Kook Cooks

Vegan – As Easy as You Want

Drop that grilled cheese! Come to Ozark Natural Foods in October for my introduction to essential vegetarianism, “Vegan – As Easy As You Want.”

Ben Pollock, May 2010
The cook, May 2010,
Chotkowski Gardens, Fayetteville

Although I’m primarily a wordsmith, by my eyes I’m a foodie. Thus, I’ve offered to teach three 90-minute cooking sessions at the ONF Conference Center, east of the store and also in Evelyn Hills Shopping Center. The classes will be 6-7:30 p.m. on Oct. 10, 17 and 24, a Thursday. The classes are free, focusing roughly on breakfast, lunch and dinner with tips liberally sprinkled.

This is a small classroom so reservations are a must. To register, contact ONF Community Outreach Coordinator Heather Artripe by her email or phone the store (479) 521-7558.

Those who consider making dramatic changes in diet have many reasons, from concern for the planet and love of animals to assorted health issues or simply trying to trim down.

As I wrote previously in Brick, my cholesterol began climbing when I was in my 20s so I started being careful, then in 1990 I cut out red meat and poultry. My doctor still had to put me on Lipitor about 10 years later. Yet, last June he took me off statin medications completely. That’s because my blood levels dropped about half what they had been, just three months after I cut out the last animal products, eggs and dairy. And I’m 25 pounds lighter than a year ago.

I am chief cook here at Shady Hill manse and always have been fascinated by food and nutrition. In fact, I dropped out of journalism to run a bed-and-breakfast outside Eureka Springs with My Beloved for a whole year, 1998.

October’s three sessions of ‘Vegan: As Easy As You Want’ will cover basic recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner plus tips on snacking, restaurants and travel.

My primary resource for my syllabus has been the “21-Day Vegan Kickstart” program of the Washington-based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. It has a website,, a free smartphone app and a book by PCRM founder Dr. Neal Barnard.

To get started, I followed Kickstart’s interactive online program April 1-21. It restarts on the first day of every month. My class can be used to prep for the three-week vegan challenge beginning Nov. 1 or Dec. 1. You could wait for the the traditional Jan. 1 start of new habits, but why not this year?

My recipes come from many sources and I’ve adapted them for convenience and budget. There’s two reasons my favorite ONF aisles are the bulk ones. They’re freshness and price. Plus, you can buy a tablespoon of a spice blend for one new recipe, see if you like it, or a cup of an unusual or expensive grain, see if it finds favor in your household.

I will be posting recipes, links to helpful articles at the Vegan, Softly page.

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