Guest Chef and an Award

As March is National Nutrition Month, and I am both a dietitian and a vegetarian, I was asked to be a guest chef for the monthly cooking class at the Health and Wellness Center (HAWC) on base.  The HAWC is the place to go for nutrition information on the base, and although they do not have a dietitian, they do have a very well educated nutrition professional.  The HAWC also takes people on commissary tours and tours of the local organic market.

So, for the March cooking class, in keeping with the theme of "from the ground up", we thought a low-fat, quick and easy vegetarian meal was in order.  Many people might think vegetarian meals are complex because they may not be as familiar with cooking vegetables/preparing vegetables, or they might think they need fancy meat substitutes or just be afraid to work with tofu.  Either way, it is not difficult if you just kknow what you are doing, and when it comes to veggies, just wash, chop and you are ready to go.

Speaking of ready to go...
At this point I am getting nervous because not only is there a packed class (max is 8 people, but 9 signed up...I think 8 showed), but I was told just before we started that AFN (the military provided TV station) would be coming to film the entire class.  Oh Boy!

Main Dish: Veggie Fajita Pitas
I selected zucchini, red bell peppers, portabello mushrooms and eggplant (no shown in this pic), which gave me a nice variety of colors.
Then I heated up a pan with olive oil, tossed in my veggies and mixed them up to coat, added some black pepper, covered the pan, reduced the heat and I was good to go.  Here is a picture taken after most of the participants were served.
My side dish was those black beans I created last week.  I used 1can of black beans, mostly drained, cook for about 2-3 minutes, and then added 1/2 can no added salt tomatoes (mostly drained) and a 1/2 can (the small one, and mostly drained) of green chilies.  Toss in 1 TSP cumin, or more to taste, cover, reduce to low heat, and cook for about 7-10 minutes from this point.  It may seem a little watery, so once you remove from the heat, leave covered for about 2-3 minutes to thicken.
The finished product, a quick and easy meal packed with fiber (a whole wheat pita pocket was also used) and nutrient packed veggies.
What would a delicious meal be without dessert, right?  So we did sliced bananas with drizzled choc, just some chocolate chips in the microwave, and then topped with a dab of plain yogurt.  I also think this would be good topped with some honey flavored Greek yogurt.
So, that was it for my first ever cooking class.  Everyone really liked it and many people asked me nutrition questions while I was doing the cooking, so it was nice to actually get a chance to do something in my trained profession.  I even heard people down the hall smelled the meal and later asked what we were preparing because it smelled so good.  My recipes will be written up and then later on will be put into a cookbook showcasing the recipes from these cooking classes.

Now, on to other good stuff, Simply Life passed this award on to me!

Thank you so much, I am so honored that you thought of me.  Here is a list of things that make me happy, and I am going to relate these specifically to my current life of living overseas:

1. Going outside and finding out that it is not raining and I do not need to wear my rain boots.

2.  Looking out my window, from the driveway, or down my street, and being able to see the ocean.

3.  Having the backyard space to allow my dog to run all over.

4.  Having the ability to work from home with a very flexible schedule, doing what I love, which is teaching.

5.  Trying new foods and wines, including all of the local products, likes cheeses and organic produce.

6.  Snorkelling in the ocean.

7.  Hearing from my friends and family back home, either by email, twitter, facebook or telephone.

8.  Exploring and learning about another culture, including learning the Portuguese language.

9.  Making new friends that I otherwise never would have gotten the chance to know.

and most importantly...

10.  Spending time with my husband.  Whether it is indoors or outdoors, we always have a good time.  I love that we get to have this overseas experience together.

Oh, but don't let me forget that this overseas experience has allowed for me to have time to start this blog and read many others.  I love all of the blogs I have found so far, but I can only pass this on to a few (going for different blogs this time), so here goes:
1. Beth from 990 square
2. Melissa from Melissa Nibbles
3. Rachel from Coconut Crumbs
5. Shannon from Lessons to Learn
6. Morgan from Live, Love, Eat, Play

I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend.  Don't forget to checkout my blog Monday for something super exciting.  If you missed my post yesterday about my old world experience at Quinta Do Martelo, CLICK HERE.

QUESTIONS:  Have you ever been to a cooking class?  Have you ever taught a cooking class?


Beth said...

Looks like you did a great job with the class! I'm always so nervous before I have to teach Budget 101 at work but it always goes so much better than I expect it to!

Thanks for the award! Trying to come up with my list of happy things already!

Andrea@WellnessNotes said...

Great job on the cooking class! I think I would have been quite nervous if I was all of a sudden told that I'd be filmed... Glad it turned out so well!

And congrats on the award! I love learning new things about bloggers. And thank you so much for passing the award on to me! :)

Happy Sunday!

Simply Life said...

Great list! I'm sure it's amazing to be able to see the!

Special K said...

SO COOOL! I'd love to be in your cooking class!
Hey! I am coming to Porto Portugal around Memorial Day. Would LOVE to meet you if you are around that area!

Ameena said...

I would love to take your cooking class, reading this was a great substitute!

I took a cake decorating class once and while it was productive, it was more of just a way to spend time with my mom. I'm never going to win any awards for my work with icing. :)

Kristen @ Change of Pace said...

SO neat that you got to teach a cooking class! I would love to take weekly cooking classes. Just to learn different techniques :)

FoodFitnessFreshair said...

This sounds so fun! I've been to cooking classes, but I would love to teach one. I bet that was nerve-racking at the beginning, but such a good feeling after it was finished! Hope they liked the veg. food!

Biz said...

You did a great job Melinda! I would have been a nervous wreck and burned something!

Lele said...

Go you! I feel like teaching a cooking class would be both terrifying and awesome. Actually, knowing me, I'd end up setting myself on fire or something!

Mari said...

Wow congrats on your first cooking class! It looks like a huge success! I love that you chose something nutritious and easy to make =)

will you be doing it again?

sophia said...

Yay you're famous! Hee hee. Great job on the class...did you ever feel nervous?
I've been to a cooking class in the kitchen of an Italian restaurant once with the executive was the BEST experience ever.

Rachel@Coconut Crumbs said...

Melinda, thank you for the very sweet award! I am simply honored! ps- I'm very jealous of #6 on the list-I would love to go snorkeling right now!

Nicole, RD said...

Congrats on the Happy 101 award! It's funny you write such a post -- I'm leading my first cooking class ever a week from tonight. I'm so nervous!! But very excited! I can't wait to share all about it! I'm hoping for a turnout like yours! Though, I will be leading and they will be cooking!

I loved your 10 things. Snorkeling in the ocean, I'll bet...amazing :)

Saw your amazing Krema giveaway! I'll refrain for entering as I still have 3 jars from another Krema giveaway I won :)

Have a great week, Melinda!

Unknown said...

look at you being all professional!

do u get ABC over there? there's a great new show w/ Jamie Oliver that you will enjoy - maybe u can watch it when UR here...

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