Cooking healthy with Jason Wrobel

Chef Jason Andrew Wrobel

Dietary choices can be perplexing. Do we choose a plant-based or meat-based diet? Paleo or vegan diet? Ketogenic or Mediterranean diet? Grains on no grains? Dairy or no dairy? The list goes on. It’s enough to make our minds spin. Still, eating healthy is vitally important for our mind and body.

To the rescue is the Wanderlust Yoga Festival — not just about yoga, but food, too. New this year is the “Find Your True Fork” food series. It features chefs and speakers who offer their insights and perspectives on diet, eating healthy, sustainability and whole foods, as well as offer cooking tips and recipes.

“Chefs in general are busy. By the time we get home, we make sad chef meals. I grill veggies and tempeh with quinoa and it takes 15 minutes.”
– Jason Wrobel

The image of an ancient yogi meditating in a cave, living on nettles and vegetables might come to mind. Yoga and food have a long relationship, whether it’s eating vegetarian, being mindful of the foods we eat or delving in to the ancient science of Ayurveda, a holistic healing system. Most yoga practitioners are conscious about the food they consume.

Chef Seamus Mullen

Hero foods

Three top chefs are speaking at Wanderlust this year. Each brings his relationship with food to the forefront. Chef Seamus Mullen is an award-winning New York chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, and health and wellness expert. He was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease, not long after he opened his first restaurant. His illness forced him to rethink his relationship with food and inspired his first cookbook, “Seamus Mullen’s Hero Food: How Cooking with Delicious Things Can Make Us Feel Better.” Through diet and exercise, Mullen has been able to successfully manage his disease. He will give two talks on the benefits of healing foods.

Sustainable foods

Chef Kevin Callaghan is one of the nation’s leading advocates of sustainable food and local farms and founder of Acme Food & Beverage, Co. in Carrboro, N.C. His work maintains deep connections to the traditional food of the American South. Callaghan will give two talks during Wanderlust. The first will focus on how home cooks can learn to think like a pro. He’ll offer the fundamentals of cooking techniques and straightforward tips. The second talk will highlight the art of food preservation and its health benefits and the nourishing effect of shopping locally for peak, in-season produce. Callaghan does the food programming for Wanderlust and the Farm to Table dinners.

Go vegans

Chef Jason Andrew Wrobel has been a vegan for the last 20 years. He watched his grandfather battle cancer and it changed his perspective.

“There was a nonchalant attitude: the get old, get a disease and die,” says Wrobel, adding it didn’t bode well with him because at the time he wasn’t the healthiest of eaters. “I started to look at my eating habits. I eliminated toxic foods and replaced them with something better.”

Wrobel went to culinary school and started his career catering and being a personal chef, eventually becoming a vegan chef. It was social media — Twitter, Facebook and YouTube — and television that changed his life. Wrobel currently stars in the Cooking Channel show, “How to Live To 100,” featuring mouth-watering gourmet vegan recipes. In a Sunwarrior.com series of “Vegan Vigilante,” Wrobel heads to The 99 Cents Only Store and tries to make a healthy vegan meal from the items purchased there.

Wrobel has three e-cookbooks and two printed books. “Eaternity” is his latest cookbook and features 150 nutritious and delicious plant-based recipes such as creamy asparagus risotto, spicy tortilla soup, buffalo cauliflower and warm, salted caramel waffles. He recently collaborated with Wanderlust and the “Find Your True Fork” cookbook, writing the vegan section.

“I need to bust the myth,” he says when asked what he eats. “Chefs in general are busy. By the time we get home, we make sad chef meals. I grill veggies and tempeh with quinoa and it takes 15 minutes.”

Wrobel makes sure to eat healthy with simple smoothies, salads and avocado toast —some of his go-to meals.

For information on “Vegan Vigilante,” visit sunwarrior.com/vegan-vigilante or visit his YouTube channel at youtube.com/jasonwrobeltv. For more information on Wanderlust, see the features in this edition or visit wanderlust.com/festivals/squaw-valley.

 

Jason Wrobel’s Black Bean Burgers

Courtesy Wrobeliving LLC
Serves 8

Crafting the perfect veggie burger is an art in itself. This bastion of health food has endured many iterations and variations over the years and yet, I always go back to a familiar combination: black beans, quinoa, potato, corn and carrot. These badass burgers are full of complete protein, B vitamins, vitamin A and dietary fiber — all of which are essential for muscle growth and nutrient absorption. Not to mention, their dense, meaty texture and hearty flavor will have burger aficionados giving you serious props on these patties.

One 15-ounce can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 C quinoa, cooked
1 carrot, peeled & grated
2 small potatoes, peeled & grated
½ C corn kernels, cooked
2-inch piece leek, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t ground cumin
½ t ground paprika
1/8 t cayenne pepper
¼ t sea salt
¼ t ground black pepper
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
8 gluten-free hamburger buns

Reserve the following for plating

1 tomato, sliced into rounds
½ red onion, sliced into rounds
2 C romaine lettuce, torn by hand
½ C ketchup
¼ C yellow mustard
¼ C vegan mayonnaise
½ C pickle slices

Transfer about a third of the black beans to a large bowl and lightly mash with a fork. Add the quinoa, carrot, potatoes, corn, leek, garlic, cumin, paprika, cayenne, sea salt and black pepper, and mix well. The bean mixture should be somewhat sticky. Divide the bean mixture into eight pieces, roll into balls and flatten to make patties.

Heat the olive oil in a nonstick frying pan. Fry the patties, flipping occasionally until cooked through with a nice brown coloring on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Serve patties on burger buns topped with tomato, onion, romaine lettuce, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise and pickles.

Jason’s tip: Top with sliced avocado for some healthy fats or give your burger an extra kick of flavor with some pickled jalapeno peppers.

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Priya Hutner

Priya Hutner is a writer, personal chef and meditation teacher. She writes feature articles about music, art, food and recreation. Priya loves to immerse in story. Whether jumping from a plane, eating obscure foods or hitting the Tahoe-Reno music scene, she is always up for adventure and experience.
Having moved to the mountains from Sebastian, Fla., she embraces the Tahoe lifestyle and loves to ski, hike, paddle and swim. Priya is the owner of the Seasoned Sage, a business that prepares organic meals and facilitates workshops that promote a health-conscious lifestyle.
She is currently writing a memoir about her experience living on an ashram and working on a series of cookbooks.
| priya@tahoethisweek.com