Healthy banana ice cream for breakfast. Caramelized popcorn on brownies. Visitors to the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF) were in for some sweet treats at the festival’s cookery program.
Jenna Zoe, author and founder of Foods to Love – an online health food shop – taught children that homemade banana ice cream is versatile, easy to make, delicious and above all healthy. Children chopped and purred frozen bananas and later added chocolate and strawberries to make different variants of the delicious dessert.
Zoe’s interest in nutrition started when she herself was suffering from hormonal imbalances, candida and acne. She went to a nutritionist who taught her that by making some dietary changes, she could fix her health problems. “When I was able to cure myself, I decided that I wanted to study nutrition and help others too,” she said.
Today, Zoe creates healthy alternative for snacks and treats and has even written a book about it. “There are many books about healthy dinners and lunches but we really do fall apart when it comes to snacking, that’s why I wrote the book ‘Super Healthy Snacks and Treats’,” she said. She emphasized that a little change to ingredients could result in a snack that’s delicious, healthy and satisfying. While she’s done many cooking demonstrations in the past, this is the first time that she’s worked with children. “It’s fun, chaotic and challenging,” she said, adding that she found that she had to simplify the language to children in a way that they could understand.
In another workshop and on a more decadent note, Will Torrent, author of ‘Patisserie at Home’ and the patisserie consultant to Waitrose from the UK, delighted visitors with his own twist on the traditional brownie. “Who says that brownies have to be square? Who’s to say that you can’t put caramelized popcorn on them for an extravagant twist,” said Torrent, who firmly believes in pushing the boundaries and not being afraid to be out of the box when it comes to preparing regular dishes.
In this case, the mouth-watering result was too irresistible. “We’ll put this now in the fridge and we can only eat it tomorrow,” he teased his audience who immediately responded with a ‘Noooo!’ Luckily for them, there actually was another brownie cake ready to be eaten. It’s that emotional journey that attracts Torrent to baking. “The joy, the unexplainable feeling, I’m changing the world through tasty desserts,” he quips.
Torrent trained under Heston Blumenthal at the age of 16 and has won the Young Chef of the Year award in 2009. He has also worked with top chefs such as Brian Turner CBE and Gary Rhodes. Jenna Zoe will have more workshops on April 19 and 20 while Will Torrent also promises to have more culinary delights in store for the festival’s visitors on April 17 and 18.
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Aliaa Al Ori