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A Healthy Cooking Class London!

May 27, 2014 by Erin Abercrombie 

By Erin Abercrombie On a crisp, sunny day this spring, a small group of cooking students circled around a kitchen nested in a flat above Columbia Road Flower Market. It was a picture perfect moment. The dining room table was overflowing with vibrant, organic produce. The buzz from the flower market drifted upward. Men and women—sipping fresh juices—had gathered to explore cooking ““Fabulous Food Recipes” with Sybille Gebhardt, a nutritional therapist in London. She was about to show the art of creating easy, quick, gluten-free meals from scratch.

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Sybille cooking Banana Pancakes
Inspired, I whipped out a pen, began jotting down notes, and gave myself a personal challenge – to incorporate the ideas from Sybille into the whirlwind of my daily life. Sybille’s Approach Some things just make sense. When it comes to cooking, Sybille’s approach clicked. To summarize, healthy cooking is really about bringing basics back into the kitchen – fresh ingredients, intuition, and creativity. Yes, there is an abundance of science and literature to prove endless theories about food and diet, and Sybille provided a wealth of information on these topics. However, what struck me the most while listening was the relaxed approach and play that she brought into the preparation. She didn’t measure ingredients, or count calories. The approach was more intuitive – linking the art of cooking back to the senses of taste, touch, and smell. Our culture is often so focused on the science of cooking that intuition is lost and so is the joy. For two hours, Sybille and the attendees cooked and sampled 10+ recipes. (See below for a few.) All used fresh, in-season ingredients, no grains, natural sugars (i.e. maple syrup or fruit), fish, eggs, and limited dairy (i.e. plain yoghurt/goat cheese). My Test Did I live up to the challenge? Well, yes…. but I quickly realised that one doesn’t become a natural, intuitive cook overnight. However, by breaking it down into steps, here’s what I discovered over the past few weeks since the workshop. First  – Basic Ingredients In the past, it was not my intention that prevented me from cooking at home. The roadblock was really just lack of basic ingredients when I arrived home after work.—hungry and tired. So determined to change, I made a trip to Whole Foods a few days after class to stock up on some basics. (See below.) Enjoy the Process What did I learn, once my kitchen was prepared? Cooking reminded me to slow down, relish the moment, and not rely upon the outcome.  Most of us are in fast-paced jobs, which are driven by results, and it’s easy to bring this state of mind by default to all aspects of daily life. As I tested new recipes, I found it liberating to let go of the outcome and to find joy just in the experimentation. Fall Back Recipes                              There will always be the days when I either don’t want to spend the time to cook or have the energy try a new idea. This is when I now resort to my fall-back list. For instance, after a long yoga workout last week, I came home exhausted and craving something nourishing, simple, and satisfying. I tried Sybille’s banana pancake recipe. With two ingredients and five minutes, I had a tasty result. I’ve already made this one multiple times with options for variations (adding blueberries or vanilla). Quick tip – use coconut oil for the best flavour! Recipes from Class Toasted seeds Dry roast seeds (i.e. pumpkin, sunflower, or sesame seeds) in a frying pan over very low heat until slightly brown. Place into bowl and add tamari (wheat-free soya sauce). You can also sprinkle the toasted seeds on salads or soups, instead of croutons. Pancakes Add 2 eggs and 1 banana into a blender. Sprinkle in vanilla or cinnamon (as an option). Heat a frying pan with coconut oil. Pour in batter. Flip after the bottom starts to brown. (To make a savoury lunch, eat with a fresh salad that includes seasonal veggies and goat cheese. Sprinkle on the dressing described below.) Salad Dressing Olive oil Lemon juice Almond butter Live organic miso Maple syrup Green Pesto 4 garlic cloves 50g pine nuts 200g wild garlic leaves 150g grated Parmesan cheese 150 ml olive oil Salt/pepper (to taste) Mix ingredients in blender. For a pasta dish, spiralize zucchini and add the sauce.   Basic Ingredients Apple cider vinegar (raw, unrefined, and organic) Cayenne pepper Coconut oil Fresh black peppercorns Frozen, organic berries Ground flaxseeds Himalayan or sea salt Honey (ideally local or manuka) Live organic miso paste (kept in the fridge) Maple syrup Nuts (e.g. almond, walnut, or cashew) Nut or seed butters Olive oil (ideally extra virgin, cold pressed, and organic) Pumpkin seeds Pumpkin seed or sesame oil (ideally unrefined, untoasted, and organic) Quinoa Red onions or shallots Bouillon powder (reduced salt) Milk and cream alternatives (e.g.almond, rice, or coconut milk or soya yoghurt) Millet Sundried tomatoes Tamari (wheat-free soya sauce) Bragg’s liquid aminos   Things to buy fresh: Fish (e.g. salmon or scallops) Fresh fruit (e.g. apples or avocados) Fresh herbs (e.g. garlic, ginger, thyme, or coriander) Fresh vegetables (e.g. carrots, beetroot, watercress, or spinach) Mushrooms Soya or coconut yoghurt Eggs *Most of these ingredients can be found at your local supermarket, however some can only be found at health food stores such as Whole Foods. IMG_0956 Erin Abercrombie moved to London two years ago from the U.S. for work. She discovered yoga through the encouragement of her father after making the choice to stop playing competitive soccer in order to focus on education and international travel. For the past ten years, yoga has continuously provided her grounding through the trials and challenges that come with building a career, and forming relationships and community in new cities. Yoga teaches that the power and love that is needed to live a fulfilling life lies within. Erin has learned that this holds true and comes back to the mat to nurture the inner strength and grace required to face the path ahead, no matter the shape or form.