Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Review on Living Social's Superfoods Vegan Cooking Class + a recipe for Cacao Add-Whatever-You-Want Superfood Truffles



I have to say that switching to a vegan diet has been quite easy for me living near DC. It’s one of the most vegan friendly cities in the US and over the past couple of years it has adjusted quite well to the raw/vegan boom that our country is currently experiencing. Restaurants have added vegan menus, vegan food trucks are beginning to pop up everywhere and vegan cooking classes are becoming harder to keep up with! 

Vegan cooking classes are one of the best tools to have when making the transition to a healthier, vegan-focused lifestyle. Not only do they provide you with awesome recipes, but the classes help in teaching you how to prepare and make certain dishes using ingredients that may be new to you.  Even if you’re not new to the vegan lifestyle, cooking classes are still a fun way to get together and socialize with other like minded individuals while learning new yummy recipes. I don’t know about you, but ever since I became vegan, I’ve also found a passion for cooking. For some reason the two seem to come hand in hand.



For me, cooking classes have become quite an obsession. I could know how to make all the recipes on the menu and yet I will still pay to attend. I guess my non-social self finds these classes as a great way for me to step out my norm while doing something I love and that I’m comfortable with. While there are several sources for cooking classes, both online and local, one of my favorite sources is via Living Social

Here in DC off F Street is the first, and currently the only, Living Social live event venue. It was created to “introduce people to the best local businesses in the [most] exciting ways” and for me, it has done just that. One of my favorite events to attend here are, of course, the vegan cooking classes. In the past I have taken baking classes from Sticky Finger’s own Doran Peterson, raw food classes by the owners of Gouter, a raw food company in DC and most recently, a super foods class by health coach and owner of Carpe Diem Wellness, Lisa Miles Jackson. 

The Super Foods cooking class was an unexpected adventure. Unlike with Sticky Fingers and Gouter, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew what we were making, but I didn’t “know” the teacher as well as I “knew” the other two. Also, I had gotten stuck without my usual partner, Grace, due to an awful cold I had the week before which also happened to be the week we were originally supposed to attend. I was forced to reschedule, which left me half-sick and alone. Between the unknown and not having someone I knew, getting into this class was all together nerve wrecking and exciting.  

As we made our way through two-hours of high-raw cooking, I found myself identifying with Lisa more and more. She wasn’t there to just teach us how to cook, but she was there to do what she does best: be a health coach. As we were making our dishes, Lisa shared success stories, personal stories, and tips on how to eat and live a healthier lifestyle. She explained how the food we were eating supported our bodies, why to avoid GMOs and other harmful additives, and best of all, she avoided the diet labels. I listened intently and watched her as she made her way gracefully around the table with confidence and compassion for what she does. All I could do was gawk and stare as I saw what I wanted to do, who I wanted to be, stand before me teaching others about health through food. She became my role model that day. By the end of the class, I was happy that I had chosen this class over another one that I was considering. From this one I gained not only new cooking skills and new recipes, but also knowledge and inspiration. It was meant for me.  

As for the recipes, we made a wide variety of wholesome, nutritionally dense dishes. From Cacao Goji Truffles to a Mexican Quinoa Salad, each dish was loaded with whole, plant-based foods that were filled with nutrients, vitamins and minerals to support the body whether it’s standing in a cooking class or running a mile. Out of all the dishes we made, my favorite was, of course, the Cacao Goji Truffles. 

Sunflower Nacho "Cheese" Dip with Jicama Chips

Mexican Quinoa Salad

Kale Slaw
These little round gems are sweet, salty and oh so chocolaty good. I altered the ingredients a bit so that a) I could share it with you and b) to work with the ingredients I had on hand. These delicious balls of yumminess are loaded with superfoods so all you need is a little to go a really long way. Because of the high coconut oil content, these can be refrigerated instead of being frozen although freezing does make them last longer. If you do freeze, I suggest leaving them out for a few just to soften or you’ll be trying to sink your teeth into what seems like a really hard chocolate bar.


 Cacao Add-Whatever-You-Want Superfood Truffles
By Beth Mickens
Recipe adapted from Lisa from Carpe Diem Wellness, DC

  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds (you can add them in or roll the balls in the hemp seeds. I prefer the chewy texture so I added them in)
  • 1-2 Tbsp of Maca Powder (depending on desired taste)
  • 1 Tbsp Lucuma, Goji or Camu Camu Powder
  • 1-2 Tbsp of Super Greens (I used Green Superfood's Raw Reserve) (depending on desired taste)
  • 1 Tbsp flax seeds, ground
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup softened coconut oil
  • 2+ Tbsp maple syrup or coconut nectar, depending on desired sweetness
  • 1 Tbsp raw almond butter
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • Optional add ins:
    • Goji berries
    • Cacao Nibs
    • For non-vegans, bee pollen.
    1. In a small bowl add all the dry ingredients, adding as little or as much of each superfood as you like.
    2. In a separate bowl add the coconut oil, almond butter, maple syrup and vanilla and whisk to blend. 
    3. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, adjusting to the amount of dry ingredients you added.
    4. Roll into balls and roll into shredded coconut and/or hemp seeds. (They will be very soft but that's the texture you want. If you find it too hard to roll, stick in the fridge to firm before rolling.)
    5. Store in the fridge/freezer to firm up before eating.



Like all the cooking classes I have attended at Living Social so far, this one was worth it plus more.  The staff was accommodating, the class valuable and the food, yummy! I look forward to many more vegan cooking classes in the future. If you are in the DC area, I highly recommend you check out Living Social 918 F Street. They have a ton of events always going on there. It makes it hard to choose JUST one! If you do not live in the DC area, here is a list of sources to where you can find cooking classes both online and possibly locally.
  • Cookologyonline.com (for my NoVA people)
  •  Sporkonline.com
  •  Meetup.com is a great place to find local groups with similar interests. I’ve found vegan potlucks, health classes, etc on here.
  • Check your local Whole Foods or natural grocers
Happy Vegan Cooking!

*Beth*

Forward to Day 5
Back to Day 3