Hello and welcome

I hope you reading this because you are eager to join me in a course or 4 of cooking classes to start in Spring. Come to my place and do some watching, cooking and tasting and a little exploring! I will show you how to cook with more plants.

No matter where you think you sit on the scale of cooking; be it reasonably good to very poor, either way I hope to provide you with a refreshing and practical way to consume more plants easily.

Firstly it should not be difficult to put together hearty, nutritious, delicious and interesting meals that are affordable. It’s often just a matter of knowing how, what, why and probably most relevant how to do it efficiently within the context of a busy life.

We will cover a lot of ground in the sessions and I would love to hear from you. When you register for place take the time to tell me what you particularly want to learn and discover.

Hopefully by the end of the courses you will have a good grasp on the basics. Knowledge can be a wonderful thing.

A little about me.

My love of vegetarian foods started at the Mainstreet Cafe in Manchester Street, Christchurch NZ back in the 1980’s and was further fuelled by the recipes in the infamous vegetarian bible the Moosewood Cookbook. This definitely kick started me into a world of food based primarily around plants. But it was not until many years later that I finally kicked the dependency on meat and dairy in my familys diet. With the help of the Slow food movement , the Farmers Markets, my business The Organic Food House, and the plant based stall at the Ohoka Market plus the organic certification of our vegetable garden The Frost Pocket at Ohoka, my world of the local, seasonal, fresh and organic, enabled me to discover a whole new way of eating. It is a lifestyle as you will discover.

The plant world is enormous and I will introduce you to as much of that world as possible. I will also challenge a few universal assumptions that often dictate our choices about food, health and medicine. Eating is I believe a way of life; and to a great extent I do agree with the old saying ‘you are what you eat’. So hopefully with a little fun we can get some conversations going too. The aim is that at the close of the sessions you will be confident to shop and cook and grow plants for yourself.

Is your health linked with what you eat?

The link between our health and what we eat has finally gained some momentum in recent times. Even science has finally awoken to the fact that eating plants is better for us and the planet. Not before time!

These sessions include sharing of my tried and true, sometimes borrowed and sometime new recipes which are simply delicious and workable everyday for all the family or just for you. I encourage you to sign up for the entire 4 courses as there is so much to cover and if you really want to make a change then a full course will surely provide you with a sound base from which to go it alone.

No matter how much you don’t know, how lousy a cook you think you are, let me show you otherwise. Even if you already share the passion for plants I can keep you excited about cooking with them!

Vegan or Vegetarian or Plant eater?

Just between you and me, I think processed, meat and dairy food industries and all the agricultural food businesses that are made up of it are largely responsible for the plethora of bad quality food which is have been so easily available to us, sometimes with terrible health consequences. To choose an alternative way of eating ends up challenging some big main stream assumptions and also presents a problem for many people who have lost the skill of cooking with whole ingredients. So making the shift to a good plant based diet in this cultural context is no easy task if you have not had a hard core background in whole food eating.

These cooking classes are simply practical ways to make your eating choice easy. Why you decide to eat more plants is subject to your own personal story within the current times we live. Maybe it’s a health decision or a moral decision. Just make sure it’s your decision! If you consider eating plants is only a ‘diet’ then chances are you will struggle to make it a regular part of your life and you will fail to realise the good results that such a diet can offer. Changing what you eat is a journey and I can guarantee with dedication you will get to benefit from these changes.

So, these cooking classes are focused on the benefits of eating mainly plants. In my mind there can be a difference between a good plant based diet and Vegan one. Even plants sometimes present problems. Sadly many vegan foods are processed, refined and GE. Think fake meat and the dairy replacements. I actually think the food industry and the GE business are rubbing their hands in glee at this current Vegan fashion! I say understand the difference. The basis to a good plant based diet is using mainly whole foods over refined, the organic and the non GE. Supporting the small producers over the industrial scale producers is also a bonus. If you don’t recognise any plants in the list of ingredients in processed foods or those plants are soy, canola, corn or pea, then think again about your choices.

Is there a time for the animal in my diet?

For me not often. But I do like to eat fish on occasion. (This is a work in progress!) There may also be times (not in my cooking classes) when good quality animal ingredients might be consumed. A locally made cheese consumed on occasion from the local food artisans own goats or cows is in my mind is far superior nutritionally and environmentally and socially sustainable than buying some refined industrially grown pea based or soy based vegan cheese from off shore. So to be clear; we don’t do the fake meats or fake dairy. It’s either a plant or not. Over zealous strict rules about what we eat are not different from doing a ‘diet’, in that they often result in disappointment and or failure. There is a small place in our diets for good quality meat and dairy. Meat in particular can be a medicine in times of sickness. I refer to the Chinese recipes for meat based dishes that nourish and strengthen during these times. Animals are sentient beings; not that you will hear this from the Beef and Lamb Industry. Aside from using meat as a healer, Buddhists have also been known to consume meat if they are a guest and the animal was not slaughtered just for them. So there are always exceptions. But moderation, appreciation and consideration matter when making these decisions. It’s your choice.

We also do some vegetarian dishes too. How much vegetarian we do will depend upon the cooking classes participants wants and desires. This may mean some recipes include eggs, butter,milk, yoghurt, cheese. But as I said above these ingredients are sourced from reputable,traceable, local food artisans when possible and when not possible, I do my homework or find alternatives. In a nutshell I get these ingredients from sources I can trust. Mostly we grow our own veges and fruits here at our organic property or I purchase from the farmers market stallholders or organics retailers. If we use any animal products, alternatives plant based ingredients are suggested.

Special Health Conditions call for Special Actions:

I will also offer a range of recipes that cater for the wheat and grain free, diabetic, sugar free and caeliac. Most wheat based recipes are adaptable in some way to a gluten free recipe. There are many tricks and creative tasty, delicious alternatives. Gluten free baking need not be obviously Gluten free! You will be able to eat ‘new normal’ foods, often superior nutritionally even if you have to cater for a digestive or other diet related health problem.

I don’t claim to be an expert, nor am I a qualified nutritionist or a trained chef , nor a Dr or a Guru, but I have over the years gained what I think is a considerable understanding and appreciation of the plant cuisine world with particular relevance to our health. So I hope to share some of this passion with you.

So please read through the information on the workshops and and let me know if you are keen to book in for a course or more. It should be fun.

I look forward to meeting and cooking with you and please register early to save disappointment!

kind regards

Barb