, chili powder, dried oregano, Italian seasoning, 2 small cans tomato paste, and 4 cups of cold water (salt and pepper to taste). She placed the items in a crockpot overnight on high to begin the cook process. The morning of the event, Chef placed the mixture in a large pot and let it continue simmering on med. to low heat on the stove for several hours. She split the mixture evenly into two separate pots. Then added 3 pounds of seasoned cooked ground turkey to one pot and 3 cans of beans (kidney, black and chili beans, 1 can of each, rinsed well in cold water) to one pot and a half of 1 head of cauliflower grated with the remaining 3 cans of beans to the second pot.

Once the workout was complete, guests asked a few more questions that were answered by the Inner Athlete Fitness Studio trainers. Most of the attendance (except for a few vegetarians that only ate the 3 bean chili) of the class had the opportunity to compare the difference in taste and texture of the chili with meat verses the chili without. It was hard for guest to visibly see the difference. Students enjoyed their chili so much, a few even politely requested seconds. Each pot of chili made enough for about 4 to 6 individual servings.
Once the chili taste off was complete, the class moved on to wine tasting with April Richmond of 1 Black Girl 20 Black Wines. Ms. Richmond spoke on the benefits of drinking a glass of wine. The class had an opportunity to sample 4 different wines. The first was a sparkling wine by Taxa (Argentina) then the class sipped a Chardonnay from Beringer. They then moved to red wines and sampled a Merlot from Antiquite and finally a Cabernet Sauvignon from The Naked Grape. All the wine selections were personally chosen because of the low calorie count, perfect for those counting calories and watching their figures.
The class ended with a demo, performed by Chef Dee, of Mini Chickpea Patties served in pita bread with a cucumber yogurt (Tzatziki) sauce. To make this dish you will need; 4 cans of Chickpeas (garbanzo beans), ½ red onion (small dice), jalapeño pepper (fine dice), 1 bunch of cleaned cilantro (chopped), ½ cup of flour, 1 tsp of cumin and curry, salt and pepper to taste. Chef Dee had one of the students open the cans of beans that were then strained and rinsed. Another student assisted by mashing the beans with a potato masher. This could have also been achieved by using your hands, in a food processor or blender. While this was taking place chef sautéed the diced onion, jalapeno, cumin and curry with about a teaspoon of olive oil for about 5 minutes on medium hot. She then added the mixture to the mashed beans along with the chopped cilantro, a little sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Before forming the mixture in to patties, Chef Dee made sure to taste it and adjust the seasoning as needed. Guest lent a hand forming the 3 oz portioned patties. Then they were heated on both sides until brown (approximately 5 minutes on each side). Chef used an electric griddle to do this but it can also be done in a pan on the stove. She also suggested placing the browned patties in the oven on 350 for 5 to 8 minutes to insure they are heated all the way through. If you are preparing mini patties, this recipe will make about 20 to 25 patties. 6 to 8 burger size patties could also be made with this recipe. For the sauce chef used 1 cup of Greek yogurt, 1 cucumber (seeded and chopped in to small pieces), a tablespoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice, salt and pepper. You could also add fresh chopped parsley and mint to this dish.
There were loads of smiles and happy students after this class was done. The guests were eager to take the information home and start putting it to use. If you’ve been wondering what it’d be like to attend one of these events, Chef has few other opportunities in store. Mark your calendars and plan on attending the annual February Tasting Party and/or her 2 in 1 day Cooking Classes in April.


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