Cook with Friends

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Cooking with Friends - web[The story you are about to read is true.  Only first names are used to protect the “plant-curious”.]

When Caroline and I learned that Dr. Michael Greger was coming to town, we were psyched!  But then, Caroline said these fateful words, “We should invite our friends!”  Do you, like me, get a little nervous about inviting relatives, neighbors, and friends to the vegan equivalent of a tent revival?  Do you worry that it’ll be too much, that your friends will never speak to you again?  Thank goodness that Caroline blew past my trepidation and took the initiative.  And four of our best friends joined us to hear the man himself.

Get Inspired

Wow, did Dr. Greger ever deliver.  He gave his latest talk, “More Than an Apple a Day”, the night before its official premiere at Vegetarian Summerfest.  With his rapid-fire delivery and animated slides, it was like watching a summer movie blockbuster.  In this case, he mowed down the bad guys of the standard American diet, and he rescued his audience from the jaws of chronic disease and early death.

Caroline and I debriefed with Susan, David, Nancy, and Mike in the lobby afterwards.  There was some discussion, but it was tough to gauge whether there was real interest or just polite good nature.  Caroline and I were truly inspired by Dr. Greger, but I wondered if our friends would respond.


Motivational speaker, Darren LaCroix, says, “If you take away my struggle, you take away my growth.”  Maybe it’s a necessary right-of-passage to struggle deeply when you first try to adopt a whole-food, plant-based diet.  And struggle our friends did.  It turned out that they had really absorbed and internalized Dr. Greger’s message.  They took the plunge completely on their own, without Caroline or me even being aware.  Our first clue came when Susan called to say that she and David were scouring the grocery store aisles.  They were searching for some organic produce and other whole foods – and “could you tell me where to find the nutritional yeast?”  She later told us that they were so exhausted from their hours-long grocery excursion that they were too tired to unload the bags when they first got home.  It was a struggle, but they had made their start!

The inspiration and motivation was there, but our friends needed help with the execution, with the day-to-day aspects.  And that’s where you and I can help others and really make a difference.

Get Together & Get Cooking

After some more discussion with the gang, we diagnosed one primary problem: they needed help making quick-and-tasty meals.  Sound familiar?  Our prescription was to host a cooking party.

Here’s how we organized ours:

  • Caroline chose Jeff Novick’s DVD, “Fast Food” as the educational centerpiece for the party.  In it, Jeff provides a template for making a large collection of everyday meals in 10 minutes or less using standard ingredients.  And there’s plenty of food left over for lunch the next day.
  • Everyone pitched in to bring the necessary ingredients to the party.  (Caroline had sent out an advance email with the list of needed goodies based on the recipe pages provided with the DVD).
  • We gathered on a Saturday and watched the DVD – with occasional pauses for comments and questions.  Next, we went into the kitchen and made a ton o’ food.  In about 30 minutes, we had cooked three ethnic variations of meals: Mexican, Indian, and Cajun.  That gave us a lot of variety to sample and enjoy.  We also made a couple desserts: dates stuffed with almond butter and mango-infused chocolate pudding.  Drool, drool.

Wrap It Up

Everyone took some yummy goodness home with them.  (Quick tip: make sure to have plenty of take-home containers on hand for your event).  The leftovers let our friends and us jump-start the week with healthy, delicious food that’s ready to simply “heat and eat”.  It proves the point that you can get multiple meals (and dessert) from just a little time in the kitchen.

I hope you’ll reach out to your friends and introduce them to some whole-food, plant-based meals.  Cooking with friends – great people, great laughs, great food!!  ‘Nuff said.

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