Ancient grains like farro, amaranth and millet, once found only in health-food stores, are moving into mainstream markets as health-conscious consumers look for ways to bring new tastes and textures into their diets.
Growing interest in healthy eating is also creating demand for food products free of artificial additives or natural substances like gluten and lactose that can be hard to digest.
At Guido's Fresh Marketplace in Pittsfield and Great Barrington, Thomas Barstow, natural foods manager, said he is seeing increased interest among his customers in whole and raw foods, whole grains and tastier gluten-free products.
Guido's even has on staff a registered dietitian, Rachel Alves, who will make group presentations and help customers, especially celiacs and diabetics, choose and learn how to prepare healthy foods.
Area chefs like Chris Bonnivier of Gala Restaurant at The Orchards Hotel in Williamstown and Adam Zieminski of Café Adam in Great Barrington say they are also seeing a growing desire among their customers for healthier food.
The interest is leading more than a half-dozen Berkshire cooking instructors to offer classes in the coming months on ways to use healthier ingredients in various cooking styles and
Whole foods chef and holistic health counselor Katherine Miller will teach "Mastering Whole Foods for Healing" classes on Tuesday evenings from Feb. 12 through March 19 at 7 to 8:30 p.m. at her Kosmic Kitchen in Lee. For information, visit
Alison Shore Gaines, nutrition consultant and longtime Kripalu teacher, will be teaching "Overcoming Food Cravings for Sugar, Salt, Fatty Foods, and More" on Thursday from 1 to 2:30 p.m. after the 12 noon Jewish Federation of the Berkshires adult kosher lunch at Congregation Knesset Israel. 16 Colt Road in Pittsfield.
Call Nancy Rogers at (413) 442-4360 x15 to register for the program; for the lunch call (413) 442-2200 before 9 a.m.
Gaines will also be teaching a six-session series, "Easy Healthy Eating," Tuesdays evenings from Feb.19 through March 26 at 7:30 p.m. at Church on the Hill Annex, 55 Main St., Lenox.
To register call Gaines at (413) 442-3604 or email asgaines07 @aol.com
Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Lenox offers a number of workshops and programs about food and health.
kripalu.org/ for general interest.
Kushi Institute in Becket offers workshops and programs year round, always combining food and healing through Kushi macrobiotics. Programs run from private one- or two-day sessions to month-long workshops. See www.kushiinstitute.org or call (800) 975-8744 for details and more information.
The Nutrition Center on Summer Street in Pittsfield, is teaching ongoing "Food Adventures," after-school nutrition and healthy food cooking classes mainly at Pittsfield elementary schools and at some other schools around Berkshire County. Check website www.thenutri
tioncenter .org or call (413) 429-8110.
Steve Meyerowitz of Great Basrrington, also known as "Sproutman," is offering a seven-day green smoothie cleanse consisting of four 11 2 hour live online sessions on Feb. 18, 22, 25 and 27 at 8 p.m.
See www.sproutman.com /education/online-classes/ green-smoothie-cleanse for more information.
Last Saturday morning at Wild Oats Market in Williamstown, it was clear that Leanne Yinger had spent many years as an educator.
The Kushi Institute graduate juggled explanations of unfamiliar ingredients like dried wakame seaweed, daikon radish and adzuki bean miso with cooking demonstrations as she taught an "Introduction to Macrobiotic Cooking" class.
The food she made was passed around for tasting along with cups of toasted bancha tea and crispy brown rice balls that Yinger made and brought with her.
A graduate of the macrobiotic leadership program at the Kushi Institute, a major center for the teaching of macrobiotic principles, Yinger has been cooking by those principles for several years.
Students Sheila Scott and Aimee LeBlanc, both vegans, said they got a lot from the class. Scott and her husband recently retired from New Hampshire to Adams, while LeBlanc is a recent college graduate still making plans for her future.
Both women cook and bake.
"I can always learn something new," Scott noted.
She has followed a vegan diet for 12 years .
LeBlanc said she is just now "learning and exploring and expanding my horizons."
She said she has had good results with food allergies since she became vegan six months ago.
The two plan to come back this Saturday for Yinger's second "Introduction to Macrobiotic Cooking" class when she will demonstrate further methods and dishes.
To register email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (413) 458-8060.
Yinger will also be teaching a more in-depth, hands-on "Introduction to Macrobiotic Cooking for Beginners" series at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Pittsfield during March.
There, for five Saturday afternoons, her students will all don their aprons, cook the meal, then sit down together to eat a balanced, macrobiotic dinner.
For more information contact Yinger at Leeyinger @yahoo.com or (413) 464-1462.