It’s no secret that I have been on a mission to get healthier. It’s a constant struggle for me and has been a lifelong battle that I have to fight everyday. Some years I win. Others, I loose. Why? It’s pretty obvious – I love food! It is my downfall but also something that puts a smile on my face since I was a little girl, all emotional eating issues aside. 🙂  However, at times this passion may inevitably lead to unwanted pounds that cling to my body for dear life when I am working my butt off trying to lose them. Still, I can’t ever give up on my mission to attain better health (and a trimmer physique). I owe it to myself! I may have lost some battles but as long as I am living, I haven’t lost the war. So, I am learning how to eat healthier by still enjoying the foods that I love.

These little, magical morsels are the perfect solution to quench my dark chocolate chunky cookie cravings. I found this recipe on Pinterest and it seems to have been published in different forms on other food blogs. (Did I ever mention how much I love Pinterest? So amazing for getting ideas and finding things to keep you motivated!) I tweaked this recipe according to what I had on hand in my pantry and you can do the same thing too. I had chia seeds and ground flax seed – two things that are all the rage for health fanatics – and never knew what to do with them. Combining them with peanut butter and chocolate chips is the answer!

I brought these energy into my fitness class and everyone loved them. Warning: just don’t eat them all. They’re only good for you IN MODERATION.  (Bah – isn’t everything?)

Fairytale Energy Bites
(Makes about 30 bites)

1 cup of oatmeal
1/2 cup of natural peanut butter
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup of coconut flakes
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup of chia seeds
1/3 cup of honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Using your hands, knead into a ball and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Using a teaspoon, spoon out portions and roll into balls. That’s it! There’s no need to bake these.


Dear Fairytale Feasts Readers,
I’m back! This winter has been pretty memorable, with named snowstorms pounding us on a weekly basis and frigid temperatures dropping below zero in Northeastern PA on more than one occasion. (If I never hear the words Polar Vortex again, it would be too soon!) Like all of you, I’ve been going a little stir crazy at home, so I figured what better time than to start up my blog again?

It’s been a while since I have posted anything, but I am back now and I am really going to make an effort to post more often. This will likely mean a little less writing, but more photos. I am trying to learn how to post directly from my mobile devices to make blogging more seamless and user friendly. I am also working on building an independent website where I can showcase my other writings and have a place to blog about my other passions, like the Real Housewives, the Kardashians, Game of Thrones and more!

I really want to thank all of those people who read my blog or any of my other articles and offer encouragement whenever I feel down or uninspired throughout all of my online and offline endeavors. I love and appreciate you and am so lucky to have your support. Thanks and stay tuned! Please follow or “like” my posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.  🙂

Diana XOXO
Pizza at Tufino, in Astoria, Queens

My beautiful, art deco themed 30th birthday cake. 
The day I have been waiting for is FINALLY here!!! After two years waiting for one of my favorite books of all time to come to life in a new movie version, THE GREAT GATSBY is in theaters! There’s something amazingly romantic and tragic about F.Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby that stole my heart at a young age. Since I don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t read the book or seen the movie, I will stop myself from talking too much about the plot.   
All I will say is that I could not think of a better person to play Jay Gatsby in this version than my favorite actor, Leonardo DiCaprio. (I think Carey Mulligan will be a great Daisy too!)
Robert Redford as the original Jay Gatsby.
Timeless love – Robert Redford and Mia Farrow.
Jay Gatsby is notorious for his lavish parties in Long Island, NY. Basically, no one does a party like Jay Gatsby. So when I hit the big 3-0 last October and my family generously wanted to throw me a birthday party, I decided to have a 1920s themed party to “say goodbye to my roaring 20s.” Naturally, I had to incorporate aspects of the Great Gatsby era to coincide with the movie coming out.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan. This photo takes me back to the days where I swooned over Leo and Claire Danes in Romeo and Juliet. <3 nbsp="">

My favorite television show, Boardwalk Empire, was also airing its third season on HBO at the time so I decided to incorporate elements from that show as well. For those who aren’t familiar with Boardwalk Empire or the Great Gatsby, both are set during Prohibition. I tried to take these elements and really create a special atmosphere for my birthday party. If you want to have any kind of 1920s party, please see my tips below for some easy and affordable ideas.

That’s me standing in front of the massive Boardwalk Empire sign at Caesar’s Palace in  Atlantic City for the  Season Two premiere. 

1.  CREATE THE PERFECT SPEAKEASY ATMOSPHERE. What better place to have a party than a bar with a speakeasy kinda feel? I chose Ash by El Humidor for my party because it is a cigar bar and the perfect setting for a 1920s style gangster/flapper party. (In Pennsylvania, unlike in NYC, you can serve food and alcohol in cigar bars.)  Ash is nestled underneath an Italian restaurant, Buca del Vino, and has that perfect old school, classic smoky and romantic feel. The staff at Ash was so kind and accommodating. We were floored by the absolutely brilliant and amazing job that Tom Sobieski did in decorating the place. When we talked in, we were beyond excited and really felt like we were in an ideal 1920s type atmosphere. THANK YOU TOM!!!! Which brings me to my second point …

2. ADD SOME FESTIVE DECORATIONS TO GO WITH THE THEME. We had a banner made and I ordered some decorations from Shindigz. I love flowers and really wanted to create and elegant feel, yet wanted something affordable for my centerpieces.  My cousin Susan, another Boardwalk Empire fan, suggested I go with red carnations since Nucky Thompson from Boardwalk Empire is famous for wearing them in his suit lapel. I also added some black and white flapper-like feathers to the vase. (Black, white and red were very popular colors.) Carmen’s in Exeter did a wonderful job! 

Nucky Thompson and his red carnation – the inspiration behind my red carnation centerpieces. 

To showcase my favorite scenes from the Great Gatsby and Boardwalk Empire, I purchased simple black and white frames from Michael’s and printed the photos I wanted right from Google Images. We also typed up and framed several favorite quotes from the Great Gatsby to put around the place (the bar, the restrooms, etc.).

3. CREATE A NOSTALGIC MOOD WITH MUSIC. Jazz, ragtime and broadway musicals were popular in the1920s. This was an area of dance halls and the popular phonograph (the horn shaped record player!) Boardwalk Empire fans may remember when Lucy danced to her phonograph in Season 2.  Though we were over prepared with our own music for the party, Ash had a wonderful sound system with the perfect 1920s themed music. If you’re having a party and looking for a good 1920s soundtrack, try the 1920s Radio Network (it streams for free) to set your mood or create a 1920s playlist on Pandora.

Deviled Eggs, fruit and vegetable platter on the buffet table. 

3. PLAN THE PERFECT MENU. This is the best part. Chef Joe Ginthner Jr. from Ash/Buca del Vino took the time to sit with us and listen to my crazy ideas about how I really wanted to have food from the 1920s. Together, we created a menu to thrill all of my 1920s desires within a budget. After doing some research, I was thrilled to learn that Italian food was uber-popular in the 1920s. I printed out this tidbit of information and placed it in a frame close to the food. I’m not sure if anyone noticed it or read it, but the information was there for food historians like myself.


With the passing of the World War I, America settled down to begin an era of onrushing prosperity. Prohibition, with its tremendous impact on the eating habits of the country, had a great deal to do with the introduction of Italian food to the masses. The Italians opened up speakeasies by the thousand, with Mama doing the cooking and Papa making the wine in the basement. The food was not quite the same as the food the Italians had eaten in the Old Country because Sicilian cooking was traditionally based on austerity. By contrast, America was rich, and a protein rich country – allowing for more than just pasta. Italian immigrants were happy to add these symbols of wealth to their cooking. Meatballs, rich meat sauces, veal cutlets cooked with Parmesan or with lemon, clams stuffed with buttered herbed crumbs, shrimp with wine and garlic, and mozzarella in huge chunks to be eaten as appetizers were all foods of abundance, developed by Italian-Americans.

In addition to speakeasy dining, many people entertained elegantly at home, holding extravagant cocktail parties where they could enjoy their homemade wine and bootleg liquor.  They served savory snacks such as salted nuts, deviled eggs, passed canapés, shrimp or mushroom toasts, lobster and crabmeat, tea sandwiches, fancy salads, and chafing-dish recipes. The introduction of refrigerators (for those who could afford electricity) enabled longer storage of perishable foods, so fruits and vegetables also became widely popular.
Deviled eggs were big in the 1920s.

Chicken Pommery Bites – a Buca Del Vino specialty.
Italian antipasto. 

Seared Lamb Chops with mint jelly.
Mini foccacia breads. 
Mushrooms with crab imperial. 
Filet mignon risotto over tostada. 

4. THE CAKE: It’s not a real party or birthday celebration without cake. I loved, loved, loved my cake!!! I obsessively pin cakes on Pinterest and knew I wanted something eye catching.  I pinned some ideas and designed my own cake with cake-queen Francesca Campisano Burke, who executed my ideas to perfection. My cake was not only beautiful, but delicious – even with the fondant that I insisted on having!  I had two different flavors – chocolate with chocolate mousse and vanilla with raspberry. I really loved this cake and will remember it for the rest of my life. 🙂 

5. DRESS THE PART.Costume attire was optional and encouraged – so I instructed my guests to come as a flapper, gangster, big band player, silent movie character. Many of them did, even one of my spirited and wonderful BFFs who was pregnant at the time – and we had the BEST time!  I ordered my costume from Unique Vintage and was very happy with it, though there were others that I REALLY loved – but they were on back-order  (Order WAY ahead of time, especially now because these costumes are in demand!)

My sister and I in our 1920s attire.

6. LASTLY, TREAT YOUR GUESTS TO A FAVOR.  I always like to give some kind of a token of the party away as a remembrance. For 1920s themed favors, I decided to make little candy bags. I put this little sign next to the candy bags to explain why they were getting candy bars. I packaged the bars in clear bags with a beautiful black and white ribbon I found at Michael’s.  I also had strings of party beads that looked like pearls to adorn my guests when they arrived at the party. I purchased these online at Shindigz

Champagne punch, strings of pearls for my guests, and 1920s themed candy bar treat bags.
1920’s candy BAR CRAZE
When Prohibition went into effect on January 16, 1920, it increased the production of soft drinks, put hundreds of restaurants and hotels out of business and spurred the growth of tea rooms and cafeterias. It also destroyed the last vestiges of fine dining in the United States.

Hotels tried to reclaim some of their lost wine and spirit profits by selling candy and soda pop. Thus, began the candy bar craze.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (1922 ) • Twizzlers (1929) Mounds (1922)  Milk Duds (1926) • Milky Way (1923)  
Heath Bar (1928) • Butterfinger (1923) • Babe Ruth (1923)

There was no better way to celebrate the end of my 20s with a 1920s themed party!

It’s finally here – kind of, I think – SPRING!!! In honor of this special first day of one of nature’s most delicate and welcomed seasons, here’s a recipe for Spring Green Risotto.  I love risotto, but it’s pretty heavy so I decided to add some healthy greens to fool my brain into thinking I was having a balanced meal.  I also used lemon juice and basil to lighten it up.  The main star of this dish that you don’t see very often is kale. Kale was one of the most popular leafy greens up until the Middle Ages.  It has been a pretty trendy vegetable as of late, mostly because of it’s superfood properties.  It is rich in anti-oxidants and vitamin K, and is thought to prevent cancer and lower cholesterol.  I used a large bag of curly kale that was pre-cut from Wegmans  (my favorite grocery store!!!) to make things easier. The flat kind would work as well for this recipe (and maybe even better).  I also used Wegman’s Arborio Rice and purchased a bag of frozen shrimp there for $10 or less.

I adopted this risotto recipe from a great book I purchased called The Italian Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone. I also made lamb chops from this book. See Fairytale Slow-Cooker Lamb Shanks with White Beans. I still don’t really understand the whole slow cooker obsession and would rather use my dutch oven any day, but I admit it was a great tool to braise meats.  I was surprised there’s a slow cooker recipe for risotto, but beware that this is not necessarily a pot that you should leave alone all day.  It only takes about 2 hours total to make this – with about an hour in the slow cooker. I strongly recommend checking it and stirring the rice thoroughly so it cooks evenly.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to use a slow cooker, just toast the rice in a large heavy bottomed skillet and begin to add the broth in batches, continuously stirring until it is absorbed by the rice.

Wishing you a peaceful and healthy Happy Spring!

Fairytale Spring Green Risotto with Garlic Shrimp
(Serves 6-8)


For the risotto: 
1/2 stuck of butter or margarine
1 onion, chopped
3 cups Arborio rice
3 cups kale, chopped into bite sized pieces
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup basil, chopped
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
Juice from 1 lemon
Salt and pepper

For the shrimp:
2 tablespoons of butter or margarine
1 tablespoon of olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 bag of peeled shrimp (tails on or off, it doesn’t matter)

Melt the butter with olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until golden and soft for about ten minutes. Add the rice and stir, toasting for about 2 minutes.

Add the onion and rice to the slow cooker. Add the chicken broth. Cook for 40 minutes on high.

Meanwhile, melt the butter and olive oil in a large skillet. Add the minced garlic for about a minute, until fragrant. Add the shrimp and cook for a few minutes until pink. Set aside and cover with foil.

Back to the crock-pot – stir the rice well and add the kale and cook for 30 more minutes, or until rice is tender. Add the parsley, basil, lemon juice and cheese. Serve in a bowl and top with garlic shrimp.

Important: do not leave this in the warm slow cooker for a long time or the rice will become sticky – see below. (I did this while I was eating my first serving and ruined the whole thing!)
Be careful not overcook the risotto! 
Enjoy! 🙂 

Tomorrow is the BIG day! (Pun intended.) Fat Tuesday marks the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Lenten season. Lent is a period of religious observance and fasting, usually lasting six weeks until Easter. Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras in French, is like the last hurrah before Lent, and is famously known as a holiday for eating rich, heavy foods. 

There are so many foods that I love to splurge on, but there’s nothing I love more than a gluttonous, bubbly, gooey, spicy cheese dip. It’s not hard to see why this dip is so splurge worthy when you look at the ingredients, but it’s just SOOOO good! This recipe is also great for a party because it makes a huge batch and can be made ahead of time.

(For Mardi Gras fans looking for NOLA style recipes, I’ve made gumbo before, you can see the recipe here.) 

Fairytale Cheesy Jalapeno Crab Dip
(Serves 8-10)

1 lb jumbo lump crab meat
1 cup aged white cheddar, grated
1 cup oz cream cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1/2 cup American cheese
1 pint heavy cream
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup chopped jalapeños
3 cloves garlic, minced

Fairytale Pita Chips (see recipe below)
Dipping Pretzels

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Add a half stick of butter to a large heavy bottom sauce pan and let melt on medium high heat. Add the peppers and jalapenos and sauté until soft for a few minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute. 

Reduce heat to medium and add heavy cream and cream cheese. Stir the mixture until for about 6-8 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. The dip will start to thicken. 

Add the other cheeses in slowly. Once thickened, gently fold in lump crab meat so as not to disturb the chunks. Add the dip to the casserole dish. Keep a few chunks to place on top so you can see them. Sprinkle some reserved cheddar cheese on top. 

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until bubbling on top. Let sit for about ten minutes so it settles. Enjoy with pita chips and dipping pretzels. 

Fairytale Pita Chips

1 package of large pita breads
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
Kosher salt
Cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven 350 degrees. Cut the pitas in wedges. It the pitas have a pocket in the center, then you could separate them but it’s not necessary. I like to keep them together. 
Lightly brush the pitas with olive oil. 

Bake in the oven for about ten minutes, or until lightly crispy and browned. When ready, toss in a bowl  with Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and parsley.


Remember that feeling that you used to get when the ice cream man came around? Well, there’s something to celebrate again. The food truck trend has hit Scranton – finally! The “What the Fork” truck was born last year and resided mostly in locations around Dunmore. It now regularly makes appearances in downtown Scranton on the corner of Spruce and North Washington and sometimes Penn Avenue and Spruce. 

It’s not hard to figure out why truck was cleverly named What the Fork. The menu, described as American Fusion, changes daily and seasonally. Some of the items that have appeared on the What the Fork Truck menu include these creative takes on classic lunch items: Reuben spring rolls with Russian dressing, lobster fried rice, sushi “bowl” with Yuengling battered shrimp, a fried turkey cutlet and waffle sandwich, lobster rolls, surf and turf cheesesteaks … you get the idea. This isn’t your typical hot dog and hamburger kinda stand.

Mainstays on this ##wtf menu are the beef sliders ($7) and pulled pork tacos ($6.5). The pulled pork tacos are absolutely delicious and right up there with some of the best tacos I’ve ever had – and I’ve had a lot of tacos. These soft, flour tacos are generously filled with smoked pulled pork, Sriracha slaw, sweet potato straws and candysauce (an apricot ginger barbecue sauce). I mean, I would get these every time if I wasn’t so tempted to try their other items. 

Pulled pork tacos with sriracha slaw and candysauce.

The beef sliders are made with pepperjack cheese and topped with “bacon jam” a bacon and onion relish. Mine were a little bit on the overdone side for my liking and I missed the slice of cheese on top, but they tasted a lot juicier and more flavorful than they looked and were VERY fresh. 

Beef sliders with the What the Fork’s famous #baconjam.

What the Fork makes their own french fries ($3) – Russet Burbank potatoes that are twice fried and sprinkled with pink Himalayan salt. These fries are the perfect example of what french fries SHOULD be – hand cut and fresh! Try dipping them in the spicy ketchup. If even these sound boring to you, there’s typically a menu item offering gourmet take on the fries, some with truffle oil and Parmesan, crab fries, or poutine (fries with gravy and mozzarella cheese). Sweet potato chips and waffle fries have also made appearances..

Huge greasy brown bag of hand cut french fries  – perfect guilty pleasure for a Friday at work!

Also on the menu – a daily soup like broccoli cheddar, sweet potato chili, andouille rice. I had the pumpkin chorizo, which was very memorable – I’ve never had anything like that before and I will be looking forward to having it again next fall. I also tried and loved the buffalo chicken soup. I was a little bit scared of it at first, but was pleasantly surprised – it wasn’t too thick or thin, it was just right and it was SPICY! They soups are served with a cute little “spork” – a combination of a plastic spoon/fork so that you can eat up your “soup” with ease. 

Pumpkin chorizo soup.

Buffalo Chicken Soup. 
This is just a small sampling of the offerings at the What the Fork food truck. I really look forward to trying the chocolate chicken chili (hopefully it makes an appearance again!) crab cake sliders, and queso sticks with ranch dressing the next time I feel like I want to be extra gluttonous. What the Fork has offered a salad before, and hopefully they will offer some kind of salad in the future or at least some greens to go with my sliders to trick my brain into thinking I’m eating a balanced meal. After all, summer is coming … 

The offerings at What the Fork range from about $3-$12. While critics can argue that this “street” food does not come cheap, one needs to remember that this isn’t frozen, processed fast food. You get what you pay for here – upscale, refined, fresh street eats. No worries if you haven’t got the cash to support your fine taste, this food truck takes credit cards!

Please visit find the daily location schedule and menu on facebook, twitter (@wtforktruck) or their website. Call ahead to place your order – or order at the truck, the food is worth the wait – even in this frigid winter!


Hello everyone! 

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted but I am back and so excited to be posting again. I took a little break because I’ve been super busy with a lot of exciting things in the works. I was writing and interning for love and  relationship website You can my article articles here

I’ve been slowly but surely learning some new tricks and techniques about blogging and HTML. I have a new mini laptop and iPad to help me take more photos and upload!  I’m working on building my own personal website from scratch which will launch in the near future. I also plan on giving Fairytale Feasts a new look pretty soon, so stay tuned. Now, back to the important stuff … the food.

Since its Super Bowl weekend AND the birthday weekend of my one and only sister Christina, I thought I’d share one of her recipes for tailgating and entertaining – her famous WING DIP! If you like wing sauce and heat, you’re sure to love this dip. 

Christina’s Fairytale Wing Dip
(Serves 4-6)

1 package of light cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup of blue cheese dressing
1 cup Franks Hot Sauce
1 13 oz can Member’s Mark chicken breast
1/2 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese 


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Shred the chicken and place in a large mixing bowl. Fold the cream cheese into the chicken.Pour in the hot sauce and blue cheese dressing. Mix everything together well taking out the clumps. Spread the dip into a baking dish. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top and drizzle with some additional Frank’s hot sauce. Bake in oven until the dip bubbles and browns on top, about 20-30 minutes.

This dip can be prepared the ahead of your event. Just keep in the fridge overnight and bake when ready.


If you’re a born food lover (like me), there’s a good chance you’ve struggled with your weight. One famous food lover knows this battle all too well, but has found her way on the path to good health. Daphne Oz, one of five co-hosts on the ABC talk show, “The Chew,” routinely shares some of her tasty, but healthful, recipes with America. A graduate of Princeton University, she’s the author of the bestselling book “The Dorm Room Diet,” a book designed to help college students adapt to a healthier lifestyle. She’s also the daughter of one of television’s best known medical experts: Dr. Mehmet Oz.

I caught up with Daphne to ask her exactly how she overcame her struggle with weight without having to sacrifice her love for food. Below she dishes on some of her best weight loss tips, good health, maintaining her youthful beauty, and of course, her father, Dr. Oz. She also shares a recipe for her healthful breakfast smoothie, a refreshing treat at anytime of day – especially during this summer heat.

      How does it feel to be the daughter of a famous father, Dr. Oz? Do you ever feel pressured to be super healthy and fit?

For me and my siblings, he’s just like every other dad. He wants us to succeed, push ourselves and be happy. He offers great advice, but he’s also supportive of the decisions we make on our own. He’s definitely made health a priority for our family, but it’s more leading by example and giving us lots of opportunities to choose health for ourselves. I grew up around my parents’ dinner table, so I certainly have a predisposition to think about health first. But the pressure I feel to be healthy and fit is because I want to be able to function optimally in my own life.

      You’ve talked about being overweight as a child and teenager. What motivated you to lose weight and how did you do it?

I tried every fad diet under the sun when I was a kid trying to lose weight. Of course, none of them worked because they are all based on giving food a position of power it should never have. I was sick of feeling like a failure every time I went back to eating the “forbidden” foods, and sick of being overweight, so I committed to creating a healthy lifestyle that would allow me to make health a priority and not an obsession. I wrote all about my journey, and the tips and tricks I developed that helped me successfully (and permanently!) lose 30+ pounds, in my book, The Dorm Room Diet.  Since then, I’ve really come to see that living a healthy lifestyle is about being flexible – nothing is every off limits any more, and I make the rule! – so I can pursue being healthy and happy all at once.

What advice would you give to someone who has a significant amount of weight to lose, where should they start?

Get started today, even if it’s something small – drinking half your body weight in ounces of water; taking the stairs – so that you start to train your brain to choose health. Building healthy habits is like building any muscle: repeat action will make it easier. Once you get in the habit of making a positive, healthy choice, it will take less and less effort.

For years, I thought of dieting as a departure from normal activity: “I’m going on a diet” implies that at some point, I’ll go off it again. A healthy lifestyle is permanent, which means there’s plenty of room for adjustment. Don’t think about it in terms of being deprived of the things you love because, truthfully, you can have any of those things whenever you want when you make the rules. That’s the beauty of creating your own, individualized plan that is specifically tailored to the things you need in your life.

Part of creating a healthy lifestyle is trusting yourself to make smart choices. Give yourself the freedom to be flexible – yes, you can have that slice of birthday cake and be a part of the celebration, but really take this time to savor the indulgence so you don’t feel tempted tomorrow by stale, store-bought brownies lying nearby. It’s not the one cookie that sends you over the edge. It’s eating the entire box of cookies because you feel guilty, like you’ve “ruined” the day, by eating one. Retraining yourself out of this mindset – and really learning to enjoy your food and your life again! – is what creating a permanent, healthy eating plan is all about.

You’ve written about being on the 21 day whole living cleanse. What is this and how has it worked for you?

For me, sticking with the WholeLiving cleanse was about breaking the lazy eating habits I’d fallen into over the holiday season. I wanted to remind myself what it felt like to have my body run on premium fuel, and get back to the place of conscious eating where I am most of the time.

Being conscious about what goes into my body means I get to really enjoy my food, whether it’s a super healthy salad or a decadently delicious dessert. The most important thing is to be present when I’m making the decision, and over the holidays, I’d gotten really comfortable eating things just because they were lurking around and not because I really cared about eating them.

Normally, I’m a total jerk on cleanses because I’m always hungry and feeling deprived – which is probably why I never do them! But I committed to three weeks of eating clean, which basically meant starting my day with a fresh juice of mostly greens (lettuce/kale/celery/cucumber/parsley/mint + some apple, pear or pineapple for taste) and then cutting out sugar, dairy, meat, gluten, alcohol and most caffeine out of my diet. The first two days were the worst, just in terms of getting out of my routine of eating junk out of convenience. But I was never hungry, and by day 3 I was already seeing the results: improved skin tone and brighter eyes, better sleep and a boost in energy (and without my double espresso at that!), clearer thinking.

By the end of the three weeks, I’d dropped 10 pounds of bloat and toxins that had been building up over a holiday season crammed with processed sugars and flours. Most importantly, I’d recalibrated my ability to think about what I was eating before eating it, and make better decisions as a result.

Being on the Chew and surrounded by such wonderful chefs, it must be tempting to eat all the time! How do you maintain the will-power you discussed in your column?

I love good food! But the beauty of being surrounded by such wonderful food all the time is that I know I don’t need to stuff my face whenever it’s there because, guess what? Something equally delicious will be coming up tomorrow!

I like to have a bite or two of any dish we prepare – that way, I can enjoy all the wonderful flavors and be expanding my palate and cooking ability without going overboard.

How important is self-esteem to losing weight?

Hugely important. Self-confidence – confidence not only that you have the will power to eat right, but also that you deserve to look and feel great – is the first step to committing to a permanent healthy lifestyle program. Additionally, because a healthy lifestyle is so individualized, there are no rigid rules telling you what you can and can’t eat. Instead, you have to have confidence in yourself that you can make smart decisions on the fly – ones that will allow you to enjoy your food and your life without sacrificing your health. Trusting yourself to make those smart move, and then seeing how easy it becomes to lead a healthy lifestyle that is customizable to your life, will only help boost your self confidence.

In your book The Dorm Room Diet, you discuss obstacles that one may encounter when trying to diet or lose weight. Any advice on how to combat emotional eating?

Emotional eating was at the root of my struggles with weight. I associated cooking and eating with love and bonding time with my family, so it became very difficult for me to actually pay attention when I was eating and recognize when I’d had enough.

The first trick is to break the cycle. If you catch yourself eating mindlessly, or eating beyond the point where you are full, just walk away from the food. Sometimes, it’s simple habit that keeps hands shoveling food towards face, so just taking yourself away from that situation gives you a chance to recognize what’s going on.

When you’re tempted to eat and it’s not time for a meal, try to ascertain what you’re really trying to feed. Are you hungry, or are you bored/tired/angry/upset/happy? We use emotional eating to help social interactions, to celebrate, to feel better…and the first step to stopping this behavior is to recognize when it’s happening and then find another way to help the situation in a way that might actually deal with the root of the problem.

Also, the biological process your body uses to tell when you’re hungry can often be confused with being thirsty, so always have a big glass of water before eating! That way, you’ll be better able to moderate how much you actually need to eat to feel full.

What obstacles to healthful eating have you encountered since you’ve graduated from college? Is it difficult to eat healthy while you are married, busy with a career, etc.?

The truth is, once you learn the tricks I’ve included in The Dorm Room Diet about how to eat on the run, plan ahead, navigate danger zones, and make smart choices, eating in a post-school environment becomes very easy. The only thing that’s changed really is that I eat for my job now – but how can I complain about that?! Cooking for two just means that I get to try new and exciting dishes more often.

Do you have any healthful eating tips for young women on a budget?

Choose how to spend your money wisely. I wasted a lot of money on produce like fresh berries and lettuces that go bad very quickly. It can be inconvenient, but you’ll save a lot of money only buying what you need for a couple days at a time so you don’t throw anything out. You can find inexpensive organic frozen fruit that lasts a long time in the freezer and is perfect for smoothies and shakes. I buy things like lentils, beans and brown rice in bulk because they store well and come out to pennies per serving. And eating seasonally makes a huge difference, especially if you can shop at local farmer’s markets where you’ll get the benefit of having nutritionally dense food grown in season and generally locally, meaning you won’t be paying for expensive shipping, preserving and storing costs.

What should women in their twenties be doing now to prevent aging? Are there any super foods we should be eating to maintain a youthful appearance?

Make sure you take your make up off every night with a good cleanser. Leaving toxins on your skin may contribute to the aging process, plus it’s likely to lead to breakouts you don’t need.

I use pure organic coconut oil and it works like a charm. Just rub about a teaspoon between your fingertips to warm and liquefy, then massage it all of your face and closed eyes to take off everything from waterproof mascara to foundation. Remove with a warm, wet washcloth and follow with your favorite cleanser, toner and moisturizer.

Coconut oil is packed with natural fats that will help lubricate the skin and won’t strip it’s natural moisture barrier, and it is a natural antibacterial  and anti-fungal to help prevent future breakouts. Even better, it’s free of any harsh chemical toxins.

I’m a big believer in using as few chemicals on my skin as possible, since it’s the bodies largest organ and absorbs whatever we put on. Especially considering you probably have a daily routine of using the same products over and over, take a look at the ingredient label and see if you really want to be absorbing all those things day after day.

Eat plenty of antioxidant rich food – think dark fruits and veggies – to help boost your body’s natural defenses again aging, and add in a cod liver oil or essential fatty acid supplement to lubricate from the inside out. I also take a daily probiotic to make sure my digestion functions optimally so I am better able to absorb all the nutrition coming in through my food.

You and your parents founded Health Corps, an organization devoted to combating obesity and mental resilience. Why is it so important to stay in shape and eat healthfully?

My parents and I created HealthCorps when we realized how basic information about nutrition, stress management and personal responsibility can have a positive lifelong impact if presented in a way that is both accessible and attainable to young people. Ultimately, we wanted to find a way to help teach our students how to create a life geared towards health and happiness simultaneously by making health a priority and not an obsession.

So often, we are overwhelmed by too much information, some of it contradictory, or we are presented with facts in the wrong vehicle or at the wrong time. We end up confused and without direction. What HealthCorps seeks to do is take recent college grads who are delaying entry into medical school or advanced science degrees and engage them to present health curriculum to middle and high school students on a peer-to-peer level, giving the lessons new life and new relatability.

As young people, we are much better at translating information into action because our habits are not yet set in stone. Staying in shape and eating healthfully is the basis of creating a healthy lifestyle that will help us avoid unnecessary disease, spare healthcare costs, and enjoy quality (not just quantity) of life, and young people are on the front lines of guiding America towards the goal of making health access widely available and affordable to everyone.

We have to be the ones to use our voices and consumer power to demand change to our food system so that health becomes the easy choice, and from there to become experts in our own bodies so we can achieve the life we want. HealthCorps is educating young people to be the beacons of these new health goals and to spread this information to our communities and loved ones.

By Daphne Oz

½ cup yogurt, plain or sweetened with sugar
1 cup fresh fruit of your choosing, plus at least ½ banana
1 tsp honey, if needed
1 tbsp psyllium husks
1 cup ice (or use frozen fruit and skip ice)
yield: 2½ cups

Directions: Whirl all ingredients in a blender until smooth and creamy.

Optional: Add the contents of 2 Ester-C capsules along with a capful of an algae or chlorophyll supplement (any health food store will have one) and one serving bee pollen for an extra energy boost and an easy way to get some of your vitamins.

Psyllium husks help clean your digestive tract and expand with water, so that you’ll be nice and full. And if you add the optional vitamin supplements, it packs a powerful vitamin punch. 

Nutritional Information: calories: 435 total fat: 4.5 g fiber: 11.8 g protein: 8.8 g

Excerpted from The Dorm Room Diet, by Daphne Oz
Copyright © 2010 by Daphne Oz
Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers,

I recently attended a local food tasting and came across this wonderful wing sauce that was bottled right here in Scranton, PA. Peggy’s Wing Sauce, bottled by co-owners of local favorite Kelly’s Pub and Eatery, is available in three different flavors (mild, medium or hot). Sure, we all know that wing sauce is great with wings or in a dip, but I was really impressed by all the creative ways that sisters Peggy and Kathleen Cosgrove managed to use their homemade sauce. They served hot pierogies and chicken potstickers right in the hot sauce. I was especially a fan of their ranch dressing, so I included a sample below. Visit their website to view more recipes and to order your own bottle. (I would love to try to make Peggy’s Hot Wing Stromboli!)


1 head iceberg lettuce
4 chicken breasts
4 slices cooked bacon
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

1/2 cup ranch dressing
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup of Peggy’s Wing Sauce

Pound chicken to desired thickness. Marinate in Peggy’s Wing Sauce for 2 hours or overnight. Grill chicken then slice crosswise at an angle.

Clean and cut head of lettuce into four wedges. Divide among four plates and top with grilled chicken, dressing and crumbled blue cheese.


After watching the Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami marathon on E! yesterday (in bed with a box of Godiva Dessert Truffles leftover from my birthday last week), I decided maybe it was time for me to do something different today, and take a positive step towards living a more healthful life. Inspired by favorite Kardashian sister, Kourtney, I decided to make steel cut oats for breakfast this morning. 

Kourtney is known for her steel cut oat breakfast, which she credits for helping her lose weight after she had baby Mason and stay in amazing shape. She claims to eat it every single day and has said it is the only thing she knows how to cook.
 I shamelessly love Kourtney and her longtime boyfriend Scott, Mason’s father. I think they’re the most adorable, stylish little family! 
However, out of all the Kardashians, I relate to Rob the most – who has been portrayed as still unsettled in his life, and openly struggles with binge eating and weight loss. Kourtney, who is dedicated to health and fitness, can be seen on Kim’s Fairytale Wedding Special  trying to guide Rob to eat more healthfully. (Where did she get those kale chips? I want to try them!) So if steel cut oats are what she recommends, then that’s what I will be having.

So what are they exactly, and why can’t you just make instant oatmeal? Steel cut oats, also known as Scotch oats or Irish oats, are famous for their health benefits. They are a type of oat groats (oats that contain most of the original nutrients) that have been cut into two to three pieces and not rolled. Unlike instant oatmeal, steel cut oats take around 30 minutes to cook and are more chewy in texture. Instant oats are groats that have been precooked and dried before being rolled, and is typically dried with salt, sugar and other artificial flavors. Steel cut oats are lower on the glycemic index than instant oats, which basically means that they will keep you fuller and more satisfied for a longer period of time. Oatmeal also helps in lowering your cholesterol. 
Kourtney typically makes her oatmeal with almond milk and honey. I didn’t have these things on hand today, and I was craving baked apples so I did things a little differently. Here’s my version of steel cut oatmeal. It serves 1-2 people. If you are trying to keep your calories as low as possible, omit the pecans.

Fairytale Apple Harvest Steel Cut Oatmeal 
(Inspired by Kourtney Kardashian)
Serves 1-2
1/2 cup of steel cut oats
2 teaspoons of margarine
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups of hot water
1/3 cup of 1% milk (or any kind of milk – soy, almond, etc.)
1 small apple, peeled cored and cut into chunks
Pinch of nutmeg
1 teaspoon of chopped pecans
Drizzle of sugar free Log Cabin syrup
Melt the margarine in a small saucepan. Add the steel cut oats and toast for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the cinnamon and salt and stir. Add the hot water, stir well and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes. Add the milk, apple and nutmeg and stir well. Simmer for another 10 minutes.
Serve with pecans and a drizzle of the maple syrup.
Nutritional Facts 
(For entire recipe)
452 cals, 10 grams fat, 75 grams carbs, 15 grams protein, 10 grams fiber, 16 sugar.
Thanks for the inspiration Kourtney! 🙂