Not Resolutions—2016 Health Commitment.
was a master of one-liners. “You’ve Come
Along way Baby,” Virginia Slims “Coke
Is It,” “Fly the Friendly Skies of
United” “Go for the Gusto” and “If You Don’t Have Schlitz You Don’t Have Beer.
In a couple of words his iconic ads captured a generation. Quick, Snappy, Memorable,fun
were his mantra’s. He was convinced the same principles should apply to
dieting--often tipping the scale at 450 pounds.
“Quick, Fast, Easy.” So he embarked
on Tape Worm Diet, The Elvis Diet, The Cabbage Soup Diet, The Rice Diet, Ayds
Candy Diet. Whatever diet he was on—my whole family had to be on to support
him. By nine years old I had tried them all—even praying beside him while he
was convinced he found the answer in, I Prayed Myself Slim,”
and supported him by consuming only apples, nothing else while he thought he
found the miracle on the Israeli Army Diet—eating only one kind of food a day.
Each New Year, a new plan, a new resolution.
years later my dad is 210 pounds and vegan and I am a nutritionist and cooking
teacher. In my new book, My Fat Dad: A Memoir of Food, Love, and Family, with
Recipes, I share our crazy journey, along with my beloved grandmother’s recipes
cards which saved my life – spoonful by spoonful.
My memoir is currently on pre order on Amazon. The pub date is September 2015. I would love your support. It is my story of how and why I am so passionate about nutrition and creating healthy recipes. Please feel free to connect with me on my author page.
Nutrition expert and New York TimesWell Blog contributor Lerman pens an intimate memoir about the intersections of intense family relationships and food, dieting, and healthy eating.
As a child, the author’s relationships with her overweight father and distant mother were difficult. Eventually, she realized that her father’s ravenous appetite—he often consumed 8,000 calories per day—was a disease he couldn’t control. Lerman’s mother, a frustrated actress, had no desire to be saddled with housewifely tasks. The author’s grandmother Beauty, however, showered her with love and attention and lots of home-cooked meals. “In her arms,” writes Lerman, “I was never hungry for food, love, or affection. She was my mentor and my savior—saving my life, spoonful by spoonful.” The author tracks her emotional and culinary life as the family moved from Chicago to New York as well as the transition in her relationship with her father when her younger sister’s burgeoning acting career took off. Lerman also chronicles her parents’ divorce, her teenage years, and her father’s bout with cancer. Always entranced by health-food stores, the author began developing a healthy eating regime for her father, who, always trying one extreme diet after another, was fighting for his health. He eliminated dairy, meat, alcohol, and caffeine, and he began making “anti-cancer soup with shiitake, portabella and maitake mushrooms.” He also stocked up on fresh vegetables, blue-green algae, and fermented foods. Throughout the book, Lerman links food to physical and emotional well-being—e.g., a meal of white fish and steamed leeks topped with lemon slices was “calming and almost euphoric.” During an encounter with a guest who offered Lerman a piece of macrobiotic apple pie while espousing a vegetarian lifestyle, the author’s mind opened up to new ways of living and eating, and she relates them smoothly to readers.
Laced with love, family dramas, recipes, and the pangs of growing up, Lerman’s memoir is a satisfying treat.
Dawn Lerman writes about growing up with a fat dad.
My dad was never a morning person. No matter how many alarm clocks he would set, nothing could ever wake him. My mom often had to squirt him with cold water and I would have to tickle him under the chin so he could get to work on time. When he was little his mother, my Bubbe Mary, used to leave for work early. One morning while my dad was sleeping, there was a grease fire in a neighbor’s apartment, and my father slept through the sirens, the screaming and the firefighters breaking down the front door of his building.
My dad said that when he slept, his best ideas came to him — including some of the award-winning slogans for the campaigns he created. But as much as he enjoyed sleeping, he loved eating and being pampered. Every Father’s Day my sister and I would make decorative cards, clean the house, make him a scrumptious breakfast in bed, and straighten his wall of shirts that were stacked in every corner of our brownstone — representing each new weight.
Figuring out what to prepare depended on the diet du jour and the number on the big chalkboard above the scale in our bathroom that showed his current weight. My dad weighed himself every morning, every night and after each meal, carefully displaying every victory and every setback in white chalk. He usually weighed around 350 pounds but would often fluctuate a hundred pounds on either end. We usually knew how our day would be if the numbers were going up or down. If the numbers were going down, it might be a cheat day, in which case a sweet treat was in order. If the numbers were going up, it was time for a different diet, so a day of reprieve to eat whatever he craved was mandatory to reboot his metabolism.
Since Father’s Day is always on a Sunday, there was a lot more freedom in my menu selection. I always enjoyed making something new. I had made sweet cheese blintzes, a Jewish crepe, from scratch several times with my maternal grandmother, Beauty, when we lived in Chicago, but never by myself. When I called Beauty for guidance, she said that since I was almost 10, which was her age when she started making the blintzes for her family and the boarders who lived in her home, she knew I could do it. But my grandmother always thought I could do everything perfectly, which was not always the case — especially when it came to singing and dancing, which were my sister’s fortes.
The trick to not being overwhelmed was to make the blintzes in two parts. In the evening, I could make the crepes for the shell and fill them so they would have time to set overnight and be ready for frying in the morning. Beauty said the smell of the blintzes frying in butter could arouse even the deepest of sleepers. With my grandmother’s encouragement, I began gathering the cheese for the filling, and the sour cream, powdered sugar and strawberries for the topping.
According to Beauty, the secret to making the perfect blintzes was to get the crepe paper-thin. “It is all in all the wrist,” she would say. I remember, when I was little, watching her effortlessly tilt the hot pan as she poured in the batter of flour, egg and milk. She would carefully swirl the batter to coat the bottom of the cast-iron skillet evenly. After about 30 seconds, she would run a knife around the edge of the crepe to prevent it from sticking. I had seen my grandmother prepare the blintzes so many times that I was confident that I could replicate them. Ever since I was big enough to reach the counter with a step stool, I had helped mix, fill and roll.
I decided to wait till my parents went out to begin the process, for a couple of reasons. One, my mother was usually annoyed when I took on elaborate cooking projects; the kitchen was too small, she said, and her papers, spread over the counters, would get ruined. Usually, her only clue that I had used the kitchen was that her papers were put back much more neatly than before she left. And two, I wanted my dad to be totally surprised. Blintzes were one of his favorite dishes from his childhood — something saved for very special occasions.
With my mother out of the house, I carefully made the crepes just as my grandmother had showed me, filling them with sweetened cheese and a touch of lemon. When I began frying them the next morning, the buttery aroma that filled the air did not wake my dad, but my mother and sister flew into the kitchen. Even my mother, who was not usually excited about food, begged for a bite.
My mother and sister helped me arrange the wooden tray to take to my dad in bed. It took only moments for him to arise as we presented him with the tray of blintzes and a cup of Taster’s Choice instant coffee — his favorite coffee since he created the advertising campaign that introduced the brand in the United States and made it the No. 1 coffee.
As we all nibbled on the blintzes, I realized Father’s Day was not only about spoiling my dad but also about coming together as a family — using the recipes that had conjured fond memories from my parents’ past and creating new ones together.
Beauty’s Cheese Blintzes
My grandmother used to call these little packages of love. Thin dough around sweetened cheese, topped with fresh fruit. Perfect for brunch or anytime you want to make loved ones feel special.
For the crepe batter: 2 eggs 1 cup milk 1 cup sifted flour 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract Pinch of salt 1 tablespoon melted butter Butter for frying
For the cheese filling: 12 ounces farmer’s cheese 4 ounces cream cheese, softened 1/3 cup sugar 1 teaspoon lemon juice 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 egg yolk Pinch of salt
Toppings: Powdered sugar Strawberries, sliced thin Dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt
Prepare batter. In a large bowl combine eggs, milk, salt and vanilla and blend well. Gradually add flour. Beat well until there are no lumps in the batter.
Note: The blintzes have a better texture if the batter rests for half an hour at room temperature. You can also let the filling chill for half an hour in the refrigerator. If the batter gets too thick while it is sitting, you can thin it with a little bit of cold water.
Make the filling. Combine all of the filling ingredients in a bowl and mix together until smooth.
To make the crepes:
1. Grease a 6- or 7-inch skillet until it is hot but not smoking.
2. Put a ladleful of batter into the skillet. Tilt pan to swirl the batter so it covers the bottom of the skillet.
3. Fry on one side until bubbles form and the top is set. The bottom should be golden brown. Carefully loosen edges of the crepe and slip it out of the skillet onto a plate.
4. Repeat the above procedure until all the batter is used. Grease skillet each time before pouring batter.
5. After all the crepes are made, begin filling them. The brown side should be facing up. Place 3 tablespoons of filling on one edge.
6. Roll once to cover filling. Fold the sides into the center and continue rolling until completely closed.
7. After all the blintzes are assembled, heat 2 tablespoons of butter in the skillet and place each crepe, seam side down, in the skillet and fry 2 minutes on each side, turning once.
8. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt, and garnish with fresh strawberries and a touch of powdered sugar.
Dawn Lerman writes about growing up with a fat dad.
My grandmother Beauty always told me that the way to a man’s heart was through his stomach, and by the look of pure delight on my dad’s face when he ate a piece of warm, homemade chocolate cake, or bit into a just-baked crispy cookie, I grew to believe this was true. I had no doubt that when the time came, and I liked a boy, that a batch of my gooey, rich, chocolatey brownies would cast him under a magic spell, and we would live happily ever.
But when Hank Thomas walked into Miss Seawall’s ninth grade algebra class on a rainy, September day and smiled at me with his amazing grin, long brown hair, big green eyes and Jimi Hendrix T-shirt, I was completely unprepared for the avalanche of emotions that invaded every fiber of my being. Shivers, a pounding heart, and heat overcame me when he asked if I knew the value of 1,000 to the 25th power. The only answer I could think of, as I fumbled over my words, was “love me, love me,” but I managed to blurt out “1E+75.” I wanted to come across as smart and aloof, but every time he looked at me, I started stuttering and sweating as my face turned bright red. No one had ever looked at me like that: as if he knew me, as if he knew how lost I was and how badly I needed to be loved.
Hank, who was a year older than me, was very popular and accomplished. Unlike other boys who were popular for their looks or athletic skills, Hank was smart and talented. He played piano and guitar, and composed the most beautiful classical and rock concertos that left both teachers and students in awe.
Unlike Hank, I had not quite come into my own yet. I was shy, had raggedy messy hair that I tied back into braids, and my clothes were far from stylish. My mother and sister had been on the road touring for the past year with the Broadway show “Annie.” My sister had been cast as a principal orphan, and I stayed home with my dad to attend high school. My dad was always busy with work and martini dinners that lasted late into the night. I spent most of my evenings at home alone baking and making care packages for my sister instead of coercing my parents to buy me the latest selection of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans — the rich colored bluejeans with the swan stitched on the back pocket that you had to lie on your bed to zip up. It was the icon of cool for the popular and pretty girls. I was neither, but Hank picked me to be his math partner anyway.
With every equation we solved, my love for Hank became more desperate. After several months of exchanging smiles, I decided to make Hank a batch of my chocolate brownies for Valentine’s Day — the brownies that my dad said were like his own personal nirvana. My dad named them “closet” brownies, because when I was a little girl and used to make them for the family, he said that as soon as he smelled them coming out of the oven, he could imagine dashing away with them into the closet and devouring the whole batch.
After debating for hours if I should make the brownies with walnuts or chips, or fill the centers with peanut butter or caramel, I got to work. I had made brownies hundreds of times before, but this time felt different. With each ingredient I carefully stirred into the bowl, my heart began beating harder. I felt like I was going to burst from excitement. Surely, after Hank tasted these, he would love me as much as I loved him. I was not just making him brownies. I was showing him who I was, and what mattered to me. After the brownies cooled, I sprinkled them with a touch of powdered sugar and wrapped them with foil and red tissue paper. The next day I placed them in Hank’s locker, with a note saying, “Call me.”
After seven excruciating days with no call, some smiles and the usual small talk in math class, I conjured up the nerve to ask Hank if he liked my brownies.
“The brownies were from you?” he asked. “They were delicious.”
Then Hank invited me to a party at his house the following weekend. Without hesitation, I responded that I would love to come. I pleaded with my friend Sarah to accompany me.
As the day grew closer, I made my grandmother Beauty’s homemade fudge — the chocolate fudge she made for Papa the night before he proposed to her. Stirring the milk, butter and sugar together eased my nerves. I had never been to a high school party before, and I didn’t know what to expect. Sarah advised me to ditch the braids as she styled my hair, used a violet eyeliner and lent me her favorite V-neck sweater and a pair of her best Gloria Vanderbilt jeans.
When we walked in the door, fudge in hand, Hank was nowhere to be found. Thinking I had made a mistake for coming and getting ready to leave, I felt a hand on my back. It was Hank’s. He hugged me and told me he was glad I finally arrived. When Hank put his arm around me, nothing else existed. With a little help from Cupid or the magic of Beauty’s recipes, I found love.
Fat Dad’s ‘Closet’ Brownies
These brownies are more like fudge than cake and contain a fraction of the flour found in traditional brownie recipes. My father called them “closet” brownies, because when he smelled them coming out of the oven he could imagine hiding in the closet to eat the whole batch. I baked them in the ninth grade for a boy that I had a crush on, and they were more effective than Cupid’s arrow at winning his heart.
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the pan 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped, or semisweet chocolate chips 3/4 cup brown sugar 2 eggs at room temperature, beaten 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/4 cup flour 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional) Fresh berries or powdered sugar for garnish (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish.
3. In a double boiler, melt chocolate. Then add butter, melt and stir to blend. Remove from heat and pour into a mixing bowl. Stir in sugar, eggs and vanilla and mix well.
4. Add flour. Mix well until very smooth. Add chopped walnuts if desired. Pour batter into greased baking pan.
5. Bake for 35 minutes, or until set and barely firm in the middle. Allow to cool on a rack before removing from pan. Optional: garnish with powdered sugar, or berries, or both.
This high protein treat is actually a super star snack. It is loaded with protein, omega three fatty acids and antioxidants. Looks like candy but filled with filled with brain boosting nutrition. Perfect for a cold weather snack.
1 cup of almond butter
2 Tablespoons of honey
1/2 cup of coco powder
1 teaspoon of Cinnamon
1 teaspoon of Sea Salt
¼ teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 cup coconut flakes
Combine all ingredients except coconut in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Form into balls. Refrigerate for ten minutes. When chilled, roll in the coconut flakes.