What are you?

2014-04-10 07.25.00Hello Darlings,

LaDiva here.

At a dinner for a civic group, of which I am on the board, I met someone new.  Instead of introducing myself, a colleague introduced me as a dietitian and plant-based.

Now the fun begins.

The new friend begins to tell me that they don’t eat that much meat.  I am now trying not to look bored and interested in their meal choices.

Here’s the scoop:

I am a vegan2013-07-30 13.43.39
I am a woman
I am a mother
I am a gardener
I am a business owner2013-02-02 14.18.55
I am a cook
I am a skier
I am a film professional
I am a car driver
I have traveled around the world
I am a liberal with a libertarian streak
I am an actress
I am a home owner

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I am a wife
I am a guitarist
I am a teacher
I am a sister
I am low maintenance
I am an author
I am a backpacker
I am a companion pet to my cats

All of these things are a part of me.  They all define a part of myself.  None of is all of me.  When we meet, let’s not start with one that makes you feel uncomfortable.  When we meet, give me your list and I promise to discuss whichever one you want.

 

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Sparring to Tears

boxing-gloves-mdHello Darlings,

I’m here at the North American Vegetarian Society’s Summerfest.  I only have a few minutes to write this so I will get right to the chase.  My BFF, Marty Davey told me this story and I had to share.

My esteemed colleague, Guy-whose name I won’t use, MS, RD, alphabet soup and I have become friends and one liner sparring partners.  Like two bad comedians fired from the Borscht Belt.  We usually agree on nutrition aspects, but have had head to head parsing of dietetic hair splitting.  We both are giving presentations at Summerfest.

Guy’s presentation was about well-known vegans going back to eating animals.  He was making a point about a celebrity’s diet and I made an astute comment, but one that would be more of a question from a dietitian and somewhat over the heads of the audience.  It dealt with the positive aspects of eating nuts and seeds.  So, Guy, in taking back control of the room, humorously referred to me as Nut Woman.  We all laughed.  Well, when the shoe fits . . .

The next morning I sat at a table of friends and new folks, including Guy who was in a semi-heated discussion about the previous night’s keynote speaker.  Many of us were not impressed with Mr. Keynote, and Guy’s counterpoint in the breakfast discussion was singing Mr. Keynote’s praises.  Because I have studied conflict resolution, I found the third side of the argument – “Girls, girls, you’re both pretty.”  I tried to show where both parties were correct and had agreement.  Then, cleared away the egos and blandly showed where there was a parting of the ways. An agreement to disagree.  We did end up having a semi-pleasant breakfast.

At one point of this discussion of diet and chronic disease, Guy and I both brought up dead relatives who may have been helped by what we now know.  Guy said it was his deceased mother’s birthday.  We quipped about how you can NEVER help your parents.  They are your parents.  You will always be their child.

At my presentation, Guy was in the audience and shot me a barb or two in the beginning of my spiel.  They were fun and short and didn’t distract.  My presentation was some of the info contained in the book I’m writing, You’re Not Dead, Yet: Nutrition for the over 50 crowd.

It covers different nutrition aspects and then we go into what you need to do as a vegan or vegetarian should you go into a hospital or long term care facility.  I start with talking about some dead people – My great aunts, my grandmother and how they died of chronic diseases.  I come from a large Irish Catholic family with 13 great aunts and uncles on one side.  You name the disease, I’ll name the relative.

Life was good.  I was making jokes, people were attentive.  Then, I got to my last 3 slides.  The first is a photo of a woman in her late 50’s-60’s with a dog.  I begin to talk to this group of older folks about how they have made a choice for themselves and the planet deciding to have a compassionate eating pattern and give themselves the best health.  The next slide are photos of my sisters.

I got welled up and couldn’t speak.  I ran through this part of the presentation about 10 times the night before just fine.  Now, the words couldn’t make it out of my throat.

The audience waited.  Then, told me to take my time.

Finally somewhat composed, I said, “My sisters’ are all widows.”  Using the laser pointer I indicated each sister and the ages of their husbands’ death and cause. Heart attack, liver failure, heart attack. All under the age of 60.

The next slide had the names of all my first cousins who never made it to age 53.  Heart attack, kidney failure, heart attack, lung cancer, lung and breast cancer. Then, a photo of me crossing the finish line of a marathon at age 53.

I wound up the presentation requesting that the audience, when speaking with friends whose lives revolve around doctor appointments, medications and old useless health ideas and diets that maintain the pharmaceutical industry to say, “You’re Not Dead, Yet, so why are you filling your head and you grocery cart with dead ideas and dead products?”

We are the first generation of vegetarians and vegan that will end up in some facility and I am honored to be among these vanguards.

At the next event, 10 minutes later, Guy told me that he had never seen me like that.  I was always a funny, satirical, esteemed opponent.  I was trying not to be embarrassed about losing it at a presentation, nodded and sat to watch the speaker at this event.

Dinner was to be all of the dietitians at Summerfest eating together and picking eat other’s OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbrains.  I grabbed tables for us since I couldn’t reserve any in advance and saw Guy.   I showed him the tables.  He put his food down and dropped his head.  With tears, he said, “Today is my mother’s birthday.”  She had been an obese, uncontrolled diabetic.”  She died before Guy was out of college.

It was a familiar familial pain.  I gave Guy a big hug and we shared some tears over family members who we could or never can help.  We just have to accept them wherever they are in their life.

Guy is now my long lost Jewish brother, or so he told me.  Oy, the qveching I’ll hear at the next Summerfest breakfast debate.  But, then my father did always buy bagels for  our eggs and bacon brunch after Mass.

Taking a Break can Give a Boom

Hello Darlings,

LaDiva here.

LUV my men.

LUV my men.

Of course, I am writing this for shameless self promotion.  I am also writing to, hopefully, inspire myself and you to fulfill goals.  So, I have to confess.

My videos on my YouTube Channel have been regurgitated for a year.  Now my excuse is producing a film, writing a book, being out of town for weeks and producing an animated DVD.  However, I didn’t keep up on them.  And I think I’m okay with that.

Last week I went back into the kitchen and shot 5 videos in one day.  They all went up on YouTube within 48 hours.  It felt good.  I made the recipes simple and man-friendly for Father’s day.  The point of easy recipes was to get out and DO something rather than spend the day in the kitchen cooking for your FAV guy. There wasn’t one with the kids.  You may know that every month I have kids make a video.  Since I was getting my feet back into the shallow end of the pool, I thought keep it simple.  Additionally, I needed to think about what I want to do going forward with these 100 videos.

While patting myself on the back during the YouTube uploads, I was completely rejected

CocoBanana Man Smoothie w/cinnamon garnish

CocoBanana Man Smoothie w/cinnamon garnish

from a conference I really like.  It brought me back to living in hallways as an actor.  You wait for auditions in chairs in countless hallways.  Then, you hope bearing you soul will garner a paycheck.  Acting is nothing more than a sales job.  What I was selling, they weren’t buying. That included this conference.  I wanted to let go of who and what they are and my ego attachment to them.  But, I’m not that evolved, well at least for the first 15 minutes.

I took a lunch break to lick my wounded pride.  While munching, I listened to a public speaker expert who said, anyone can look up the information you present.  What people come for is to connect with you, your take, your experience that creates a reality for them to use your information.   How I can better connect to audiences?

Basic Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Basic Roasted Sweet Potatoes

This changed my home healthcare worker presentation, to be given in the next 3 hours, from focusing on what to feed the elderly to why home healthcare workers are a key member of the healthcare team.  Their work maintains  dignity for those needing care and keeps folks in their homes.  Staying home is such a critical aspect of someone who has lost loved ones, health and abilities to own their lives.

By changing the focus from information to inspiration, they were psyched when I was

Sweet Sauer Sausage w/Sauerkraut

Sweet Sauer Sausage w/Sauerkraut

done.  I was psyched that I made them feel empowered.  My next presentations will be focused on how whatever information I am spouting can empower the audience to feel their full self-worth.

So, the schedule I made in the winter is back on.  I feel refreshed in approaching the book writing.  I feel that I got the right tools to make the gardening easier and quicker.  I’m reading books to feed my soul.  And more than

Cheap Trick - Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Cheap Trick – Chocolate Covered Strawberries

anything, I’m making sure I get up early to enjoy the mornings.  Take a break to admire the sunsets.  Jump back into the deep end of the pool.

Specific about Pacific

Only organic soy USDA gives poor mothers is possible GMO - Pacific

Only organic soy USDA gives poor mothers is possible GMO – Pacific

Conspiracy theorists are so annoying.  I am usually the one gently telling them to look up facts, and cut down the rhetoric.  But this ticks me off and I see discrepancies all over the place, so I am annoying. A new experience for me.

In creating an animated DVD about fruit for young kids,  I wanted to check on fruit listed on the Women, Infant and Children allowed food list.  WIC is a US government program for poor families with kids between 0-6.  I had to spend a little time at a WIC office.  These people NEED this help.  It keeps kids brains and bodies growing and out of hospital emergency rooms.

On my DVD I wanted to be sure to include fruits that every kid would be able to eat, so I made of list of all the WIC fruits and other foods. You may notice red tags on shelves in the grocery store around the OJ and milk area.  This red tag says this food is a part of the WIC program.   The red tag product can be obtained by the WIC recipient.  These are purchased directly with your tax dollars and feed a hungry kid nutritious food like fresh fruits and veggies.

Well, not all the foods are nutritious.  Until 2006 soy products were not available even if your kid was lactose intolerant or due to religious reasons you could not drink or eat dairy.  So, I was thrilled when I heard that tofu and soy milk were to be on the WIC list, especially ORGANIC products.  Since I work with kids 0-3 with eating issues sometimes silken tofu is an answer to propping up protein while transitioning to whole foods from thickened smoothies and infant formula.

Here’s the rub, Pacific Foods supplies the only organic soy milk allowed on

They don't believe you should know their product sources

They don’t believe you should know their product sources

the list.  Their Ultra soy does have a good dose of protein, calcium and B12 for growing bodies.  However, their organic status is in real jeopardy.  They state their beverage is made from “whole organic soy beans.”  On the other hand, they refuse third-party verification and do not have the import records to prove it.

The Cornucopia Institute repeatedly asked Pacific to clearly state where their soybeans came from since Pacific’s advertising claimed the beans were organic and came from the United States.   Cornucopia checked import records for Pacific and found shipments from China.  Cornucopia has their own seal of approval and asked Pacific to provide documentation so that the institute could bestow said seal.  Pacific replied that they had their own “Certified to the Source”.  I have no idea what that means and Pacific’s website has no further information on who the third party is or any other verification.  Cornucopia found that Pacific accepted a soy bean shipment that was refused by other companies.

Here’s my dilemma – I want to thank Pacific for helping out poor kids.  They will make a ton of $$ selling to the government at a cheaper price due to the volume of milk sold.  But is their claim true?  I want more info from Pacific about exactly where they source their ingredients with third party disclosures.

What are you waiting for?

What are you waiting for?

Demonizing any company really bothers me because there are many people working at the company who see what good the company does.  It is like a scientist who discovers something that gets turned into a crappy or devastating product.

Please contact Pacific and ask them to be clear or we just can’t support them and their products.  They need to fess up because this lack of information is annoying.

PS, I’ll be putting a minute or so of the DVD animation on my YouTube to view before purchasing from my 100% organic website.  I hereby disclose where I get all my ideas – at 3 am and during running.

 

Winter means bring the Green inside

Rosemary, sage, basil, parsley and oregano

Rosemary, sage, basil, parsley and oregano

Just bought some potted herbs for Thanksgiving and replanted them.  They seem to be happy, even the basil is coming back from use.

You can have fresh herbs all year long with smaller pots for each.  As they grow replant in the next larger size.  I have a few in one pot together and will split as the oregano goes crazy.  Oregano is known for going crazy.

Make incredible sauces and soups. I froze my garden basil with a little oil in ice cube trays.   And I’m serious about little oil.  I don’t use oil in soup or saute veggie in oil before making the soup.  This adds so much flavor.  With fresh herbs, put them in at the end to pop flavors.

I will have fresh sage and thyme for my Hostess with the Mostest Roast for Christmas.

Getting fresh herbs and repotting is a very inexpensive holiday gift.  Also, wrapping up a

Look Ma, no hands!

Look Ma, no hands!

small bouquet of fresh herbs for holiday cooking is thoughtful and says, “You can cook.  Invite me for dinner.  I’ll bring the wine.”

Italy without Pasta

Hello Darlings, LaDiva here.

Just got back from the Cannes Film Festival in the south of France.  Didn’t have time for much eating in French restaurants due to our schedule.  However, our hotel did have a frig, so bread, jam, guacamole, scones and hummus kept us going.

Front sign Taveran “Il Giardino dell’Eden

We did get to drive to Italy, about 90 minutes from where we were outside of Nice.  We went to see some sites, but couldn’t figure out how to get there and ended up in a small town in Italy.  We went to Italy just to be able to say, we left France after breakfast and ate lunch in Italy.

The town we landed in was Calice Ligure in Savona.  It is just up from the coast.   We were starving at this point, 2pm.  Everything was closing for the afternoon break.  Bathrooms were also important.  I saw a sign for a taverna and hoped it would be open.

Tucked away on a small street was Taverna Il Giardino dell’Eden.

Taverna “Il Gardino dell’Eden” entry

The last guests were just leaving.  We asked if they were open and they seemed glad to see us.  After dredging up French, from my days as a street musician in Paris, for 3-4 days during our time in Cannes, it was a relief to find someone speaking English.  The place was clean with charming dining rooms and tucked away seating areas. These rooms were off a main dining room large enough for tables and a grand piano.

Miranda, the owner, told us that they didn’t carry pasta because everyone else does.  That made sense, but we were HUNGRY and wanted real food.

Our host, Miranda

We were seated in a well lit room where Seamus and I started snapping photos.  She said she didn’t have many folks who didn’t eat no cholesterol foods, but she could make a big, fresh salad, bruschetta and a pizza.

I was a little skeptical, but wanted a salad almost more than a glass of wine.  That was another surprise.  She suggested the house rosé.  I am not a rosé girl, but she promised it was dry.  We tried that and the house red.  The red was bone dry, like a foch or chaunac.  The rosé was dry, but had a good finish. We got a bottle.  AND it was local.  Well, that is right up my alley.

The salad was excellent – greens, tomatoes, corn [?] and olives.  She gave us oil and condiments to dress it as we wanted.

The owner bringing the FAB rose

My friend, Seamus is 13 and not a green salad fan.  He ate the whole thing and said how terrific it was.  Fresh is best!

I could not believe how great the bruschetta was.  The tomatoes tasted like REAL tomatoes.  The bread was fantastic. The proportion of basil, garlic and tomatoes was just like mom never made.

The pizza was also great.  It really showed how fresh ingredients make the meal.  When you have excellent produce

The onion, garlic pizza before it was devoured

you just get out of the way and let them do their magic.

We ate everything and Miranda asked if we would like another bruschetta.  Of course, we readily agreed.

This one was an olive tapenade.  Luckily, we had eaten some food before it arrived or there would have been a fight for the last piece.

Miranda told us that the taverna had been opened about 10 days.  She was still working on the menu.  A group of cyclists had been there that week and were thrilled to have anything but pasta.  She probably would have more plant foods if the clientele requested it.  So, Darlings, go to Italy and visit her.

Cute, cozy corner

We asked about the grand piano in the main dining area.  She said she wanted to have live music.  I just got an email from her today that they started the live music last night.  This would be a great place to listen to music and have a coffee or glass of wine.

Our bill was very reasonable.  Miranda was great.  Before we left France, Seamus asked where we would eat in Italy and what we were going to do.  I told him sometimes the best plans are no plans.  The eatery certainly worked out.

Since we had about an hour before going back, we decided to explore the town.

We thought we would check out the church.  What a find!   The ceiling was amazing.

Ceiling over the altar

The painting was just wonderful.  I’m no Italian religious expert, but this was certainly worth the walk.  I have more photos that will get on to Marty’s FB pages of the church.

Thanks to Seamus for sharing his photos for this entry.  LUVed traveling, testing my language skills, eating in new places, having a glass of wine at 4am on the beach on the French mediterranean, but really glad to sleep in my own bed.

Shot the pilots!

No, nothing to do with airlines.

We shot the 2 LaDiva Dietitian TV show pilots yesterday.  They should be broadcast on Channel 13 Blue Ridge Cable in the Pocono Mountains in March.

My associate producer, Joanne Goode, [owner and chef of Centerton Inn, Centerton, NJ] coordinated the food with the FAB intern, Jackie McCarthy.  We had everything separated out by recipe on the dining room table.  All of the bowls, utensils and equipment were on a portable table cutting off the living room from the dining room.  My second microwave and food processor were on another small table tucked into a corner of the dining room.

Iris, from I on Style – where I buy all my FAB outfits, watched my hair and wardrobe changes, and made sure I had lipstick on. She has a brick and mortar shop in Stroudsburg, PA and soon to open her Etsy shop online.  If you can’t find her, contact me.  Her stuff is EXCELLENT and great prices.

I did 6 recipes in about 90 minutes.  These gals kept me moving and the food flowing.  The Blue Ridge cable crew were cute and very professional.  What more could a LaDiva want?

The kids were amazing!  They were One-Take-Wonders.  We rehearsed a few times and then shot.  They thought the guacamole was too lime-y and they were right.  Instead of re-making it and re-shooting, we decided to let them say exactly how they felt and how they would fix a recipe.  Why does everything have to be perfect on a cooking show?  It certainly isn’t in most kitchens.

Can’t wait to see the shows in March!  [Photos are coming, just too tired to get them on now]