A Night at Findlay Kitchen

A Night at Findlay Kitchen

I wish I could say I was working in Findlay Kitchen because I’m starting a small cupcake or empanada business, but alas, I am not.  I was there a few weeks ago because I volunteered to help with a program called “Cooking for the Family”.


The program is sponsored by St. Francis Seraph Ministries and Findlay Kitchen and provided by FarmChef.  The premise of the program is for families to learn to cook affordable, nutritious meals in a 2 hr, 5-week series.  You cannot beat the price of $10.00 for a 2-hour cooking class with hands on experience and food samples.  The families also take home a goody bag with a cast iron skillet, chef’s knife and cookbook after completion of the program.


It was so much fun to be in this large, commercial kitchen.  It is bright and bustling with entrepreneurs and lay people like me that just enjoy food.  This is how the night goes:  I show up, wash my hands and put on a hair net and apron.  The chef instructs us to chop some veggies, get out mixing bowls, wooden spoons and ingredients.  We set up stations based on how many families are participating.


The families come in at 5:30 or so.  They wash their hands and get ready to cook.  Our chef LaKeisha Cook teaches them how to chop vegetables or cook quinoa, while a few volunteers oversee their progress.  How ironic that her last name is Cook!  When bowls and utensils start piling up, we grab a grey cart and load it for the dish room.


The dish room houses the fastest cleaning dishwasher I have ever seen.  There are a few stationary tubs for washing and sanitizing pots, but everything else goes through the dish machine.  Your load of dishes is done in 1-2 minutes tops.  The dish room is where you may run into some of the small business owners that are creating ravioli or specialty cakes.  Each business is in a “pod” (small room) working on their craft, or in a larger, more open space in the facility cooking.  I love the energy in this kitchen!


After we’ve prepared our recipes, we put all the tables together and everyone sits down to eat. Bowls of sauteed vegetables and steaming quinoa are passed among strangers that have worked elbow to elbow all night making jokes and talking about food.  It’s a lovely experience.


Cooking for the family has a few other locations that are always in need for volunteers.  Bush Rec Center in Walnut Hills also holds a class as well as Community Matters in Lower Price Hill.


If you’re interested in attending the class, volunteering or donating to the project, here are a few links:

Spread the word: http://bit.ly/2nNAGBI

Volunteer: http://thefarmchef.com/how-to-get-involved/

Fund for another person: http://www.sfsministries.org/donate/




What my mother taught me

What my mother taught me

Happy Mother’s Day!

My mom raised 5 kids. FIVE. I can’t even fathom this. But my mom never skimped on meals.  She spoiled us with home cooked meals daily. I am blessed to have 2 awesome daughters that may be mothers one day themselves.  In honor of Mother’s day, I’d like to give you a few pieces of food advice my mom passed on to me.


  1.  You are not starving.  Yes, you may be hungry, but there are people in the world that are literally starving.
  2. Don’t waste food.  Take only what you can eat and leave the rest on the table, at the buffet or in the frig.
  3. Check the eggs before you buy them.  Open the carton and take a peak.  No one wants broken eggs.
  4. Make your own sauce.  It’s not that hard or time consuming.  All you need is tomato sauce, paste, garlic, oregano, basil, salt and a little confidence.
  5. Be creative with leftovers.  Leftover chicken becomes soup, tacos, chicken with pesto, chicken salad or chicken pot pie.
  6. Beans stretch everything.  Not enough meat in your soup or chili?  Add beans.
  7. Freeze soup, sauce, rice or chili so you don’t have to eat them over and over.  Freeze in glass, not plastic.  It’s better to reheat in glass.
  8. You have a coupon for something you’ll never eat.  Don’t waste your money.  Pass the coupon on.
  9. Buy seasonal produce– it’s cheaper and tastes better.
  10. Taste everything before you salt it.  It may not even need salt!

What did you mom teach you? Please share!

Diet is a 4-letter word

Diet is a 4-letter word

I haven’t met one client that hasn’t been on a “diet’ at one time in their life. Adkins, Paleo, Weight Watchers, Whole 30, Jenny Craig, you name it.  I mean, they’re coming to see me to put them on a diet.  In reality, what should be worked on, is their attitude towards food.  It’s human nature to label foods good and bad- even health professionals do this.  What about working on how you feel about yourself, your health and what makes sense for you?  I find that many clients fall prey to the endless cycle of diet, cheat, repent, repeat.

I ran across this article today and while it’s focused on a bride-to-be’s experience on a low carb diet, the quote hit home, “Dieting is “an abusive relationship that we all need to end once and for all.”  Eating should not be punishment.  To me, this is no way to live. Getting healthy is a journey, not a race.  Change takes time. What is the hurry? Here’s a great perspective:


Hold the onions

Hold the onions

I’m afraid to admit it, but I screwed up bigly the other day.  Being an optimist, I thought, “I’ve got plenty of time to get from A to Z”, and took a phone call before getting packed up to do a food demo for Fox news. What modern, multi-tasking woman can’t handle having her phone on speaker while she puts on makeup?  ME.

I got to the station Fri morning “all set” to make chicken salad.  I had my canned chicken, mayo, cole slaw dressing, clear glass bowls, spoons, platter, grapes, pita bread and frisbee for National Picnic Day. What’d I forget? Chopped celery and onions.  KINDA IMPORTANT. DOH!

Thankfully, there was a “previously featured” cucumber salad nearby. I rinsed it and quickly minced it into “celery”.  Thankfully, I had white hearts of Romaine from the lettuce I’d brought, which got chopped into “onions”.  I quickly placed them in glass prep bowls as if they were the real deal.

The anchor of the show usually tastes the food during segments, but this time, he was in on the secret.  In reality, the chicken salad was pretty good despite the lack of two vital ingredients!  The tiny cuts of cucumber gave it color and crunch and I didn’t miss the onions.  Still- let it be a lesson to me that I should not be multi-tasking so often.  The irony is that the friend I spoke with before my demo is food stylist Mary Seguin.    http://www.maryseguinfoodstylist.com/

How’s that for karma?

Here’s the real recipe:

Simple Chicken Salad:

28 oz. canned chicken or 2 lbs cooked, cubed chicken

1/4 cup cole slaw dressing

1/4 cup light mayonnaise or salad dressing

1/4 cup chopped white onion

1/4 cup chopped celery


Place the chicken in a large bowl.  Add the cole slaw dressing and mayo and mix well.  Add chopped onions and celery and blend.

Makes ~8 servings of salad.

Maundy Agape Dinner

Maundy Agape Dinner

Nothing beats a church pot luck!  We joined a new church about 3 years ago and are clearly in our element.  My husband is on the bread guild, which bakes bread for Sunday services.  I am part of “Main Dish” and the “goodie guild” to provide meals and treats to the church community and for those less fortunate.

Every Holy week, we look forward to “Maundy Thursday”, or the Thursday prior to Easter. Maundy means Holy and is derived from the word “command”.  A theme of the service is the commandment, “love one another as I have loved you”.  It is always a great reminder that no matter our differences and insults we may have endured by each other, love prevails.

My church clearly loves me.  The Maundy dinner is more like a happy hour on steroids, minus the alcohol. Plates of olives, cheese, delightful salads, fruit, hummus, bread and other savories are served. We gather for faith, fellowship and food prior to a powerful service with deep rituals and thoughtful reflection.  It may be my favorite holy day in church.

No calorie counting allowed.  And that’s just fine by me.


3 food fads to ignore

3 food fads to ignore

Think that juicing all your food or following a gluten free diet will cure all that ails you?  Or that coconut oil is the new avocado?  Think again.  While food fads come and go, the science behind them is not always that convincing.  A new review of scientific evidence was performed to examine the proof behind these and other diet claims.

Dr. Andrew Freeman, the co-chair of the American College of Cardiology’s Lifestyle and Nutrition work group, was the lead author of the study.  He and his researchers evaluated medical evidence associated with healthy eating habits and current popular diet fads in the US. 1   What they found was not surprising.  Here are three of the most popular fads and why you may want to think twice before drinking the kool-aid.

  1. Going gluten-free: A gluten-free diet is indicated for individuals with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity or intolerance, but is of no benefit to others that can digest grains normally.  According to an article published in the New Yorker in 2015, only 1% of the US population suffers from celiac disease, 6% are gluten-intolerant, but up to 30% of Americans are avoiding gluten because they see it as healthier.  Much of the gluten-free craze is due to intensive marketing, sometimes of products that were always gluten-free such as yogurt or vegetables. Gluten-free substitutes (such as corn or rice-based products) may be lower in dietary fiber and nutritional value than their whole grain counterparts.   In addition to being much higher in cost, there is risk of arsenic poisoning as so many gluten-free products substitute rice flour for wheat.  2
  2. Juicing: Juicing may improve nutrient absorption from some plants, but it lacks fiber and other nutrients found in whole vegetables and fruits. Whole fruits and vegetables retain fiber, which has been found to provide satiety.  Juice drinkers may consume more calories, but not feel full since the act of chewing provides a sense of fullness. 1   Juicing may also take more time than simply washing a piece of whole fruit or microwaving some frozen vegetables.  Special juicing machines and ingredients may also be costly.  If you have teeth and a small intestine, let your body do the digestion!
  3. Coconut oil: Coconut oil makes a great skin moisturizer and tastes great in Thai food, and has most recently been seen as the latest, greatest health food.  Coconut oil is often touted as healthy because it contains MCTs (medium chain triglycerides), which are more quickly absorbed and converted to fuel than other fats.  MCTs are used as treatment in people with difficulty absorbing fat such as those with cystic fibrosis, liver disease, pancreatitis or other medical issues.  They are found in palm and coconut oil and in full fat dairy products in smaller amounts.  Coconut oil contains about 10-15% of these fats, but the majority of the population do not require them anyway.  While coconut oil is recommended for weight loss and Alzheimer’s disease, many don’t realize it’s one of the few fats that’s over 90% saturated. 3   Freeman and colleagues advise using heart healthy olive, canola and other vegetable oils which may not raise blood cholesterol like saturated fats. 1 The science backing coconut oil for weight loss and other conditions is simply lacking.3


  1. Andrew M.Freeman, Pamela B. Morris, Neal Barnard, Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Emilio Ros, ArthurAgatston, Stephen Devries, James O’Keefe, Michael Miller, Dean Ornish, Kim William, Penny Kris-Etherton. Trending cardiovascular nutrition controversies.  Journal of the American College of Cardiology.  Vol 69, issue 9, March 2017.
  2. http://fortune.com/2015/05/05/gluten-free-foods/
  3. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2015/03/11/healthy-eating-myths-how-many-have-you-fallen-for

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