Category: Other

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.

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” www.saskia-winkler.com

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! alma@takebackthekitchen.com

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.

My website is www.ConventDiet.com.     People can reach me at info@conventdiet.com.

Prepare For Thanksgiving, 2016!

turkey slices grilledHi everyone!

Get ready to bring everyone together, no matter what their political or world view. Food is the best way to connect.  Below is my latest article for Worrall Community Newspapers. Happy Thanksgiving!

Now that Halloween has passed, it’s only fitting that we start to consider how we will indulge on this next food fest of a holiday.  I am thankful for the fact that we have many  culinary options, other than candy, to express our gratitude, love and enjoyment of a day spent with family and/or friends or even just by ourselves.

It would be great if we could simply go to every neighbor’s house, open up a bag at their doorstep and have them drop in an already prepared turkey, a pot of hot mashed potatoes and some pumpkin pies but that’s not going to happen. Instead we will need to channel our inner Julia Childs or Bobbie Flay to start planning the menu, shopping, prepping, assembling, cooking, baking and even freezing if we are getting a head start now.

But what if we don’t have a Julia or Bobby inside? What if all we have inside is a frustrated little voice telling us to order in from Shoprite for the meal we promised to host? What if instead of making that apple crisp to contribute to a friend’s Thanksgiving we make a last minute phone call to the local bakery because we were too afraid to risk making a pie that wasn’t worthy?

If this sounds familiar, it might be a good idea to start thinking about why we procrastinate when it comes to preparing for what should be a fun holiday. Let’s break it down:

Is it who is coming that is stressing you out? Do you have in-laws and friends who intimidate when it comes to the big hosting show? If this is your situation, it’s important to take a deep breath, take a step back and remember that this holiday is about togetherness and not just about the food. Yes the food is important but it is much more important to be de-stressed. But how?

Don’t be a T-day martyr! Make sure to make your Thanksgiving a potluck. My favorite new tool is signupgenius.com where you can create an invite with all of the items you need/want and your guests can fill in what they will bring. One of the reasons I love this is that there is no back and forth with the guests which can be time consuming and sometimes even awkward. If you want 4 desserts, your guests simply sign up for that. If you need 3 vegetarian stuffings and 1 sausage stuffing, that’s what will be signed up for. Few moments in life are more pleasurable than checking out your sign up genius invite and seeing all the slots filled which means you just need to make the turkey! I used to be a “do-it-all” host but I realized that my guests actually wanted to participate and who was I to deny them?

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I’m in the Wall Street Journal-Front Digital Page no less!

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Hi everyone! Yes, I am on the front page of the Wall Street Journal on line and I’m even in the hard copy! I was interviewed about the irony that I am a therapist and cooking coach, eat very well, exercise, am thin and am still diagnosed with pre diabetes. The belief by some is that prediabetes is overdiagnosed and turning healthy folks into patients.

Wall Street Journal Article with Alma

You’ll have to read the article (and some amusing/bashing comments) and let me know what you think!

To read more about my Prediabetes Predicament, a six part series on my journey of getting diagnosed with prediabetes, go to Diabetic Lifestyle.

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Sun dried Tomato Strata for the Creative Cooking Personality!

Hi everyone!

Every Friday I make a different kind of strata, a.k.a. egg casserole, for the special needs parenting group I I host. I made this simple one a few months back with some leftover mashed potatoes that were looking for a home. It gave the strata a nice creaminess. This dish may be especially appealing for the creative cook who wants to add in leftover ingredients-just be sure that all vegetables are sauteed first! Enjoy!

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Zahatar Hummus for Every Cooking Personality Type

 

Hi everyone!

As many of you know, I went to Israel over Thanksgiving and I still am in withdrawal from the delicious hummus I ate there every day.

Whether you are a perfectionist cook, a conflicted cook, a distracted cook or a carefree cook, this recipe is for you!

Carefree cooks, I recommend you go easy on the garlic if you are prone to “over ingredient”. Enjoy!

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Sausage with Rice and Eggs

Hi everyone!

I made this dish with my students last week and they thought this was fantastic. Not only because it was simple and could be made in a jiffy with leftover rice, but because it made use of their favorite sausage that is pre-cooked. I hope you like it!

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