Saturday, March 16, 2013

Lunch, Learn, Live Healthier Cooking Party

This past weekend 10 of us gathered together at a private residence to enjoy a healthy cooking lesson and some delicious vegan food.  The theme was turning over a new leaf in preparation of the transition to spring and ideally, transition to a healthier lifestyle.  As such, this workshop focused on the basics of a healthy, whole-foods plant-based diet, where to get your protein, calcium, and iron, what superfoods to incorporate into your daily menu, how to stock your pantry with "go to" ingredients, and which equipment helps make this an exciting adventure.

We began with a quick smoothie pureed in the Vita-mix that I like to call an Equinox Elixer, since spring is the season this green drink celebrates.  It's a tasty mix of banana, pineapple, pear, and kale which all help boost the immune system and aid in digestion.  Unfortunately, though, we sipped these so quickly I wasn't able to get a photo!

Our refreshing drink was followed by a warm and satisfying bowl of Red Lentil and Jasmine Rice Curry Soup.  This is a twist on the traditional dal served at many Indian restaurants in that it's slightly heartier.  Fresh lemon juice added at the end not only perks up the flavor but also helps cleanse the liver of toxins.

The luncheon entree consisted of several elements.  The centerpiece was walnut "neatballs" which are high in fiber and Omega-3 oil.  These swam in a thick bechamel sauce made with pureed cashews and the sneaky ingredient, cauliflower.  Any time I can add a cruciferous vegetable to the mix, I do, because they're so high in cancer fighting properties. A white sauce was the perfect camouflage for the cauliflower which I actually think adds a nice subtle sweetness to balance the savory.  As a contrast, I drizzled a roasted red pepper coulis around the edge.  The accompaniment to the entree was a lovely Mediterranean Qinoa Pilaf made with sauteed shallots, sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, kale, and toasted pine nuts.  This would make a perfect meal on its own with the addition of white beans and can be enjoyed warm or cold.

The final course was a gluten-free Chocolate Pudding Cake served with a simple strawberry sauce and fresh blueberries.  I'm always amazed at how this cake goes into the oven looking like a mistake, but then comes out like a luscious chocolate boat floating on a pool of lava.

Everyone at the table agreed it would be impossible to tell that this was vegan AND gluten-free.  It was simply too decadent.  And one would never guess that it had the added benefit of protein and calcium from the all-purpose gluten-free flour made from garbanzo and fava beans.  The berries finish off with the added benefit of cancer-fighting properties.

Thank you Anne Garland of Anne Garland Enterprises for hosting this event!  Could there be anything more enjoyable than a delicious meal that's also good for you shared among a group of strangers who quickly become friends? Cheers to all of you!


Anonymous said...

What a great idea for a get-together! The lunch looked so tantalizing. I'm sure it was delicious.

Mary Lawrence said...

Thank you! Yes, I think everyone enjoyed it!