Yesterday, I had
the pleasure of spending my afternoon learning about a great non-profit
organization,  while being presented with a demo from Top
Chef Season 5 Winner and owner of The
Little Beet
Chef Franklin Becker and Chef Emily Wilson from the online
menu-planning program, Cooking Planit!
The focus of
this event was to bring awareness to the nutritional requirements of children
with Autism and other special needs. founder, Debbie Stone has a 12
year old son who is autistic as well and through years of trial and error has
seen the benefits of a healthy diet in her sons progress.  Children with Autism and other special needs
are often hypersensitive to certain ingredients in their foods, (i.e., gluten),
and those sensitivities can translate into marked behavior changes.
Chef Franklin
Becker, the father of a son who is on the autistic spectrum taught a group of
kids and parents how to create easy, family and allergy friendly holiday meal,
using some recipes from his new book, Good Fat Cooking. These recipes are also located
on the website for Cooking Planit which allows users to customize meals based on
ingredients, cuisine, including omitting ingredients for those with food
Chef Becker
demoed an amazing Acorn squash soup with toasted pistachios and a crouton
made of pumpernickel bread. He suggested many uses for the squash other than soup
such as roasting, and omitting the liquid and just eat it as a nice puree or
using that puree as a sauce over pasta.

Next, he showed
the group how simple it and cost effective it was to break down a whole chicken
and the many recipes you can use with each part of the chicken. He then demoed
how he prepares his herbaceous roasted chicken. I must say this was one of the
most flavorful and moist pieces of chicken I ever had!  As a side dish he prepared another recipe
from his cookbook, roasted potatoes. Everything was great and packed full of
simple flavors. What I loved most about attending this workshop was the
participation from kids who are members of the community. Chef Becker
took a hands on approach which, I learned from working in a school with
children who have autism and other special needs gives them a sense of
ownership, empowerment and gives them the feeling that they can do things just
like other kids.

Also, there
were beverages provided by a new company called Mamma Chia, “an organic chia-based food & beverage company based in San
Diego making products that are Fun for Your Mouth & Great for Your Body!” I
sampled the Blackberry Hibiscus Chia infused drink. I was a little apprehensive
at first because I’m not a fan of having pulp or textures like that in my
beverages but the flavor allowed me to look past that. It was not overly sweet and
the health benefits of Chia seeds are exceptional.
I took away so much from attending this workshop
that I will use when teaching for the non-profit, Wellness in the Schools, that
I currently work for.
Shani H. Porter
The 71atechef
Personal Chef/Food Stylist