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Laurie Jacobson of Jerome, a longtime vegetarian cooking teacher, is planning the first of a Welcome to Health series of dinners and lectures on Jan. 26 at Laurel Arts in Somerset. With her is guest lecturer Denny Unger, director of Sama/ Kama Wellness Center in Somerset. Photo by John Rucosky/ The Tribune-Democrat,Johnstown, PA.

BY RUTH RICE

RRICE@TRIBDEM.COM

Laurie Jacobson is welcoming the public to dinner.

Jacobson, who lives near Jerome, wants to spread the news about healthy eating and natural health. So she is planning the first of a Welcome to Health series of dinners and lectures on Jan. 26 at Laurel Arts, 214 S. Harrison Ave., Somerset.

The dinner will be vegetarian and will be served in two seatings – 5:30 and 6 p.m.

After fresh mixed greens and vegetable salad with homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing, the main course will be organic tempeh cacciatore served over a bed of organic brown rice fusilli pasta.

Jacobson explained that tempeh is a soy-based alternative to meat. It also is similar in texture to meat.

There also will be relish trays of pickled vegetables, a selection of green and herbal teas and a sugar-free apple crisp baked with organic whole-grain flour.

“I want to attempt to educate people to be healthier,” said Jacobson, who caters vegetarian meals under the business name “Nature’s Kitchen.” “You don’t have to be vegetarian to enjoy it. I put out the most healthful foods, and I’m picky about my ingredients.”

Jacobson will prepare most of the dinner at her home and transport it to Laurel Arts for reheating.

She has been teaching vegetarian cooking in Pittsburgh, Greensburg and Somerset for almost 20 years.

Jacobson had a successful dinner series in Greensburg similar to what she plans in Somerset.

“I held a dinner at the Greensburg YWCA, where I taught cooking, every four to five months,” she said.

“I wanted to start a series closer to home.”

She chose Laurel Arts as a dinner setting because she thought the kitchen and other rooms were conducive to what she wants to do.

“It was the first place I taught cooking when I moved back,” Jacobson said. “I had a good feeling about it. We had a vegetable potluck dinner. This is the best choice.”

An added dimension to her dinners will be a lecture by a natural-health advocate.

Denny Unger, director of the Sama/Kara Wellness Center in Somerset, will be the guest lecturer.

He will speak on “An Invitation to Truth: Awakening to the Truth of Who We Are” after dinner, about 7 p.m.

“Denny was my first choice to kick off the series,” Jacobson said.

“We met through our interest in natural health.”

At the wellness center, Unger offers satsang, which means coming together with the purpose of understanding the self at a deeper level.

“There’s a deeper part in all of us that needs to feel safe to come out and express itself,” Unger said. “We help people find what is true for them, what their soul is trying to express.”

The wellness center also offers all levels of Reiki, which is spiritual healing; shiatsu, working with the meridians of the body in a type of massage; healing circles; and drumming workshops.

“It’s all part of natural health – body, mind and spirit,” Jacobson said. “Denny will talk for about half an hour. He likes to be interactive.”

Jacobson sees her dinner-lecture series as a way for those interested in being healthy to come together.

“It’s nourishment for the body and spirit,” she said. “Everyone has the capacity to take care of themselves.”

Anyone interested in attending Jacobson’s dinner may call her at 629-5169 to make a reservation.

The cost of the dinner will be $25 per person, payable to Jacobson by check before the dinner.

If callers leave an e-mail address, Jacobson said she will send them a flier describing the dinner and a reservation form.

Those interested in attending should contact her by Jan. 24.

If there is enough interest, Jacobson hopes to have a dinner and lecture every three to four months, with a new menu each time.

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