Vegan Cooking Class Now Available at Main General Medical Center

Maine cookbook author Colin McCullough is no stranger to teaching cooking classes that often don’t have stoves, ovens or even running water. His typical place is the library. But this summer, his classroom has improved significantly. Mr. McCullough teaches a series of plant-based classes at the Peter He Alfond Center for Prevention & Wellness at the Main General Medical Center in Augusta.

With state-of-the-art classroom kitchens, the facility “has everything I could ask for,” says McCullough, author of 2019’s The Healthy Vegan Cookbook.

MaineGeneral Medical Center is known for providing menus for both patients and visitors based on evidence-based nutritional science, high in whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, sugars and animal supported a dietary pattern of low added processed meats. The hospital has been serving vegan and vegetarian food for many years. MaineGeneral also participates in Health Care Without Harm’s national Healthy Food in Health Care initiative, which supplies locally sourced vegan food to hospitals. Cooking classes offered by the center often include vegan and vegetarian recipes, but McCullough’s class will be the first to offer entirely plant-based cooking.

McCullough’s first class took place on May 16, and the recipe he taught (Cuban black bean burger, Italian vegetable sausage, eggless mayonnaise) can be found in The Healthy Vegan Cookbook. Future classes will focus on Thai cuisine (June 20th) and hearty summer salads (July 5th). Later in the season, I will be teaching a short series on Meatless Mondays and another series on vegan air fryer cooking.

“Meatless Mondays are packed with seasonal ingredients and less complicated recipes that I’ve tried and liked,” McCullough told me. “This program aims to help people learn how to cook.

Classes are limited to 8 students and start at 5:30pm. By 7:00 pm the group sits down and eats the food they just prepared.Class ends at 7:30pm

McCullough, who grew up in Hollis and now lives in Farmingdale, adopted a vegan diet in 1995. He lived away from Maine for many years, but before returning from Massachusetts in 2020, he began teaching cooking classes at a Massachusetts library. He has been on Holistic Holidays at Sea Cruises.

In Maine, I discovered that local libraries often have limited budgets to spend on community education, so I was excited to learn about community cooking classes being held in the education kitchen at the Peter Alfond Center for Prevention and Healthy Living. Did. He contacted chef instructor Benjamin Ramsdell.

“I jumped at the chance to have someone with that lifestyle tell me about it,” Ramsdell said. “Many people have asked me about vegetarian and vegan classes.

In addition to a variety of cooking classes, the center also offers classes in chronic disease management, physical exercise programs (such as yoga, kettlebells, and Nordic walking), and mind and body (such as guided imagery and expressive arts). Many attendees are referred by a doctor, but community members are also welcome to join. Prices for cooking classes vary. Mr. McCullough’s class fee is $20 per his session.

McCullough credits his two children, now in their 20s, with teaching him how to make plant-based meals that are quick, affordable, and delicious.

“There have certainly been times when I didn’t have the money to go to the supermarket and buy what I wanted,” McCullough said. “I go into the pantry and there’s canned beans and quinoa. I have all these random ingredients and my kids sit there and go hungry and make something really good.” And back in the day, convenience foods didn’t have many vegan options.”

Now he shares his simple techniques and recipes with others.

“Even the best intentions of eating healthy can all feel like a burden when you have to spend hours in the kitchen,” says McCullough. “One of my favorite things about teaching him in person is making these recipes in front of people. I love it.”

Avery Yale Kamila is a food writer living in downtown Portland. You can contact her by: [email protected]

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