It’s said that the average person gains about seven pounds over the holiday season. If you’re like me, you’re conscious of this phenomenon and you’ve been limiting your intake of tempting palate pleasers like delectable desserts, lush red wines, and those cheese and sausage platters.
BUT IT’S SO HARD!
My calendar is packed with Christmas parties, so not only is it nearly impossible to hit the gym to work off my calorie overload, consuming large quantities of finger food and hors d’oeuvre is virtually unavoidable.
Suzanne Monroe, a certified holistic health and nutrition counselor, can relate, which is why she came to the Milwaukee Public Market last Thursday to teach us how to make (and share) healthy holiday desserts that won’t stretch our waistline. And they taste great too!
Eric and I ducked out of work a little early to get down to the Public Market in time for our class, which was scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. Eric isn’t the healthiest eater I know; in fact, I’d venture to guess he wouldn’t touch low sugar or fat free foods with a 39-and-a-half-foot pole! Naturally, he wasn’t as enthusiastic about attending a healthy dessert cooking class like I was. But because I made the reservations and paid the $25 per person, he was forced to enjoy it, and in the end, he found it to be quite resourceful.
We took advantage of the free parking in the Market’s lot and scurried into the building and upstairs to the demonstration area. I was acting a little neurotic because I HATE being late, but we ended up arriving 10 minutes early and grabbed two chairs at a table near the front of the kitchen. Ten to 15 minutes later the class began and I counted about 20 attendees, plus a tardy couple who slid into seats in the back. The instructor introduced herself and then began the class shortly after.
Almost the entire audience was made up of women besides Eric and one other guy. For the most part, all of us were there because we wanted to improve our eating habits – especially at this time of year – feel confident in choosing and preparing better food, reduce our sugar intake and learn how to stop our holiday cookie and candy craving and binging. Plus, I’ve wanted to learn more about organic foods and those with higher nutritional value for awhile.
Suzanne Monroe’s motto is to stop counting calories and discover what truly nourishes you – this was the ongoing theme for the class. She really seemed to know what she was talking about.
The class itself was more like watching the Food Network than an actual cooking class. The instructor explained everything she was doing, and made some friendly banter in between, the way the chefs do on cooking shows. The only hands-on aspect of the class was when we would reach down to pick up samples and put them in our mouths. But once we got over our initial disappointment we really enjoyed ourselves and learned a lot.
The only issue I had was that even though we were sitting in the front, it was hard to see what was happening. The instructor explained things in great detail and we could see her gestures, but we couldn’t see the food. It didn’t help that the TV’s didn’t work either.
While she’d use the food processor or other handy kitchen appliances her assistance would clean up after her. Man, if only I had that kind of system in my kitchen; I’d have no qualms about making a mess when cooking!
After each demo we were brought samples on paper plates. We tasted dark chocolate fused with walnuts and pomegranate seeds, shortbread cut out cookies with carob frosting, a mix of sweet and salty nuts drizzled in maple syrup and sprinkled with sea salt, and chocolate almond butter truffles – definitely the best. I’m going to make these for one of the upcoming parties I’m attending. As a matter of fact, each of these recipes would be great party snacks or favors, even a gift for a foodie friend, plus they’re quick and easy to make.
During the class, she didn’t care to focus on calorie-counting. Instead, she told us to throw nutritional number crunching along with dieting out the window. Suzanne helped us learn to listen to our bodies and discover what truly nourishes them so that we can have the most energy everyday. And on top of that, we learned several recipes and a slew of useful and healthy cooking information.
I don’t know if it was worth the $25, but the information was definitely valuable. We came away with some useful tips:
- How to cut a pomegranate
- There’s a multitude of natural sweeteners to substitute for sugar including raw honey, brown rice syrup and agave nectar
- Grain-sweetened chocolate chips are naturally sweetened with barley and taste exactly the same as your typical Hershey’s chocolate chips
- Cacao nibs, which were used in the pomegranate chocolates, are the roasted bits of the cocoa pod – they are unsweetened chocolate
I will try to incorporate these into my cooking because they reap nutritional benefits.
We left the class with delightful tastes still on our tongues, a complimentary health consultation and Suzanne Monroe’s “Eat Well Everyday EBook” – Eric won a copy at the end of class.
Suzanne Monroe will be returning to the Public Market right at the start of the New Year to teach a class titled “Lose Weight without Dieting.” I’m sure this class will be just as insightful and very helpful for those who are striving to get fit for their New Year’s resolution. Here are some other classes taught by Suzanne.
If dieting and healthy eating isn’t your thing, there is a vast selection of classes available. Each class the Market offers covers different food and is taught by different instructors, so you’re bound to find something that appeals to your taste. Take a look here to see what classes are coming up this winter at the Public Market. I totally recommend them!
Since the class we’ve received the Ebook and have scrolled through the 86 pages. It’s pretty neat! It provides 10 weeks of healthy, simple recipes and a shopping list for each, plus healthy cooking tips, ideas for using leftovers, and the health benefits of each meal.
Incorporating healthier foods into your everyday diet is a huge lifestyle change, one that will take more work than sitting through an hour and a half class. I know many people who have tried a variety of diets, and some even managed to do well on them for a few weeks or months; however, the emphasis those diets place on willpower, deprivation and denial is both unnecessary and counter-productive in my opinion, which is why I never diet. The reality is that unless you have a plan that is practical, one that works with your lifestyle and takes your individuality into account, it will not last. And this class gave information that I’ll carry with me to integrate more nutritional foods into my diet, not just during the holidays.
Milwaukee Public Market
400 N. Water Street, Milwaukee
Hours: Monday through Friday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.