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Thursday, June 30, 2022
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Highlighting: “Food You Love: That Loves You Back” by Rorie Weisberg. Mesorah Publications Ltd. 2022. Hardcover. 352 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1422630976.

(Courtesy of Artscroll) Since 2015, Rorie Weisberg, CHC, recipe developer, health columnist and founder of Full ‘N Free, has been showing the kosher community how doable and delicious it is to enjoy the foods we love—with ingredients that love us back.

Now, Rorie is releasing a brand new cookbook, “Food You Love,” which transforms all your traditional favorites. Pancakes for breakfast, pizza for lunch, schnitzel for dinner. Brisket, kugel, and cholent for Shabbat, along with dips, enticing salads, and loads of veggie sides, topped off with chocolate mousse and cookie crumble. With this cookbook, you’ll enjoy every bite and leave the table feeling full, energized and confident that you’ve served and savored only the best.

We caught up with Rorie to learn more about her magic in the kitchen.

Hi, Rorie. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a wife and mother of four, and I’ve always loved playing in the kitchen. I’m passionate about living fully and living mindfully. When it comes to other people, I have a deep love of giving and helping people. If I find something that helps me in my life, I just want to share it with others. I am also intuitive about meeting people where they are, and I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach.

What made you become a health coach?

It’s a long story, but the short version is that after my youngest was born 12 years ago, I developed postpartum thyroiditis, a condition where the thyroid is sometimes overactive and sometimes underactive. It affected me in many ways.

My doctor assured me it was temporary, but it dragged on. Medicine had little to offer me, so I decided to check out Dr. Google. After a lot of research, I learned that the way we treat our bodies matters, and that the food we eat has a lot to do with the way our bodies work. Different foods give our bodies different instructions.

I was totally overwhelmed at the idea of revamping my lifestyle, but I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I decided to choose the new hard over the old hard.

The process to change my habits was grueling. I had no idea how to cook healthy food that tastes good. I didn’t know which ingredients to buy or how to feed my family and myself without making two dinners every night! I knew I couldn’t give up because I was already blown away by the changes I’d already experienced in my health and life. So I became a “mad kitchen scientist,” as my sister says. That meant lots of trial and error—which meant lots of pans of food in the garbage. But I kept at it.

Once I learned the ropes the hard way, it became my mission and passion to share what I’ve learned with others and make the process of reaching their health goals, whatever they are, easier and more enjoyable.

What made you write this book?

The hardest part of my journey was figuring out how to make a lifestyle out of it that really worked for family-focused meals, especially Shabbos and Yom Tov. As I was coaching, I saw that was what everyone else wanted, too. I had the recipes and the tools from years of doing it myself. I wanted to put it on paper. I felt that it would be my truest legacy: for my girls, for my family. It became my dream.

I see “Food You Love” as more than just a cookbook. It’s almost like a testament to my journey.

It amazes me how after years of coaching and sharing recipes and mixes, the excitement I get from thank-you emails, letters and messages never gets old. When they tell me how much something I shared helped them, my smile is as big as though it’s the first. Because I’ve been there, and I know how hard it is, and they are the real reason I’m devoting myself to doing all this.

Where do you get your cooking inspiration?

Why in the world would I have thought to use baking soda in my muffin recipe 10 years ago, when I had zero clue about anything having to do with baking science? The only answer I can give is that I cook and bake with Hashem. Making up new recipes definitely speaks to the creative part of me, but I honestly feel that because I’m in it to help other people, Hashem sends me inspiration. Before I knew anything, cooking was literally playing, but it always felt like a spiritual activity, and I felt His hand in it.

As far as motivation, the truth is that my family has always been the reason I push myself to come up with fresh and exciting recipes. I could eat chicken, green beans and sweet potatoes every night and be fine, but I want to give them a plentiful and familiar experience that we can all enjoy together.

By now, I’m much more knowledgeable, and my family gives me really important feedback, too. Something tells me that regular families make hamotzi and then eat their challah and move on. Not us. We chew slowly, swallow, and then we all take turns assessing the taste and texture. Is it fluffy enough? Sweet enough? Baked long enough?

How has your business affected your family?

On the practical side, all my kids know how to cook and love to cook. They have very developed palates and enjoy real food and real flavors.

My older daughter was the mommy of her seminary; other girls knew nothing, while she was busy making chicken and soup. My son’s highlight of every camping trip is cooking over the fire, and in his dorm, he set himself up with a Ninja grill and a little burner. My 12-year-old daughter has been making up new recipes since age 6 or 7 and can tell me, “There’s lemon in this chicken, but not enough.”

I love that we’re a team, and I think it’s the cutest thing that my kids all got into it.

On a little bit of a deeper note, I think I’ve learned over the years that when you try to push a way of life onto your kids, it can backfire. At the beginning, when my healthy lifestyle was new to me, I was too extreme about it, and my kids didn’t go for it. Now, I’ve learned to make my recipes and just put it on the table, and my family eats it because it’s good. But food isn’t an issue. I have pizza bagels in my freezer, and when my son wants an ice coffee and a donut, that’s what I’ll give him, happily.

As healthy as healthy food is, what’s healthier is not being neurotic or restrictive—which is hard when you know so much about what’s better! But being normal is so much healthier than being rigid.

I’ve also learned that at the end of the day, our kids are their own people. We can teach them about making the right choices, but the choices are still theirs to make. Revamping ingredients, offering options, that’s all important—but the most important of all, in the long run, is to just be the mother they need. One day, that foundation will help them make the choices that are best for them.

What makes this book different than other health food cookbooks on the market?

Two things.

One, the food inside doesn’t scream “healthy.” It’s food we all like to make already, just revamped. No food groups are eliminated; it just gives better options within all those groups.

Two, it is not a diet book. You won’t find any mention of dieting or losing weight inside, because that’s not what it’s about. It’s about promoting health. Through recipes, ingredients, and tools.

Sure, it can be a really helpful companion to any diet you’re on, like keto, vegan, anything that tells you to eat more veggies… but Full ‘N Free is not at all a diet in and of itself.

I’m really proud of the concept Full ‘N Free stands for: bio individuality. Each of us needs to get to know our own body and what works for us, what serves us. Which is exactly why I have four different kinds of bread mixes—because gluten-free bread is not for everyone, and neither is low-carb, spelt, sourdough or grain-free bread. My recipes in “Food You Love” mirror that. Many of them offer different options for flours, levels of sweetness, sweeteners, or things to mix in or leave out.

Whenever you’re making a change, the litmus test of whether it’s working for you is stress. Because no matter how hard you’re trying, if you’re stressed, the cortisol your body’s pumping out will just counteract it all. So if it’s overly stressful, it’s not for right now.

That’s why it’s so important to me that “Food You Love” meets you wherever you are and celebrates every step toward a healthy lifestyle.

If you had to pick one health improvement people should take on, what would it be?

Sleep! Without that, nothing goes. When I teach about the Five to Thrive—the way I break down the five core habits of a healthy lifestyle—that’s always where I start, for that reason.

When it comes to food: Start with oils. It’s a relatively easy change that goes a long way. Why? Because refined oils have a negative impact on health, and unrefined oils (avocado, olive, coconut) are actually health-promoting. So without any real effort, you can easily up the quality right there.

Healthy ingredients cost a lot! How do you afford them?

Hard question. I try to get my staples in bulk. Costco is helpful, and if you’re willing to buy five gallons of extra virgin olive oil at once, it costs the same as canola oil bought individually. Some vegetables are less expensive, especially when you get them fresh instead of buying the pre-checked.

But the truth is that quality costs more, and I see it from the backend in my work in the food manufacturing business. It takes more manpower, and there’s more waste when things are done manually to preserve the food’s quality. I’m thinking specifically of my honey. In order to retain its pollen and polyphenols, it can’t be heated any higher than 103°F. That means it stays thick, so the pouring takes longer and it drips. Whereas standard honey is heated so high that it turns into runny liquid, it pours in seconds, and there’s no waste. Obviously, it costs $3.99 instead of $9.99—and the sellers still make a larger profit.

When it comes to my mixes, I mainly use flours from overseas, which have less chemicals. It’s obviously more expensive, but you pay for quality.

I think the main thing to realize is that just like with everything in life, there are ways to do it high-end and there are ways to cut corners when you have to.

What’s the one thing you want everyone out there to know?

That there is no one-size-fits-all for anything. Not for eating, not for living. Each of us is so unique, physically and spiritually, and each of us has to live the lifestyle that helps us be our best.

I hope that each person will use my cookbook in the way that serves them, that works for them, and that lets them feel happier and healthier.

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