Quick Bite: Oatmeal with Cranberry Compote


Cooking your oatmeal takes three more minutes…max…and so worth it. I stirred in a pinch of Vanilla Salt and about 1/4 cup of Silk Pure Almond (unsweetened Vanilla) then added a few generous spoons of my homemade cranberry compote. It’s the healthy beginning of a yummy day!


Can’t Have It? Then I Want It!

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This whole thing about Twinkie’s20121117-065615.jpg

has gotten me thinking…

The mind games we play with ourselves about food is absolutely crazy. And, to tell the truth, is likely one of the main reasons why it’s an obsession for so many.

We have given an inanimate object a great deal of power.

Take the Twinkie. Hostess has caused quite a stir, announcing they are closing their plants and no longer producing the iconic Twinkie along with other products like orange cupcakes

20121117-083036.jpg or Wonder Bread


My sister’s favorite was the Ho Ho.

20121117-083653.jpgI liked it but always deconstructed it as I ate it…first nibbling off the chocolate coating (chocolate so waxy that it built up on your teeth), then unrolling it and licking off the cream filling (so sweet it sometimes made me shiver) and finally eating the chocolate cake. That was a lot of work for a thin slice of cake!

But, I digress. My Twit Feed and Facebook wall is filled with Lamentations about the closing of Hostess. Boomers like me are all going down their own culinary memory lane. With Thanksgiving looming we are all talking about food memories (or maybe it’s just that I have foodie friends…birds of a feather…) and over and over I hear about how bad Twinkies are.

You would think Twinkies shoved themselves into people’s mouths!

We give food power.

News flash: it has none. No food is completely good and no food is completely bad. As soon as I made up my mind that I could eat anything I wanted I took the power back.

If I want a Twinkie I would eat one. Bad example…I would never actually crave one but you know what I mean.

Reframe. Food has no voice…we are ventriloquists. If the food speaks it is really our words.

Just change your mind.

RIP Twinkies.

Have a yummy day!


Healthy Options Cooking Class


This evening, October 9, 2012 I will be cooking and talking about “Healthy Options” at Independent Health’s Healthy Options Cooking Class at D’Avolio Kitchen.

Our Menu:

Quesadillas  Wheat tortillas filled with apples and red onions flavored with D’Avolio Black Current Balsamic Vinegar, black beans and Fontina cheese. These are served with a seasoned Greek yogurt dipping sauce.

Roasted Chicken Snack Strips  Boneless, skinless chicken breasts rubbed with D’Avolio Milanese Gremolata Extra Virgin Olive Oil and seasoned with Basik’s Hunter Blend seasoning available at D’Avolio.  

Orzo  Tiny rice shaped pasta with roasted grape tomatoes and garlic seasoned with Olio Fresca Herb Mix, available at D’Avolio’s and D’Avolio Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Peaches  Ordinary canned peaches made extraordinary with seasoned mascarpone cheese and a drizzle of D’Avolio 18 Year Traditional Balsamic Vinegar. For an extra kick we sprinkle just a pinch of Vanilla Bean salt.

The recipes will be posted tomorrow and can be found in the IHA tab on the right.

Have a yummy day!

Life With a Lap Band…It’s Just Food!



Before you go all crazy on me for proudly showing a heavenly glazed coffee roll and coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts, let me tell you a story.

Three years ago I began contemplating surgery to help me lose weight. I tried everything imaginable including hypnosis which cost nearly $2,000. It started out well but ended up only helping me fall asleep…during sessions!

I was actually cleared for it once but couldn’t pull the trigger and let the six month window close. I could do this on my own, damn it! So I tried a few more things then started seeing a nutritionist named Maria Weber.

I wrote about my personal epiphany here. You don’t really know when the moment happens until it is past because it may seem familiar to others that preceded it.

20121007-091218.jpgThis is my dad and I the day of my senior prom. I was almost 18 years old but for my entire teenage life I was convinced I was fat. Look at me. Am I fat?

I was never skinny and my nearly 5’2″ body could never look like the models in Glamour Magazine. But fat? I had to rethink all that I KNEW to be true when my mother gave me a photo album when I turned 50 and got my Master’s.

Picture after picture I just saw a dark eyed curly haired girl having fun. How did I allow myself to think this? Then, it became a self fulfilling prophesy.

This is the last picture that set the course of my life. Here I am, October 2010 at a swim meet at Fairfield University.

20121007-090837.jpgI see this picture and no longer feel sad and defeated.

It was time.

I went back to my doctor with an entirely new mind set. To say I was fully invested almost undervalues the actual change I went through. Eventually I put food into its rightful place. Something to fuel my body, enjoy cooking and sharing with friends and something cool to get to write about. It no longer rules my world. It brings me joy.

20121007-092512.jpgHere I am today. I’m pretty darned happy with the way I feel and look. I am going to lose another 20 pounds before I go to France next summer.

And, guess what? One of the ways I have done it is to have the above pictured coffee roll every weekend. I’m just living life?

Have a yummy day!


Vacation is just living life


For several weeks I was planning on writing today’s Foodie column about calamari. Just so you know, this column is not about calamari although calamari probably has some contribution to its content (you will understand this soon).

Becoming “The Foodie” is an ironic twist for me because for the last 18 months I have been on a journey of a lifetime. I “struggled” with my weight for at least 40 years until I took responsibility for it. We all have excuses, reasons why we are the way we are and act the way we act but the simple fact is, if you eat healthy portions of good food, move your body more and try to minimize stressors that control you, you will eventually become healthier, look better and perhaps even lengthen your life.

It may be simple but it is not easy.

This column is not about weight loss, the answers to all of those burning questions we have about diet and exercise. It is about my own experience with just living my life.

As the months have passed something really special happened, quietly creeping first into my subconscious then into the daylight. Food made the beautiful transition from the thing that drove me to a thing that brings pure joy. There was a time when I would plan my day around food. What was I going to eat today? Where was I going to eat? Did I have enough cash for the drive-through or would I have to go to the cash machine. Are you going to finish that? I have to clean my plate.

Now I not only understand portion control, I can visualize the correct amount of food before I put any on my plate or begin eating at a restaurant. I have changed how I value food. Here is an example to highlight my new thinking. I want a rack of lamb at a restaurant. It is a whopping $32. In the past I would do everything but lick the plate to get my “money’s worth.” Now I eat a few ribs (meat suckers, as my friend calls them) picking up the bone and enjoying each bite, taste the side accompaniment and call it a meal. I usually bring some home or share with fellow diners. And guess what? That was worth $32 to me. It is no longer about the quantity but the actual food that I enjoy. Who knew?

Another big part of the changes I have made is changing my environment. My cupboards and refrigerator have been streamlined and I have smaller containers to store food. This helps when I bring food to work.

Now, back to my message of the day. I returned home recently from a wonderful, relaxing vacation with my husband. We spent 10 days in the Florida sunshine eating and drinking and playing golf. We went on walks (though I must admit my husband was much more devoted to the effort), spent time reading and shopping and dining at our favorite restaurants. We ate calamari just about everywhere and drank great wine.

When I got home I weighed myself. I gained seven pounds in ten days. And yet, no one died, the world did not end and I did not go into a tailspin. I did not binge eat thinking that I was a failure giving up and not worrying about the consequences.

No, I just kept living.

Eating like this is the rest of my life. It does not end when I reach any goal (which I do not have, by the way, I figure I will know when I get there) nor does it change my accomplishment of shedding 63 pounds (a little less this week ;o).

No, food and weight are not evil. I am not bad because I gained weight (I’ve already lost half of it in four days). Food is wonderful, brings happiness to all around me and gives me something joyful to talk to you about every week.

I’m just going to keep living, writing and enjoying all that we have.


Have a yummy week!

NEXT WEEK: Is it the Calamari or is it the Dip?

Confessions of a Culinary Con Artist


It’s true.  I’m a con artist.  I guess it wouldn’t be so bad if I could successfully con other people but the actual victim here is me.  It started long ago but took on a life of its own in this millennium.  Let me tell you, I can talk a good game.  I can say all the right things and get my dietary support staff to buy in with excitement and enthusiasm.

Here’s how the con works.  I reach the end of my rope.  I join/ subscribe/ purchase the latest greatest diet craze.  I create a plan.  I write it down and I create a fancy spreadsheet to quantify my progress and predict the date of completion and success.  I pay hundreds of dollars (the best one was hypnosis for $1,800 in four EASY payments!) then eat to my heart’s content until the first appointment/meetings begin/book arrives.

I am a model citizen at the beginning.  I can say all the right things to the Weight Watchers leader so she anticipates my weigh in every week.  Usually by week four she is already talking to me about reaching goal and becoming a leader myself.  I can film a video with the director of the hypnosis center so compelling that he cannot wait to use it in his advertisements.  I can charm a personal trainer by using buzz words like commitment, lifetime and endorphin.

But I hit my con artist brick wall this past fall.  I started working with a nutritionist in July.  I poured my heart out.  I shared my failures with her.  She took my before picture and gave me great stuff to read.  She cared about me, I mean, really cared about me.  I even admitted to her in August that I am capable of saying all the right things and am good at starting but not very good at follow through.  It was the first time I ever said that out loud and I think it is because it is the first time I began to see the con for what it was.

Con: –noun

4. a confidence game or swindle.

5. a lie, exaggeration, or glib self-serving talk

Eventually, as I missed appointments and slid back to my old ways, I began for the first time to understand my tactics and how destructive they were.  I was embarrassed to go back because I saw something in her eyes which was different than I had ever seen in anyone who was “helping” me before.  She was really, sincerely disappointed.  She really believed in me and the disappointment I saw was like a wet glove being slapped on my face.  That one single look, which she may not even know crossed her face, was the jolt I needed.  I stopped the con cold turkey in January.

Things are different now.  When the con stopped I didn’t eat like crazy until I developed a plan.  There is no fancy spreadsheet although I do keep track of what I eat every day making sure my body is fueled with protein.  I have no date of completion because that would assume I am dead.  This is not a diet.  I will never diet again (that, in and of itself, is entirely freeing!) but simply eat like a healthy person every day.

Would you like to read more about my journey?

Have a yummy week!


Twitter: @JudeTheFoodie


Ick! How old is That Soup?

So, as I rearrange my cupboards I find this can of soup which says it is good until March 2005.  2005?  Really?  I mean, I must have bought it in like ’02 or ’03.  My college junior son would have been in middle school.  Gosh, I’ve had not one but two colonoscopies since then!  Am I crazy?

Perhaps yes, but I’ll bet if you look back there you may find your own dented, rusty gem.  There are so many reasons why this happens.

1.  We may not have been in the mood for that particular culinary delight upon purchase and it drifted to the back as preferences changed.

2.  We may have more than one shopper in the house that may put groceries away with a different idea of organization.

3.  We don’t actually plan our shopping by looking at empty spaces and filling in.  This, of course, assumes we have a plan for our shelves.  Most of us just fill in where there is space knowing that soup goes in that general place.

I’m sad about all of the money wasted on perfectly good food and realize those starving people in ___ cannot benefit from my error. 

I am also happy, though.  As part of my three step program (upcoming blog) of outrunning diseases obesity can bring, I am literally getting my life in order.  This includes getting rid of those t-shirts which take up valuable dresser space (how many can you possibly need), scheduling exercise and organizing my kitchen.

I now have room for grab and go healthy choices and can better plan my meals during the work week.  As for that can of soup…the garbage disposal and recycling bin are the beneficiaries of that.

Life is good!


Twitter: MidMajorMom

Twitter: JudeCaserta