My Intro to Raw Foods Class at Whole Foods Tenley
July 27, 2013

WF Tenley

A few weeks ago, the Healthy Eating team at Whole Foods Tenleytown reached out to ask whether I’d like to help lead an intro to raw foods class. I was delighted to say yes! I’ve been really impressed with the healthy eating initiatives the folks at WF Tenley are leading, and of course, it’s always a big treat for me to share raw food with people who are curious.

The healthy eating specialist who reached out to me was Kathleen Wood, whom I had actually met last year at my friend Anne’s bridal shower! Kathleen is super passionate about sharing healthy food and sound nutrition advice, and she does a wonderful job of organizing the classes and healthy eating initiatives at Tenley. Kathleen and I met up at one of my favorite coffee shops to brainstorm about which dishes would be accessible/easy to prepare for the event. We settled on the following:

I liked these picks because they’re all pretty easy to make, easy to sample, and because I think they show off a lot of the freshness and taste of raw food. They’re also easy to customize. To me, most of the raw food  recipes I like most are more “templates” or “ideas” than recipes. When I was describing the collard wraps, for example, I made clear that you can vary the veggie fillings, or the type of nut cheese you use, or you can use hummus or black bean dip instead. It’s really easy to make a lot of raw food basics your own.

I arrived at the class a few minutes early on Wednesday to prep–with my Our Hen House tote in tow, as always!

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It’s always a little nerve wracking to introduce yourself, but I had a very warm, welcoming, and enthusiastic group of attendees. The wonderful gastroenterologist I work with here in D.C., Dr. Robynne Chutkan, also attended, which made my day!

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We began with green soup! I mentioned that, while green smoothies are the currency of the raw foods movement, I’m a big fan of the humble blended salad. It’s nice to have a savory blended drink option, and they are a nice vehicle for seasonal herbs.

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Here we are, blending away! Kathleen is a VitaMix master.

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You can check out this post for all of my favorite green soup/blended salad recipes. This one was a riff on my zucchini dill soup, but I used cucumber and cilantro instead. It was a little tart (I’m always too heavy-handed with the lemon–it’s the Greek in me!) but very tasty.

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Next, Kathleen demo-ed the collard wraps. If you haven’t tried them yourself yet, you should–I’ve got a tutorial that walks you through the steps. It was fun to show folks how easy it is to turn an imposing collard leaf into a delicious vehicle for fresh fillings. (Not sure why I’m staring with super creepy intensity at Kathleen’s chin in this photo…)

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The wraps were a hit! The recipe we used, again, was a hybrid of this one (an original, from my blog) and my Food52 collard wrap. So tasty.

And then it came time for the star of any raw foods class I’ve lead: banana soft serve. It’s always such a treat to watch people be amazed by this dessert for the very first time.

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I prefer to prepare my soft serve in the food processor, rather than the VitaMix, because I think it turns out richer. But the VitaMix made our demo easier, and it worked very well! Kathleen threw in a tiny bit of cashew milk to get things blending.

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Needless to say, the samples were a hit 🙂

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I had so much fun leading this class. No matter how many years I’ve been loving raw food prep, it’s still nice to be reminded of why and how they’re so creative and special. We got a ton of good audience questions, too, ranging from “do I need to take any supplements?” to “is spirulina worth it?” (My answers: whole foods are the better sources of vitamins and minerals than are supplements, but you do need to take B-12 as a vegan, and if your health care provider believes any other supplements would benefit your body, then it’s worth a conversation; and no, your money is probably better spent on organic produce than on spirulina, though there’s not much harm in trying it.)

It’s a joy to share vegan and raw food with others, and I hope I can lead another class sometime soon. What do you guys think of the dishes I chose? What would you consider your top “intro to raw food” recipes? I’d love to hear!

I wish you lovely weekends,

xo

 

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    25 Comments
  1. Whole Foods in Logan Circle just started carrying greek collard wraps with olives, qunioa, and assorted raw veggies. They are amazing and I immediately thought of your collard wrap recipe. Maybe they took a cue from your blog!

  2. Just seeing this now as I was “off-the-grid” in northern CA last week. What a great recap!

    It was wonderful to work with you… You were amazing in front of the crowd and everyone loved the recipes. I’ve gotten so much great feedback about this class… I’d love to do an encore presentation if you are up for another one later this year!

  3. I love cooking classes (er, non-cooking classes as well)!

    Something about getting together to eat, learn, and chat about food with other foodophiles is just the best kind of fun in my book. I think your recipe choices were great – versatility is the key, it’s easy for raw food first-timers to get hung up in executing ridiculously complex gourmet stuff and then give up, frustrated. The point is that they’re getting a big ol’ dose of plant-food, which is never a bad thing!

    Congrats on a successful class!

  4. It’s so funny how much banana soft serve always blows peoples minds haha! If I was going to teach a class I would probably do a raw brownie too. So simple and so good! Or a raw zucchini pasta, that’s another thing that people always seem to love, even those who have never had raw food before!

  5. You’re awesome and what a great class! Perfect recipe choices because they can easily make a complete meal with many flavor options. I adore the classes that Whole Foods offers and am always checking the local calendar here for fun ones to attend.

  6. Congrats on a successful Whole Foods class! I really wish I could have been there to see you in action and offer you support, but it sounds like the class went super well regardless, are you thinking of making classes a regular hobby?

    Best
    Ali.

  7. I’m so happy I finally mastered the collard wraps. It’s so easy to play with fillings, textures and flavors. The raw recipes I’m always looking for are the ones that don’t require a vitamix or a food processor. It’s nice to know I could go anywhere and be able to put together a great meal with just a few basic utensils.

  8. This is so great!!! I teach a lot of classes for The Whole Foods Markets in San Diego and just love the interaction I get. I have noticed a big demand for raw foods classes, people are really getting into it. Your dishes look wonderful, and I am totally with you about the soft serve in the food processor!

  9. I remember my very first raw food class. we had burgers and brownies and pickles. so much fun! great choices! I hope there are more classes in the future for you!

  10. Wow! Excellent spread! Wish you could come to KC, MO!

    My suggestions would be zucchini noodles with marinara or zucchini lasagna. I also love Ani Phyo’s raw chili. My dessert favorite is always raw brownies. Just a couple of ideas! Have a great rest of the weekend!!

  11. I think any sort of raw cookie dough or energy balls are also great “intro to raw food” recipes. Everyone loves that kind of stuff! (What’s not to love, right?) But banana soft serve is always a winner, so I definitely think that was a great choice. The collard wraps look beautiful! Come to Los Angeles and teach a class at one of my Whole Foods! We literally have one every few blocks, haha.

  12. Gena, I know you recently celebrated a birthday but you are seriously a fountain of youth!! It must be all the veggies 😉 I wish I could have attended your session as I am interested in learning how to incorporate more raw foods into my diet!

  13. So proud of you – all three are exquisite choices! Well…perhaps kale chips, kale chips and…did I mention kale chips? 😉

    • Ha! Yes, I love kale chips. They seem to be a bit trendy at the minute. really interested in this raw food movement. There’s a lot of good in it.

  14. Hi, Gena. I really liked your choices, especially the banana soft serve. My intro to raw food was, oddly enough, a cooked dish: your pizza. We are omnis living in the UK and I came across your recipe by accident. I was quite taken with it,printed it off, tried it and now have the reputation for making the best pizza in town. I was so impressed that I had to go back to your website and look for more treasure. We made your Sunshine Burgers tonight with the Green Goddess Dressing (lovely) and have had great success with your Three Layer Dip, Guacanara Sauce and your Banana Soft Serve in particular. My point I guess is that although our intro was the baked pizza, we have moved into more raw foods than before so as omnis, we are now eating far more veg (lots of it raw) than ever before. Good news all round!

    • Hi Joan!

      I loved my cooked recipes as well as my raw ones, of course, so I’m delighted that you found my blog through any avenue at all! Welcome to the community here. I’m excited that you’re enjoying plant based dishes of all kinds 🙂

      Gena

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