At Columbia’s Cooking (CC), we really do ‘make healthy taste delicious.’  To us, healthy food has a real definition… “A healthy food is a whole plant – one that can be picked directly from the garden and eaten in its original form, raw or cooked. A healthy diet consists of predominantly whole, plant foods.”

How did we come up with this definition?  In short…the evidence. There’s overwhelming scientific evidence showing that whole food, plant-based diets are the most effective means for reducing chronic diseases (Tuso et al. 2013), hence why we teach it. Additionally, one reason we LOVE recommending plant-based diets is that there’s no need for portion control or calorie counting.  This lack of restriction may help you stick with the Columbia’s Cooking lifestyle for the long-run AND experience long-term health improvements.

How we can help you

Columbia’s Cooking evaluates the scientific evidence to create simple, easy-to-understand guidelines that make cooking easy and eating delicious.  Our Scientific Advisors and Culinary Advisor collaborate to ensure our nutrition education meets high scientific standards and that the recipes and kitchen skills you’re taught reflect a one-of-a-kind culinary experience.

Bottom line — we teach you how to adopt and maintain the diet and lifestyle skills needed to improve your health for the long-term.

At Columbia’s Cooking, our first goal is to expose individuals to research and scientific evidence that most people don’t know exists:

USC TIMES circle

Columbia’s Cooking featured in USC Times Magazine

  • healthy weight-loss can occur without portion control or calorie counting (Turner-McGrievy et al. 2007), (Mandes 2014).
  • medications may be reduced or eliminated entirely (Barnard et al. 2006), (Saxe et al. 2001).
  • severe heart disease (Ornish 1998), (Esselstyn 1995) and metastatic prostate cancer (Saxe 2001) have been reversed via these kinds of diet and lifestyle changes.

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely you’ll hear this information from your doctor. Despite the findings being published in Journal of the American Medical Association, very few physicians know about Dr. Dean Ornish’s intervention trial of individuals with coronary heart disease. The participants placed on a plant-based diet and lifestyle changes experienced either a reversal in heart disease, or the progression of the disease stopped (depending on participant’s adherence to the recommendations) (Ornish 1998). In contrast, individuals in the control group receiving standard medical care showed a progression in their disease… their heart disease got worse.

Dr. Brie Turner-McGrievy, one of Columbia’s Cooking Scientific Advisors found plant-based diets without portion restriction or calorie counting to be more effective for weight-loss than the National Cholesterol Education Program’s diet over a two-year period (Turner-McGrievy et al. 2007).

Our second goal at Columbia’s Cooking is to teach you exactly what to eat and how, to ensure you can make eating optimally work for your lifestyle and family’s.

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Through our participatory cooking and nutrition class series, we provide step-by-­step instruction for preparing plant-based meals and how to make this new way of eating a positive light in your life. Our kitchen features 5 different cooking stations that resemble your kitchen so you can experience, just as you would at home, making ‘healthy taste delicious.’

How we’re different:

1. We don’t advocate or teach calorie-restriction, portion-control or calorie counting.  Ever.

Many health improvement and weight-loss programs focus on liquid meal replacements, protein shakes, 1,200 calorie a-day meal plans and smaller portion sizes.  We know that caloric restriction is not a long-term solution for success.

At Columbia’s Cooking, you’ll learn how to eat until you’re full at every meal, not count calories or restrict yourself in any way. You’ll be taught how to eat a diet very high in nutritional quality, satiety (the feeling of fullness) and satisfaction.

At the same time, you’ll learn how adhering to the Columbia’s Cooking recommendations may help you achieve improved health outcomes, such as weight-loss (Mandes 2014) and more.

HEADS UP:  No appetite suppressant pills, meal replacement shakes or wonder drugs will be provided or advocated by Columbia’s Cooking.  We want you to eat real food that tastes great and that’s amazing for your body inside and out!


2.  Columbia’s Cooking teaches evidence-based information.

You’ll learn the studies and science behind our recommendations, many of which come from the research conducted by our Scientific Advisors, Dr. Brie Turner-McGrievy, a leader in plant-based nutrition research and Dr. James Hebert, world-class nutritional epidemiologist, and Director of the University of South Carolina’s Cancer Prevention and Control Program.


3. We teach exact and specific guidelines.

Our guidelines provide specific guidance regarding what you need to eat and in what ratios. We work with you within the realities of your time and economic constraints. You may find it easier than you imagine to follow the CC recommendations.

4. We work within your budget.

No need to buy expensive foods, only organics or shop at specialty markets. We’ll help you find delicious tasting, inexpensive foods where you normally shop.

Ready to get started? Check out our upcoming classes,  or browse our blog for the latest in nutrition information and yummy recipes. As always, contact us with any questions!

Barnard, N.D., Cohen, J., Jenkins, D.J., Turner-McGrievy, G., Gloede, L., Jaster, B., Seidl, K., Green, A.A. & Talpers, S. 2006, “A low-fat vegan diet improves glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in a randomized clinical trial in individuals with type 2 diabetes”, Diabetes Care, vol. 29, no. 8, pp. 1777-1783.
Esselstyn, Jr., C.B., Ellis, S.G., Medendorp, S.V. & Crowe, T.D. 1995, “A strategy to arrest and reverse coronary artery disease: a 5-year longitudinal study of a single physician’s practice”, The Journal of Family Practice, vol. 41, no. 6, pp. 60-68.
Mandes, T. 2014, ‘A review of plant-based nutrition interventions on heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Suggestions for an educational curriculum,” University of Eastern Finland, ePublications.  Available online at: http://epublications.uef.fi/pub/urn_nbn_fi_uef-20140611/urn_nbn_fi_uef-20140611.pdf
Ornish, D., Scherwitx, L., Billings, J., Gould, L., Merritt, T., Sparler, S., Armstrong, W., Ports, T., Kirkeeide, R., Hogeboom, C. & Brand, R. 1998, “Intensive lifestyle changes for reversal of coronary heart disease”, The Journal of the American Medical Association, vol. 230, no. 23, pp. 2001.
Turner-McGrievy, G.M., Barnard, N.D. & Scialli, A.R. 2007, “A two-year randomized weight loss trial comparing a vegan diet to a more moderate low-fat diet”, Obesity, vol. 15, no. 9, pp. 2276-2281.
Tuso, P.J., Ismail, M.H., Ha, B.P. & Bartolotto, C. 2013, “Nutritional update for physicians: plant-based diets”, The Permanente Journal, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 61-66.
Singh PN, Arthur KN, Orlich MJ, James W, Purty A, Job JS, Rajaram S, Sabate J. Global epidemiology of obesity, vegetarian dietary patterns, and noncommunicable disease in Asian Indians. Am J Clin Nutr 2014;100 Suppl 1:359S-64S.
Nilius B, Appendino G. Spices: the savory and beneficial science of pungency. Rev Physiol Biochem Pharmacol 2013;164:1-76.
Fahey JW, Talalay P, Kensler TW. Notes from the field: “green” chemoprevention as frugal medicine. Cancer Prev Res (Phila Pa) 2012;5:179-88.
Pimenta AM, Toledo E, Rodriguez-Diez MC, Gea A, Lopez-Iracheta R, Shivappa N, Hebert JR, Martinez-Gonzalez MA. Dietary indexes, food patterns and incidence of metabolic syndrome in a Mediterranean cohort: The SUN project. Clinical nutrition (Edinburgh, Scotland) 2014.
Saxe GA, Hebert JR, Carmody JF, Kabat-Zinn J, Rosenzweig PH, Jarzobski D, Reed GW, Blute RD. Can diet, in conjunction with stress reduction, affect the rate of increase in prostate specific antigen after biochemical recurrence of prostate cancer? J Urol 2001;166:2202-7.