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Local group hosts a vegan cooking class

If you go

• What: Vegan cooking class

• When: 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday

• Where: Loving Hut Restaurant, 6385 Spalding Drive, Norcross

• Cost: $5 per person

• For more information: Visit soul2souleducare.org or email Neeta Sanders at soul2soul@bellsou...

NORCROSS -- Eating vegan doesn't mean eating dirt and grass. There are plenty of flavorful options without using meat or meat products if you know where to start. For those interested in learning a couple of new recipes, Soul2Soul Educare is teaching a vegan cooking class on Saturday at Norcross' vegan restaurant Loving Hut.

"A lot of people these days are turning vegetarian or vegan for health reasons," Chef Neeta Sanders said. "Some people will try the food and say, 'I felt better and have more energy. That gets them to come back because the food tastes good. There's not a lot places where you can get a mix of cuisine like we have -- it's a little exotic."

This month's theme is "Tempting Thai Tempeh Tastes" and the class will learn how to prepare Thai tempeh with quinoa and pad Thai noodles with tempeh.

"Every class (once every two months), I choose a different topic and the menu revolves around some topic," Sanders said. "It's been cold out, so I wanted to make some warming food -- Thai food is warm. And then I thought of peanuts, which are also warm. Both the dishes have a peanut aspect to it."

Besides watching a cooking demo, Sanders gives a mini-health seminar. She talks in detail about the health benefits of the key ingredients in the recipes, plus what's going on in the food industry.

"I talk to people to eat healthier especially when they turn vegan or vegetarian," she said. "I do a lot of meat substitutions while people transition to the new diet. We teach them where to shop and buy the stuff."

Sanders conducts these classes because she wanted to educate people more than anything.

"I want them to feel that vegetarian can be delicious," she said. "A lot of the kids are becoming vegetarian. I want to give them options besides eating sandwiches or pasta. These meals are quick to prepare and easy. I want them to know that they can have gourmet food and it is easy to prepare in your own kitchen."

The next class is "Curious Curry Creations" on April 14.