Samara, Life & Health

Cancer Survivor Shares Health Tips in Tropical Garden Cooking Classes

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A year ago, in August of 2012, Christine Laemer went for a mammogram and found out she had breast cancer. This news changed her lifestyle and diet completely, and now she is sharing some of what she has learned about health and nutrition through Tropical Garden Cooking Classes.

Originally from Germany, Laemer has lived in Samara for more than 20 years now. She related that she was a vegetarian before coming to Costa Rica, but after marrying a Costa Rican, she adapted to the local diet. Through the years, she noticed that she suffered from frequent headaches and infections and when she was diagnosed with cancer, she realized her immune system must be weak.

After having surgery in October of 2012, she began researching other treatments besides chemotherapy, which she decided against. In the process, she learned that many people successfully battled cancer through diet. She decided to try to do the same, cutting out coffee, sugar and processed foods and eating mainly vegetables and juicing, along with a little fish, nuts and whole grains.

“When I changed my diet, I quickly saw improvements. My headaches went away, I looked younger, I lost weight,” she noted. “I felt like I was before. I found myself again. I remembered the passion of preparing a nice salad again and taking time for yourself and putting love into your food, and that love comes back to you.”

As others in the community, even people she didn’t really know, began to take note of the changes she had made, the idea of offering classes developed. She is offering two types of hands-on classes.

The cultural cooking class explores the Costa Rican food heritage with a healthy twist, for example learning to make empanadas in a pan instead of fried in oil, as well as learning to cook over a wood fire. Other possible menu items include gallo pinto, tortillas, fried cheese, plantains, tamales, traditional rices and more. 

On the other hand, the nutritional cooking class focuses on living a healthy lifestyle with a nutritional balanced diet to feel better, younger, healthier, more empowered and happier. This class features juicing, homemade lemonade with ginger to detox, and how to prepare dishes such as hummus, garbanzo burgers or veggy casseroles.   

“I love the natural setting and that she uses all local ingredients,” commented Keisha Boulais, who attended one of the classes. “It was very informative. I learned a lot about how to eat healthy using local ingredients.”

The classes are held at her home right next to the Buena Vista River, about 5 kilometers from Samara and include a tour of her garden, which includes numerous varieties of fruit trees, herbs and other plants.

Classes can be for lunch, dinner or both, including a bonfire cookout at night. Groups of one to four are welcome, and personalized individual sessions are also available. To schedule a class or get more information, call 8320-2358.