Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Learning How to Cook Healthy at The Vegetarian Kitchen

My experience on eating vegan and now vegetarian has give me a lot of health benefits. I do cook but most of my dishes are substitutions for the meaty dishes that I usually eat at home and usually using just tofu. I could never get the same taste I get in restaurants and their vegetarian dishes. That's why I have always wanted to attend a cooking class to hone my cooking skills.

Dishes cooked during the class resulted in this delicious buffet which we ate after class.

Luckily,  I caught the announcement of The Vegetarian Kitchen about their cooking class and came to attend their Basic Vegetarian Cooking Class last Sunday.

The Vegetarian Kitchen has been on my list of vegetarian/vegan restaurants that I want to visit. But for lack of a companion or time, I had never gotten around to trying out their food. But other people's reviews were positive and I so I kept this little healthy resto at the back of my mind.

So the opportunity to visit the resto and learn from the Head Kusinera Tita Soliongco herself, made me eager to go out of the house even on a Sunday.

I arrived just before class began and was able to witness the preparations for the dishes that we were going to be taught to cook.

Preparations before class begins.

The ambiance of the place was quite homey and cozy and the small size of the class which consisted of 20 people more or less, gave the event the atmosphere of an intimate gathering. The class participants were also friendly and even the instructors never lost their sense of humor even while being thorough and informative about each dish.

The Head Kusinera herself Tita Soliongco teaching us the basics of vegetarian cooking.

I was very glad that I didn't have to take a lot of notes during class since we were provided with the actual recipes for the dishes as well as the places where we can buy the ingredients. We learned to make a lot of dishes. Here's a list of all of them:

  • Tofu Mayonnaise with Cucumber Pineapple Salad
  • Arroz ala Cubana Casserole
  • Tofu & Vegetable "Fish" Balls with Sweet and Sour Sauce
  • Pastel de Lengua
  • Boston Baked Beans with Vegetarian Ham
  • Spanish Caldereta
  • Homemade Cheese, Spinach & Malunggay Cannelloni
  • Eggless Vegetable Quiche on a Whole Wheat Crusted Shell
  • Pasta Primavera with Spinach & Carrot Chorizo
  • Vegan Tuna Sandwich Spread and Eggless Egg Salad

First, we were taught the types of meat alternatives that we could use to make our dishes vegetarian/vegan. There was tofu, gluten (vegetable protein) and of course, vegetables.

Dishes were made using the different meat alternatives with options to make it vegan. Class members also participated in cooking and I even got to cook one of the dishes with the Head Kusinera and her kitchen crew (which included her daughter and son).

We were also taught some "secret ingredients" to make dishes taste as close to their meaty counterparts as possible. A taste test of some of these ingredients and the meat alternatives was also part of the class.

We were all amazed at how some of the meat substitutes tasted like real meat, including the texture, after some preparation. There was even salt which tasted like salted egg and is the main flavoring for the eggless Egg Salad.

Of course, since this is a cooking class, food pics abound.

Pastel de Lengua

Ingredients for the Eggless Vegetable Quiche

Quiche ready for baking.

Pasta Primavera with Spinach & Carrot Chorizo

Eggless Egg Salad

Our instructor didn't study to cook so she said she'd rather be called a kusinera than a chef. She is like our Pinoy version of Rachel Ray, teaching us how to cook healthy food in less than the time it takes to cook them when using meat. She also has a great sense of humor and is very candid and honest about her cooking processes and her experience with different meat alternatives.

She tells us that vegetarian/vegan dishes also tend to keep longer when stored in the refrigerator as it doesn't have any meat components which attract bacteria and thus making it spoil much faster. That's why she also highly recommends vegetarian/vegan dishes for baon to school for the kids and office workers as well.

At the end of the class, we were surprised to receive a certificate of our training. I must say that I am very glad I took part in this class and I am excited to try cooking the dishes myself.

Course Certificate

After the class, the dishes prepared during class were all cooked and laid out in a buffet for our dinner. I was so eager to taste all the dishes. I seldom have the opportunity to enjoy a buffet, especially a vegetarian/vegan one.

Some of the dishes we enjoyed from the vegetarian/vegan buffet.

We were all stuffed and really enjoyed this delicious buffet of healthy food and we even got to take home some of the food.

I am definitely looking forward to eating healthier with the new dishes and ingredients I learned from this class. One of these days also, I plan to visit this restaurant again and enjoy the rest of their menu.

The Vegetarian Kitchen
62 Mother Ignacia Ave., Quezon City
(In front of St. Mary's College)

Visit them on Facebook.

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