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‘The Healthy Gourmet’

Rosenberg teaches healthy can be tasty.

Sheila Rosenberg

Sheila Rosenberg Photo Contributed

“Cooking is such a wonderful way to show people that you care and love them — and I want to be a part of it.” These were words written in a letter to “The Healthy Gourmet” Sheila Rosenberg of Potomac. Rosenberg is now in her 8th year of teaching friends (and their friends) that cooking is a skill one can learn — and that “healthy” does not mean the foods are bland, uninteresting and uninviting. Exactly the opposite — Rosenberg delights her students with her ingenuity, creativity and passion for making a meal appetizing and tasty — yet low in calories, high in presentation — and nourishing as well.

“My classes highlight the cuisines of different cultures and countries. I love to research recipes, ingredients and nutritious food. I teach that colorful foods are good for you — as are grains and lentils. I give my students articles about the unique ingredients and recipes we use, and tell them where they can purchase them. After I instruct them in a technique, I love to see them all involved in practicing the skills and cooking healthy dishes. My classes include a demonstration, but much of the class is hands-on — and then we enjoy our masterpieces.” The best part about the class is enjoying the fruits — as well as the tasty results — of their labor.

In addition to teaching her cooking classes, Rosenberg is also a personal chef. A personal chef sounds like a luxury, but in terms of nutrition, fitness and a healthy lifestyle, a chef might be a necessity. Her clients hire her for various reasons. Some don’t like to cook or don’t have the time for planning or shopping because they are working long hours or traveling for business. However, they want to be certain that their family consumes healthy meals. Other clients require vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, diabetic or other types of meals — and are unable to manage their dietary requirements on their own. Sometimes, elderly clients need her to deliver meals to them because they are unable to cook for themselves.

“I always conduct a personal interview for my classes as well as for those whom I cook for. There are so many different food allergies and requirements that I need to be concerned about if I include someone in my class or as a personal chef client. I find interesting substitutions to meet all dietary needs. For example, an excellent substitute for dairy is cashew cream. It is delicious and very easy to make.”

Rosenberg welcomes students to her spacious kitchen or instructs groups in a client’s home. She also loves teaching cooking classes for children. “I was an over-weight teenager,” said Rosenberg. “I went to Weight Watcher’s and lost 35 pounds. Now I am big into exercise. The trick is to weight control is to be mindful — it’s all about balancing the calories and the exercise. I love teaching kids about nutrition and cooking techniques. So many children have to make their own meals because mom and/or dad are at work. It is wonderful to see how they master cooking skills — and how they learn what is good for them and what is not good to eat. They often advise their parents and even help them do their grocery shopping. Feeling confident in the kitchen will serve them well throughout their lives.”

She continues, “Childhood obesity is a huge health issue today. I find that if children learn to cook, they are empowered. They see cooking as fun and not a chore. It sends a powerful message when parents let them plan for healthy eating, then shop and prepare their own food. In addition, modeling healthy eating behavior is also important for children.”

Nancy McManus, one of Rosenberg’s “Merry-Go-Round Farm” neighbors has been a cooking class student and also a recipient of her personal chef talents. “Sheila has cooked for many years for me — and boy, am I a spoiled woman,” she states. “Cooking is such a joy for her — she truly has a gift. She can whip together the most delicious meal — and it seems so effortless. She’s the first one I call when people are coming from out of town. ‘Help me,’ I say in a panic — and she always comes up with wonderful dishes — even if it’s last minute. Her cooking classes are amazing. She uses such a variety of ingredients from numerous stores you would never think to go to — and everything is just delicious.” One of her favorites from Sheila is her Old English pudding.

Rosenberg is constantly researching nutrition and recipes for the classes. Some of her favorite sources are the “Barefoot Contessa” cookbooks (she has them all) and the Food Network. Giada De Laurentiis is one of her favorite chefs.

To find out more about “The Healthy Gourmet” cooking classes, or Rosenberg’s personal chef expertise, contact her at sheilaqbella@gmail.com.