Review: 3 Great Cookbooks

Anybody who knows me, knows that I have a real addiction to cookbooks. My addiction has made me buy cookbooks that aren’t so good…I am trying to be polite. So instead of buying cookbooks, I have been borrowing cookbooks from the local libraries. It is awesome! I borrow, I try recipes and than I rate. I have found 3 cookbooks over the last couple of visits that I am very excited about. I rate them on layout, photos, practical application and just plain fun.

trisha yearwoodThe first cookbook is Trish Yearwood’s, “Home Cooking” which is wonderful; truly written for a home cook. Even though this is not a vegetarian cookbook, there are great sides and desserts that make this book awesome. Recipes like fancy cornbread will accompany your chili recipe. The cakes are great for company; I made the key lime cake for a Sabbath lunch and we were happy not to eat another yellow cake. I think this book is great for beginners because the pictures excite you and the back stories connect you to the recipes. Plus, she also has recipes for homemade candy which will make great presents for teachers, coworkers and service people.

vegan dinerThe second book is “Vegan Diner” by Julie Hasson which is a vegan’s dream for a cookbook. I learned how to transform homemade seitan because of this book. Her recipes for seitan can teach you how to make mock pastrami, pot roast and just regular seitan that can serve as comfort food for both vegans and vegetarian. It is also because of this book that I bought my first can of nutritional yeast which she uses to make a mock mac-n-cheese; I bet that is one of the things vegans miss most. It’s got great pictures so you know what things should look like. It is also great for dessert because she has recipes for cookies, pies and brownies. Even vegans have a sweet tooth. To find out more about Julie, visit her website

dirt candyMy last cookbook is “Dirt Candy” written by vegan chef and restaurateur,Amanda Cohen. I first saw her on Iron Chef America where she opened my eyes to the true abilities of vegetables. Chef Amanda Cohen concepts on vegetables are inspiring and not for the beginner but for those who know their way around a farmer’s market and a kitchen. Lemon Confit, vegetable nest, etc… are just a few that make we want to go cook right now. The layout of this book is fun because it has a comic book/ anime illustrations weaved in between recipes. Visiting her is recipe is on my bucket-list of places to eat. Dirt Candy is located just over the George Washington Bridge in Manhattan. Not close to NYC, visit her blog at

So this holiday season, make the foodie in your life happy by purchasing one of these great books; I know I would be happy. Any reader wanna add to my library?

IMG-20131101-00366I finally did it! I made homemade ravioli. Like many of you, I have seen chef after chef make ravioli on TV. Some chefs make them with homemade pasta dough and others used wonton wrappers. For the last four weeks I have been teaching an after-school cooking class to students in grades 4-6 and this was one of their favorite recipes. Not being able to cook the ravioli, the students assembled the ravioli easily and quickly. I figured if they can do it, so can you. I adapted my spinach filling from my stuff shells recipe to create this recipe. I also made triangles instead of traditional squares because Alvin ate them too quickly the first time I made them; I didn’t even get a chance to try the first batch. These ravioli are so good that at my Sabbath lunch everyone ate them without batting an eye. So don’t think you can’t do it because you can. Homemade Ravioli, check!

12 ounces, Part Skim Milk Ricotta Cheese
1 cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Or Romano Cheese
1/2 cup Crumbled Goat Cheese
1 Whole Egg
Salt And Pepper, to taste
1 tsp Onion Powder
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 box of frozen chopped Spinach, thawed and drained
24 whole Wonton Wrappers
Small bowl of Water

1. Put large bowl of water to boil with salt
2. all ingredients together in large bowl
3. Lay out at least 4 or 5 wonton wrappers (it saves times)
4. Put a teaspoon of the filling on half of the wrappers
5. Wet the edges of the wrappers and fold in half
6. When all the ravioli are assembled, drop them gently into the pot
7. Let the ravioli cook for 3-4 minutes, remove with slotted spoon

If preparing in an advance, do not cook instead lay them flat, drizzle with olive oil and refrigerate.

IMG-20131101-00370 (1)

Pesto Cream
1/2 – 1 cup of basil leaves
3 tbsp of grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp of olive oil
2 cups of light cream
salt and pepper to taste

1. Puree basil leaves, garlic, cheese and oil in the food processor
2. simmer the light cream until reduced and thickened
3. Add pesto to thickened cream and season with salt and pepper

Recipe: Vegetarian Coconut Curry

001Being of West Indian descent, I am prone to love curry.  Since tasting Thai food, I have realized that not all curries are created equally.  Even among the West Indian islands there are different strengths of curry.  I have found that curry from the Trinidad is stronger than the curry that comes from Jamaica and Asian curry is more floral. Don’t get me wrong because all are delicious and I love them dearly but every now and again I crave Thai curry which is usually cooked with coconut milk. Something about coconut milk and curry that warms my soul.  This curry can be used with all proteins but this one includes a seitan product that Alvin buys from Veggie Heaven in Teaneck, NJ. I have made this with blue fish and whole porgies which is so yummy.  I also think that using TVP Chunks would be great, my doctor friend does it that way.  Please try this recipe and if you can, let me know how it comes out.  


  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger root, grated
  • 1 stalk of scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 package of setian or 1 cup of TVP Chunks
  • 1 tbsp of curry powder
  • 1 cup of canned coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp of low sodium soy sauce 
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 tbsp of oil
  • 1/2 cup of broccoli florets
  • 1 carrot, julienne
  • 1/2 cup of sliced red pepper (bell or Cubanelle)
  • 2 dried hot chilies
  • zest of a lime


  1. Warm oil in frying pan over medium/high heat
  2. Brown and remove protein
  3. Saute shallots, garlic, ginger and scallions until fragrant (add oil if needed)
  4. Mix in curry, turn down fire and cook for 1 minute
  5. Add water and stir until because it becomes a thick paste
  6. Pour in coconut milk and soy sauce and add dried chilies
  7. Return the browned protein to the curry sauce and simmer for 10 minutes
  8. Mix in vegetables (carrots and broccoli) and cook until tender.
  9. Finish with zest of lime  

Hint: Serve over Jasmine rice garnished with cilantro


Taste Tested: Trader Joe Gluten Free Snickerdoodles

wheatWhen I got diagnosed with Lupus, I started to research diets that would help me manage my new condition. I asked my doctor about removing gluten from my diet, he said that there were no medical research that supported removing it would help my condition. After that visit, I realized that my doctor was not open to alternate methods of management. Other people with this and other autoimmune diseases testify that removing gluten from your diet helps to fight inflammation. So in spite of my doctor’s opinion, I started cutting back on the amount of gluten I ate. Prior to my diagnosis, I had realized that wheat was not my friend because it would leave me bloated. For a good run I would eat one or less servings of gluten a day. I can’t say that I saw any great difference but I continued until I returned back to school when I ate out of convenience.

What is gluten? Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye barley and sometimes oats. Celiac disease is an auto-immune disease when the body can not digest the gluten protein because it causes inflammation of the intestines. A person does not have to have Celiac disease to have an adverse reaction to gluten. Some have a gluten sensitivity like me which limits how much gluten a person can eat before they start to feel similar symptoms like inflammation of the intestines. Why are so many people going gluten-free? Gluten has been known to cause fatigue, aches and a lack of concentration. Some argue that it is due to the way that wheat is processed but I have read articles where Europeans suffer with Celiac as much as Americans. Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are not new, it’s just recently doctors have been able to diagnose it accurately.

snickerdoodlesFor me eating less gluten is optional, but for others a gluten free diet is mandatory. I have a friend whose son has to live egg-less, soy-free, dairy-free, and gluten free. I took it upon myself to create or find a cookie he could eat. I spent a good bit of time trying to bake, buy and taste gluten free baked goods and let’s just say some where good and some well….were not fit for human consumption. Then I stumbled upon Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Snickerdoodles which are not only gluten free but vegan. I have tried these cookies with those who have and don’t have allergies and both have given them the thumbs up. I bought a box for my friend to try with her 2-year old on a special diet and he liked them too. These are the only cookie that are moist, flavorful and don’t finish with a heavy grit and aftertaste found in most gluten-free baked goods. The price point is great too because they are only $2.99 which allows you to buy 2 boxes.

I am still working on a homemade version of gluten free cookies but none have met my criteria for a good cookie. As soon as I bake it, you will know.

Taste Tested: Nutrition Bars

How many of you have found yourself so hungry and on the go that you will eat almost anything to kill the hunger?  I am one of the worst offenders.  It is crazy what you will do for your kids but not for yourself.  When you have babies you will pack multiple meals and forget to pack something for yourself.  Since Lucas has diabetes, I always keep snacks in the car for him and nothing for myself.  So I finally took my mother’s advice and started to carry granola bars in my bag.

As I was shopping in Whole Foods, I decided to check out nutrition bars.  Nutrition bars are not to be confused with power bars which can be very chalky and dry.  I was surprised to see the development and variety of nutrition bar over the last decade. So I decided on the much talkedd about Larabar, gluten-free  Kind bar and Luna bar created for women.


Larabar: I chose the chocolate coconut chew flavor.  This was not my favorite. It looked so moist but taste so….well not so good. I think that if I were a die hard vegan, I would enjoy the texture, the natural sweetness made from dates and the dark chocolate which I really don’t like. I tried but I will not buy this again. I give this bar 1 star out of 4

kind bar

Kind Bar: I chose the Madagascar Vanilla Almond and this was a nice surprise.  It was like someone took my favorite nuts, mixed them with honey and vanilla and formed them into a bar.  I ate this before taking on my hour long hill hike and it held me. The texture is good, the taste is delightful and I would buy this again.  I gave this bar 3 out of 4 stars.

Luna Bar: OMG this was the BEST BAR EVER!!!! Why you ask?  I chose white chocolate and macadamia nut and I didn’t even feel that I was eating a nutrition bar. The chocolate was sweet but not excessive and enough nuts to make me decadent.  I love white chocolate and macadamia nut cookies and if the healthier version is a Luna Bar, I am ok with this.  Hint: don’t leave the bar in a hot car because the chocolate will melt.  I gave this bar of 4 out of 4 stars. Luna Bar


What I like about these bars is that they average $1.00 to $1.50 making it affordable to buy a bunch at a time.  All are gluten free which is great for a gluten sensitive system like myself.  Most are vegetarian and even vegan plus they come into so many variety that everyone can find what they like.  So never be hungry again; grab a bar and go.

Recipe: Apple and Herb Mock Chicken Sausage

P1040919Has your budget been tight lately? This sausage recipe is the perfect recipe because it’s made from what most of us have in our pantry, beans and breadcrumbs.  If you don’t have these items, you should because they come through in a cinch.  The sweet apples and herbs really give it a good fresh taste.  I was inspired by the apple and sage chicken sausage I see popping up everywhere.  Hope you enjoy.  Send me photos of your finished product.


  • 15 oz can of white beans, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup of TVP, soaked
  • 1/2 cup of Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 1/2 cup of Buttery Crackers, Crushed
  • 3 tbsp red onions, small diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small apple (Fuji, Gala)
  • 1 tbsp  of Italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp Fresh Tarragon or Sage
  • 1 tsp of  Sea Salt
  • 1 /4 black pepper
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • oil for frying. + 2 tbsp oil


  1. heat 2 tbsp of oil
  2. add chopped onions and minced garlic, saute until fragrant
  3. Smash beans  with potato masher or pastry cutter
  4.  mix in rinse, squeezed TVP into the beans
  5. add in onion mixture, salt, pepper, cayenne, tarragon and Italian seasoning, mix until well incorporated
  6. mix in apples, bread crumbs and cracker meal
  7. using a ice cream scoop, scoop out the sausage mixture and mold into logs
  8. after the logs are molded, cool in the refrigerator for 1 hour to overnight
  9. warm oil in heavy bottom skillet, cook until golden brown

Tip: serve with mashed potatoes  and sauteed kale and cabbageP1040938

And the Church Ate Vegetarian


How often do you hear that the whole church meal was vegetarian? At my church, it is not rare but the norm for the church meal to be totally meatless. Why you ask? Seventh-day Adventists believe that the body is a temple and the best way to maintain the temple is through a vegetarian diet.

I would say that at least half of the faith practices some type of vegetarian. Some are pescatarian, they eat all but non scavenger fish in there diet. Others are vegan, exclude all foods that come from animals such as eggs and milk. Then you have flexitarians, people whose diet is mostly plant-based but occasionally meat. The other half live like me and eat non scavenger meats and exclude pork, rabbit, shrimp, lobster, etc…

The church lunch is where the kids are first introduced to the concept of a meatless plate. Instead of meat, we are served meat substitutes such as Loma Linda’s prime steak which is a vegetarian patty serves with a gravy and sauteed onions and peppers. We were also introduced to “loaf” which is a loaf made out of ground up nuts (so good). They were served with familiar sides like macaroni and cheese, West Indian rice and peas, and vegetables. Thank God my church had really great cooks. This is how generation after generation we are able to instill a healthy consciousness about food. It is not rare to look around our congregation and meet a young vegetarian. The general population of young people is not overweight. It just proves that starting young helps to keep them healthy.

We have stuck to our beliefs even when it comes to serving the community. The community I think appreciated the change from the norm. They appreciated the mock turkey; it was served with real stuffing and cranberry sauce. We have hosted 2 vegetarian cooking classes that teach about basic and intermediate vegetarian cooking. I personally taught one myself. It is there that I decided that I wanted to take cooking to the next level. Today at lunch, we served an Asian based meal of fried rice, vegetable lo mein, egg rolls, mock beef and broccoli and mock chicken stir fry. Both parents and kids alike ate the meal without asking for chicken. My point is that it can be done if done well.

I just love the fact that I am a part of a faith that takes their temples so seriously. The fact the youngest to the oldest enjoys a well cooked vegetarian meal, makes me smile. Even though I am not a vegetarian, I enjoy people eating well. Getting in the kitchen is the only way to change the way we see food.

New Logo

Some of you may be wondering why I haven’t posted any new recipes.  I am trying to turn Not Just Tofu into a business.  There are so many ups and downs of starting a small business.  By January 2015, Not Just Tofu aims to teach a hands on healthy cooking class in a space just for cooking.  I also hope to return to catering both public and private events.  I am a praying person, so please keep my in your prayers that my vision will become a reality.

The first change was converting the blog by purchasing the domain name.  If you have noticed, my blog is simply  Wordpress has been dropped from the browser name.  The second change is that I, with my cousin Jamal  created a logo.  We had a bunch of them but this one resonated with me.  Please tell me what you think about the new logo in comments.  Thanks in advance.

Not Just Tofu

Not Just Tofu

Event: Lower Your Number – Free Workshop on Hypertension

Hello Everyone,

If you live near Englewood, NJ, I would love for you to join me at “Lower Your Number – A Free workshop on Hypertension.”  I am partnering with my friends at Herbal Bush House to bring you important information on what you can do to help manage your hypertension naturally with herb and whole foods.  This event is scheduled once on Thursday September 4th at 6pm and again on Sunday September 7th at 4pm.  The location is 245 Tenafly Road, Englewood NJ also known as the Community Seventh Day Adventist Church.  This is an independent event from the church.

blood pressureAt this workshop, we won’t be selling you anything.  We just want to provide our community with important information that they may not be getting anywhere else.  There are no promises to cure anyone.  Like with anything else, managing high blood pressure will take commitment and discipline.  After attending the workshop,  you should leave with a sense of optimism that you can win your battle with hypertension.

There will be a presentation made by Herbal Bush House.  I trust these guys because I use them myself to help manage my Lupus.  I have another friend who uses their teas and herbal supplements to manage her MS.  We are not cured but we feel better for using their products. Everyone is different but if you tried everything else and still feel lousy, isn’t this way worth a try? Not Just Tofu will do a segment that includes a cooking demonstration educating everyone on how to tweak their diet to be heart healthy.  I can’t forget that there will be a tasting of a few heart healthy, hypertension fighting recipes too.

The event is free but we would truly appreciate if you would reserve your seat at  I am so excited; this is the second Not Just Tofu event for the year.  I love meeting my followers.  I know that some of you local followers are looking for a hands on cooking class; I am truly working on it.  For more information on Herbal Bush House visit or like their page on Facebook at Herbal Bush House. Hope to see you soon.

Don’t Forget Your Crockpot!

crockpot 2Do you associate your Crockpot with the 1960’s? Remember mom making pot roast in it? Well vegetarians can use it too. Especially if you have the same situation that I do; you don’t have central air. When you cook, you yourself feel that you too are in the pot. A few weeks ago northern NJ had 90 degree weather with the worst humidity. I had to cook because my brother was visiting from Florida; I couldn’t make him starve. I broke out my 2 slow cookers to make chicken wings in one and rice in the other. It was so successful that I decided to cook Sabbath lunch in them; I made a side of macaroni and cheese and corn pudding. Well to my surprise,  they were a hit. Who knew that this low heat cooking kitchen wonder could do so much.

What else have I made in my slow cooker? I have made season brown rice. I have also made lentils or lentils and rice?  My best vegetarian dish is Latin Picadillo. I know right! It was so good. So next time a heat wave is coming your way or you just want to enjoy your Sunday, dust off your slow cooker and enjoy a slow cooked meal on a hot day. Enjoy the recipes below. Tell me how you like it in comments.

Seasoned Brown Rice
soak your brown rice from the night before  to cook the rice quicker

  • 1 cup of brown rice
  • 1/2 of a yellow onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup of bell peppers, small dice
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil or canola oil
  • 3 cups of vegetable broth (low sodium preferred)
  • 2 1/2 cups of water
  • 1/2 tsp of seasoning salt (Adobo preferred)
  • 1/4 tsp of black pepper
  • 1 tbsp of flat leaf parsley
  • pinch of cayenne (optional)


  1. Spray the sides and bottom of your slow cooker with cooking spray
  2. warm oil in frying pan
  3. sauté onions, peppers and garlic until slightly softened
  4. transfer veggies into slow cooker
  5. mix in rice
  6. cover with vegetable broth and water
  7. mix in seasoning, spices and parsley
  8. cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours

add water if necessary


  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup of thawed sofrito (retail brand La Fe)
  • Frozen Soy Crumbles (preferred Gardein)
  • Spanish style tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 tsp of dried oregano
  • 1 tsp of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup of acaparrado (Spanish style bottled olives)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)


  1. Dump everything except the acaparrado
  2. Cook for 1 hour then mix in acaparrado
  3. last 5 minutes stir in cilantro
  4. Cook for an additional 30 minutes
  5. serve over rice with fried plantains

 Photo borrowed from:

Sneaky Bandits: MSG & Gelatin

chinese take out Have you ever wondered why your favorite Chinese food leaves you bloated or with a headache? You could be reacting to the flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate.  How about that bag of gummi bears you keep in your desk draw? Do you know what makes them so gummy? We are so concerned about eating organic and not buying GMO products, yet and still we mindlessly eat food that won’t make us sick but they won’t keep us well either.

I like Chinese takeout, I often use it as my go to when running late with dinner.  While in the food court at a local mall, I saw a sign that said no MSG. A little light bulb went off in my mind; do people know how much MSG they eat everyday? Monosodium glutamate aka MSG can be found in flavored chips, frozen dinners, salad dressings, seasoning packets and Chinese takeout.  MSG is used to help create flavor by manufacturers in the same way they use sugar and salt.  I remember watching “No Reservations” and while Anthony Bourdain was in either Costa Rica or Panama they purposely added MSG to their dishes.  In my local Korean market, you can find bottles of MSG like you find salt. MSG has not been proven to cause any damage over long-term use but some people do have a reaction to it; some get bloated while others can get headaches.  Next time you eat Chinese takeout or eat a bag of BBQ chips, gauge how you feel.

msgWhy do we need a flavor enhancers? Is it because our food has become so artificial that we need to add MSG to make it taste good. When you cooked last night’s dinner, did you need to enhance the flavor or was it delicious on its own? We don’t need MSG in our kitchens!  This just proves my point, the more you cook the better off you will be.  When you are in control of what goes in your dishes, you can control the flavor.  Who doesn’t like control? So it’s not only the GMO products we should be concerned about but the MSG too.  Take this pledge with me ” I will try not to cook with or eat anything artificial.”

With that thought in mind, I never bought my kids Chef Boy Ardee ravioli or beefaroni or…I think you get my drift.  We also never bought Hawaiian Punch or bologna because they were too artificial and highly processed. It wasn’t until years later that I started to read the ingredients on snacks that I was used to. One day I was eating a Starburst, my church aunt told me that they were made with gelatin.  Knowing that gelatin was derived from questionable sources of meat including the pig, I knew that it was a no-no.  From that moment on I started to wonder what else was in the snacks that I didn’t want me or my family to eat.  I found gelatin in marshmallows which make rice crispy treats, go in cereals and used to decorate desserts, gummi bears, jello snacks, Pop Tarts and yogurt.  Most surprising place I found a use for gelatin was in vitamins. The list grew longer and longer. So what you ask?pop tart

If you don’t want to put harsh pesticides, artificial colors or flavors into our bodies, why are you eating collagen from discarded carcasses in your snacks? Sometimes it may be a cow, other times it may be pig. Did you know that they use the ears, the skin and the feet to create gelatin? No matter how you put a spin on it, vegetarian or not, it just isn’t something you want to eat today or any other day.  FDA says it’s ok, but the FDA says using pesticides and feeding livestock hormones is OK too but I don’t see you buying that.  Just because the FDA approves it, doesn’t mean that it passes your test.

There are healthy alternatives to gelatin and MSG.  Instead of gelatin, try pectin or venture off to Whole Foods and purchase vegetarian gelatin made from seaweed.  If in a bind, I would use a Kosher Product just because I believe their standard of butchering is more sanitary than a regular slaughter-house.  Beware of the “k” found on packages, which I always thought meant  that Kosher gelatin was used but that is not always the case.  As for MSG, try using citrus zest, fresh herbs and exotic spices to enhance the flavor of whatever you are cooking.  Let cooking be an organic activity; meaning don’t bring a bunch of artificial ingredients to an original experience.

Shop wisely, prepare carefully and eat well.

Englewood Night Market: A Block Party Unlike Any Other is Tuesday, July 15th

Not Just Tofu:

The date has been moved to Wednesday , July 16th. Hope to see you there. I’m excited that my town is moving into the social age. Even though I don’t drink, I know there will be a bunch of things for me to try. #very excited

Originally posted on New Jersey Isn't Boring!:


The Englewood Night Market is set for Tues, July 15th with a rain date of Wed, July 16th.  Food sampling, live music, retailers, reserved seating, sangria, beer, free admission.

Date: July 15th, 5 – 11pm. Rain date for July 16
Cost: Admission is free, but you can buy food tickets, VIP tickets and more HERE

Be sure to like Exposure North Jersey on Facebook more updated info as the date gets closer! RSVP to the Facebook event Here.

Official Press Release:

Participate in a unique event on Tuesday, July 15 from 5 to 11 p.m. Englewood Night Market will turn Englewood, New Jersey’s East Palisade Avenue into a pedestrian-only area for one evening. Produced by Exposure, the event will feature food sampling from area restaurants, live music, an outdoor beer and sangria bar and family activities…

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The Dirty Dozen

How often have you heard that eating healthy is expensive? It can be especially if you want to eat organic. Before you spend your whole check on organic produce, read on to find out what to buy organic, how to prep what you buy and clean all your produce.

Farming involves a lot more science than in the past. With chemicals being included in the fertilizers and pesticides, some fruits and vegetables are more susceptible to absorbing them into their flesh; these fruits and veggies are called the Dirty Dozen. The Dirty Dozen are suggested to buy organic by farmers, doctors and dieticians.

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Grapes
  4. Cherries
  5. Lettuce
  6. Nectarines
  7. Peaches
  8. Pears
  9. Potatoes
  10. Spinach
  11. Strawberries
  12. Sweet bell pepper

So now that you saved a few bucks don’t waste your savings by throwing them a way. It doesn’t really make sense to use your whole pay check to buy what you may never cook.  It makes more sense to spend the money on what you can use quickly, eat instantly, or last long like potatoes.  If you can’t use up all the produce, freeze it. I buy bell peppers but sometimes I can’t always use them up before it they go bad. So I cut them into strips or dice them up, put them in a good quality freezer bag so that I always have them on hand. Hard leafy greens such as kale, collard greens, mustard greens and turnip greens can be frozen raw; wash, dry, cut and store in a good quality freezer bags. For everything organic or not organic, wash with a fruit and vegetable wash. Of course you  can buy one but you can also make one for a few pennies. A simple wash to remove pesticides is simple as a soak of warm water and sea salt. Use one tspn of sea salt for every cup of water and let them soak for a few minutes.  You can also use a mixture of water, baking soda and lemon juice that you can store in a spray bottle. Dont worry, it wont change the way they taste. With berries, if you are not going to eat them right away or freeze them, wait to wash them until you are going to eat them because they will spoil due to the moisture.

Fruit and Vegetable Wash

1 cup of water 1 cup of vinegar Juice of 1/2 lemon Shop wisely,  prep mindfully, cook deliciously and eat well.

Cynthia Rowley, Selma Blair and Other Stars Share Their Tips for Being a Chic Mom in This Gorgeous New Book

Not Just Tofu:

It’s hard to be chic in the winters because all you care about is being warm and comfortable. It’s nice to know that someone noticed that moms like to be chic too. My concern is it going to be affordable to middle American moms? I don’t shop at Neiman Marcus. Spending $15 bucks on mascara seems unreasonable. Nevertheless you have my attention.

Originally posted on InStyle:

[tiImage width="594" height="396" url="" credit="Courtesy Photo" align="center" border="0" alt="The Glow" link=",,20190744_20807103_30137762,00.html" both="true"]

As proven by some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, becoming a mom doesn’t mean you have to surrender your style. And in a new book about stylish motherhood, some of the most successful women we know show us how to master the art of having it all.

In The Glow: An Inspiring Guide to Stylish Motherhood, written by’s own Senior Fashion Editor Violet Gaynor with gorgeous photographs by Kelly Stuart, the power duo takes us inside the world of many celebrity and designer moms whose style we truly admire, offering a rare glimpse at some aww-inspiring moments between famous moms and their little ones. We created The Glow as a way to offer inspiration to working women who were either balancing career and motherhood or, like us, we’re just starting to think about it,” says Gaynor…

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Almost Converted

MP900402511 Desperately in need of a garlic bagel with egg and turkey bacon, I gave into my cravings. I, Sandra Lee Smith Calderon, will never eat another bagel in my life. I felt so uncomfortable, I thought my stomach was going to explode. I’ve had bouts with Candida before but nothing like this. I was so bloated; my stomach didn’t ache but it wasn’t happy with the bagel.On another day, I gave into another craving for pistachio gelato. I love and I mean this in a literal sense, love pistachio gelato. Then my stomach started up again with bloating and this time with the gas. This gas was no ordinary gas. I’m sorry if this is too much for you but these are the real signs that you should listen to your body and not your appetite. Tempted every now again, I take a few spoonfuls of gelato only to have it cause havoc on my digestive system.

So what I have I almost converted too? I think I am going to live Gluten-Free /Dairy Free Diet. Early last year, I got tested for food allergies. It was determined that I was allergic to wheat, barley and rye.  It resulted in a cut back of how much gluten I ate. I don’t have Celiac disease; I classify it as a gluten sensitivity or intolerance.  Trust me this decision didn’t happen overnight, I have been contemplating this for a while. I wondered if I could give up bread, pizza and pasta. After my incident with the bagel and the after effects of my carb loaded breakfast, I don’t think I have a choice.

wheatAfter researching alternate diets which included vegan and Paleo, I decided that gluten-free would be best for me.  Having an autoimmune disease really sealed the deal because wheat causes inflammation.  With Lupus, the last thing I want are for my joints and muscles to be inflamed.  The dairy may be more of a challenge because of my love for cheese but over time I think I will get used to it.  It is important that when making a dietary change that you (1) don’t give yourself a hard time if you do give into temptation (2) for success you will need to find alternatives for the things you love so that you can make a permanent change.

A speaker I heard weeks ago said that if you could control your appetite you could control a lot more in your life. It was at that moment that I realized that I needed to make a change. So after countless hours of Youtube videos, cookbooks and blog reading, I am leaning more to gluten-free lifestyle. Sorry Paleo, more meat and less grain doesn’t sit well with me. On the bright side I still have french fries!



For those of you interested in becoming gluten-free, check these out:

Is it Spring Yet?

March Madness 267Holy Mackerel Folks! It is so hard to believe we are over 15 days into spring and places like Minnesota are predicted to get over a foot of snow. On a better not, today in NJ we are supposed to get over 60 degrees;so sorry Minnesota. It was that prediction that motivated me to go on my first fitness walk of 2014. I can’t say I went far because I started to feel my body talk within the first 10 minutes; half a mile seemed adequate enough. My mind wanted to go further but my body said let’s play it safe so we can do it again tomorrow. I gotta say that the walk made me feel like I wasn’t being a lazy fart, I also didn’t feel for a mid-morning nap as I usually do. Maybe it’s the sunshine, the much-needed vitamin D or the fact that it wasn’t freezing that I finally have a need to write. I thank those of you who have been checking to see if I posted and I apologize for not posting this winter. I admit that the clouds, the cold and the darkness did not inspire me to cook or write. The food around here has not been anything exciting.

So what have you been doing over the long exaggerated winter? Stews, soups and casseroles I assume. It’s hard to be excited about the winter that wouldn’t end. I would get so annoyed talking to my brother in Florida when he would gloat about it being 70 degrees when I wish it was just 20 degrees. Born in New Jersey, I pride myself a lover of the 4 seasons. I appreciate what each season offers because they all offer something. I am excited for spring because I am ready to get my hands on produce. My sons and I will try again this year to grow something we can eat. Not blessed with a green thumb, I find this task overwhelming. Elias’s eagerness every spring makes us try. We go to Home Depot, purchase our boxes, soil and seeds only to grow nothing. This year will be different!

We will grow herbs if anything this year; I hear that it is hard to mess that up. I also want to grow some berries or beans. My grandfather’s garden will provide us with onions, tomatoes, callalloo (wild greens from Jamaica) and peppers. I am gonna really try to start with a hydroponic garden which allows me to start growing in water then transplant them to the box. We are determined to grow something we can eat. This means I am gonna be reading a lot of books and blogs. It is because we are foodies and I am so weary about where we get our food and the condition we get it in that I keep trying. Plus I have eaten enough beef this winter to start a small cattle ranch. What? Don’t be shocked that I am not vegetarian, I am a conscious eater. I encourage everyone to be conscious about what they put into their temple.

So let’s say hello to spring and the fresh fruits and veggies. Let’s support our local pop-up farmer’s markets. Dust off those grills and put everything on it…fruits, veggies, clean meats. I’m just so excited to eat outside in the sunshine with the family and some cool tunes in the background. I will deal with fighting the bugs and allergies just to be outside again. Who is with me?
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