Gluten Free Classes at The Boston Center for Adult Education

The Boston Center for Adult Education is the oldest nonprofit adult education center in New England. Founded in 1933, it quickly established itself as a cultural stomping ground where individuals could learn, discuss, create, and enjoy themselves.

Now, almost 80 years later, the BCAE continues its role as Greater Boston’s leading provider of adult education, offering nearly 2,000 classes each year.

The BCAE is working to increase their gluten free class offerings and are excited to have holiday specific classes for the winter term. They’ve added many new gluten free classes to its class offerings (see below), and I was lucky enough to attend the Gluten Free Holiday Sides class this past Sunday. The class was taught by Mary Greenfield, a classically trained personal chef and nutrition coach with experience in many dietary approaches, including: paleo/primal, Whole30, WAPF, raw vegan, cooked vegan/vegetarian, SCD, GAPS, and the best gluten free home cookin’ you’ve ever had!IMG_5634

During this class we learned how to make 4 sides dishes that can accompany our Thanksgiving turkey, holiday potluck or even be eaten as a vegetarian main dish. All dishes are adaptable for any allergies you or your guests might have. This is a great class for someone who is new to a gluten free diet or for someone who is looking for new dishes and techniques to add to their repertoire.IMG_5636

Mary was a great instructor; she was enthusiastic and it is very clear she is passionate about fresh, local and healthy food. She encouraged us to experiment with different flavors and amounts; it’s not necessary to follow a receipt to the t and it’s perfectly ok if you don’t! The class was very hands-on, which I loved! It really allowed us to learn and experience cooking for ourselves.IMG_5608

Today’s dishes featured fresh, local and seasonal produce right from the farmers market. Throughout the class Mary offered us tips and ideas on how to adapt these recipes for different dietary needs and taste preferences.

The four recipes we made today included:

Thanksgiving Salad

Caramelized Onion and Cranberry Relish

Stuffed Carnival Squash

Roasted Vegetables

The Thanksgiving Salad was super easy to make. First we made:

Maple Cayenne Walnuts

2 cups walnuts
½ cup real maple syrup
½ teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon fine sea saltIMG_5616

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees. Mix coating ingredients together in a bowl. Add walnuts and stir to coat. Spread out in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes until they start to brown a little. Cool completely.IMG_5622

These nuts had such a kick! Super hot with a slight sweetness from the maple.

The salad dressing was equally as easy to make:

Smooth Dijon-style mustard
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper
Freshly squeezed orange juice (or good bottled juice)
Olive Oil

Whisk together a dollop of mustard with a glug of balsamic and a splash or two of orange juice. Add salt and pepper—they dissolve more easily in these acidic ingredients than in the oil. Continue whisking while slowly pouring oil. Taste, adjust, and dress your salad.IMG_5615

Caramelized Onion and Cranberry Relish

Butter or olive oil
2-4 large onions, halved then sliced the long way (cut parallel to the grain of the onion)
Apple cider vinegar
12 oz. bag of fresh or frozen cranberries
½ cup sugar or maple sugar (you may end up doubling it)
pinch of salt

First we made the caramelized onions, something I’ve never done before. Heat a large pan or Dutch oven. Add the butter or oil and onions. Stir to coat, then leave them alone. Stir only occasionally.IMG_5609

Tip: Onions caramelize best when given a lot of time at low heat to just do their thing. The trick is to stir them just often enough that they never burn on the bottom, but infrequently enough that they have time to get nice and brown.

Once they are good and brown, pour a splash of vinegar to deglaze, and scrape up all the brown bits. Add cranberries and sugar, a good pinch of salt, and stir. Cook until the berries have popped.IMG_5612

Tip: Allow to come to room temperature before serving. This can be made ahead of time and store in the refrigerator.  Because this is a side dish, you want it to be very flavorful.

The sugar is used to counteract the extreme tartness of the cranberries. Personally, I would have liked less sugar and will make it with less sugar this Thanksgiving!IMG_5614

Next up was the Stuffed Carnival Squash. Carnival squash is very similar to acorn squash.

Tip: Plan to serve ½ carnival or acorn squash per person as a vegetarian main dish and ¼ squash per person as a side.IMG_5623

First roast your squash. Cut in half, scoop out seeds, and set cut side down in a baking pan with a little water. Bake until soft, about 45-60 minutes.


Olive oil or butter
1 large onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 garlic clove
2 ½ cups wild rice, long grain white or brown rice* check package instructions and adjust the amount of broth and cooking time accordingly.
5 cups vegetable broth or stock* homemade is best or buy organic low sodium
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons thyme, fresh or dried
1 teaspoon dried sage
½ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1 cup cranberries
1 cup pecans or pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted and cooled.
½ cup chopped fresh parsley

Cook the onion and celery in oil or butter until soft. Add garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat. Then add the broth or stock and the next 4 ingredients. Bring to a boil and reduce to a low simmer. Cook until done; 20-50 minutes, depending on your rice type. Most of the liquid will have been absorbed, but it should not be dry. Season to taste.IMG_5624

In a separate pan cook mushrooms in oil or butter. Gently fold cooked mushrooms, cranberries, nuts or seeds and ¼ cup parsley into the rice mixture. Scoop into cooked squash halves, set on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, or until hot all the way through. Sprinkle with remaining parsley and serve.IMG_5628

Tip: You can make the rice mixture ahead of time. Before baking, let rice come up to room temperature. This may take longer to warm up; 30-50 minutes.

This also makes a great alternative stuffing for your Thanksgiving turkey, chicken or pork roast.

The final dish we made was the Roasted Vegetables. Roasted Vegetables are one of the great-underrated side dishes for holidays as well as every day. They are versatile, delicious, and everyone loves them!

You can roast cauliflower, broccoli, potatoes, sweet potatoes, every different kind of winter or summer squash, peppers, onions, Brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips, beets, radishes, turnips, tomatoes…you get the picture. The trick is to roast each vegetable separately then combine them together at the end. That way, each vegetable is cooked thoroughly but not overcooked, and keeps its own perfect texture.

Mary showing us a blue hubbard squash
Mary showing us a blue hubbard squash

Cut vegetables into bite sized pieces. Toss vegetables in oil, salt and seasoning of choice: rosemary, dill, pepper, paprika, cayenne, curry powder, thyme, or whatever else you like.

Cook them separately then combine. Together, they create a symphony of flavors.IMG_5613

Tip: Most vegetables can be cut ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator overnight.

The finished product!
The finished product!

Are you hungry yet? I sure am! Good News, the BCAE has 3 upcoming Gluten Free classes:

December 7, 2013 – GF Chocolates: Treat yourself or a loved one to handmade chocolate treats! We will learn about making molded and filled chocolates, ganache truffles, and a flourless chocolate cake recipe that is endlessly adaptable. Extra sensitive? All of Chef Mary Greenfield’s recipes are either allergy-friendly or can be with very simple modifications.

January 25, 2014 – GF Breakfast Treats: Going gluten-free doesn’t mean succumbing to blah-breakfasts. Join Cuisine en Locale’s Chef Mary Greenfield and discover how easy it is to make sweet treats and savory favorites. Mary takes pride in creating delicious dishes that work for all diets, and the recipes taught in class are guaranteed to have all of the flavor you want, and none of the allergens you don’t!

February 8, 2014 – GF Valentine’s Day Chocolates: Love conquers all – including allergies! This is hands-on course in creating tons of sweet treats, minus the wheat. From brownies to chocolates and everything in between, students will learn how to make irresistible Valentine’s Day recipes that are just as satisfying for those who don’t need to avoid gluten as they are for those who do!

Sign up for one of the gluten free January or February classes and save 30% with the early bird special if you sign up before November 30th! (The 30% discount applies to all classes at the BCAE, not just the gluten free ones!) These classes would make a great gift or fun afternoon activity to do with your friends, your mom or your boyfriend/girlfriend! We had a blast and I think you would too!

Each class is about 3 hours long.  Unfortunately the kitchen is not 100% gluten free so these classes are not suitable for people with severe gluten allergies.

I hope to see you at the next class on December 7th!

Disclaimer: I was invited to this class for free to review for my blog. I was not paid for my review and all opinions are my own.

Please take my GF dining out survey here, to help me gather data for an upcoming post. Thank You.

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I've been on a gluten free diet since January 2009. It's been an adventure, and a challenge at times. I love to go to new restaurants and try new foods, and being gluten free can make eating out difficult at times. But I will not let my dietary restrictions get in my way of finding new restaurants and products. These are my stories of being a young women in a big city, eating out and trying new foods, all while NOT eating gluten. Like I said, it's an adventure and you are welcome to come along... Please note that as I try to eat gluten free 100% of the time, my intolerance is not as severe as others so please use caution when dining at restaurants that are not certified gluten free.

7 thoughts on “Gluten Free Classes at The Boston Center for Adult Education

  1. What a great idea for classes! I wish we had gluten free cooking classes in my area! Would you mind if I shared these any of these recipes on my blog, giving you full credit and a link back of course?

    1. Hi Cyndi – please feel free to share any recipes from this post or other recipes on my site as long as you have a link back or give credit I don’t mind at all!

  2. I love the BCAE! They have so many awesome classes, and it’s pretty affordable. Thanks for the tip on roasting the veggies separately and then mixing them. I roast veg a lot for myself, but it tends to just be one kind. However, for Thanksgiving, I do a mix and they always get…weird. This should help.

  3. I would like to attend gluten free cookiin classes. Do you have the dates for 2016? I live in El Salvador and here is impossible to find out this kind of classes so if I take cookin classes I’m not able to taste what I’ve done. Thank you very much!

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