Welcome back! If you’re just joining in, check out my recap from Week 1 here.
If you are interested in learning more about the Plantlab Culinary Level 1 Raw Course, then read on! Attending the Venice location? Here are a few things I learned after being here for a week.
- I didn’t think I would need a car, but I was wrong. I ended up renting one from Enterprise, and it’s super convenient to have to run to the grocery store, the beach or explore the area.
- If you can swing finding a place within walking distance to the school, I would highly suggest it. The weather is gorgeous in LA and you will want to soak up any time you can walking around the area!
Level 1 Raw Plantlab Course Weeks 2 & 3 Highlights
Just when I thought my experience at Plantlab couldn’t get any better, the course and the instructors continue to exceed my expectations!
Day 6: Knife skills, lesson on sprouting, coconut demo, sesame noodles w/ almond chili sauce, CYO ice cream project
One week of knife skills down, one more week to go! As I mentioned in my week 1 recap, this is not my favorite part of class, but it is essential to the chef practice.
Today we had a lesson on sprouting and began the sprouting process! Did you know that sprouting increase the bioavailability of the nutrients? Micro-greens (the end result of the sprouted seed) pack a huge nutrition punch and are excellent to add as a garnish, on salads, or in a wrap.
We also made sesame noodles with an almond chili sauce and tamari almonds that was out of this world. I am a sucker for any kind of Thai sauce and this recipe was packed with flavor!
Tip: Use vegetable noodles for a gluten-free, nutritious “pasta”! You can create noodles out of zucchini, carrots and even sweet potatoes using a vegetable peeler, mandolin or spiralizer.
At the end of the night, we were presented our week’s project – create your own ice cream flavor! My partner, Chelsea, and I decided on a lavender blueberry ice cream with candied almonds.
Day 7: knife skills, kimchi dumplings w/ ginger sesame foam, fruit carpaccio w/ star anise syrup & vanilla ice cream
Today we made a kimchi dumpling dish that was almost too pretty to eat (ALMOST). The wrappers were a vibrant green thanks to the cilantro juice and the sesame ginger foam with the purple cabbage puree took this dish to the next level. I am continually impressed as I learn how fresh foods, technique and a whole lot of patience can create such a stunning dish!
For dessert, we also made a fruit carpaccio with apple, a star anise syrup and vanilla ice cream – oh, do they know the way to my foodie heart!
Day 8: knife skills, tostadas w/ guacamole & cacao mole
The star of today’s class was the raw/vegan/gourmet twist on a naked burrito bowl (one of my favorites!). We made a delicious spread of tostadas, oyster mushrooms, cacao mole (game changer!), sour cream, cabbage slaw, Pico de Gallo, guacamole and pickled jicama to assemble into a deconstructed tostada plate.
As we were sitting around enjoying our meal, I heard almost all of us saying how full we were, yet we kept digging in and before you knew it, our plates were clean.
Did you know that mushrooms are an excellent source of B vitamins (an energy-boosting nutrient)? By simply marinating raw mushrooms in an acid (usually a citrus juice and/or tamari), they become packed with flavor and are delicious as is!
Day 9: knife skills, flat bread w/ zucchini hummus, banana bread
One of the things that I love most about the recipes in this class is the way they sneak in veggies everywhere! The flatbread we made today was a combination of zucchini, lemon juice, nuts and ground flaxseed.
Tip: In vegan cooking, a flax egg can be substituted for eggs as a binding agent. To make a flax egg, combine 3 Tablespoons of water with 1 Tablespoon ground flaxseed and set aside until it forms a paste-like texture.
I LOVE banana bread, so I was super excited when this recipe was on the lecture board. I’ve learned that in vegan (and especially raw) cooking, it’s important to manage expectations of what you will be tasting. For example, the banana bread was delicious, but if you had in mind a fluffy, moist, cake-like texture, that’s not what you’re going to get!
Day 10: mid-term knife skills practical and written test, seaweed salad, CYO ice cream taste testing
The day is here… mid-term! We had 2.5 hours to complete our knife skills practical and written exam (which we went over the day before, so we were all guaranteed to pass).
Afterwards, we assembled the seaweed salad (I have a new love for wakame, a mild seaweed) and tasted everyone’s ice cream creations. Ours turned out to be more of a milkshake texture, but it tasted delicious!
Day 11: cacao lecture, fermented cheese, cacao truffles, zucchini tartare
A new day, a new week! I can’t believe we are already halfway through the program. The time has gone by so fast!
Alice, one of the Plant Lab instructors and chocolatier, gave us a cacao lecture. I’ve always wondered how white chocolate is made and learned that it’s the result of cacao butter (the liquid fat from the cacao bean), sweetener, vanilla, salt and usually some form of protein powder.
Raw cacao is a true superfood and helps reduce the effects of aging, lowers blood pressure, relieves the syptoms of PMS and is a natural anti-depressant. All cacao beans are harvested by hand, so it’s important to always buy fair trade chocolate products.
Today’s dinner was the zucchini tartar and again, I am amazed at how such simple ingredients can balance each other to result in a satisfying and nutritious meal! We also started the cheese making process for this week’s cheese plate presentations (yay!!).
Day 12: homemade chocolate chips, buckwheat granola, banana pancakes
If I could have the banana pancakes that we made in class today for every breakfast, I would be one happy camper. I can’t even begin to put into words how delicious they were (and beautiful!). The slight chewiness of the pancakes with the freshness of the fruit, topped with the chai cream… mm mm mmmmm!
Today we also created our own granola for the yogurt parfaits.
Tip: Soak dried fruit before adding to the granola to-be-baked for a slightly chewier texture.
I loved the one-on-one time with the instructors to discuss the components of our cheese plate presentations. I had two ideas going into the meeting and they challenged me to choose the one that was more out-of-the-box and had a story behind it. I’ll share more at day 15!
Day 13: class trip to the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, bahian style soup
The Santa Monica Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays is a magical experience. It is the market that most restaurants frequent to source fresh ingredients and rightfully so, because it is huge! We took a class field trip to hand pick any fresh ingredients we might need for Friday’s presentation.
Later in class we made a bahaian style soup that was full of nourishing ingredients including coconut milk, carrot juice, avocado and fresh herbs.
Tip: When making raw soups, blend on HIGH for a minute or so to “warm up” the soup.
Day 14: whole avocado salad, chocolate chip cookies
Chocolate chip cookies. Need I say more? They were so good I ate about half of them in class.
The whole avocado salad was to practice our plating skills for the cheese plate presentation and it was gorgeous (and yummy – especially with the miso tahini dressing!). The bulk of the class today was spent prepping ingredients for tomorrow’s cheese plate presentations.
Day 15: cheese plate presentations, yogurt parfait assembly
It’s time to show off our hard work! For today’s cheese plate presentation we were able to invite friends and family and I was so excited to share with my mom and bestie, Malia, a little slice of what I’ve experienced the past few weeks.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you a plate inspired by my favorite sandwich – an apple grilled cheese on cinnamon raisin bread! My plate consisted of a cheddar cheese and herb cheese, chia crackers, bread, pickled raisins, candied spiced walnuts, shaved apples, an apple pie sauce and grated dehydrated black olive.
As I was plating my cheese plate, I started to get overwhelmed with emotion. I was anxious because I wanted to perfect it, excited because I was able to share my hard work with others and so incredibly proud because the plate was a representation of me, my vision and time put into each component of the dish. What a way to end the week!
Other LA Wanderings
- Barry’s Bootcamp – I can’t get enough of this workout. It took a few classes to get into the groove, but I always left feeling so strong and motivated.
- Pilates Platinum – I love switching up my workouts and this place is where it’s at for an incredible all-over workout with an emphasis on core strength. The machine is intimidating at first, but the instructors are great at making you feel comfortable!
- Escondido Falls Hike – This hike was worth the 45-minute drive from Venice. It was a woodsy hike, but it felt like we were in the mountains. Pre-hike warning: If you plan to hike to the second fall, be prepared to get DIRTY.
- Café Gratitude – when the girls were here, we visited this place TWICE since they loved it so much! I got the corn chowder and chickpea quiche (both were out of this world) and the chill shot made with CBD oil. It felt like I had gotten a massage – very calming!
- Pressed Juicery – finally made it to get my freeze on! Their vanilla bean freeze with strawberries and almond butter drizzle was a delicious (and nutritious) afternoon treat.
- Wabi Venice – although I didn’t get to try the sushi, we stopped here for drinks on the way to dinner on Saturday and I ordered the Lychee Cocktail. It was fantastic, however, if I went again I would love to try the Yoga Pants cocktail.
- Gjelina – a Venice must for the foodie at heart. I visited this restaurant twice (both for birthday celebrations) and the food is out of this world. I got a taste of the roasted Japanese eggplant, burrata and peach salad, squash blossom pizza, grilled squid, mushroom toast (a must!) and the butterscotch pot de crème (also a must!).
- Erewhon Market – I was resisting this place because I knew it could break the bank, but with a weekend to myself, my curiosity got the best of me. This place is a dream – everything is so fresh and there are endless healthy options here!
See you in Week 4 🙂