Food La La: Cooking with The Blonde Vegetarian

Jul. 6, 2015 | 0 Comments

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BY LINDSEY MURAOKA / Special to the Star-Advertiser

I recently spent some time learning how to cook raw Thai vegan dishes with Rebecca Woodland, also known as The Blonde Vegetarian. Woodland teaches weekly cooking classes at the Manoa School of Art & Music at Manoa Marketplace.

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Woodland first learned how to cook from her mother.

“She taught me the basics. She wasn’t a great cook but she was a good teacher,” she said. Her mother’s bad cooking is what motivated her to start cooking for her family when she was 14 and to eventually become a chef.

“However, I didn’t go to culinary school until I was 55, after writing two cookbooks.” said Woodland.

Being diagnosed with cancer in 1996 is what made Woodland decide to clean up her diet after going through surgery.

“I decided I was never going through that again.” said Woodland. “The benefits were so radical and noticeable on every level … appearance, health, and well-being.”

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Woodland loves to share what she’s learning and that’s why she decided to teach cooking classes.

“People think it’s difficult and time consuming to eat healthy,” she said. “I want to share my knowledge of food and simple, effective preparation techniques.”

Her mission is to teach people how to cook healthy and prepare delicious meals for themselves instead of being dependent on restaurants and packaged food.

The class was very fun and informative. I learned many new vegetable cutting and preparation techniques. I enjoy making raw dishes because it’s simple and there’s no actual cooking involved.

“It’s impossible to burn yourself,” joked Woodland.

We made four different dishes: Thai Celebration Salad, fresh pad thai, summer rolls with tamarind sauce and warm tapioca pearls with bananas. All ingredients were from the Manoa Farmer’s Market.

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The pad thai was fun to make because we used a spiralizer to make zucchini noodles. I love making noodles out of vegetables. I can’t wait to make this dish at home.

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Another reason I love raw dishes is because they’re so bright and colorful, which makes them very easy to photograph. The Thai Celebration Salad was sweet and tangy with a little bit of spice.

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This was my first time making spring rolls. I was very pleased that they came out so nice. The tamarind sauce was awesome. It’s bright, nutty and tangy. I would make this sauce just so I can pour it on top of everything.

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The tapioca pearls with banana was warm and comforting with just a little bit of sweetness from coconut sugar. Woodland showed us how to make it inside a rice cooker.

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Woodland teaches children’s classes during July on Mondays from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Cost is $35; adult classes are $50 with daytime classes and a possible evening class. Check her website for schedule and more details.
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Lindsey Muraoka blogs about all things vegetarian for the Pulse. Follow her on Twitter or email her at foodlalablog@gmail.com.

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