I’ve always enjoyed being in the kitchen and learning new recipes. Growing up I had lots of cooking role models: my parents, my grandparents, my great grandma, my aunts and uncles and later on, my friends and co-workers. I’ve also always loved cooking shows and any other “food-related” shows (Especially Master Chef, I love Chef Ramsay!). Now that I’m a full-time stay-at-home mom, one of my job duties is to cook for my family and I have to say, that takes up about 40% of my day.
Back before I became vegetarian two years ago, my cooking looked very different from how it looks now; I used to make dishes with all kinds of ingredients not really caring about health content, calories or source; I just wanted to make delicious food. Two years ago things changed, I believe for the better, and now I can say I still cook delicious food but what goes in it is very different and much more health-conscious than before.
I can’t say I was an expert on healthy cooking, much less vegetarian cooking. Also, I knew in my mind what “healthy food” was, but before then I wasn’t fully convinced that “healthy” was the way I wanted to eat. Once the lightbulb turned on in my head and I decided to make the change, I was ready to do the research, put in the work and embark on a new journey.
First thing I did (of course) was Google as much as I could about vegetarianism; then I read a bunch of blogs that talked about it. I also found some awesome people who personally took the time to help, educate and inspire me to follow this path (if you’re reading this, you all know who you are). Then I got some “vegetarian cook books” and my good ol’ friends Pinterest and Instagram also came to the rescue.
So there I went, cooking away three meals a day, seven days a week (except for the occasional dining out of course) and I have to say I was pretty successful at it. But then one day, through a good mommy friend of mine who is also vegetarian I found out about Miss Karina Paz Kennedy aka Chef Karina (@chefkaryma on Instagram).
Chef Karina offers cooking classes for adults and children from beginners to advanced levels. She also offers workshops in colaboration with a Nutritionist and covers not just the cooking part but also healthy tips to live a healthy life.
I’ve been to three sessions with her and I have loved every single one of them. She’s very personable, super friendly, she helps you throughout the class and she answers every question you might have (aka she’s very patient when we have no clue of what we’re doing). You can tell she does this for the love of cooking and because she wants people to learn the ways of healthy cooking and healthy living.
The first class I took was “Granos, Semillas y Superalimentos” (Grains, Seeds and Superfoods) and we learned all about cooking with those food groups and incorporating them in to our diet. The next one was “Cocina Italiana Vegana” (Vegan Italian Food) and we made things like cauliflower crust pizza, marinara from scratch and vegan pana cota.
The third class was last night and it was SALADS. You think, “Salads? what’s so hard about salads that I have to take a class for it?”…well, let me tell you that once you learn how to make amazing salads that look like they came from a restaurant kitchen and that you paid $12 for each one but it was actually you that made it in your own kitchen, you’ll understand my excitement.
We had a great time making these salads and it’s actually kind of funny because in the past I used to quote Homer Simpson and say “You don’t make friends with salad!” anytime I had the option of choosing a salad vs a plate of meat…and now I look for salads, make salads and actually like eating them as a meal.
They came out so delicious and so full of flavor. Chef Karina always tells us, “a complete and balanced meal should have a protein, a grain and a healthy fat aside from your vegetables”, and that’s exactly what these salads are, Full Meals on their own because they have all the components. And yes, the protein IS there, it’s plant-based so we used tempeh, seitan, seeds and even avocado, all great sources of protein for vegetarians and vegans.
Just to give you an idea, here’s some of the salads we made:
All of these can technically be made at home in about 20 minutes tops (give or take on ingredients that have to be roasted or toasted) and just look at them! They’re amazing!!
So I’d like to encourage everyone who has the opportunity to join a local cooking class wherever you live, to do it! and if you’re in our neck of the woods, check out Chef Karina’s Facebook page or Instagram for upcoming class and workshop dates. They are held in Tijuana (in Spanish), they’re fun and best of all…you get to eat what you make in class!!! (I bet you can’t say that about your calculus class).
Here’s her info, contact her for questions. She also offers catering and will make dishes upon request. (Prices and dates vary)
Now I can honestly say “I make GREAT friends with salad!”