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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Cooking Class! Girls' Night Out

Chef Lisa Davies of Montclair. We met at Patsy's boot camp years ago!
Chef Karan Fischer, who specializes in weight management cooking,
in the black chef's coat. The class started at 7 p.m. tonight.

Karan & Lisa scooping out the strands
of roasted spaghetti squash.

I don't know about your town, but here in Montclair, a lot of women I know are doing or have done the Whole Life Challenge, an 8-week healthy eating/stretching/etc.  program. The next one starts January 16, and based on tonight, I just might join up. I had shied away from it due to its carb and sugar restrictions.

This evening's event--at Designer Appliances on Bellevue Avenue--was called the Whole Life Challenge Cooking Class & Dinner. Thirteen of us--many pretty young moms with shiny manicures and healthy hair--paid $50 each to attend. It was fun and the food was great. We learned about everything from spice blends for fish to how to cook with garlic. [Don't bother using a garlic press, Chef Karan said. You waste a lot of garlic, it's hard to clean and she only uses one for something like potato pancakes, which she wants to infuse with garlic flavor.] The wine flowed and so did the pitcher of water with plump strawberries and thin orange slices. We left with the recipes!

It's late, and I'm eager to sleep so I can be productive at my desk tomorrow, but here are some tasty morsels from our lessons tonight:
  • Alternative hummus. The chefs made a dip with white beans pureed with rosemary and garnished with rosemary sprigs. Good! Will try it.
  • Chicken boredom. A lot of people eat a lot of chicken, Chef Karan said. I often stand before the raw chicken case trying to figure out what I can do with it. She and Chef Lisa included a great way to prepare it: Dijon Chicken, made with thin organic chicken cutlets. The platter was emptied pretty fast.
  • Oil drill. Olive oil is the healthiest, said Chef Karan. You want the first cut--cold-pressed.
  • No ban on butter. Chef Lisa said in her kitchen, butter is welcome. We had Baked Spaghetti Squash with Garlic and Butter [just 2 tablespoons, nothing crazy]. Yum. Will plan to make that, too, instead of pasta.
  • The ring. Secret from Chef Karan, who worked at Gramercy Tavern in NYC: Vidalias make great onion rings.
  • On the wild side. Both chefs said wild-caught fish is much better than farm-raised, which you likely know already. Raising fish in tanks is not clean, Chef Karan noted: It's like being on the subway all day. This led to a discussion among us all about the merits of fish from Whole Foods or from Gus & Co. Seafood on Valley Road. The latter, a new Montclair shop, is a favorite for its fresh catches.
  • Spice it up. Chef Karan passed around a jar of her Tuscan spice blend, which we sprinkled on the Dover Sole Florentine tonight. She makes the blend from dried parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, finely minced dried orange peel and a little paprika. We loved how it smelled, and how it tasted, too.
  • Vegan for Figgy. Even a recipe I can make for Figgy! Zucchini & Quinoa Salad. Chef Lisa whipped it up. It was soooo good. With toasted walnuts, lemon zest, torn basil and other treats. But I will have to eliminate the Parmesan, as Fig won't eat cheese.
They have kids' classes, too, and I bet Punchy would love one. The website is: Montclair Culinary Academy. Sweet dreams, good night. Oh that's right! The final kiss was sweet Medjool Date Raw Energy Bars. We got to take a portion home, and H. and Punchy polished it off pretty fast. I plan to make those, too. They contain pitted dates, ground raw almonds, coconut and organic dried apricots. Yummmmm.

A tiny glass mug of sweet potato soup before dinner.
Me and my dear friend Nicky, whom I also met years back
at Patsy's boot camp. Nicky is a chef in her own right.
  1. Warm bath with nice Neutrogena Rainbath [the green one].
  2. Learning to cook that healthy food, and eating it, too, for dinner. Hoping to use the recipes.
  3. Hearing more about the Whole Life Challenge.
  4. Iced coffee for afternoon snack [TBT, with a lot of milk, a splash of heavy cream from a farm and one packet Equal].


  1. Sounds like a great evening. It you can ge a good team, the 8 week challenge looks like a huge big fun time.

  2. Good morning, Nan. You know, I don't think we have to live near each other to be on the same team. Did you look at it? It involves a lot of things you would like. My friend Patsy modified her plan, too. For instance, I don't think that she eliminated carbs. My friend Sue lost a lot of weight in one session--not that you need to, at all. Love, Alice

  3. Thank you Alice for such a lovely write-up. It was a pleasure to have you there. I was in the Mostly Montclair WLC team on the challenge and there are a few people that don't live there. It is great to have that online group support. Thanks again for cooking with us!

  4. Thanks Lisa! I learned a lot and plan to cook more healthfully thanks to that lesson. :) Alice

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