Author: Alma Schneider

Food, Love and Psoriasis? Yes, There is a Connection!

Hi everyone! I know you probably don't want to think about psoriasis on a cooking blog but sometimes we have to go to "places" we'd rather not in order to move forward. I met an author recently who has written about the connection between whole foods and curing her psoriasis and who am I not to share? Food and Love: The most powerful nourishment on this planet today! For 21 years I've struggled with an auto-immune skin disease called psoriasis. In my heart, I know no one was placed on the planet to suffer this much and that is why I am sharing my painful journey. It took a lot of perseverance and a lot of commitment, but I succeeded! How? By learning how to control it and by learning to accept it; the two hardest things when dealing with any skin disease or illness. Psoriasis is a condition where the skin, instead of shedding normally about once a month when cells mature, sheds rapidly every few days. The cells are shedding faster than the body can handle and because the cells are unable to mature, you are left with layers of red, thick, scaly patches on your body that are itchy, painful and although not contagious, you wouldn’t know it from the way people look at you. Until you have a skin disease, you have no idea how devastating it is to a person's self-esteem. Most of my young adult life was spent living a lie, trying to hide my condition with make-up or clothing and visiting dermatologists who suggested I try every steroid cream or ointment out there. In the end, these were Band-Aids, but eventually I discovered a root cause that not one of my dermatologists ever told me about, and, ironically, I learned it from my dog, Max! Max (a rescue found half-dead who suffered from chronic bronchitis, heart worm, arthritis, etc.) was very sick for many years and I tried everything from various medications to expensive raw dog food shipped from Canada. Nothing helped! One day my vet suggested I change his diet from processed dog food to whole food – meaning I would cook real poultry, meat and vegetables for him. This ensured that I would control exactly what I was putting into his body. Out of desperation, I complied. In just a few months I watched him go from not being able to walk to outright running. I weaned him off all medications and my vet said, “This 11-year-old pup’s insides are that of a 6-month-old puppy!” This inspired me to take control of my own health. Words can't express my amazement to see first-hand how much food is our medicine! Once I applied those same nutrition-based steps, and discovered the missing ingredient of self-love, I healed my skin. Nutrition combined with self-love, meaning gratitude, making happiness a priority, creating relationships that nourish – with people, food, money, career, your body and alleviating stress; this is the perfect recipe to keeping skin clear! I share Alma’s vision of breaking through “psychological and practical obstacles to be everything they hope to be in the kitchen,” and that goes for healing your skin too! I look forward to sharing the secret ingredients in food and love that are the strongest healers and nourishers on this planet today. Don’t settle for a life of suffering. Take a minute to connect with me so I can help you take back the healthy life you so deserve. My soon to be released book Ps - It’s All About Love: How A Painful Journey With Psoriasis Became A Life Devoted to Healing Others not only shares my struggles but is an excellent and practical guide on how to heal psoriasis naturally. Email me now at to get on the mailing list, to ask a personal question, to setup a free 30-minute consultation or to schedule a time for me to speak to your group about healing psoriasis holistically. You can also visit me at Let’s heal your skin together!

Drown Your Sorrows in Chocolate: Cocoa Dusted Chocolate Cashews with Cayenne Pepper

Hi everyone! Well, whether you are attending the inauguration or going on the Women’s march in D.C., you’re definitely going to need some snacks. As I always say, some may be inspired to cook or bake because of a new gadget or tool. Well, you can thank the new recipe I created to the double boiler I just picked up at an estate sale for 4 bucks! It is a healthy alternative to a lot of chocolate desserts out there. Enjoy and drown your sorrows in chocolate…..

Cocoa Dusted Dark Chocolate Cashews with Cayenne Pepper:


10 oz dark chocolate 1 1/2 cups raw cashews (or almonds, pecans or any other nut) A few shakes of unsweetened cocoa powder (good quality like Valrhona)
A few shakes cayenne pepper (optional)

optional 1/2 cup raisins


In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and stir. If you don’t have a double boiler, put a stainless steel bowl over a pot with boiling water under it. Stir in the cashews  (and raisins if you are using) until coated with the chocolate Put small clusters of chocolate cashews on a wax paper lined baking sheet or large plate and place in the fridge for at least 15 minutes until the chocolate is hardened Remove from the fridge and sprinkle the clusters with cocoa powder until dusted and then sprinkle with cayenne Store in an airtight container in a cool place

Cooking to Avoid Depression? Maybe!

Hi everyone,
We are at a time in history where some people are thrilled and some are devastated. I thought it only fitting that we discuss depression and cooking  with my guest blogger, Rocky Detwiler, who saved himself from homelessness and depression by taking care of himself through healthy living.
Depression is a killer when you want to eat healthy and get fit. When you are feeling down about anything in your life, especially about your physical shape, it is a challenge to focus on your health. However, this is when what you eat and whether or not you exercise affects you the most! You must force yourself into the kitchen to cook healthy meals when you are depressed and this will bring you out of your slump.The kitchen can be your best friend or your worst enemy when it comes to your physical and mental health. It is where the battle of fit and healthy is won or lost. It all begins with your decision to eat healthy. This battle is won or lost in your mind. Your conscious decision to eat healthy begins with you cooking healthy meals in your kitchen. You must take action by making your plan and sticking to it. The kitchen is the place where the magic of eating healthy happens. You can overcome depression by applying the simple step of planning your meals ahead of time. Take the guesswork out of what, how much, and when you are going to eat by planning ahead. Take time each week to cook healthy meals and package them into containers for your lunches. Eating healthy meals at regular intervals throughout the day takes away the possibility of succumbing to cravings and grabbing fast food that will ultimately make you feel worse mentally and physically. Every time you cook and eat a healthy meal, you are winning the victory over the enemy of depression so take it one meal at a time. Over time, you will begin feeling more confident about your healthy food choices, while preparing and cooking meals. Battling depression begins with proper nutrition and physical exercise, but by forcing yourself into the kitchen, you begin the process and change your thoughts from negative to positive as well. Each time this
happens, you build strength in why you are eating right and taking care of yourself. I had to reclaim my healthy & fitness while battling severe depression after losing everything in an illegal Ponzi scheme that was orchestrated by a close friend of mine. I forced myself into the kitchen and followed a strict plan of healthy eating. This along with daily exercise led me to losing 57 pounds and becoming a champion bodybuilder.

Celebrating MLK with Southern Food

The US clergyman and civil rights leader Martin Luther King addresses, 29 March 1966 in Paris’ Sport Palace the militants of the “Movement for the Peace”. “Martin Luther King was assassinated on 04 April 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. James Earl Ray confessed to shooting King and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. King’s killing sent shock waves through American society at the time, and is still regarded as a landmark event in recent US history. (Photo credit should read /AFP/GettyImages)
Hi everyone, Today is Martin Luther King’s birthday and as such, I think it only fitting to supply you  with a Southern recipe since his favorite foods were Southern, specifically Fried chicken and pecan pie according to certain sources. MLK was my first hero. I remember feeling impassioned to “do” by his bravery and dedication to help others. When I learned about him in the early seventies, it seemed that the blow of his death was still raw by the way people spoke of him.  Today I feel that his life and death are as meaningful, if not more meaningful, than they were decades ago.  I will remain active in my work toward helping others and not just acknowledge the feelings. “The real sin is inaction” is what I heard someone on the radio say and those words resonate. What will you do in 2017 and beyond to make our world a better place? Let me know in the comments and let’s all work together! For now, I will continue cooking and teaching and serving  the community as some of my acts of building community. Let’s start with my re-post of one of my favorite recipes that I do believe MLK would have loved. Maple Jalapeno Cornbread: 1 cup stone ground cornmeal (NOT cornbread mix) 1 cup unbleached white flour 1/3 cup sugar 2 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp salt 1 cup buttermilk (or just whole milk) 6 TBS melted butter 1 egg, slightly beaten 1 cup of fresh or thawed frozen corn 1/3 cup maple syrup 1 jalapeno, chopped fine with or without seeds-seeds add more spice Steps: Combine all dry ingredients in a big bowl and add all wet ingredients until mixed well. Bake at 325 degrees in an 8X8 inch pan for approximately 25 minutes or until knife comes out clean. Use parchment if you want no stickage and Enjoy!

Acorn Squash Soup

Hi everyone and happy new year!!! I have one thing to say: SOUP! It’s getting cold, we want to get healthy after all that nasty holiday food (actually it was pretty damn good) so fill up on some hearty soup! This just requires a few ingredients and some spices, all of which you need to have in your pantry. Enjoy! Savory Fall Squash Soup: 5 cups roasted squash, acorn or butternut 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth (1 quart) 1 large onion, chopped 2 tbsp butter or ghee 1 1/2 tsp salt 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon 2/3 cup applesauce Steps: In a large pot over low heat, melt the butter. Add in the chopped onions and slowly cook until translucent, about 15 minutes. Add in the cooked, peeled squash and the broth. Add in the salt, cinnamon and applesauce Simmer for about 20 minutes.

Ode to Brian-Happy Birthday!

IMG_0020Hi everyone! Brian and I just ate a huge and delicious meal to celebrate. Please join me in wishing my wonderful husband Brian a very happy birthday. Indulge me by listening to a little story. A story about Gustavo. When I had my first child, I attended a new mom’s support group  at the 14h Street YMHA when my baby turned 6 weeks old. It was such a pleasure to be able to vent about how hard it was to nurse, to get any sleep and how we weren’t getting enough help from our partners. We were finally in a safe place where  we could talk about how lonely it was to be feeding the baby in the middle of the night, all alone in the dark. It just felt good to bitch in a room filled with other women who were in the same boat, validating our angry and justified feelings of disappointment and anger. Until she spoke about Gustavo. Across the circle in which we all sat with our fidgety infants, a woman  spoke up about how she wasn’t feeling angry at all. Her husband woke up in the middle of the night, each time she nursed, to massage her neck while she fed her baby. He got up and helped her every single feeding. Every. Single. Feeding. We all clammed up. We were shocked and embarrassed, having thought that it was a typical new mother experience to have an unhelpful partner. Until we learned about Gustavo. I dare say that many of the woman in that group went home that day and went OFF on their mates.I know I did. “WHY CAN’T YOU BE MORE LIKE GUSTAVO???” Gustavo became a household name and the men were pissed. Who was this Gustavo, ruining their peaceful homes? Well, even today, 16 and a half years later, we still joke about Gustavo and what he signified in our early lives together. The perfect partner. Please let it be known that although Brian may not have gotten up every time I nursed, or fully appreciated the difficulties of the never napping children while he was at work in all those infant years, he has far surpassed any kind of Gustavo in all our years of marriage. He has been nothing short of the most doting and caring father and the best supporter, protector and friend I could ever have. Happy birthday, Brian!!! I love you so much. Now, please give me a back massage. I’m serious. Give me a back massage.

What Cooking Bird Are You?

IMG_0137Hi everyone!

I had a very interesting discussion with someone who wrote a book on personality types related to animals! I thought it was interesting because of my book that will be dealing with cooking personality types. He offered up this post that I found fun and petty much right on point! Check it out:

Your personalities play out everywhere we go…even when we stand alone in our kitchen and prepare our next meal. Our style impacts what we choose to cook and go about cooking it.


There are four personality styles that I have linked to four types of birds. Eagles are direct, daring, independent and decisive. They take risks to help them get results and are likely to experiment in the kitchen. They might even try making a new dish when they have people coming over for dinner. Eagles like to take charge of everything they are doing, so if you happen to wander by them while they are in the midst of preparing a meal, you might get something delegated to you. Their confidence is their secret ingredient. 


Parrots are talkative, social, enthusiastic and optimistic. They have a sense of fun and adventure. Who needs measuring instruments when you can throw in a little of this and a little of that? They are likely to try to cook unusual dishes. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Parrots are master multi-taskers and you may find them in the middle of preparing several recipes at once. Their curiosity and inventiveness is their secret ingredient.


Doves are helpful, harmonious, caring, and consistent. They probably have a half dozen dishes that rotate on the menu. Experimenting with unusual items can lead to disaster. Better to stick with the tried and true. In any case, it’s Thursday. That means it’s pasta night! Their secret ingredient is the desire and ability to make sure everyone is happy with the meal selection.


Finally, logical, detail-oriented, and analytical Owls are focused on quality. They are likely to use the highest quality ingredients. They stick to the recipe exactly as it is written and can reproduce the same dish exactly the same way every time. You may even notice small notes on their recipe pages indicating what they have learned in previous attempts. Their secret ingredient is their consistency driven by their ability to have a plan and stick to it perfectly.


So which bird are you? Take a moment to consider how your personality determines how you approach cooking your next meal.


Merrick Rosenberg co-founded Team Builders Plus in 1991 and Take Flight Learning in 2012. He is the author of The Chameleon and co-author of Taking Flight!, two books about personality styles. Merrick received his MBA from Drexel University who recently selected him as the Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year. Under Merrick’s leadership, his company has been recognized as the New Jersey Business of the Year and named one of the Fastest Growing Companies and Best Places to Work in the Philadelphia area. Merrick has worked with more than half of the Fortune 100 companies in the US and around the world.     

Were You a Vegan in Another Life?

saskia coachingHi everyone! Continuing on our “open your mind” journey about food and cooking, today we have an interesting guest , Saskia,who is an energy healer.  She believes that food behavior affects personal development. Take a read and see what you think-vegans will be especially interested in this piece…..   Is there a connection between personal development and food behavior? For more than 6 years I have been transforming my life and so I became a business coach, life coach and spiritual mentor. Previously I worked in a family owned company as CEO, leading our company to becoming one of the TOP 100 corporations in Germany and doubling the profits. Although I was very successful in business, there was still something missing. I felt a deep need to quit my job to become a coach to guide other people to transform their own lives. During this process I got in touch with spiritual works, as I have been spiritually gifted since I was a little girl. The spiritual part of me wanted to be seen and expressed. That was that something I had been looking for. To execute my job as a coach and spiritual mentor, I became a “Quantum Healer Practitioner”. This energetic work supported me in my new life and helped me to find myself again. A couple of month ago I cooked a delicious chicken curry for me and my daughter, and something strange started: I bit into a piece of meat and my entire body reacted: The bite of chicken tasted horrible and I immediately felt sick and I was close to throwing up. I thought that the meat was passed its expiration date, but actually I was paying close attention to buying fresh meat. But a few weeks later, I had another similar experience: I  loved steaks so I tried a piece of the steak my daughter ordered in a restaurant. Again I suffered from the same reactions: my belly felt like a blown–up balloon and I had stomach cramps. On top of that the taste of the meat wasn’t  pleasurable at all: Surprisingly I really felt that I was eating a dead animal. I didn’t understand what was going on with me. My mother reminded me that I never ate sausage and meat when I was a little girl and the fact that I forgot all of this, proves that I lived someone else’s life instead of mine. So yes, there is a connection between personal development and food behavior: If you find out who you are, everything falls into place: your career, your job and your health. You may automatically start eating the things which are doing well for you. Saskia Winkler Coach & Mentor “ a different perspective on life”

Stephen Colbert and The Syrians

Hi everyone! MDT223025Z_HRE01 We attended a fundraiser for the Montclair Film Festival a few weeks ago where Stephen Colbert and Jon Oliver spoke about the state of our country after the election. Many people are afraid for their futures, of not being treated fairly or with kindness and humanity. Mr. Colbert, acknowledging that we cannot control for everything to come, said a few words that I can’t seem to forget. “Get to know your neighbors.” We took heed and invited a family of Syrian refugees to our house for Thanksgiving through a local program. We were able to host this family who has been through hell and back; they’ve lost their home, their city destroyed, they’ve had to resettle in a new country amidst a political climate that is increasingly unwelcoming to them. We wanted our invite to be meaningful. We wanted them to know that there are people who care, people who want to get to know them, people who would be honored to have the opportunity to host them in the most intimate of spaces, their home. We also wanted to nurture them. To make them feel comfortable, relaxed, cozy on a cold day. And because I am a lover of cooking, I wanted them to be nurtured through the food that I prepared for them. I wanted them to not just receive nourishment without having to worry about the cost of the food, the time it would take to make it or the clean up afterward, but I wanted them to be well fed, to enjoy every bite and to learn about us through the dishes that we chose and planned for them to enjoy. This is not new to me, to nurture through food. I have enjoyed cooking for others my entire life.  What was different, however, was that I never realized how much of a gift it would be for me to share my food as a way to bridge the cultural and religious gap between different people in my own home. I remember so vividly how I loved the elementary school International potlucks and how proud everyone was to share their food in the cafeteria; Robert Rowan’s Swedish meatballs, Patrick McCort’s chili con carne and Esther Chin’s shrimp toast. As I got older, I got more skilled with cooking and became part of an International cooking club. I later cooked for my family and my friends. I  now cook dishes from around the globe because I love to eat them and serve them. I also have a recipe blog and business where I teach people to overcome their obstacles to cooking to be able to cook. But this meal brought a new and exhilarating experience of food and connection. On Thanksgiving Day with the Syrian refugees, food brought us together. What started as an awkward kind of social experiment where no one spoke the other’s language, technology (thank you, google translate!), hand gestures, smiles and most of all a leap of faith helped us get to know our neighbors and I was grateful. I was grateful for our new Syrian friends. I was grateful to my family and friends for being open to sharing our meal. I was grateful for the team that paired the Syrian family with us. And I was grateful to Stephen Colbert who inspired me to take control of something I can indeed do, something we can all do, to get to know our neighbors. Very importantly and for the purpose of this post,  I was grateful that I had the ability and skill to make food which was the conduit for connecting with this family. My hope is to share this gift of cooking and entertaining. Of cooking ethnically diverse meals to educate, to learn about other cultures and to nurture one another. Isn’t that what community is all about? I am donating 25% of my Take Back the Kitchen individual sessions purchased until January 1st and to be redeemed within the next six months to helping relieve the financial burden that my new Syrian friends have weighing on them. This money will help pay for their airfare to the United States that they owe to the US government. Please contact me to donate to this cause or purchase gift certificates for yourselves or your loved ones from Take Back the Kitchen this holiday season!

Convent Cooking? Why Not?

IMG_0036 Hi everyone! As we slim down after the massive feasts many of us took part in, I present to you a number of guest bloggers in the coming weeks who will get you to think out of the box about cooking and eating. The first one is by Mary Lou who will discuss her days in the sisterhood and the convent diet that helped her keep her weight off! by Mary Lou Reid Here’s how I lost 50 pounds and kept it off for 50 years without doing any yo-yo dieting in between. I entered a convent at age 18 as a very overweight, insecure but idealistic teenager determined that devoting my life to God would mean living the perfect life.  I had no thoughts of losing weight. I simply entered the convent and followed the program. The food “program” was nothing special.  After all, nuns take a vow of poverty so we weren’t eating pheasant under glass…maybe baked chicken.  This is exactly one of the keys to success: eat what you know, like and can afford.  Change is hard.  No one can follow “hard” for a lifetime.   Our meals included basic food groups plus a bit of sugar. We had dessert after lunch and dinner plus homemade sweet rolls on Sunday morning.  Voila – principle #1 – Always Eat Dessert. Here’s why eating dessert works: something yummy and decadent finishes the meal and takes away the craving for seconds.  How many times after eating a slice of chocolate fudge cake have you said to yourself…I think I’ll have another serving of chicken and dumplings?  Probably never. And now, for those of you who say, “How many slices of chocolate cake can I eat?” Or as one lady asked, “how many rows of thin mint girl scout cookies can I eat in a box?” Here’s the bottom line: if you eat less, one row of cookies instead of two for example, you will lose weight. In time you will be satisfied with only 2 or 3 cookies; cut back gradually and you can do it for a lifetime. Because eating dessert is not only allowed but prescribed, the guilt of eating what you love is gone. Guilt goes away and another holy habit for permanent weight loss principle kicks into place, “after me you come first,” which means take time for yourself…how about slipping away to the spa after some no longer forbidden dessert? RECIPE FROM THE CONVENT: Refreshing Cantaloupe Soup by Sister Kate Hendel, BVM INGREDIENTS: 1 medium sized cantaloupe, 1 c. cottage cheese, minced fresh cilantro leaves (dried may be substituted) INSTRUCTIONS: Peel cantaloupe and remove seeds. Place melon in a food processor with cottage cheese.  Mince several fresh cilantro leaves, add to mixture and blend until smooth. This refreshing soup may be served immediately or chilled.

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