Our Natural Food Chefs completed the culinary nutrition course.

Congrats to Our Natural Food Chefs!

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Back in January of this year, three students came to Denver from different parts of the country to study Culinary Nutrition and the therapeutic use of foods. This month, they graduated from NTI and became Natural Food Chefs. We congratulate them and wish them the best of luck as they continue to add to the world with their passions, one delicious and nourishing meal at a time.

Here’s what each chef had to say about her experience. And check out two recipes from the Natural Food Chef Kitchen at the end!

Jo Bakal

I became a Natural Food Chef because:
I love food and creating with it; cooking has become my new art form in place of painting. I love seeing what’s on the menu at restaurants and then transforming them into healthy options that are meat free (except fish), gluten free, dairy free, and free of refined sugars while remaining outrageously delicious. This is what inspired me to further hone my culinary skills as well as broadening what I have to offer my clients as an Integrative Nutritional Wellness Coach and Reiki Teacher/Practitioner.

A helpful tip for cooking for food sensitivities and allergies:
It’s important to never make assumptions and to ask the person you are cooking for what foods work for them and what foods don’t. You then need to understand ingredients and the different names for the foods you are trying to avoid.

Has your approach to food and cooking changed since starting at NTI? 
The one thing that has changed for me is getting all the prep work done before anything hits the fire.

Did you have any “ah ha!” moments during the NFC program?
My “aha moment” was realizing that I really am good at transforming foods in a creative and delicious way. I have become more confident.

What’s next for you? 
Back home in the Tampa Bay area, I hope to teach classes and work with individuals and groups who are trying to improve and maintain their well-being. I have also been developing a recipe book which I hope to have published this time next year.

Find Jo on Instagram @jobakal and online here.

Haley Peck

I became a Natural Food Chef because:
I’ve seen how food can help heal people, make people happy, and even turn people’s lives around. I wanted to be able to provide others with wholesome food that can do all of these things while tasting delicious, which is what made me want to become a Natural Food Chef.

A helpful tip for cooking for food sensitivities and allergies: Sometimes it’s okay to stray away from recipes and experiment on your own. I’ve found that while substituting ingredients for sensitivities such as dairy, gluten, and sugar, I often have to play with the measurements and sometimes add other spices or ingredients to get the right taste and texture I want.

Has your approach to food and cooking changed since starting at NTI? Yes. I have a much different view on cooking and food. I’ve learned how versatile food can be, and that there is no right or wrong way to necessarily prepare a meal if it is done with effort and love. I had a very conventional idea of cooking and culinary school before I began at NTI, and now I am opened up to the world of Culinary Nutrition where I feel very comfortable in the kitchen using all different types of ingredients.

Did you have any “ah ha!” moments during the NFC program?
At the beginning of the program, I was adamant about following exact recipes. As the weeks passed, we learned to play with recipes and ingredients. I noticed a flow starting to form in the kitchen and certain things were suddenly natural to me, such as preheating the oven before doing anything if something was getting baked that day, or checking to see if all the spices were fresh before using them. I had my “ah ha” moment when I started doing these tasks automatically.

What’s next for you?
I will be finishing up a nutrition program online while getting experience in the Culinary Nutrition field. I am hoping to help prepare meals for people with eating restrictions, or to help meal prep for families in the area.

Pam Twaddel

I became a Natural Food Chef because: 
I wanted to learn. Therapeutic Cooking is something I have wanted to do for a very long time. I feel that what you eat is so important to your health that I would like to spread the word and help people who would like to make a change or need help preparing meals. This is my passion.

A helpful tip for cooking for food sensitivities and allergies: 
Take the time to play around with the flavors and recipes that you like or used to be able to eat. Adapt them to fit your restrictions so you may enjoy the foods and still feel good while maintaining your health.

Has your approach to food and cooking changed since starting at NTI? 
Not really, but this program has enhanced the importance of the environment from where the animal and plant products are sourced; for example, the ways the animals were raised and treated. Or the quality and selenium content of the soil from which the Brazil nuts were grown.

Did you have any “ah ha!” moments during the NFC program?
I learned lots of little things, but also how interconnected our body systems are, and how important and simple it is to eat a good variety of whole foods. I learned how important all of the different nutrients of whole foods are to the body.

What’s next for you? To work for myself and develop a business. I do believe there is a lot of opportunity out there!

Ooh La La Carrot Dip (serves 8)

Light, fluffy, and slightly spicy, this dip is a healthy and delicious option to add to your next party spread.

2 lbs carrots, cut into 1” pieces (green leafy tops removed)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ¼ tsp chili paste
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground ginger

Cook carrots in salted water over med-high heat until tender (about 20 minutes). Drain.  Transfer to a food processor and add remaining ingredients. Process until light and fluffy.

Serve with raw vegetables and Seed Crackers.

Seed Crackers
Your search for the perfect cracker is over. This is it!

2 cups almond flour

3 tsp sesame seeds

1 tsp poppy seeds

1 tsp caraway seeds

1 tsp dried minced onion

½ tsp sea salt

1 T extra virgin olive oil

1 large egg

1 tsp water

Optional: coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine almond flour, all seeds, minced onion, and ½ tsp sea salt. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, egg, and water until well blended. Stir wet ingredients into almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Use your hands to knead the dough into a ball.

Roll out dough between two large sheets of parchment paper to 1/8 inch thickness.  Remove top piece of parchment paper and use a pizza cutter to cut into 2” squares.  Slide parchment sheet with cut dough onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt if desired.

Bake until crackers along the outer edge of the baking sheet are lightly golden, about 11 to 13 minutes. Leave crackers on baking sheet until cooled.

Store crackers in airtight container or freeze. Serve with Carrot Dip.

Everyone eats, every day.  Become a Natural Food Chef and gain the knowledge and skills to support optimal health through food.  Contact an admissions counselor to learn more about the Natural Food Chef program today.

Gain the knowledge and skills to prepare foods for optimal nutrient density in the Natural Food Chef program!

The 15-week program only runs twice a year: Spring and Fall so don’t miss out!  Contact the admissions team at ad********@nt*******.com or sign up for a cooking demo to learn more.

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