‘It was rough at times — it was painful — but I came out of this breakup far stronger.”
Thus blogs Emma Malina about her recent separation. The relationship had once given her plenty of pleasure. But, with time, the hard reality set in: “I came to the understanding that dairy didn’t love me back,” she said, tongue-in-cheek, during a recent interview with the News-Press. Her 2018 post, titled “Dear Dairy: A Breakup Story,” which portrays the emotional fallout from giving up milk-based foods, is up atbaskingingoodness.com.
Indeed, the woman behind Basking in Goodness, a consultation business that touts the benefits of a plant-based diet, came to realize three years ago that her health and happiness hinged on what she ate. She’d been everything from a meat eater to a vegetarian in the past. But as she entered motherhood, and as certain health factors began to come into focus, her need to eliminate milk and integrate plants into her diet became paramount.
“Genes play a role, but it’s 100 percent lifestyle,” she says of the way diet affects people’s physical well-being. “Genes load the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger.”
The local who left Santa Barbara at age 6 but, after living in Europe and on the East Coast, returned here with her husband five years ago to raise her daughter, is now a certified integrative nutrition health coach. “I go into homes and show people how they can ‘plantify’ dinners without meat,” she says.
“And being a foodie, I get it: It has to taste really good.”
On a personal level, cheese became a major point of focus during Mrs. Malina’s transition away from milk. “I love cheese, and cheese and wine, and putting together cheese boards when people come over,” she says. “So I just needed to make cheese a different way.”
Her self-education, experimentation and eventual finds are the foundation for her upcoming two-hour course, “Plant-Based Cheese 101.” The intimate class will take place at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Municipal Winemakers, 22 Anacapa St., in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone. The cost is $55, “most all of which goes to ingredients,” she says.
Students will learn the nuts and bolts of a plant-based diet and sample a wide array of plant-based cheeses available on the market. The main lesson will be on making cheese at home using nuts and seeds in lieu of milk. “Making a Parmesan-style cheese can take just five minutes, and you can make enough to last you for months,” says Mrs. Malina. Her recipe calls for any nut, though she prefers cashews, almonds, macadamias, pistachios and Brazil nuts over oilier counterparts, like peanuts. Pulverized in a processor, along with nutritional yeast, salt and garlic powder, they generate a cheese-reminiscent alternative “that you can sprinkle on avocado toast, put in pasta or dash on tomatoes with balsamic vinegar for extra flavor and extra texture,” she says.
Other hands-on demos will include a milk-free ricotta-style cheese and sour cream.
Mrs. Malina’s class is squarely aimed at those who need to pull away from dairy.
“Seventy percent of the human population is lactose-intolerant, and 25 percent of the U.S. population,” according to Mrs. Malina. Her lessons, however, can appeal to anyone on the hunt for a healthier spin to their diet.
“I’m not, ‘all or nothing,’ ” adds Mrs. Malina. It’s progress over perfection, adding before subtracting, and crowding out bad choices with better choices.”