Healthy and Sane

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It’s finally here–introducing Satisfied Cravings!

March 22nd, 2012 · 40 Comments · Uncategorized

I’ve dreamed of writing this post before I even knew exactly what that meant.

You as my loyal readers already know about last year’s decision to quit my job in finance. Most of us spend more time at work than with our families and friends. It takes up most of our waking hours and whether we like it or not, it’s part of us. I took my job home with me (even when I wasn’t officially working, I was worrying about it, complaining about it, and even laughing about it… when that was the only thing to do to stay sane). After quitting, this huge part of my identity was gone. I felt happy but also a little lost.

Although it seemed like eternity at the time, luckily it only took me a month to figure out that my Cooking Matters classes were the highlight of every week. And not only did I love to be a part of my students’ healthier future, I also realized that after years of healthy cooking for myself and my family and friends, I was actually damn good at it. I realized how many tips and tricks I had up my sleeve. How so many of us struggle with the same exact things in our attempts to eat healthier, and that through first hand experience – I figured out solutions to these things!

So I decided to make a career out of helping people eat healthier through hands-on cooking classes! And that’s how Satisfied Cravings was born!!

Satisfied Cravings

It’s pretty much impossible to put into words how excited I am to finally launch my little business! I’ll be doing private (or semi-private) express lessons out of my Back Bay condo. I hope that business people in the area (like I used to be!) and stay-at-home moms will want to make the most of their lunch breaks and make healthy lunch + dinner with me. We’ll key in on their current healthy eating challenges and make meals that will be customized specifically to meet their needs and taste preferences. I would have loved such an escape from the office back in the day and more time for rest or fun at night! I’ll also be hosting cooking parties at clients’ houses during which we can work on specific skills or just make fun dishes in a more social setting.

I can’t wait!!

Thank you all of your support on Healthy and Sane. Without this blog, I am not sure if I would have developed this passion for healthy cooking. And a special thank you to my sister, Adam and all the friends that read numerous drafts of the website and provided valuable feedback. By the way, I will continue blogging here – no worries!

I hope you guys have a chance to check out the Satisfied Cravings website. I’d love to have you in my class some day and would really appreciate it if you could pass on the link to anyone you think might be interested in my services. Thanks in advance – I need all the help spreading the word I can get!! Open-mouthed smile

This is the scariest and bravest thing I’ve ever done. Bring it! Winking smile

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Russian Bites: “chicken fried” pork (otbivnii/betki)

March 19th, 2012 · 7 Comments · pork, Russian


Most days I go about my business without much thought to my history. The days of bread lines and food stamps are long gone. I’m very comfortable in my home in the center of Boston, with every needed amenity within a few minutes of walking distance. And then something happens that reminds me of how lucky I am – most of us are – to have such simple things as running water, electricity and internet (and plentiful food). We didn’t always take those for granted in Kishinev (I specifically remember filling up buckets of water for showers and cooking – water outages were quite frequent) and I learned to appreciate them once again after the power outages this week. It was rough.


It was a gorgeous day in Boston when a transformer caught fire and contributed to a 15-block power outage in Back Bay. We were just 2 blocks away from the fire and had the largest impact. We had no power at all for 2 days straight and then we had random power outages (of course every time I was about to cook us a meal!) for the next few days after that. It’s crazy how much we rely on electricity these days! Besides the obvious (lack of light in the house so you can’t see anything, especially when even the street lights don’t work), there is no heat, no access to the fridge or stove top (which makes it really hard to stay on your diet!!) and no tv/internet (those were down for almost the whole week). We downloaded the flashlight app on our iphones to help guide us through the house, but after a while our phones died too (since you couldn’t charge them!). Pain in the butt for sure Smile


I lived out of coffee shops, my parents’ and friends’ houses all week and I’m so so happy to be back to normal in my own home right now. Who knew that having power and internet would feel like such a treat?! Smile


[Left: 2 standard pork chops; right: pounded chops]

Anyways, this recipe for Russian “chicken fried” pork has nothing to do with all that (I just wanted to vent Winking smile ) but it’s a classic and absolutely delicious so you should make it! Open-mouthed smile Otbivnii or betki are both common names for these guys and basically mean that the meat was “beaten” (aka pounded) into thin cutlets. You then dip them into an egg/flour batter and pan fry them. The result is a juicy piece of meat with a delicious eggy crust. It’s definitely a favorite!


Pork is sort of the “original” meat of choice but my mom tells me she recently started buying thin chicken cutlets and doesn’t even pound them. They are ready to go right there! Serve with a simple tomato/cucumber/sour cream salad (and maybe mashed potatoes) and feel like a cool Russian. I did 😆

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Open wide!


Printable recipe

Which ordinary thing are you thankful for having today?

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Off the wagon

March 8th, 2012 · 22 Comments · chicken, Cooking Light

Hi hi! How are you guys? I missed you. I promise!! I realized the other day that I haven’t blogged in over a week (despite a serious back log of recipes, product tastings and events I wanted to share with you) and I figured out why. Since we’re all about honesty here, I thought I should just go ahead and over share… I’ve been struggling with my weight lately and writing about food was making me anxious. I’ve finally turned some things around (in a little sheepish way) but I’m feeling better and don’t want to feel like I’m hiding anything from you guys, so here it goes…

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I’m back on the dieting bandwagon. At least for a little while. I know I said I was done with dieting for good and maybe I forgot the struggles and ups and downs associated with restrictive measures (and need to relearn this lesson), but honestly – I got tired of the mental capacity intuitive eating requires. I still believe it should be everyone’s (including mine!) ultimate goal. I want to have the freedom to eat what my body and mind desire, drama-free. But in order to get “there,” you need to do a lot of digging and self-evaluation and discipline (yes, intuitive eating requires a lot of discipline… at least while you are learning the ropes of it) and at a time where I’m dealing with so many changes and emotions in my life, I just need a little break from all of this work.

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Leaving my job created a lot of possibilities, but also a lot of old and new emotions. I still struggle with unrealistic expectations about how much I can accomplish in one day (which bring about anxiety and disappointment), perfectionism (in every aspect of my life… which turns into a lot of discomfort when I can’t completely control everything that’s happening… even myself), laziness (yup, I said it… that carries a lot of guilt too) and loneliness (that’s a new one from being at home alone during the weekdays…hoping to change that when my business launches!). Guess what? To cope with it all, I found comfort in food. Followed by shame. Here I was, finally pursuing my dreams and still dealing with my shit in the same old ways.

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I tried pep talks and inspirational books, but like I said – it was all just too much for me right now. My weight gain was making me uncomfortable and I just wanted to get rid of it first and deal with my issues later. I know a diet is a band aid, but I feel like that is what I require right now. I own this decision. I think some of you may relate.

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So anyways, I tried going back to calorie counting. I couldn’t do it this time. It was too flexible. I was good for a few days, then I would totally blow it the next day (of course stopping tracking once I was over my daily allowance)… and starting over seemed harder and harder each time until it gave me so much anxiety I would start overeating right away (this is why I decided that I was done with the diets in the first place – it created this vicious cycle!). So I’m now doing something that’s a lot more restrictive just to shock my body a little and take certain trigger foods (chocolate, I’m looking at you!) out of the equation. On Monday, I started the 2-week phase I of the South Beach Diet. For the next 2 weeks, I am restricting my sugar intake and eliminating most starches from my diet (basically, it’s a low carb diet for the first 2 weeks) and then I can bring back some whole grains, fruit and booze back. This first phase is the one I’m most excited about because it is already teaching me that discipline I’ve lost (and the scale has finally reversed direction!). Because the foods I normally would turn to in my discomfort are not available to me right now, I am forced to find solutions that don’t involve food. And that’s the best “side effect.” I really am feeling better already! By the way, Adam is doing it with me so I’ve been extra motivated. There will be no cheating here!! We are in it together.

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PS – Even on a diet, I refuse to eat “diet food.” This chicken cacciatore recipe from Cooking Light was incredibly delicious, diet or not. Skinless chicken thighs are well seasoned and beautifully seared, then baked over a medley of peppers, tomatoes and mushrooms. I omitted the shaved parmesan topping because I was lazy and the meal was fantastic without it, but I think the cheese could add a nice sharp bite to the dish. Highly recommended! Smile

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Are you an effortless healthy eater or do you sometimes need the kick your own butt and get a little more “serious?”

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