. . . and now about the rest of us

Folks at my local farmers market

Folks at my local farmers market


Hello Darlings,

LaDiva here.

Okay, do you live next to one of those “Every ingredient in the World” grocery stores?  Or the “Everything organic and overpriced” joints?  Well, I don’t.  In fact, a lot of people don’t.  I live an hour from anything remotely resembling this.  How about the “Whole Paycheck” market?  Or perhaps the local, “No one that buys here wears anything by organic cotton” store?  Not me.

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Encore! Eggplant Cutlets with a local marinara

When you view, and I hope cook along with, one of my video recipes you will notice that I have boring basic ingredients you can find at most grocery stores in the US.  There are a couple of spices or items that are a little exotic, but 1] I point them out and 2] they are rare.  

I cannot stand the game many folks who want to be earth-friendly play that I call, “How Vegan are You?”  

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Lean Bean Sandwich Machine

Have you ever been in a conversation with intelligent, nice people, and then someone says, “I had those new black bean burgers at a barbecue last week.”  Then someone else says, “That company is owned by ConAgra.”  Then some other brilliant conversationalist chimes in with, “Well, actually the original owners sold out to ConAgra to start an animal sanctuary in Tahiti when feral snakes are being rounded up for boots made by exploited child workers in Asia.”  And finally, this gal pipes up with a piece of info she has been trying to inject into a chatter of healthy, holistic, horse manure for a month, “Yes, but the owners are cutting down palm trees to make way for the animal sanctuary and displacing the local farmers creating an economic crisis for most of the surrounding island population.  Didn’t you get the email and sign the petition?”

Now the guy that mentioned the new burgers decided to try something other than the planet-killing, artery clogging death slabs or so called by his veggie-fascist sister-in-law who will only graze on his lawn for “real foods” at family get-togethers.  So, do you think he is ever going to mention or try anything remotely like that again?

Look kids, you may eat chia seeds for your health, but the carbon footprint on them is enormous if you live on the eastern seaboard.  Same goes for agave nectar.  Where I live maple syrup is made a couple of miles away.  That’s what I buy.  Okay, that is not all I buy, but it is the major sweetener in my foods.  The people who process the sap have never sang Kumbaya and do not dye their own t-shirts.  I shop at the local grocery store which has an organic section and some other organic products.  My priority is to tell them that my dollars will support local farmers and local produce.  Please bring me more so I can purchase more here in town.

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Insta Party Bean Dip on Pepper with Olives

Most of the folks who live around me do not make 6-figure incomes.  And they are the ones using much of our healthcare dollars because they do not understand what foods are readily available, healthy, cheap and easy to make.  And they don’t have a personal chef to do it for them.  Until recently, insurance coverage did not include nutrition counseling.  Now it does, at least a few times a year with a registered dietitian.  These low 5-figure folks were my target audience when I started making my videos and teaching cooking classes.  There are lots of customers at the “Wholier than thou” shopping extravaganzas, but I am looking for volume to change our national health needs.  That’s who will tip the balance of power in the food processing and marketing sector.

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Our local flower girl

So, I lift my cheap, non-snazzy can of seltzer to all the ShopRite, Aldi, Piggly Wiggly, Hy-Vee, Food Lion, Food Chopper, Kroger, Albertson, Fred Meyer, Meijer, Tom Thumb, Sav-a-Lot folks who just need to know bean burgers are a great first step.  Feel free to contact me when you’re ready for the next one.  I’ll be grazing on the free organic stuff in your lawn.

Click here to subscribe to LaDiva Dietitian’s monthly video recipes.

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Two ears and one mouth

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 6.24.46 PMDarlings, LaDiva here.

Just got back from the North American Vegetarian Society’s Summerfest.  This is a 5 day veg affair in Johnstown, Pennsylvania for everything vegan or raw.  It is where everyone in the plant-based food land launches their books, hangs out and gives presentations on nutrition, environment and activism.  I think even mosquitos are safe here.

I gave 3 presentations – You’re Not Dead, Yet; Why do I have Stubborn Belly fat when I do a Million Crunches a day?; Pregnant? Vegan? FAB! – and was part of a panel on raising vegan kids.

At this conference dietitians [RD-registered dietitian] are royalty.  Which is a good/bad thing.  Great that people respect you enough to ask questions, bad if you want to eat hot food or meet friends.  But I am with the creme of the dietetics world – Brenda Davis, RD; Jill Nussinow, MS, RD; Mark Rifkin, MS, RD; Juliana Hever, MS, RD; Dina Aronson, MS, RD and Myriam Parham, MS, RD and I know I am leaving other folks out.   Then there are the MDs.  Well, who really cares about MDs?  Their wives, and don’t get me started on male MDs telling us all how to eat and cook for families!

Anyway, there I was listening to everyone talk about their book deals and festivals.  And I had nothing to say.  Mainly because there was so much great information about publishers, book deals and other folderol that I have never dealt with.  One RD looked at me and said, “Are you okay?  You’re not saying anything.  You are so calm.”

Well, I was calm and also overwhelmed by the fact that all these people were doing thingsLaDiva outside cooking demo Sanctuary I want to do.  And I was fairly clueless as to how to get into their league.  I felt like a teenager allowed to sit at the adult table. They have “people” like publishers, book designers, literary agents.  I do goofy dancing on videos and LUV immersion blenders. So, I decided to be a sponge.  Also, to use my 2 ears and 1 mouth in that proportion.

Later that day, I ran into one of my esteemed colleagues.  I told them about my email to the publisher for my book because it had been months with no communication.  The publisher did respond to my “maybe we don’t have a fit” email.  They said that they are still interested, but they aren’t picking up anyone’s book at the moment.  My colleague said that they knew this publisher had a reputation of dragging their feet.  My colleague gave me some good advice – Publish it yourself.  I nodded, not totally in agreement.  I mean who wants to do ALL the work?

They said, “The publisher is going to take a large cut.  They are dragging their feet.  You could put together the book as a PDF, sell it, put up the cooking videos yourself and keep all the profit.  Why are you going to wait to make money and then give so much of it to someone else?”

It did make sense, but what about getting me out on a publicity tour?

They said, “Book yourself.  Sell some books.  Get some good response.  Then, go to someone, a publisher, when you have sales to show your worth and have them together the print version.”

For a split second I felt stupid, like I should have known that.  But, then I thought, how cool that these folks think of me as a peer.  There was no “please, god, don’t let that LaDiva person sit at our table.”  There was an expectance that my book would be worth reading and that my presentations would be interesting and well-researched.  One of them even said, “I want to be you!”  And I thought, no, you don’t.  That made me think, maybe I don’t want to be them, either.  But I don’t think I’ll mention it.

One mouth and two ears.  That’s what Abraham Lincoln was thinking when he said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

 

Why don’t journeys have escalators?

Darlings,

ImageOpened my season of cooking demonstrations June 7th with the next June 14th.  My mustard sauces were a big hit and the vendors told me they saw an increase in sales.  FAB!  I use ingredients from as many vendors as possible for my cooking demos.  The point is to have customers LUV a recipe and then be able to take all the yummy fixin’s home with them.  The bok choy gal sold out.

So, I’m feeling pretty good.  Then, I read a note from myself, posted in March, in my calendar.  Today is the day I have to write to a possible publisher for my book, You’re Not Dead, Yet and find out if they are going to #%& or get off the pot.  Now, this is not some schlump publisher.  We had many emails about my book and they were very positive.  They had lots of good questions about where I was going with the material.  I knew they had actually read the chapters and other recipe materials I had sent.

In speaking to a well-known book author, I was told that the publisher has had enough time to make a decision.  They need to make a deal or let me move to the next step.  I thought about it and agreed.  Time to jump without a parachute, again.

Most of my life and successes have been things I did by myself or I was the reluctant leader.  I was so hoping that some professional person would edit my material, hold my feet to the fire and show me how to get this done.  Doesn’t look promising.  Also, I need to have something to sell at cooking demos, conferences and other events.  The real cash is in product, not speaking fees.

I have a big conference coming up, The North American Vegetarian Society Summerfest.  This is where you go to learn all things plant-based.  I learned more there in 5 days than my whole year in grad school about biochemistry and nutrition.  The audience is WAY smart and will ask the most detailed questions.  They also buy product.  Thus, I thought my book would have a release date by now and I could get a pre-sales going.  Not going to happen.  I am putting together a one-day Summer Cooking Intensive at the LaDiva studio kitchen.  That is one thing to sell, but these people buy books.

It is true that I have not heard back from my email of “Maybe we don’t have a fit” to the publishers.   On the other hand, if history repeats itself, I will be self-publishing, creating an E-book, figuring out how to link videos, designing covers and whatever else it takes.  I’m almost finished with the first draft of the entire thing.

I do want to roll my eyes, exhale and say, Who really cares whether I do this or not?

What I was running to during the last 1/2 mile

What I was running to during the last 1/2 mile

Then that annoying voice says, You wrote it.  Publish it.  Who cares if no one buys it.  You can say, just like when you finished the marathon, I did it and I don’t ever have to do it again.  You are going to get older, anyway.  You are going to write other stuff, anyway.  Get it done anyway.

Gee, I can’t wait to get on another untraveled road to possibly nowhere.  But I won’t know if I don’t put on my walking shoes.

Here’s a sigh and a nod to Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now.

 

Does your food do what you want it to do?

There I am at a party looking at the food.  I’m looking for guests I know and who looks fun and interesting.

Before I can finish scanning the room.  The host says, “Meet my friend, LaDiva, she’s a dietitian.  LaDiva, don’t hate me because of the food.  I know so much of it is bad.  But it’s a party.”

Great way to meet someone new.  Now, the new person will begin to spew all their guilt about their diet to me.  “I don’t eat THAT much meat.  I mean, why does bad food taste so good?”

Really?  Do you think I care?  Did you notice I had a glass of red wine in my hand?

So here are my mental replies:

  1. “Hmm, interesting.  You don’t eat that bad-ly.  You are using the word, bad, as an adverb.  You need to add an -ly.  Strunk and White have an app.”
  2. “Hmm, interesting.  What else do you think about your food?”
    “Well, it is just hard to make healthy stuff.”
    “Hmm, interesting.  Hard to make.”  I nod my head.
    “Yes.”
    “Do you have a credit card?”
    “Yes.”
    “Great.  The rest conversation is going to cost you $150 for an hour.  I have my Paypal swiper with me.”
  3. “You eat really bad?  Actually you eat BADLY, and have you ever painted a room or anything?”
    “Yes.”
    “Well, this conversation is about as interesting to me as watching that paint dry.  I am now going to put that knitting needle through my eye to divert the pain of this verbal interchange.”
  4. “Okay, I’m going to cut to the chase.  You need to ask yourself, what do you want your food to do for you?  Answer that and the rest is easy.  Excuse me.  Those folks look like they are having fun.  I’m going to join them.”

That’s my bottom line.  What is it you want your food to do?  Here’s an example:

  • I’m a person with high cholesterol.  I have a couple of teen age kids, I want to get through college and off into their own lives.  I know what I eat causes my problem.  I pay my own insurance and if I need more medication, my premiums will go up.  I need my food to lower my cholesterol and make sure I go to my kids weddings.

If this person is chowing down on the animal foods, saturated fat and little fiber, their food is NOT doing what they want it to do.  Their diet is actually supporting their next stroke and decreasing the number of meals the caterer plans for the graduation parties.

  • I’m a person wiling to risk the damage to my liver by having a martini.  I drink my martini after 5:30pm.  The point of the martini is to break the work day from the evening.

This person’s food does exactly what they want it to do.  And if they have an olive, they even get fiber.  If they have more than one martini, it may not do what they want it to do because, depending on their alcohol tolerance, they make get to tipsy and not make dinner or go to bed at a reasonable hour.  If they have 3 or 4, they may have a hangover that REALLY ruins their next day and any relationships they have with people who don’t appreciate their 3 am bad joke phone calls and texting about how their bosses really don’t understand them.

The idea is not rocket science.  It does take looking at yourself, your goals and owning what you do versus what you want.  I come in when you want to get these two – goals and daily life – to work together.  That’s where my expertise gives you strategies to make your healthy life a reality.

So looking at your life and health goals, that’s the question to ask.  And when we meet at a party, tell me a great joke and the most fun thing you have ever done.  Leave the food guilt in the car.  It will wait for you.

One step back, two steps forward

LaDiva outside cooking demo Sanctuary

I’m coming to an event near you!

Darlings,

My writing space is about 80% together.  However, I had a huge cooking demo and had to stop and prepare.  On the other hand, what I have done is so comforting and truly me that I have no problem putting off finishing into the summer.

Monetizing my business has been a mental struggle.  That is one reason I am writing the book, You’re Not Dead, Yet – Nutrition for the over 50 crowd.  People ask me for a book at every cooking demo or presentation.  Right now, the project is in the hands of a publisher.  In the meantime, I am re-shooting and shooting anew video recipes to accompany the Ebook.  You should be able to click on links to bring you to recipes that reflect the nutrition info you have been reading in each chapter.

But that Ebook is at least a few months away and I need to make you, other blog readers and YouTube viewers happy with content that will better your lives, increase cash-flow and create my long term goals of creating a more compassionate world through parties, food and fun.

Well, my time banging out walls and designing a closet formulated a clear plan.

To better your lives through content, I am starting a subscriber service via theScreen Shot 2014-05-21 at 8.59.25 PM YouTube Channel.  Folks have written that they had to wander around on the channel to find what they wanted and they wanted PDFs of the recipes.  A subscription service means I can spend time sending off PDFs and answering emails like, “What is that eggplant tomato recipe?”  I can take the 10 minutes to sift through and send all the videos with eggplant and tomatoes.  Also, I will be able to create a series of basic cooking/shopping techniques.  Helping newbies in the kitchen is why I teach teens cooking, seasoning and knife skills.

For creating a more compassionate world through fun, this summer I am conducting cooking demos almost every weekend.  [Check out my Facebook page for details.]   In the fall, I will have my Cooking Club.  A small group of 10 will learn to prepare dishes to keep their girl/boy-ish figures once a week for 4 weeks.  I am also looking at having a weekend intensive next spring.

But farmers markets aren’t the only place to have cooking craziness.  The BIG cooking demonstration I spoke of in the beginning of this was my second at a state conference.  What a hoot!  Party and event planners, take note.  What  is the best way to end a day of sitting on your rear watching slide presentations for 8 hours than to crack up with a LaDiva Girl-ish Figure Gastronomy?  Yes, there will be the Diva-ette Dancers!

So, my “step backward” writing break that seemed incredibly decadent and merely work-aversion actually gave me a new plan . . . with twice as much work to do.  And I have to get back to it.

Fix the foundation first

Darlings,

I have to fill you in on what I have been doing – Remodeling my bedroom and work space.  Actually, Marty has been.  

Writing was so unfocused that I thought, What are you doing?  Why aren’t you writing?  You are at the last full chapter of your book?”  Then, it hit me.  I HATE my space.  

Visions of patching the plaster, getting rid of my awful closet, painting the walls are REAL color kept filling my head and nothing was filling my pages.  So, I thought, okay honor this.  

I have a lot of writing, video editing and presentation work to do this month.  I need to feel that I am in my element and not in a before photo from the TV show, This Old House.  Plus, a VERY good friend said, “LaDiva, you have been working almost daily on that book since November.  Give your brain a break and allow your ideas to simmer for a couple of weeks.  You are just writing to write and can’t see the project.”  She is a very good friend to be able to call it as it is. 

Marty came in with her FAV sledge hammer and started whacking away.  Today is plaster and sewing the curtains for my new closet.  Plastering takes a few days, for those of you uninitiated.

I have an end date to when I have to get back to the full grind, so I don’t go completely off the tracks.  And even though the room is a bunch of plastic sheets and plaster dust, it feels better.

Can’t wait to show you the photos when we are done.  

 

It’s about Healthcare, Silly!

Dr. Margaret Sanger

Dr. Margaret Sanger

Darlings,

In this morning’s local paper, I was reading the weekly article about events that happened in town decades ago.  Some are very funny – Mr. Washburn lost his horse on Tuesday, but she wandered home sometime during the night and was found eating the goodies from his neighbor’s garden.  Today’s was from 1937.

“Dr. Charlotte Bacchus Jordan . . . at the local Municipal Building told a group of 43 mothers, many of them on relief and mothers of large families, that a scientific control of the birth rate would do much to alleviate the problems of increasing feeble-mindedness, maternal death rates – and even the threat of war that sometimes, she said, is a result of overpopulation requiring expansion of territory”

We have just celebrated International Women’s Day yesterday.  No, you cannot have a martini if you missed it.  Last night I was at a Planned Parenthood event.  Now, I can hear you, “LaDiva, DON’T get into the abortion debate.”  Quiet, Darling, I’m not.  I’m a dietitian.

International Women Day

I deal in healthcare.

One in five women in the US has either been to a Planned Parenthood clinic or has a good friend that has.  I went to a local clinic when I was in high school because I knew I would soon be sexually active.  I had no idea how to protect myself.  I was from a BIG Irish, Catholic family and had seen what unplanned pregnancies did to girls, boys and their families.  That was not going to be me.

When I was in college I went to Planned Parenthood for annual gyn healthcare exams.  They were the cheapest place in town.  I went to Planned Parenthood for healthcare exams when I moved to New York City because I knew they would be clean, professional and cheap.  I didn’t know New York, but I did know Planned Parenthood.  Ninety-seven percent of what they do is healthcare services.  And they do it for women who don’t have insurance or the funds to pay other clinics.

Now there is a push by legislators who want to jump on a convenient “Get-me-noticed” bandwagon and have doctors who work at Planned Parenthood and perform these outpatient services to have admitting privileges to local hospitals.  Seems reasonable at first glance, but here a fact that those of you who are not in the medical world don’t know –  Hospitals are in the business to make money.

Doctors who work at the local hospital make the hospital money.  Doctors who only do a procedure once in a few years, do not.  Why give privileges for someone who doesn’t make us money?  Here’s another fact, it is up to the hospital to decide who gets privileges and who doesn’t.  Some teaching  hospitals only allow privileges to MDs who are also on their faculty, some hospitals do not separate church and state and will not allow an MD who performs abortions for any reason to have privileges.  

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has stated that this barrier to women’s healthcare does nothing because the procedures done at Planned Parenthood Clinics rarely have complications and are taken care of at the clinic when they arise.  Also, Planned Parenthood Clinics need to have contracts about emergency care with local hospitals.  So, any emergency is already taken care of.  What problem are these legislators trying to solve?  Ensuring their voting base turns out on election day, not whether I can get treated for genital warts.

As a medical professional, all I see is that young people will not get educated about how to prevent unplanned pregnancies and steer clear of sexually transmitted diseases.   More economically stressed women will not get the healthcare they need.  More new moms won’t make sure to have a safe pregnancy.  The emergency room will, again, become their primary care physician.

My mother, The Queen Mother, went to Mass twice a week, confession once a month and observed every papal rule.  She gave birth to seven children.  When I was in college the abortion topic came up.  Almost every girlfriend I had either had an abortion or was in fear of an unplanned pregnancy.  My mother shook her head and I awaited her sharp tongue on how women could be so foolish.  Here’s what she said:

“I am lucky.  I have always had your father’s support.  I never had to worry that he would provide, even when he was on strike.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a young woman with no one or have children she could not afford to feed.  So, I know that I am supposed to have one point of view, but I cannot make that decision for someone else.  I would not want someone to make a decision for me.”

Amen.