Spring Into Good Health & Conscious Food Choices

Two Classes Coming Up at McHenry County College in Spring, 2016

By Leslie A. Cook, vegetatingwithleslie.org

(This post appeared in the Woodstock Independent in September, 2015.)


So thinking toward spring. How about "Springing Into Good Health" this year? This Spring, that is. That’s one of two classes I’m going to teach at McHenry County College in March 2016. I’d like to tell you a little about these classes because they’re exciting to me, and I hope they will be to you. They are a consolidation and summary of what I have done with food over forty-five years.

One class is pretty straightforward. I use what I have learned over all these years about eating healthfully and will demonstrate how to prepare and stock a kitchen for healthy eating and how to structure a way of eating healthfully inspired by Middle Eastern foods. Each session includes a demo, sampling and recipes.

Spring Into Health: The Middle Eastern Way

Clean up your own health as part of your spring cleaning this year. Learn how to prepare your kitchen and best practices to help you create and maintain vibrant health and energy. Find out about an important new health concept called “nutrient density” and how you can create a nutrient dense diet with Middle Eastern foods. Expand your thinking about the most important meal of your day and how to structure meals for the whole day. Each session includes a demonstration, tasting, and recipes.

1. Making a Space for Your Good Health. Prepare your kitchen to support better health -- what to remove, what to bring in and how to organize it. Basics of a Middle Eastern kitchen.

Demonstration and sharing: 3 Meals based around Homemade Yogurt, Chickpeas, Pickles & Veggies

2. Eating the Rainbow: Nutrient Density. What is nutrient density, and what can it do for you? How can you use the basics of Middle Eastern cuisine to build a nutrient dense diet you can enjoy without feeling deprived?

Demonstration and sharing: Middle Eastern Foods: Fatoush, Tabouleh, Matboukha, Kale Salad, Beets, Falafel

3. Rethinking Breakfast. You've heard that breakfast is the most important meal of your day, so . . . does boxed cereal or a sweet roll sound important? We'll take a look at breakfast alternatives inspired by the Middle East and consider how to structure meals for the rest of the day. Video “Jerusalem Salad”.

Demonstration and sharing: Middle Eastern Breakfast with Israeli Salad and Ful, a Breakfast Bowl, Scrambled Tofu & Veggies, Green Smoothies

The second class is a little more philosophical. A lot of you may not know that I completed quite a bit of graduate degree work, mostly in the fields of religion and Bible. I’m fascinated by ritual, in particular by (you guessed it) food rituals. And my Master’s thesis was about Meals in Genesis. So you see, my fascination with food has been lifelong, and I’ve thought about it in a variety of different ways. This class will give me an opportunity to think out loud about my favorite topic, food, and I hope I’ll learn a lot from participants’ comments in class discussions.

Conscious Choices: Thinking About Food

This interactive class will help you view your food choices through different prisms. We will explore unique ways to think about food and why our choices are so important, especially as we grow older and wiser!

You’ll discover how conscious and unconscious choices about food inadvertently express your worldview and values, learn to make conscious choices about foods we eat (and don't eat), find out how to derive more satisfaction from the food you eat and how this process can influence every aspect of how you live your life, plus how this process can contribute to greater health and fulfillment.

  • Session 1: Eat to Live (Survival) and Food That Does Not Satisfy (Special and Fad Diets)

  • Session 2: Meals in the Bible and Food Rituals (Kashrut, Tea Ceremonies, Begging Bowls, Sacrifice)

  • Session 3: Ethics of Eating I (Vegetarian and Vegan)

  • Session 4: Ethics of Eating II (Sustainability and Fair Food)

Both classes are offered in March, 2016, the first on Saturday afternoons, the second on Wednesday afternoons. I hope you’ll be able to join me! In the meantime, let’s all hope this beautiful warm weather stays with us for just a bit longer.

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