Revolutions can be healthy. Witness the Kitchenistas!

The Kitchenistas are coming! The Kitchenistas are coming! Sounds like a group getting ready to incite a revolution and attack...a kitchen? Well yes, that’s exactly what they do, one dish, one healthy cooking skill at a time.

Founded at Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center, a historic house that’s now a cultural/organic gardening center in National City (near San Diego), the Kitchenistas program teaches healthy cooking skills to the area’s residents, without turning its back on traditional Mexican foods and flavors. They call it “Cooking for Salud” (Cooking for Health), and not only have they turned out many accomplished home chefs, but they also have quite a compendium of recipes on line. Participants learn how to lighten up their favorite recipes, and in the process dramatically improve the health of themselves and their families.

An award-winning documentary film follows the Kitchenista journey. Just watching the trailer will bring you joy—and perhaps a tear to your eye (and not from the jalapeños!). The complete 23-minute version is now available on DVD at a very reasonable $7.99 plus shipping, or keep your eye out for a screening near you (most probably at a food film festival or similar event).  

A unique element of the Kitchenistas program is its connection with families and how we can all—whatever our cultural background—reinvigorate the tradition of cooking and eating home dinners together. Healthy cooking does not have to turn its back on favorite family dishes. Even your grandmother—keeper of the culinary flame in your family—will approve.

We were amazed and baffled the first time we scooped some of this ceviche up with a tortilla chip and popped it in our mouth. It seemed to be….shrimp ceviche. The taste, the texture: surely it was shrimp. But no, cauliflower holds the stage here, and it does the most admirable impersonation of a good seafood ceviche that we can imagine. That’s actually doing cauliflower a disservice: after you taste this, you will probably quit talking about fooling people and proudly proclaim your discovery of another plant-based-diet revolution. From Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center, National City (near San Diego), California;

Seriously Vegan Ceviche

Rinde para tres personas (serves three)


1 large cauliflower head

1 red onion

½ bunch cilantro, washed carefully and shopped (stems omitted)

5 tomatoes

2 jalapeño peppers

1 carrot

2 cucumbers

Juice of 6 small limes (Mexican limes preferred)

Lime zest

3 tsp sea salt



  1. Wash the cauliflower. Cut in small pieces. Blanch in boiling water for about 1 minute, then drain well and put immediately in ice water to cool. Drain well. Thoroughly wash limes, zest, squeeze for juice, and add zest and juice to cauliflower. Add salt. Finely chop one jalapeño and half of the onion and add it to the cauliflower. Mix and let sit for one hour in the fridge.

  2. Grate carrot. Chop tomatoes and cucumbers in small pieces. Finely chop cilantro and the rest of onion and the jalapeños. Once one hour has passed, add all to the marinating cauliflower, and mix again.

  3. Serve over baked tostadas with thin slices of avocado and bottles of your favorite hot sauces. Or set out chips for dipping.


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