Japanese Brooklynite Presents Heart-Healthy Cooking Class

In a world of fast foods, frozen dinners and rushed meals, cooking skills aren’t always easy to come by. That’s why if you’re looking to impress friends or family with culinary competence, it’s handy to know people like Japan-native Shiho Anai, who for a year now has been hosting weekly cooking lessons at either her home or that of her friends in Brooklyn, New York. Her classes come with a fee, but they are more than affordable considering Anai herself provides the groceries to make sure you’re equipped with the right ingredients.

On the evening I attended one of her classes, the dinner menu consisted of Japanese-style curry rice with ground beef (an easy-to-make classic in many Asian households), onion soup with parsley, coleslaw salad made with cabbage, corn and carrots, and a hearty heap of fresh strawberries and grapes.

Cole slaw salad

Cole slaw salad

Curry rice with ground beef

Curry rice with ground beef

When determining her menus, Anai welcomes customer requests, but usually adds a touch or two from the eclectic world of Japanese cuisine.

“I have two main cooking classes – a vegetable cooking class and a Japanese cooking class,” she said. “I want to teach people how easy, simple and delicious cooking with vegetables can be, and I want to share with others the happiness that can come out of making your own Japanese food at home, even when there is such an abundance of Japanese restaurants in New York.”

The daughter of a chef and restaurant owner in Japan, Anai credits her cooking skills to her father. “I grew up watching him cook for his job, and he taught me what he knew for more than ten years,” she said, adding, “I like cooking, but I like eating much more!”

Attendee Raymond Mongroo, who met Anai through activities hosted by a kimono-renting boutique he manages, said, “I enjoyed the cooking class. I’m from Trinidad, and I’m used to cooking the Indian type of curry, so this kind of curry rice was different. Shiho is very health conscious and it reflects in her ingredient choices and cooking style. This was my first time cooking with her, and I plan to participate again in her upcoming vegetable cooking class.”

Anai is one to instruct via actions rather than words as English is her second language, but she’s quick to smile and even quicker to chat, especially if you know a bit of Japanese.

“I enjoyed the cooking class very much,” said Cherise Chen, another first-time attendee and a coworker of Mongroo. “The food was great! Shiho’s approach of eating more healthy is unique, and it is something I really want to learn. She’s a very patient teacher, but I hope she would teach us what to do more than doing most of the cooking herself.”

The class is open to Anai’s friends and friends of friends.

Shiho Anai (second from the left) with Cherise Chen (center), Raymond Mongroo (far right) and other cooking class participants.

Shiho Anai (second from the left) with Cherise Chen (center), Raymond Mongroo (far right) and other participants.

“I came to New York in 2008 and fell in love with the city’s majestic energy,” she said. “I would often go to restaurants, sample foods there and then try to recreate the recipes at home. I’ve taught about 50 people this past year, and it’s my dream to open a small cafe where I’d serve salad with homemade dressing and a myriad of desserts.”

As a parting gift, Anai handed out servings homemade vegan chocolate-chip biscotti, which she had divided into individual servings and neatly packaged in pink wrapping paper. You’d be struck with how much of a sweetheart she is.

The Karada Detox Program

In terms of her diet, Anai follows a lifestyle plan provided by Karada (“Body”) Detox, a New York-based health program that provides “premier personal diet coaching, as well as fitness training that aids individuals in obtaining the proper knowledge base to guide them to a healthy, beautiful, fit, and happy mind and body,” according to Karada Detox’s website, www.karadadetox.com.

Those on the Karada Detox program consume “green juice” in the morning (example: kale, spinach, apple, ginger, celery), fruit and salad for lunch and salad with either fish or chicken for dinner – never pork or beef. When asked how long the program is, Anai wowed us with her answer of “three years,” and proceeded to explain that Karada Detox is more a decision to live with a better consciousness about health and happiness than to assume a temporary change in diet. The following is her testimonial about Karada Detox:

“I had major problems with acne and constipation. I went to see a dermatologist and took the medicine that was prescribed, but it never really worked.  After I tried the Karada Detox program, I realized I had been doing it all wrong. I was treating it from the outside. Within three months of doing the KD program and detoxing the internal terrain of my body, my acne go so much better and the constipation issue cleared in a day! I really learned how important it is to eat clean food and release wastes quickly from the body. I feel really good everyday, and confident about myself. Since I love to cook and learned how amazingly tasty fruits and vegetables are, I started making my own detox recipes!”

To sign up for Anai’s cooking classes, please contact her at shiho@ccaweb.com. Recipes, food photos and more cooking class information will be posted on her blog at kitchencovo.tumblr.com.

For a better taste (no pun intended) of what Anai has to offer, here are additional (and more professional) pictures of her cooking:

Parsley hummus

Parsley hummus

Hijiki salad with tahini dressing

Hijiki salad with tahini dressing

Indian chickpea and chicken stew

Indian chickpea and chicken stew

Lemon and rosemary chicken

Lemon and rosemary chicken

Zucchini pasta salad

Zucchini pasta salad

Quinoa tabouleh salad

Quinoa tabouleh salad

Strawberry cream parfait

Strawberry cream parfait

Raw strawberry cake and raw chocolate cake

Raw strawberry cake and raw chocolate cake

Vegan coconut ball cookies

Vegan coconut ball cookies