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Happy Birthday Diamond Dallas Page

How appropriate that Easter Sunday this year also happens to be the birthday of Diamond Dallas Page. Today’s holiday is all about remembering the resurrection and Diamond Dallas Page, (or DDP as he’s known to his friends) has made a cottage industry out of resurrecting people. And I mean almost literally reviving them from the dead. Arthur Boorman may not have been lying lifeless in a tomb, swaddled in a burial shroud when he sought help from DDP 15 years ago, but he was living a fraction of his life at best. Sluggish, injured, and obese, Arthur dragged himself around on canes for many a  year until DDP, a few of his well-timed pep talks, and his DDPYOGA workout DVDs brought Boorman not just back to life, but to a higher and more vital level of functioning than he ever thought possible.  And then there was the case of Jake The Snake Roberts, wrestling legend and DDP mentor who had fallen into addiction and poor health.  When DDP busted through Roberts’ door, ready to exact his signature brand of intervention that would make Dr. Drew quiver, Roberts was living a life of isolation and obscurity and basically waiting out his days until the end. All you have to do is read about the buzz at this year’s Slamdance Film Festival to read about the down and out wrestler’s fate. But here’s a hint, the word ‘Resurrection‘ is in the title.


And then there’s my story.  I wasn’t an injured veteran or a battered former pro wrestler, but my body and my psyche had endured its share of battering from a combination of dieting and revenge-eating. It’s a cycle that led me to a weight of 345 pounds in January 5, 2009.  Which is also the date I learned of DDP’s existence. And since it predated traditional forms of social media, I forged a trail that led to his MySpace page and begged him to help me.  I suspect he got queries like that all the time because his response was to basically start the DVD workouts and get to work.  To my surprise, I did. And it was coupled with Life REALLY intervening on my behalf: I had to testify in a Manhattan courtroom trial, which had me so keyed up, I barely had an appetite. This gave my body the much-needed interruption from binge-eating that it needed and after a month, I discovered I was 20 pounds down. To say I was elated was an understatement.  For the first time in decades, or perhaps EVER, I felt there was hope. The 20 evicted pounds gave me the rocket fuel I needed to modify my eating habits (not diet) and the next month saw an additional 10-pound weight decrease. When he heard through the Team DDPYOGA grapevine that I’d been really working at it, he contacted me and said he wanted to work with me.  And so began an 18-month mentorship that included me keeping a food diary and sending it to him daily, brief, but weekly phone calls during which challenges were discussed and questions asked. There were also increasingly regular reports from my end on all the amazing things I was now able to do (wear a spa robe instead of toting my size 4X robe from home, grab my feet in the ‘Human Cannonball’ position, wear denim for the first time in more than 20 years, and take an airplane ride without the necessity of a seat belt extension.


They were all amazing victories for obvious reasons, and they were SO much sweeter because they were SHARED.  By a friend, mentor, big-brother-I-never-had, and a ferocious drill sergeant who wanted me to be the best I can be.  And guess what? It happened.  Never underestimate the power of support.  It can result in miracles.

Happy Birthday D-Man. Every single day, the work you did with me continues to pay off.  You gave me a gift that has no price. And I’m forever Grateful.







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Clean Mozzarella In Carrozza

Who says Italians only eat pasta?  Their diet is actually brimming with all manner of grains and vegetables. But lets face it, pasta sells.  Actually though, there’s nothing quite as delicious as a sandwich whose roots can be traced back to Italy. The following is inspired by one of my most joyful culinary discoveries made on my first visit to Italy, circa the mid-80’s. Madonna was touring the country in fishnets and I was on my second 100-pound weight loss.

Quando sono solo sogno all' orizzonte e mancan le parole...

Quando sono solo sogno all’ orizzonte e mancan le parole…


Enough digressing. In the beautiful, medevil town of Siena, I discovered this simple but wonderful northern Italian favorite at a restaurant on those historic cobblestone streets.  It’s called Mozzarella In Carrozza and it is, in essence, a gooey, rich, delicious grilled cheese sandwich dipped in egg batter and dusted in flour.  My maiden bite almost brought me to tears. I’m a grilled cheese-lover from girlhood but this was something ELSE!

When I stopped eating cow dairy and gluten six years ago I assumed my Mozzarella In Carrozza days were long gone…until I met Chef Bill and he revealed that A) Mozzarella In Carrozza is one of his favorite dishes and B) he could easily make me a clean version with Manchego cheese (a hard sheep cheese with a flavor similar to cheddar) and gluten-free bread.  This is one instance when the sometimes cardboardy nature of gf bread can come in handy!

This, my friends, is most definitely a decadent treat.  And a perfect one for winter because it’s warm, rich and filling. The traditional method for making this sandwich is to simply egg-batter it, dust the bread in flour and then fry. It’s often served with a side of marinara sauce for dipping.  Personally, I love the taste of the oozing cheese so much I prefer it plain, or the Chef Bill method, which he says is inspired by a recipe in cookbook from the now-shuttered Alfredo’s in the Alley restaurant in Burlington.  If the anchovy-onion sauce doesn’t appeal to you, by all means, skip it and have your Mozzarella In Carrozza plain or the traditional way.  And if you’re cooking for more than two people, simply place the finished sandwiches, uncut, in a slightly warm oven until all are ready. Bon Appetit!


This is no ordinary sandwich

This is no ordinary sandwich


Mozzarella In Carrozza


For the sandwich:

2 slices of gluten-free white bread

1 egg, beaten and set in a shallow dish

Corn starch for dredging (about a half-cup)

salt and pepper, 1/4 teaspoon each

About two ounces of your favorite cheese, sliced and at room temperature

Butter or olive oil for frying


Corn starch is gluten-free and adds a crisp texture

Corn starch is gluten-free and adds a crisp texture



Egg Wash = Optimal Sensuality

Egg Wash = Optimal Sensuality



See What I Mean?

See What I Mean?



For the sauce:

1 small can of anchovies in oil, reserving oil

1 small shallot, finely chopped

1/8 to 1/4 cup Marsala wine

1/8th cup extra virgin olive oil

Fresh thyme or oregano, about a tablespoon (optional)



Heat butter or oil in a medium sized skilled over medium heat.

Place corn starch, salt and pepper in a shallow dish and sift till blended. Make a cheese sandwich with the bread and cheese. With tongs, place sandwich in the egg wash on each side until coated. Remove with tongs and dredge entire sandwich on both sides, making sure all sides and ends are coated. Using tongs, very carefully set sandwich in the hot pan and fry until golden on both sides.

While the sandwich is frying.  Heat the other 1/8th cup of olive oil on medium heat and saute the shallot until translucent. Add anchovies and reserved anchovy oil to pan, mashing and moving around with a wood spoon. Let sauce simmer gently for a minute, then turn the heat to medium-high. Anchovies will reduce. Deglaze pan with Marsala and stir in thoroughly. Turn heat down and let simmer for another minute. Put hot sandwich on plate and cover generously with sauce.  Sprinkle with fresh herbs. If preferred, sauce may served on the side.


Half-Eaten Mozz

I dove in but stopped in time to snap a photo.  Che Buon Tramezzino!



Couldn’t resist!

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Baby Steps Are A Virtue

For those bowled over by my (or anyone else’s) before and after shots: There’s no ‪magic‬ moment where it all begins. ‪ Healing‬ is a process. A series of Realizations. One big extended ‪Awakening‬.

People often write to me looking to have it all solved with a diet or food plan. While their intentions are in the right place, an overly rigid food plan usually does nothing more that figuratively tie your arms into an uncomfortable position that you can’t wait to free yourself from.

My starting point...let the rational baby stepping begin.

My starting point…let the rational baby stepping begin.

Very often the biggest and most helpful step you can take is to agree not to diet or force change where food is concerned. It’s a huge and significant load off your back that allows change from within to begin. And you’ll have the time and emotional energy to invest in cementing healthy habits that will feel natural.
As I say in my book “Clean Comfort,” you can’t keep everything intact in your life and expect change. So go for little shifts, instead of black and white thinking.
Are you a fast food addict? Add more produce to your life. Any form will do.
Is soda your drink of choice? Cut back a little and drink water, seltzer, or herbal tea instead.
Feel stymied by a toxic person in your life? Start by being honest with yourself about how it affects you and work up to some straightforward communication.
Baby steps. It’s the best and most enjoyable way to lasting change. The mind and body can only take so much change and shuffling around anyway before they put the brakes on one way or another and tell the torrent of rigidity to talk to the hand.
Baby steps got me to where I am today. Baby steps. All I’m asking you to give up is the All-Or-Nothing belief system.


Lighter, freer, happier, and still baby-stepping. Know why? 'Cause Life's a Journey!

Lighter, freer, happier, and still baby-stepping. Know why? ‘Cause Life’s a Journey!

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First Almond Cake!

Don’t ask me why, but sometimes I buy things and set them aside…for ages. I suspect it’s probably tied into my response to fear of the unknown. I’m not familiar or comfortable with something so I simply ignore it. Case in point: a bag of almond meal (also known as almond flour). I bought probably circa 2011. It’s survived three moves and each time I thought of leaving it behind but some little voice told me not to give up on the almond flour. Why, there entire cookbooks and websites devoted to the practice of alchemizing almonds (ground to a sandy flour) into breads, desserts, and entrees of all kinds. Despite the wealth of resources, I decided yesterday to make my first round of baking with almond flour a full-blown adventure and not follow a recipe.

I’m constantly in recipe development anyway, so what the heck? And after years of recipe blogging, writing food articles for newspapers and magazines, and at long last coming out with my first cookbook, I felt OK about walking the baking tightrope without a net.

So here goes, my first almond cake. The original plan was to frost it with coconut cream frosting, but full disclosure: I was viably hungry from a workout when it came out of the oven and couldn’t wait. And in retrospect I’m glad because it’s actually divine on its own. Before you delve into your own version of this, let me deliver a few disclaimers. First, this cake is not a looker. It’s just not. But photogenic wasn’t what I was going for. Tasting good was paramount, as were clean ingredients. Part of the almond cake’s lack of sex appeal is its flatness. What can I compare it to? A thick cookie perhaps. But it’s not lush and towering like cakes on TV are. I’m no food scientist but it seems logical to me that those fluffy, tall cakes loaded with baking soda, baking powder and other leavening agents are both a) pumped up with air and b) a mirror of what happens internally after you eat a slice. Give me a flat, unleavened cake and I’m happy. The flavors are more concentrated and if you’re ok with it not looking like a cover model cake then it’s not a problem.

That said, this cake makes an excellent snack, light dessert, even a scrumptious breakfast accompaniment to coffee. And though this may be obvious, I’ll say it anyway: unlike a pastry or traditional slice of cake, this is healthy. Not necessarily low in calories, but the ingredients are overall clean and whole. The one deviation from purity: I threw in a box of sugar-free pudding. I do this occasionally to sweeten desserts since going off sugar more than a year ago. The majority of the time I use Stevia, but this was one of those sugar-free-pudding baking occasions. If that turns you off, use either a box of sugared pudding or about a half-cup of sugar, agave, or coconut palm sugar instead.

Not knowing just how flat this would turn out, I poured the batter into two round cake pans. It would have worked fine in one, so my advice is use one round cake pan or a square brownie pan. Hope you enjoy – bon appetit!

Gluten-Free Sugar-Free Almond Cake

2 cups almond flour (almond meal)
3 eggs, room temperature
1 box sugar-free vanilla pudding mix
4 packets Monkfruit sweetener or Stevia
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 can coconut milk
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
Extra coconut oil for greasing the pan

Preheat oven to 350

Process all ingredients in a large food processor. Or you can place them all in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Take 2-3 tablespoons of coconut oil and place it in the baking pan. Put in the warming oven for about 3-5 minutes, or until melted. Carefully remove from oven with potholders and swish melted oil around the pan, coating the sides as well. Pour batter into pan and bake for 25 minutes. Turn off oven and leave cake in the oven another 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for five minutes before removing from pan. Cake may need a little loosening with a spatula.