Tuesday’s class involved a presentation on nutrition followed by a session where we used the rice cooked on Monday to create more complete dishes.
Demo Kitchen – Nutrition Lecture
A major focus of the program at The Natural Epicurean is healthful eating that complements and enhances wellness. So, a lot of our time in the demonstration kitchen will involve learning the nutrition principles of various schools of thought. Radhia Gleis, an Austin-based Certified Clinical Nutritionist, will be leading us through exploration of much of the nutrition theory. One thing I love about Radhia is that she does not subscribe to the “party line” of Western nutrition, yet she has a firm grasp on the science and physiology of nutrition. Like me, she has a healthy distrust of the nutrition establishment and a penchant for treating each person as an individual rather than a sample case from a corporate-funded research study.
Below: Radhia Gleis.
An example: Radhia talked about how human beings are far too complex for us to draw conclusions based on most scientific studies on nutrition. It is impossible to control for all variables and therefore not possible to draw reliable conclusions. These conclusions are frequently not accurately applied to individuals, are completely misunderstood/misreported, or are simply invalid.
We also discussed how “healthcare” in the United States is really a disease management system rather than a wellness development system. The most likely reason? It’s much easier to profit financially by solving “problems” than by preventing them from happening in the first place.
Another point of concern: There is a concerted effort by the disease management establishment to legally block complementary and alternative healthcare providers from providing their expertise to those who demand it. A focused effort is required on a regular basis to protect the rights of people to receive counsel and treatment from these providers. It’s scary to think that not only is there a group of people who have consistently failed to encourage wellness (disease management/traditional healthcare) but that they are actively working to shut down access to alternative treatment. (More info – http://texashealthfreedom.com/.)
There were so many nuggets of information and “aha” moments from Radhia’s talk, but let’s just say I look forward to more.
Lab Kitchen – Grain Cooking
The focus for Tuesday’s lab was cooking grains, mainly rice. A highlight from this lab was having a cart of “bonus ingredients” from which we were encouraged to improvise our own dishes instead of cooking from the provided recipes. It was like a little Iron Chef challenge. The pressure – and fun – was on!
One dish we cooked was risotto rice cakes requiring a three step dredge – flour (rice flour or wheat flour), milk or egg or flaxmeal slurry, and finally a crunchy rice cracker crust. This was a great example of how conscious the Natural Epicurean teachers have been about food allergy issues and providing safe options. Everyone, students included, seems to be totally flexible with accommodating allergies and preferences.
Below: The improvised dish from the “bonus” ingredients: Roasted asparagus and mushrooms.
Below: Cinnamony lemony dolmas. It was really cool getting roll dolmas ourselves.
Below: Rice and grape leaves for rolling dolmas.
Below: Limey cilantro-y fresh rice salad.
Below: Another improvised dish, creamy guacamole salsa.
Below: Reviewing our lab production just before the feeding frenzy. 🙂
One of the closest eateries to The Natural Epicurean is Mr. Natural, a vegetarian restaurant with delicious food with a Mexican angle. They have great pastries, including vegan and gluten-free options.