Eat to Nourish provided the opportunity for a dedicated group of cancer patients to learn about the importance of plant-centric eating to support their treatment and recovery. Our enthusiastic participants seemed to truly enjoy the various topics and dishes we covered over the four weeks.
The four lesson topics were Eat the Rainbow, Plant-Based Proteins, Pantry Makeover, and Batch Cooking. In Eat the Rainbow, we talked about how eating a variety of colors provides the body with a diverse spectrum of phytonutrients that support the body and prevent disease. Plant-Based Proteins focused on a variety of cooking techniques to prepare beans, lentils, and soy, highlighting the affordability, ecological sustainability, and nutrition in these foods. In Pantry Makeover, participants learned how to read ingredient labels, stock a pantry with whole, minimally processed foods, and create nourishing, inexpensive meals based around these pantry staples. Finally, Batch Cooking covered the art of meal prep and menu planning, focusing on the many ways to prepare vegetables, whole grains, plant-proteins, and dressings and sauces for quick and easy meals throughout the week. Each class began with a short talk on the class topic that launched into demonstration-based teaching as I cooked the recipes and ended in a delicious tasting. Recipe demos included root vegetable hash with rosemary and thyme, Tuscan white bean and kale soup, berry green smoothie, tofu ricotta, chickpea vegetable coconut curry, puttanesca sauce, sauerkraut, and fried brown rice with mixed vegetables.
Each week, people reported on dishes they had cooked, books they were reading like Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson (a recommendation from the Eat the Rainbow class), new insights from the grocery store, and changes they were making at home. Ken, one of the participants, gave this fantastic summary after the last class: “I’ve been reluctant to invite vegetarian friends over for dinner because I was a little bit afraid that I was going to offend them in some way…But now I’m a lot more confident after this course that I can cook satisfying meals, vegetarian meals, that not only nourish, but taste good.”
One of the most successful components of the program was the group camaraderie that formed over the month. Having the same faces return week after week not only allowed the content to build upon itself, but participants to develop relationships, which created a fabulous dynamic. The class felt festive, bubbling with positive energy and excitement around the food we created.
Our next Eat to Nourish series is set to begin in September (2019) and I am sincerely looking forward to it!