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Spilling the beans on a new Whistler cooking club

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Cooking can be a highly unattractive pastime for the busy and recipe challenged. Staple meat and potato dinners are done to death. The fridge becomes a graveyard of spoiled leftovers thrown out. Grocery bills ring up with few grocery bags to show for it, and trying to balance a healthy diet goes out the drive-through window.

Karen Kay of Harvest Cuisine Whole Foods Cooking School has found a solution with the launch of the Healthy Eating Cooking Club, starting June 4, and every Sunday thereafter, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 to 6 p.m.

Each class, participants will cook a full-week’s worth of breakfasts, lunches and dinners – and all within three hours. Participants work collectively, cooking approximately nine different recipes in bulk. The meals are then portioned to take home for the week – some prepped for the frying pan, others ready-to-go from the fridge and some just need to be taken out of the freezer and heated.

Kay takes care of the grocery shopping, preps foods beforehand and wields a kitchen with every gadget a recipe would ever require.

Vegan recipes run the gamut of cooking styles, including everything from Indian to Cajun.

The over-used saltshaker is benched. In Kay’s Moroccan lentil soup the potato and spinach-laden broth is given zest with lemon juice and warming cumin. Her coleslaw spins the traditional mayo-base with homemade pesto, green onions fresh from her garden, red cabbage and cranberry beans. Her recipes are all about I-would-have-never-thought-of-that moments, combined with nutrition smarts, local/seasonal products and a full tummy to get you through your day.

To my surprise, a yummy lunch of wheatberry taboulleh, cranberry bean coleslaw and Moroccan soup fueled me right to dinner, while at the same time incurred no wrath on my waistline. Who knew tasty could be so healthy and low fat?

Kay will break out of the kidney and garbanzo bean regiment and introduce palates to the wide world of beans and grains. Over the month-long-class option, participants will learn how to use 30 different beans, peas and lentils as well as 15 different grains, seasonal vegetables and fruit, nuts, seeds and sea vegetables. Packaged and processed foods are left behind.

Recipes can be easily adapted to carnivore tastes with the addition of meat.

Along with cooking, Kay will also break down the nutritional value of her clever concoctions, including a liver-cleansing coleslaw.

The idea for the cooking club sprouted from Kay’s background as an executive chef, certified nutritionist, catering company owner and facilitator of a Whistler Community Services community kitchen program that caters to people struggling with finances.

As a result, her Cooking Club recipes also keep grocery bills down by teaching participants how to use dried beans and grains. She also buys in bulk for the classes to keep food costs down.

Classes are limited to six people, so register early. The fee includes copies of all the recipes prepared. Food costs are additional. People pay according to how many portions they would like.

The first four-class series begins June 4 and costs $250. Drop ins are also available at $70 a class.

To register or for more information, call Karen Kay at 604-932-3262.

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