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Archive for the ‘Natural Gourmet in the community’ Category

doctor-chefs-in-training

On October 15, Natural Gourmet Institute had the privilege to host Dr. Robert Graham, his wife Julie Graham (a certified holistic health coach), and 13 residents from New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital for a special, hands-on evening of healthy vegetarian cooking. The Grahams and NGI created the event to draw attention to the Meatless Mondays campaign and give doctors the knowledge and tools to treat common lifestyle illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity with healthy food choices and cooking techniques.

The evening kicked off with hors d’oeuvres and a meet-and-greet between the doctors and NGI staff. Then it was into the kitchen for the doctors to prepare a healthy, balanced vegetarian meal under the direction of NGI instructor Richard LaMarita, who designed the Italian-inspired menu.

Colin Zhu, a recent graduate of NGI’s Chef’s Training Program and first-year resident at CentraState Health Care System, introduced the evening’s recipes and talked about their health benefits and nutritional highlights. Chef Rich followed with a quick knife skills tutorial, and then the doctors teamed up to make a healthy, seasonal four-course meal.

The class was a resounding success and the first in a series where these internists, each committed to promoting the role food choices make in our health, will learn basic vegetarian cooking techniques they can share with patients.

 

 

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Heads up, vegans (and food expo habitués). Here comes The Seed Experience. On June 16 and 17 at 82Mercer in Soho, there will be a multi-media vegan event that includes speakers, film screenings, food tastings, demos, workshops, and more.

Speakers will include Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Kathy Freston, Nick Cooney, our friend and blogger JL Fields, and many more. Check out film screenings including Vegucated, Forks Over Knives, Lunch Hour, and Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead. Tastings will be provided by Cinnamon Snail, Pure Food and Wine, Candle Cafe, Blossom, Cafe Terri, among others.

Most importantly, look for demonstrations by NGI’s Olivia Roszkowski and Fran Costigan. Olivia will prepare Spring Shoots with Asparagus, Miso-Spiced Eggplant, Adzuki Beans, Edamame, & Black Sesame Seeds in a Ginger Dressing at 4:00 on the 16th (Stage B). Fran will prepare Irresistible Chocolate Vegan Desserts for Everyone on the 17th at 2:00 (Stage B).

Follow the event on Twitter @theseedexp. Also, rumor has it there’s a 50% off Groupon waiting for you.

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NGI President Jenny Matthau, Chef Rich LaMarita, and grad Colin Zhu

Our Chef’s Training grad Colin Zhu was kind enough to report to us on NGI’s recent collaboration to teach a nutrition class with NY Coalition for Health School Food at PS 184 in Chinatown . . . 

On Friday, May 25, the Natural Gourmet Institute had the good fortune to do cooking demonstrations at P.S. 184, Shuang Wen Elementary School in Chinatown. The NGI team consisted of Chef Instructor Rich LaMarita, Chef’s Training Graduate Colin Zhu, Chef’s Training student Steven Stewart and NGI President Jenny Matthau.

NGI collaborated with Healthy School Food in teaching nutrition to two 5th grade classes. As each nutrition class ended, Colin and Steven assisted Chef Rich in the set-up of the food demonstration. As enthusiastic as the students were with each nutritional class, they could not help being totally enticed by what the chefs were preparing.

The NGI team made three dishes for the students: sticky brown rice cooked with coconut milk and star anise; black beans with onions, tomatoes, toasted cumin and oregano; and a hearty guacamole made with red onions, chopped Beefsteak tomatoes, cumin and cilantro served with crisp sticks of jicama.

During the presentation, Chef Rich displayed all the ingredients, talked about the unique origins of each food item, showed how to sauté the toppings for the black beans and how to make guacamole.

The students were eager to try each dish. Having just learned about macronutrients the class before, they were excited to have their senses amused by an actual cooking demo right in their own classrooms. The combination of nutrition class and a fantastic cooking demonstration created the perfect recipe for each student’s culinary curiosity.

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On May 25, I again had the pleasure of joining Wellness in the Schools and New York School Food staff and interns to prepare food for Cafe Day. Both organizations work hard to bring healthier, balanced, and more whole foods to students throughout New York City.

Natural Gourmet partners with PS 89 in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, and our Wellness in the Schools liaison there is one of our graduates, Chef Annie Morgan. Annie cooks 2 days a week at PS 89, and 3 days at another school nearby. I joined Annie in the morning on Cafe Day to help prepare the menu and was given free rein to make the day’s massaged kale salad.

Cafe Days are an opportunity for students to try newly developed menu items, attend “labs” about healthy eating, and to mingle with guest chefs as well as Wellness in the Schools and School Food interns. It’s also an opportunity for partners like Natural Gourmet to see the incredible work that goes on day-to-day.

PS 89, from everything I saw, is a happy, healthy place to be. The energy of the kitchen staff, the spotless kitchen, the students, the teachers, the cheery lunch room, the colorful salad bar are all  disarmingly infectious (in a good way). Most importantly, the food served is of a quality and freshness not seen in most American schools in years, if ever.

In addition to the daily selection of salads, marinated chicken,  roasted potatoes, herbed whole wheat flatbreads and fresh fruit, Cafe Day introduced 2 new items for tasting (as demo’d by Chef Annie) – pickled cucumbers and a salad of fresh corn and peppers in orange vinaigrette. The corn salad had the added benefit of using peppers grown in the school’s greenhouse. Yes, PS 89 has a beautiful state-of-the-art greenhouse growing herbs, vegetables, and tilapia. Thanks to a knowledgeable and proud student named Brittany,  I got the VIP tour.

Wellness in the Schools currently focuses on schools with a 70% or higher poverty rate and is already serving over 20,000 students in NYC. With continued support, hopefully their imperative mission can extend to every school and student in the city.

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Our very own Olivia Roszkowski holding down the fort at the Natural Gourmet table

On Saturday, May 12, Natural Gourmet participated in the Brooklyn Food Conference, hosted by Brooklyn Technical High School in Ft Greene, Brooklyn. The event was sponsored by City Harvest, Edible Brooklyn, Edible Manhattan, Food & Water Watch, Food Bank for New York City, Park Slope Food Coop, and Small Planet Institute.

While the conference’s stated aim was to combat the harm caused by the industrial food system, it also celebrated “food sovereignty” in the form of healthy local food systems focusing on urban gardens, CSAs, animal rights, a healthier environment and growing food without pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, or GMOs.

The festival boasted a bustling expo of organizations and workshops about food policy, food culture, business development, labor and social justice, farming, agriculture, and health and nutrition education.

Among the – literally – hundreds of workshops and speakers, Natural Gourmet provided a day of cooking demonstrations from graduates Bryant Terry (author of The Inspired Vegan), Jacques Gautier (chef/owner of Palo Santo and Fort Reno in Brooklyn),  and Madea Allen (Organic Soul Chef). Natural Gourmet instructors Jay Weinstein and Rich LaMarita also did cooking demos.

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On April 18, 2012 Natural Gourmet Institute again supported the annual gala event to benefit Healthcorps, hosted by Dr. Mehmet and Lisa Oz. Founded by the Ozs’s in 2007 to combat childhood obesity and “mental resilience crises” among youths, Healthcorps has to date placed peer mentors in over 80 schools for the purpose of educating students about mental and physical fitness as well as nutritional education.

The gala was held this year at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel and attended by NGI Founder Annemarie Colbin, NGI President Jenny Matthau, NGI Vice President and Director Merle Brown, NGI Public Program Director Judith Friedman, and Instructor Elliott Prag. Chef Instructor Barbara Rich presided over the Natural Gourmet table during the cocktail hour where we served up vegan and gluten-free hors d’oeuvres alongside our friends from Candle Café and Pure Food and Wine, among others.

NGI Chef's Training students (left to right) Lauren Friedman, Maudie Green, and Gabriel Anderson

Chef Instructor Barbara Rich

The event is in its 6th successful year, and Natural Gourmet has been proud to be there every step of the way for this important cause.

Merle Brown, Jenny Matthau, and Annemarie Colbin (left to right)

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Vegan Pastry Diva Fran Costigan

Always a star in vegan constellations, our instructor and renowned vegan pastry chef extraordinaire Fran Costigan brought the chocolate. Check out her recipes for decadent chocolate pudding and chocolate sauce

FRAN COSTIGAN’S MY-T-SATISFYING CHOCOLATE PUDDING

Makes generous 2 cups; 4 to 6 servings

Recipe reprinted from More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts Naturally

Unsweetened cocoa powder plus a very small amount of chocolate make a pudding so satisfying no one will ever guess this quick and easy treat as made without dairy, eggs or white sugar, or any of the unwanted ingredients found in boxed pudding mix.

Tips:   Tapioca starch needs to cook at a low boil for 30 seconds, not any longer, while cornstarch needs a full minute.  Do not use arrowroot in this recipe. It will result in a too soft and stringy pudding!

Ingredients

½ cup organic cane sugar, lightly ground in blender

6 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder [unsweetened]

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

1/3 cup very hot water [I use just boiled water]

2 cups nondairy milk, divided (use your favorite)

2 ounces chopped organic fair trade vegan chocolate (or use chocolate chips)

3 tablespoons organic tapioca starch or cornstarch (do not use arrowroot)*See tips

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

  1. Sift the sugar, cocoa and salt into a medium saucepan. Pour the water over the dry ingredients and mix with a silicon spatula until moistened. Bring to to a low boil over medium heat, stirring frequently with a silicon spatula.  Make sure to stir the bottom of the pot, and be careful that the chocolate does not scorch. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 2 minutes.
  1. Stir in 1 2/3 cup of the nondairy milk and simmer 2 minutes. Add the chocolate, and stir with a silicon spatula until the chocolate melts.
  1. In a small bowl, combine the tapioca starch and remaining 1/3 cup of nondairy milk.  Stir with a fork until the tapioca is completely dissolved. Whisking constantly, add to the simmering chocolate. The mixture will thicken and darken immediately. Stir frequently until the pudding bowls. Boil low for 30 seconds, not longer. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Pour into individual cups or one large bowl. If you don’t like “pudding skin”, press parchment paper directly on the hot pudding.
  1. Serve the pudding warm or refrigerate and serve lightly chilled. The pudding can be made 2 days ahead and refrigerated.

 

© Copyright Fran Costigan All rights reserved


 

Fran’s ULTIMATE CHOCOLATE SAUCE

Makes 1 ½ cups

Recipe reprinted from More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts Naturally

Keep a jar of this versatile, delicious, and very low fat chocolate sauce in your refrigerator for homemade chocolate milk, hot cocoa, smoothies, or drizzle over puddings, frozen desserts and cakes too. Eating a spoonful directly is a hard to resist option. This recipe is used to make the Ultimate Chocolate Icing.

Tip: The sauce will thicken in the refrigerator. Add more water if needed to thin.

Ingredients

½ cup boiling water

¾ cup Dutch process cocoa

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

½ cup pure maple syrup, grade b or dark amber, or use agave

2 tablespoons mild tasting extra virgin olive oil, organic canola or melted coconut oil

1/3 to ½ cup organic sugar (light or whole cane), ground in blender

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

  1. Combine the cocoa, sugar, and salt in a blender or food processor. Add the boiling water and maple syrup and blend 1 minute. Clean off the sides of the blender bowl with a spatula, add the oil and blend 1 minute. Add the smaller amount of sugar and the vanilla and blend 1 minute. Taste and add more sugar to taste.
  1. Pour the sauce covered jar and refrigerate for up to one week, or freeze for up to one month.

© Copyright Fran Costigan All rights reserved

Fran’s links and info: www.francostigan.com, Facebook: Vegan Pastry Chef Fran Costigan, Twitter: @Goodcakesfran

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