Five of the best healthy cooking courses for 2016

Looking for a healthy start to 2016? Try one of these cooking courses in the UK and learn more about meat-free cooking, how to make healthy Italian dishes and how to look after your gut

Abbey Home Farm: Natural Kitchen Cookery Course

Sign up for this three-day veggie cooking course, on a 1600-acre organic farm in the Cotswolds, and with the help of US-born vegetarian chef and cookery teacher Erin Baker you can expand your meat-free repertoire, using plant-based and farm-produced dairy ingredients.


Lessons kick off with green smoothies and healthy brunches, followed by salads for all seasons and soulful soups using homemade stock. For more sophisticated meals a lesson in five-course fine dining follows (with tips on timings and presentation) as well as instruction on pepping up vegetarian Sunday roasts. Time outside the kitchen includes a tour of the organic garden, with advice about seasonality and growing your own micro greens.

After all that wholesome food (and homemade cordials) you should also return home well-rested, having slept in bedrooms built from timber and spent time looking out for local wildlife from the accommodation’s south-facing veranda -or relaxing by the wood-burning stove.

15 – 17 January 2016; theorganicfarmshop.co.uk

Trill Farm: Living Nutrition Cookery Course

On a bucolic 300-acre organic farm, cradled by the rolling hills of Devon, Romy Fraser (who founded holistic beauty range Neals Yard) offers seasonal weekend courses on Living Nutrition: what you should eat when – and why – to boost your immunity and sort out your gut. Learn about the food you can forage, grow, cook and eat at this time of year. And then cook and eat it before bedding down in a stylishly converted stable block in the farmyard (rooms are shared). 

The concept here is learning to cook for your body, in harmony with nature and the seasons and courses are led by award-winning chef and author Daphne Lambert (who ran an organic restaurant in Welsh borders for 30 years). The next one takes place in spring and focuses on the connection between soil biodiversity and gut biodiversity: pick leaves in the veg garden, forage in the hedgerows then cook all the meals together from hearty soups to desserts.

Communal is key here: breakfast at a big table in front of the woodburner in the stable block features the farm’s freshly pressed apple juice, honey, jams and eggs. 

15 – 17 April 2016; Trillfarm.co.uk

La Cucina Caldesi: New Food, New You

Stalwart foodies Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi opened their London cooking school, La Cucina Caldesi (others have since opened), in 2005 following the success of their adjacent Caffe Caldesi (an informal restaurant offering traditional and regional Italian cooking). Keeping up with the times, their one-day New Food, New You course focuses on healthy alternatives to hearty Italian dishes, with guidance on wheat-free, low-sugar and veg-packed dishes.

Each one is run by Katie Caldesi, and includes demonstrations on how to make almond milk, how to sweeten cakes with dates and the lowdown on dishes such as beetroot and apple patties, courgetti with a raw roman sauce, lagana (baked crisp breads) with a hot fish pickle, a wheat-free chocolate ‘mud’ cake made with sweet potato and black beans, and pizzas made with sweet potato bases.

This is a one day course, so no need to book expensive accommodation, and you’ll come away with plenty of tips on new trends, products and new adapted recipes according to diet and intolerances.

27 January 2016 in Buckinghamshire & 2 February 2016 in London; caldesi.com

Demuths: Feel Good Food and Nutrition for a Healthy New Year

Arguably the best-known veggie cooking school in the country, Demuths doesn’t rest on its laurels. In this of-the-moment course nutritionist Monika Jakiel-Rusin runs through healthy meal planning as well as a range of healthy and delicious recipes. A one-day class, it combines hands-on sessions and demonstrations and covers recipes such as ‘super’ soups, green pea carbonara with kelp noodles, veggie wraps and vegan rice pudding. In a hefty nod to reality snacks aren’t totally forbidden here: participants also learn how to make green smoothies, buckwheat blinis, kale crisps and energy balls. 

24 January 2016; demuths.co.uk

Leiths: Veg Heaven – Small Plates and Street Food with David Bailey

Proving that healthy cooking doesn’t mean ladles of lentils, this course at Leiths School of Food & Wine, in London, focuses on street food, in various wholesome guises. It’s led by British Street Food Awards winner David Bailey, known for his Buddha Bowls (boxes full of noodles, pickles, curry and vegetables). David travels the country in his Buddha Bowl Van dishing out vegan street food and he brings what he’s learnt to the tables at Leith on this half-day course (as well as his classic chef’s training), creating one of the most flavour-packed healthy menus you’ll try all month. Typical dishes include gyoza dumplings, vegan massaman curry, root vegetable and kimchi pickle and steamed black sesame and peanut sweet dumplings. If that doesn’t get you signing up for a fresh food start, we don’t know what will.

13 January 2016; leiths.com

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