I meet more and more people these days who are thinking more carefully about the type of food they put into their bodies, not just how much. Be it organic, gluten-free, whole foods, vegetarian or vegan, people are paying more attention to what they eat, and how it affects their body and general well-being.
For those of us who grew up with processed foods, this is a real shift. It first started a couple of decades ago. Medical professionals started warning patients to cut down on fat (particularly animal fats), sugar and salt. Then came the vitamin craze – take this, take that – which evolved into discovering the nutrients in our foods and which vegetables are high in specific vitamins and minerals. Now the focus is on where our food comes from, how it was raised or grown and how fresh it is.
A few weeks ago, Sara Glassman of Vine Dining, called me to volunteer for the Bucks County Foodshed Alliance. We got to talking and I learned about her work as a certified Natural Food Chef. Sara is a native of Bucks County, having grown up in Holland, PA. She is a graduate of the Natural Kitchen Cooking School and started her business as a personal chef and cooking teacher last January. Here are some excerpts from our conversation.
Tell me a little about how you got to this work. What attracted you?
I have always wanted to help people. After college, I thought I wanted to work for a non-profit. But I discovered that I don’t like desk work. I’m more hands-on. I’ve always loved cooking and teaching. I love seeing how people respond. The fact that I’m combining my love of cooking with my love of teaching just gives me such energy.
What exactly is a “Natural Food Chef?”
I cook only with whole foods and plant-based ingredients.
What do you mean by “plant-based”? Is that just another word for vegetarian or vegan?
By plant-based I mean whole foods – grains, beans, and vegetables, and only organic. You could eat a vegetarian diet and eat pasta and Oreos all day long. This is about eating whole foods.
That can be challenging for a lot of people. What do you feel are the benefits of eating this way?
I personally feel more energized. I’m more in tune with my body. When I put different foods into my body, I know how I will feel. I’ve learned what foods make me feel tired, give me stomach aches, make my skin break out, or make me feel blue. It was a long process of trying different things and watching how I felt afterwards.
In our culture, we don’t think about what we are eating and how it makes us feel. If we don’t feel well, we blame it on other things.
It seems people are now thinking more carefully about which foods affect them and deciding to write off certain foods, like gluten. I’m hearing this a lot from people in my generation (40’s, 50’s, 60’s).
Yes, your generation has experienced this shift in particular. You grew up with processed food, and not thinking about what is in our food, or the quality of the food. Now, there is a whole change in how we are viewing food.
So, what are you doing with this knowledge now?
In addition to providing personal chef services, I’m teaching people how to cook healthy for themselves, and discover fun and creative ways to eat plant-based foods. I’ll go into someone’s home and teach them how to cook. It’s kind of like a cookbook coming to life!
I’m also currently teaching classes with breast cancer patients and survivors. In fact, Dr. Beth DuPree just signed up for one of my classes.
The aim is to not only show what the ingredients do in the recipes, but what they do in our bodies.
You can learn more about Sara Glassman at VineDining.com. This Thursday, October 24, she will be teaching a class at the Newtown Municipal Building on “Healthy Desserts” at 5 pm. To learn more or sign up, click here.
Sara will also be demonstrating her cooking at the Wrightstown Farmers’ Market this Saturday, October 26, with samples using locally-sourced ingredients.
See VineDining.com for more upcoming classes and events.