September 29, 2011 by Katie
Last night I was invited to the most amazing opportunity: a cooking demonstration for Chicago-area bloggers! The demonstration was held at Whole Foods in Lakeview and was put on by Amanda Skrip, a natural foods chef and wellness consultant. The cooking demonstration was organized by Jessica, blogger at Dishin About Nutrition, THANK YOU JESSICA! It was also great to meet the other bloggers, including Chelsey, Cait and Tracy, as well as Amanda’s amazing assistant, Alia!
The evening starting out with some great wine, and snacks provided by Whole Foods! Everything on the menu was gluten-free and vegan, so no one had to worry about any dietary restrictions or food allergies!
After a bit of chatting and introductions, the cooking got started! Amanda had prepared a great menu for us, with recipes included!
The first thing we got to try was the Gingered Sweet Potato Soup! It was absolutely delicious, and really easy! Amanda chose recipes that could be made by re-purposing foods that you already had around your house, in this case, it was already baked sweet potatoes! It took absolutely no time for her to make the soup and we were all big fans.
Next up was the Brown Rice “Risotto-Style” with White beans, Kale and Mitake Mushrooms. I’d never had Mitake mushrooms before, and they were great! I learned a lot of tips from this one, for example, when you’re cooking mushrooms, be sure that the pan is already hot and don’t start stirring them right away or they will become mushy!
She also mentioned a bunch of different ways you could take this basic recipe and change out ingredients. She gave a couple examples of peas and prosciutto or mozzarella with asparagus. I’m going to have to give this one a try at home!
The next item on the menu was one of my favorites, mostly because of my current obsession with spaghetti squash! This dish was Spaghetti Squash Salad with Arugula, Olives and Almonds. I have to say, the almonds really made this dish! That extra crunch was great. Also, I normally bake or microwave my squash, but Amanda showed us how to cook it by boiling the squash and it only took 10-12 minutes! I was at first skeptical, but then quite impressed.
For dessert, she made Baked Pears with Pecan Crumble. One thing I liked about this dish is that the crumble wasn’t too buttery or sweet, like a normal crumble might be. this way I felt like it was healthier, and definitely heavier on the pears! It was delicious – cleaned my plate and forgot to take a picture! Here’s some from the dish:
Finally, Amanda showed us a great snack item for on-the-go, or even something to put on top of smoothies or oatmeal! It was a Seasame Seed Brittle, made with seasame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds along with nori and maple syrup. This wasn’t my favorite item because I didn’t think it had a lot of flavor, but the other girls were absolutely in love!
One cute thing that Amanda did during her cooking demo was to ask us trivia questions about some of the ingredients she was using, and then if we got it correct, we won a product that she used, provided by Whole Foods!
My question was pretty easy: name three types of squash! I named Acorn Squash, Butternut Squash and Pumpkin! Can’t believe I didn’t say Spaghetti Squash…
My prize was Nori! At first I was a little disappointed that Chelsey snagged the Chocolate Hazelnut butter first, but I’m actually really glad I got the nori (which is the seaweed used to wrap sushi) because it’s not something I’d ever buy myself. Now I just have to decide how I’ll use it!
The whole evening turned out even better than I had expected! I had a great time, learned some amazing cooking tips, and got to eat delicious food! And on top of that, I got to meet some other Chicago-area bloggers! Hopefully there will be more get-togethers in our future!
Also, be sure to check out Amanda’s website, she has a lot of great stuff on there as well as information about other cooking demonstrations that she does in the Chicago area!