Looking Back on Thanksgiving


I wrote this blog about a month ago. As I say in the first paragraph, it was to be posted while I was out recovering from surgery. It ended up being extra, but the sentiment behind it is so strong, I wanted to put it out there. I’ve had a lot of time to recover-both from dads passing & from my surgery. Funny how things happen-I know I wouldn’t have taken the time to mourn had I not been forced to remain inactive to allow my body to recover from surgery. I’m still counting my many blessings. Thank you, dad, for showing me to always look at the glass as half full.

I’m sitting here thinking about a topic for a blog post. I have to get a post ready…I’m going to be out for several weeks for surgery, starting tomorrow. I’m racking my brain, as I usually do, when thinking about something to write about. I really enjoyed writing my last post, about making split pea soup. I look forward to doing many more posts about food & cooking. But today I’m short on time, and short on ideas.

Thinking back over the past few weeks, it’s been pretty rough. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday…in fact I’ve blogged about it before. Showing love by preparing delicious family favorites, the recipes handed down through the generations. Coming together with loved ones, be they friends, family, or new acquaintances that we’re excited about getting to know better. All of us, sitting around the table, set with mom’s beautiful china, laughing over stories we’ve told over & over, all part of the Thanksgiving tradition. And an entire day devoted to giving thanks for all our blessings…could it get any better?!

This year though, Thanksgiving was more melancholy than joyous. Dad was in the hospital, so we weren’t all together. The stories were more serious, not about funny happenings, but about his tremendous strength & determination. We still counted our blessings, very thankful that he was still fighting, not ready to let go. Hopeful that he would stay with us, for a few more Thanksgivings, a few more Christmases, a few more opportunities to create memories that we can share & laugh about in the years to come.

I realize now his spirit will always be with us. He lives on in our hearts, in our own determination to live up what he hoped we would be, what he worked hard his entire life to make sure we could be. I’m very thankful he was my dad, and feel blessed to have had the opportunity to spend so many Thanksgivings with him. And look forward to all the Thanksgivings of tomorrow, honoring him by living my life to the fullest.

3 Resolutions…To Ditch – Part 2

  • Losing 10 # in one week: losing weight quickly results in regain (and more). Think slow & steady­ – no more than 1­2 # week
  • Cutting out fat completely: choose healthy fats: plant oils, olives, avocados, nuts, seeds
  • Banning dessert: restricting certain foods can lead to uncontrollable urges & overeating. Instead of good vs. bad foods think “sometimes” vs. “all the times foods.”

Source: Eatingwell

Does Wheat Make Us Fat?

Does wheat make us fat and sick is the title of a recent publication in the Journal of Cereal Science (yes that is an actual journal). Anyone who has stepped into a bookstore lately is well aware of the multitude of books claiming that wheat is causing all of our current health problems. Wheat BellyGrain Brain & Wheat Free Diet are among those seemingly endless titles. I find my head spinning when I hear another professional purporting the benefits of eliminating wheat from our diet. These researchers have suggested that wheat consumption leads to overeating and addiction, therefore resulting in our current obesity epidemic. Not only is there weak scientific evidence to back this claim, it also oversimplifies a very complicated problem. In my experience as an RD, I have found that obesity has not resulted from overeating healthy whole wheat grains, (such as bulgur, kamut, spelt, wheat berries, etc.) but rather consumption of refined breads (i.e. wheat), crackers, cookies & other processed baked goods; in general overconsumption of calories & limited physical activity.


Obesity is multifactorial; we cannot assign one specific type of food to our current epidemic.  However, what we do know for certain is that if we cut processed food from our diet (which includes processed wheat), increase our consumption of plant foods, engage in regular physical activity, we will lose weight and our overall sense of well being will improve.   Individuals that eliminate wheat from their diet are essentially limiting their processed food intake.  The culprit: high calorie, processed foods (not the wheat)


It should be noted that persons with celiac disease or wheat allergies do need to eliminate wheat from their diet.

3 Resolutions…To Get Healthy ­ Part 1

  • Eat more fiber: fruits, vegetables, whole grains & legumes (i.e. beans)
  • Cook dinner at home: make healthier versions of your restaurant favorites
  • Exercise 30 minutes per day: aim for minimum of 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise

Source: Eatingwell

Food Rules Part 11…Eat Well-Grown Food from Healthy Soil

  • Farmer’s & ranchers can grow excellent food that is not “certified” organic
    (think soil in organic matters vs. synthetic 
  • Remember organic does not mean necessarily mean food is good for you (i.e. “organic” soda)
  • Soils rich in organic matters produce more nutritious foods­try local & organic when possible

source: Michael Pollan Food Rules

Filling My Freezer


I’ve spent the past few months filling my freezer with wholesome, tasty food for my post surgery recovery time. I’ve really enjoyed cooking for myself, and seeing my freezer fill up with some of my favorite things to eat. Something unexpected has happened though…I’ve been surprised at how much I look forward to eating what I’ve made.


For many years, food was the center of my life (I’ve often joked that I like it so much it’s not only my hobby, I made it my career too). Part of it was because I was raised that way…upon finishing dinner tonight, we would chat about what to have for dinner tomorrow. But the bigger part of it is that I’m a food addict. Many (most?) people have some sort of drug they use to self medicate-something they can turn to when they’re sad, stressed, anxious, depressed, lonely… whatever it is they feel that they don’t want to feel. For me that drug is food. It’s always there; it’s cheap, legal, easy to get…the perfect friend to help get me through a crisis…or just through an ordinary Tuesday.


I looked forward to eating. It had to be a BIG EVENT…something would make me happy, and fulfill me, not just fill me. Every bite of every meal had to be delicious, exciting, like that first bite of chocolate (or syringe of heroin). Unfortunately, thinking that every bite has to be special meant that no bite was special. I was just chasing the idea that food could/would take away all my woes and make me happy…but all it left me was disappointed & unfulfilled (well, and fat…).


By starting to cook for myself, I’ve come to appreciate how wonderful simple, homemade food can be. A baked sweet potato topped with spicy black beans (simmered with caramelized onions, tomatoes & green chiles), and melted seriously sharp cheddar cheese is a go-to, quick, easy, delicious meal that I look forward to. Or those same beans over brown rice with diced avocado & salsa. Yum! By being mindful of what I’m eating, and enjoying the simplicity of good food, I no longer crave the ‘excitement’ of food. Going out to eat is a rare occurrence…something I’m forced to do because I don’t have time to cook, rather than what I do every meal because it’s more ‘exciting’.


By appreciating simple food, I once more get to enjoy a super special treat. I once more get to feel. Sometimes happy, joyful, blessed…sometimes sad, lonely & scared. But I feel…that’s the important thing.

Resolutions Revamped

As I have mentioned in past blogs, I am not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions simply because I think it often embraces the all or nothing mentality that gets us into trouble in the first place.  That said, I stumbled into this blog From College Girl to College Girl (just in case it needs to be noted, I am not a college girl) about New Year Resolutions Revamped that is worth the read. I really like reframing the typical resolution into something more concrete and not nearly so daunting as say “lose 10 pounds by summer.”  After all, isn’t good health more about what our weight says on the scale?  We should care for our body no matter the shape or size and embrace our ability to move, run, walk, dance, etc.

Even if you are not a college girl like me, check out this post.


Old: “I’m going to lose 10 lbs this year.”

Why focus on weight and appearance for your New Years Resolution? You should instead focus on feeding your body with healthy foods and listening to what it wants and needs. After all, the number on the scale is… well, just a number.

New and Improved: “I’m going to make more meals at home.”

After the holidays, we fall into a bit of a nutrition slump. We’re used to eating bigger meals, eating out with our family and friends, and sampling the wide variety of Christmas cookies! And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! But, most of us grow tired of this and are ready to get back on our normal eating schedule. After New Years, make a resolution to make more meals at home. This will give you a chance to try new recipes! Also, eating at home is often healthier, more nutrient dense, and lower in empty calories and more conducive to weight management.


Old: “No more desserts for me!”

Everything can be incorporated in an overall healthy diet. Cutting out your favorite foods will only lead to wanting them more, so give yourself permission to eat your favorite foods in moderation.

New and improved: “I am going to eat at least 3 different kinds of fruits/vegetables a day.”

Instead of focusing on what you are going to cut out of your diet, focus on what you can add into your diet! Fruits and vegetables are a great place to start. Fruit can also be a yummy and dessert! Check out this recipe for banana whip.


Old: “I am going to work out every single day.”

Again, this goal is very vague.

New and improved: “I will sign up and train for a 10 mile race.” or “I will try 2 new group fitness classes a month, and work out at least 3 times a week.”

Being more physically active is a great New Years Resolution! But, if you do not consistently exercise, making a resolution to “work out more” or “exercise every day” may not be specific enough. If you like to run, try signing up for a race with a few friends. Set up a training schedule together! If you don’t like to run, find other ways.


Old: “I’m going to get the bikini body I’ve always wanted.”

What is a “bikini body” anyways?

New and Improved: “I’m going to focus on what I love about my body.”

Try committing to saying 3 positive affirmations out loud everyday. Or make a list of 10 things you love about yourself that you love about yourself that includes non-body related personality traits. Add to this list often and read it often!


Old: “I’m going on a diet.”

New and Improved: “I’m going to fuel my body with the food it needs.”

This year try to REBEL against conventional fad diets that do not provide long lasting results and can be dangerous to your health.

Old: “I am going to start eating healthier”

This is a great resolution, but it’s too vague and general. Try coming up with specific and small health goals that you can accomplish and focus in on.  

New and Improved:  “I am going to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night” or “I am going to eat 2-3 servings of vegetables per day” or “I will start eating breakfast”

These resolutions will help you eat and be healthier and are specific and achievable!


Old: “I am going to spend more time working, etc.”

This is also a great resolution! But we often find it harder to make time to relax and stress relief.

New and Improved: “I will set aside 2 hours per week to practice self-care

Taking time for yourself to relax and clear your mind will actually help reduce stress and help you accomplish more!

Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain – Part 2

  • Downsize your dinnerware. Eat from appetizer or bread
    plates rather than pizza sized dinner plates.
  • If you bit it, write it. Keeping logs of food & drink will help
    avoid mindless eating.
  • Eat a protein packed breakfast. Those who eat protein rich
    breakfasts consume fewer calories all day.

Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain -­ Part 1

  • Rethink your drink.  Beverages don’t contribute to fullness like foods.  The # 1 contributor to weight gain is alcohol consumption.
  • Up your exercise intensity. One of the best ways to make your body more resistant to extra calories is to get more exercise.


Holiday Traditions – Hazelnut Maple Biscotti

After browsing the latest Bon Appétit & Eating Well I found myself feeling the pressure to go into a baking frenzy.  Everywhere you look from the Internet to grocery store magazine shelves, decadent, delicious (not to mention) festive cookies are calling your name.  Normally I would feel the pressure to make every single one of them,  but this year, I am going to stick to my tried and true favorites.  Always a tradition, my Hazelnut Biscotti marks the beginning of the holiday season in my house. I wish I could tell you this biscotti recipe spans generations in my Italian blooded family, but alas, that would be a fable.  I actually spotted this recipe years ago in a now defunct vegetarian magazine.  Though it didn’t come from my Italian roots, at least I know my favorite Italian aunt, Zia Patty will enjoy these tasty bites with her morning coffee.


Hazelnut Maple Biscotti

Hazelnuts (a tree nut) are a good source of folate & dietary fiber. Consuming tree nuts may even reduce the risk of dying from heart disease.

½ cup pure maple syrup (not pancake)

½ cup hazelnut butter (I ground my hazelnuts which is actually pretty simple)

¼ cup butter

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon hazelnut liquor (optional)

3 cups whole wheat pastry flour

½ cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup lightly toasted hazelnuts

Semi-sweet or Bittersweet Chocolate for drizzle


Preheat oven to 325. Line cookie sheet with parchment or silpat). In a medium bowl, cream together maple syrup, hazelnut butter and butter. Add eggs, vanilla and liquor, blending well. In a larger bowl, combine flours brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir to blend. Make a well into dry ingredients, add egg mixture and mix until incorporated. Add nuts. (Knead by hand if necessary). On a lightly floured board, divide dough into half and roll into 2 14-inch logs. Place logs on prepared sheet, then flatten about 1 inch high. Bake for 25 minutes or until loaves spring back when touched lightly. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Reset oven to 300. Slice cookies on the diagonal. Place slices flat on baking sheet, and bake for 25 minutes (a lot of this process is trial and error; I like my cookies crisp so I bake longer). Remove from oven and let cool. Drizzle with chocolate (or dip in chocolate) if desired.