Anyone who knows me out there well understands that I could wax on forever about food, recipes, wine and the culinary arts in general. I try to go to at least one cooking class per month to keep myself in the game. Wednesday night I attended a terrific class with IDEA Fitness Journal art director Esther Coit, who shares my food passion. We are both fairly accomplished cooks, so it’s not always easy finding a class that is different enough to justify the money and time, but we scored a bulls eye last night when we picked “An Evening With Rancho La Puerta Spa and Deborah Schneider.”Schneider, a San Diego chef and cookbook author, recently collaborated with spa legend Deborah Szekely on a new book, Cooking With the Seasons at Rancho La Puerta (2008, Stewart, Tabori & Chang), from which the evening’s recipes were derived. Szekely, who founded Rancho La Puerta in the 1940s, was honored in 2007 as our first Inner IDEA Inspiration Award recipient.The book itself is a visual feast, with photos that glisten and pop off the page, and that will seriously make you drool if you haven’t had a meal recently. If the 8 recipes Schneider prepped from the book are any indication of the rest of the content, I’ll say now the book is a total winner. I won’t go through the entire menu, but will mention that for dessert we had “midnight” chocolate cake with coconut ice, chocolate drizzle and peanuts a la mode. This is spa food, people. Schneider told the class that she “eats like a lumberjack” whenever she’s down there and inevitably comes home 5 pounds lighter. This speaks volumes about the powerful equation of whole, organic foods—lovingly prepared—plus focused physical activity.The recipes we tried had a largely Mexican influence (owing to the spa’s Baja roots and the influence of Rancho La Puerta Chef Jesus Gonzalez), and were infused with color, crunch and outrageous flavor. I can’t wait to dive into the book and try my hand at some of the menus.Do you go to cooking classes? Do your clients? What have you learned that has been of value to you as a fitness pro? Did you know IDEA has been covering nutrition and food issues for many years now? Our “Food For Thought” section in IDEA Fitness Journal is devoted to food and nutrition news and science. We also have a monthly food focus and a featured healthy recipe every issue. You can access these any time by going to the Online Library and typing the keyword “Recipes” into the search bar. We have more than 5,000 articles in the Library that are ready and waiting for you.Meantime, what food issues would you like to see covered? Let me know by adding a comment to this blog.Bon appetit!