The more you know the more to learn. That adage helps keep me humble, curious and on my toes.
While breezing through the Sandy Springs shopping for a cooking class, I was intrigued when seeing two cooking demo stations between the back of the produce and seafood departments. My food sleuth radar triggered a time-out to investigate.
Here’s the scoop, Whole Foods Market is promoting education programs to support wellness. The Southeast flagship store in Sandy Springs has a full monthly calendar of cooking demos, tastings, healthy eating classes and Supper Club Dinners covering a host of diverse topics. Held throughout the week at the two demo stations or the dining area, most events are free or for a nominal charge.
Two store team leaders based at the demo areas oversee complimenting programs. Michael Laidlaw, the store’s Healthy Eating Specialist runs the Health Starts Here demo station. Whole Foods began this program about two years ago to emphasize their “four pillars of healthy eating…whole foods, plant-strong, healthy fats, and nutrient dense,” explained Michael. Their goal is to demystify ingredients and preparations, making it easier to incorporate eating well, cooking and good nutrition on a daily basis.
During a recent Healthy Bytes class, Michael highlighted several recipes from the Whole Foods Market website, a great resource for recipes and cooking inspiration. We sat informally around the demo counter asking him questions such as, how to sprout wheat berries, ingredient substitutions, nutrition resources and cooking tips/short-cuts, while he cooked. And, of course, we enjoyed sampling the recipes…my idea of pan to plate learning!
Across the aisle in the bulk foods area surrounded by grains, beans and dry goods, you’ll find Chef Daniel Bousquet, a cooking coach for Whole Foods. He specializes in teaching the benefits of eating and preparing bulk ingredients, which are sold in bins according to the amount you need. I was eyeing the farro and quinoa for a grain-based salad, while considering using spelt. He suggested spelt would be a great alternative since it’s nutrient dense, stays firm after cooking and has a pleasing nutty crunch.
Chef Daniel leads a variety of events demonstrating simple, versatile and enticing recipes using bulk ingredients through the store’s Cooking Sandy Springs program. He described his classes as, “starting with whole foods and ingredients, we take cooking from the ground up.” The classes appeal to all eating styles, preferences and dietary needs...vegetarians, gluten-free, to carnivores.
September topics include: Bulk Cooking 101, Tailgating, Dishing the Seasons and Butternut Squash Farro Risotto.
It’s good to know Whole Foods Market supports the adage, the more you know the more to learn.
Whole Foods Market Sandy Springs
5930 Roswell Road
Health Starts Here and Cooking Sandy Springs Events
(Use spelt in place of rice, faro or other grains in recipes requiring a firm texture grain. Pre-soak spelt in water for an hour before cooking to make the nutrients easier to process in the body or just boiled a little longer. My Autumn Spelt Salad recipe also works well as a stuffing in acorn squash, bell peppers, tomatoes or apples. Buy a cup of spelt in the bulk section and have fun learning new ways to incorporate cooking with healthy grains.)
Autumn Spelt Salad serves 4
1 c. spelt, cooked per directions
1 c. Tuscan kale (or Dinosaur or Lacinato varieties, smooth & less bitter), chopped fine
1 c. butternut squash or sweet potato, small cubes
1 carrot, diced
½ onion, diced
1 small red bell pepper, clean and diced
1 c. cooked black beans
½ c. crumbled Feta cheese
½ c. toasted pepitas or sunflower seeds
4 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Crushed Black Pepper, to taste
Pre-soak spelt in water for an hour; add to pan with 2 cups water. Bring to boil and simmer covered for 1 hour; drain and set aside to cool. While spelt is cooking, roast butternut squash or sweet potato, carrot, onion and bell pepper tossed lightly in olive oil on a baking sheet at 400 degrees until tender, about 15 minutes. Combine vinegar and oil in a small jar; shake to blend. Once roasted vegetables and spelt have cooled, toss with black beans, kale, Feta cheese and seeds in the vinegar and oil dressing. Add salt and pepper, to taste.