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Budding chefs: Winnipeg cannabis cooking class to whet patients’ palates

National Access Cannabis to host first instructional cannabis cooking class.

National Access Cannabis manager Devin Sprague whips up a batch of cannabis butter using a machine that will be demo'd in his cooking class on Friday.

Keila DePape / For Metro

National Access Cannabis manager Devin Sprague whips up a batch of cannabis butter using a machine that will be demo'd in his cooking class on Friday.

After a crippling case of arthritis landed local chef Allan Pineda with a medical cannabis prescription, he started cooking with the drug.

Now he’s about to start teaching budding cannabis cooks how it’s done.

On Friday, Pineda will teach about 30 medical card holders at National Access Cannabis (NAC), located on Broadway Street, how to infuse a safe dosage of cannabis oil, butter, and tinctures into healthy dishes.

“I think it will help people who are afraid of the drug itself,” said Pineda, who said cannabis enables him to keep doing what he loves.

“I used to be able to be in the kitchen for eight hours a day,” he said. “Now with my elbows and hands…I can’t really hang that long, but with the medicine I can work longer.”

Friday will be Pineda’s first time hosting a class, but with his past experience cooking five-course cannabis-infused meals for medical patients, he knows Winnipeg has a healthy appetite for the knowledge.

He hopes the class will combat stigma and empower patients with healthy alternatives to smoking cannabis.

“There’s all sorts of ways to take your medicine, it’s not just brownies or cookies.”

Young adults and elders with medical conditions need edible alternatives, said NAC manager Devin Sprague, who will co-host the class.

“The elderly especially want that access to baked goods or something they can eat rather than smoke because the stigma is still there, and they don’t want to have the smell on them,” said Sprague.

 “Edibles tend to be the more palatable form, no pun intended.”

Like wine pairing, different cannabis flowers have unique tastes that pair better with some foods more than others.

Class attendees won’t be cooking this time around, but they will be privy to samples of infused olive oil, mayonnaise, whiskey maple syrup, plus a live demo of the Magical Butter machine, which makes cooking with cannabis easily doable from home.

That’s important given that Health Canada regulations restrict licensed producers to selling their products in either dried cannabis form or oils, said Sprague.

By the end of last year, there were about 38 such producers servicing nearly 130,000 licence-holding Canadians.

“A lot of people don’t want to smoke or vape it because it can be harmful to their lungs — they want another way,” said Sprague.

Smoke from tobacco and cannabis contains many of the same carcinogens and tumor promoters, according to the U.S.-based National Center for Biotechnology Information.

The edible alternative will likely become more popular once the federal government legalizes the sale of cannabis, which is expected July 1, 2018.

When that happens, places like the National Access Cannabis will be able to offer up their resources to the public.

Classes for growing cannabis and making skin lotions or balms are some of the events Sprague said to look out for in the near future.

Recipe for Pancetta Risotto with Green Peas:

Ingredients

• 1 L chicken or vegetable stock

• ½ lb Pancetta

• 1 ½ cups Arborio rice (risotto)

• 1 cut white wine

• 2 tbsp olive oil

• ¾ cup chopped onions

• 2 cloves garlic

• ½ cup peas (fresh or frozen)

• 2 tbsp canna butter (butter infused with cannabis pre-made with the Magic Butter machine)

• ¾ cup romano cheese

Directions

1. Put stock in pot and bring it to a low simmer.

2. Heat pan to medium/high and add olive oil.

3. Sauté onions until translucent

4. Add garlic and pancetta and cook for 2-3 minutes.

5. Either leave all pancetta in pan, or take out half and sprinkle it on top of the risotto afterward.

6. Add Arborio rice and stir.

7. Add wine to the pan until all liquid is absorbed into the rice.

8. Add 1 cup at a time of hot stock to the rice until it is soft and edible.

9. Stir in the romano cheese and canna butter.

Source: National Access Cannabis

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