GreenAcres Market regularly offers the What’s For Dinner? Cooking Class Series with Leslie Stullken, Food Coach and owner of My Healthy Table. We sat down with Leslie for a quick Q & A session so you can get to know Leslie and discover how much the What’s For Dinner? classes can help you.
GreenAcres: First, what is your title of preference? Food Coach, Nutrition Counselor, Health Coach, Natural Foods Chef…?
Leslie Stullken: Food Coach! I teach people how to plan, shop and cook healthier meals, as well as, teaching solutions to issues surrounding food and what goes on around the table.
GreenAcres: What inspired you to become a Food Coach?
Leslie Stullken: I grew up in Western Kansas with things like homemade yogurt popsicles, buckwheat pancakes and vegetables at every meal. No junk food, sugary cereals or soda. Oh the deprivation of home cooked meals from scratch when my friends got Chips Ahoy cookies! But what embarrasses you most as a kid, becomes what you do for a living! My Grandpa was an organic farmer outside of Lawrence, Kansas. and my mom was always on the cutting edge of health and nutrition. The turning point to follow my passion was when my Mom was diagnosed with cancer and our family went to a nutrition class. The attendee’s were learning the chemistry of healing and healthy foods but didn’t know how to buy or cook them. I had been cooking since gradeschool and felt right at home. Four years ago I gained certification as a Holistic Health Coach thru the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City. I started My Healthy Table, to help people make the leap into healthier eating and learn to create quick, easy, healthy and tasty meals.
GreenAcres: In addition to the What’s For Dinner Class Series at GreenAcres Market, what other services do you provide as a Food Coach?
Leslie Stullken: I love doing Corporate Health & Wellness workshops, health fairs, group presentations and cooking demonstrations. Some of the topics I cover are
- What’s Sugar Got To Do With It?
- Healthy Holiday Eating
- Hotflash Cooking For Hormones and Health
- Greens, Grains & Beans-Tell Me More
- Got Cravings-Let’s Talk About It!
- Meal Planning Made Simple
I also offer a twist on dinner parties called “Friends Night In- An Evening of Healthy Eating.” I’ve done girls nights, couples, and co-workers and it’s a blast! I create a seasonal menu, grocery shop, and then set up cooking stations in their home, because the goal is- everyone’s in the kitchen learning! We create a delicious meal and talk about about health, nutrition and the foods we’re eating. Everyone leaves with recipes, information and sometimes, leftovers.
GA: It sounds fun!
LS: It’s so much fun to be creative and get the group to be interactive-because who wants to listen to another lecture! I’ve done groups from 6 to 90 and the topics can be anywhere from a 15 minute to ½ day, depending on the corporation and employee’s needs.
GreenAcres: What do you enjoy most about your profession?
Leslie Stullken:I love teaching and the interaction in my cooking classes, working with groups and doing presentations on food, food-related topics and sharing resources on how to buy local, seasonal, organic or clean foods. The real satisfaction comes from someone telling me how they’ve changed their diet, lost the weight, feel better, or feel more comfortable shopping for healthier food and are excited about cooking again! How cool is that! I
GreenAcres: What 3 specific things should everyone eat the most of?
Protein. You don’t need a lot but it’s the fuel that gets you going. Depending on the meal, it could be 2 Tablespoons of almond or all-natural peanut butter, 3-4 oz of pasture-raised, hormone and antibiotic free chicken, beef, turkey or pork, or ½ cup beans, the cleansing machines!
Dark Leafy Greens. These are some of nature’s best foods for us! I’m talking Kale, Spinach, Collards, Bok Choy, Tatsoi, Mustard, Dandelion to name a few. Many of us didn’t grow up with them and are hesitant to fix “greens”. But they’re super easy to make, packed with flavor and can used in everything from stir fry’s, soups, or just sauteed with a little olive oil, garlic, sea salt for adelicious side dish. Many leftover greens are wonderful in eggs for breakfast too!
Color. I know it sounds funny, but how many times have you looked at your plate of food and it was all the same shade! Go for at least 3 colors per meal! Aim for 5 or even 6! It’s easy when you have vegetables (tomato red, sweet potato orange, spinach green, sweet corn yellow, garlic white and all those greens), fruits (apple red, pear green, grapefruit pink, clementine orange, berries in crimson and blue) and grains (brown rice, yellow polenta, red quinoa, earth shades of buckwheat and millet) and don’t forget all those colorful beans (yellow split peas, white navy beans, black beans, red pinto beans, golden garbonzo’s, green lentils)! Bottom line: more color, means more nutrition, most of all, more yummy flavors!
GreenAcres: What is the easiest way to improve your eating habits?
Leslie Stullken: We all have hurdles-so ask for help! How many times have you bought a “highly recommended” fruit, vegetable, meat, grain-got it home and never used it?! My theory is: if you don’t know how to shop for it, how will you ever get it into your kitchen to cook it?
Have fun learning about healthier foods: Take a cooking class so you can try it before you buy it. Talk to the Produce Manager, the person behind the counter, the store staff, the grower at your Farmers Market-people love to share their information, knowledge, recipes and cooking ideas.
Hire a Food Coach to work with you, start a healthy-eating dinner club so everyone gets to try new foods or recipes. Once your palate starts to crave fresh grown foods, you stop craving the junk foods…and within a few weeks, I’ve seen people not even miss that stuff and instead, they’re excited about healthier eating!
GreenAcres: What is your number one tip for good health and nutrition?
Leslie Stullken: Eat a variety of foods! We all get bored with the same ol’ things in our fridge. That’s why I love eating “seasonal” foods-you get to change what you cook and eat winter, spring, summer and fall! And, your body will love eating the most nutritious food possible at the peak of it’s growing season!