All posts tagged food

Zoomin’ in On Healthy Pasta

Published August 6, 2020 by Maryanne

by Joan - CuteThat’s me in the upper left hand corner! 

When Covid hit the USA earlier this year, the lives of many changed. I am an author, writer, ghost writer, and public speaker. Of course during these times my speaking engagements are not so public. I had many of them lined up for 2020, and one by one my face grew long as they canceled.

But have no fear, ZOOM is here!

At first I was hesitant. I’m a technophobe and also like to stand during my lectures, and presentations. However, I got used to giving ZOOM classes. I nail them like a pro.

All summer long I’ve given classes on anti-bullying, meeting your soul mate, and being extra-ordinary. But the best one was the one featured above, “Healthy Pasta Alternatives.” Notice everyone is smiling? How can you not when you’re talking about food! We discussed the different pastas available for all dietary needs like keto, vegan, and low carb. We also talked about our favorite pasta dishes. Unfortunately students couldn’t taste the dish I made; technology is not quite there yet! Nevertheless, we had a blast. There was a giveaway too — a gift certificate to Whole Foods.

I’ve been giving this class for years and I’m grateful to the Cedar Grove Library, Cedar Grove, NJ, for sponsoring my program.

How has Covid changed your career? Share some fun stories!

If anyone reading would like to sponsor “Healthy Pasta Alternatives,” drop me a line at

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at:

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing. She is also available for book signings and motivational speaking engagements. In addition to Love Cats, she is the author of the following books :

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, visit:Be (Extra)Ordinary

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: I Don’t Want To Be Like You

Her fiction book “Love Cats” second printing is now available, under the pen name Krystianna Mercury, from Pink Flamingo. You can purchase it here: Love Cats

Visit Maryanne’s You Tube Channel here: Be YOUnique

10 Common Foods That Smell Worse Than Durian

Published April 28, 2020 by Maryanne

DurianAlmighty Durian — The King of All Fruit! 

I’ve been a serious durian eater for almost 20 years. I first heard of durian when I was a raw foodist back in the day. I learned that the durian has more vitamins than any other fruit. And that it was absolutely delicious, but had a strange smell.

The first time I tried it, it was durian “ice cream” at a raw food restaurant in NYC. Since it was frozen, it had no smell. I even asked my guest, “Does it smell?” No, it didn’t. A short time after that, I got a real durian, in China Town. That’s when I realized it did have a bit of an odd smell, but it didn’t stop me from waiting for the fruit to defrost and dig in!

Durian is the most delicious thing you can imagine! It has the consistency of custard, and tastes like a cross between hazelnut, vanilla, banana, with a tinge of onion. Weird, but it works! Durian is absolutely addicting. Because of the vitamin content, you’ll be high for hours after eating one (or some of it, as there is truly a lot of fruit pudding in each pod!)

After I first broke my durian cherry, I was so hooked I was hoofing it to China Town once a week, carrying three with me on the bus home. Yes, it’s true, I had a three-per-week durian habit. Friends said I was like a crack addict when it came to durians. I loved them so much, I had one tattooed on my inner calf. And to this day, only one stranger approached me and asked, “Is that a durian?” No one else knows what it is. But it works when I’m in an Asian market, because the workers do not understand what I want until I show them my tattoo. Then they laugh and direct me to the fish area where everything is on ice.

It’s rare to meet a fellow durian lover. I’ve tried recruiting people, but the best comment I’ve heard was from my mother, “I like it, but I don’t love it.” People are mainly turned off by the smell. The durian has been compared to paint cleaner, a gas leak, and even garbage. Yeah, it’s true. Sometimes I’ll pass garbage in NYC and start dreaming about durian.

Okay, I get it, I won’t eat durian around anyone. But why do people get so bent out of shape with the mere mention of a durian? First thing out of their mouths, “It smells.” How original! (Note sarcasm!)

So, since people are so quick to judge my durian, let me put it out there that there are foods that stink worse–and YOU eat them! Yes, it’s true, and here they are in no particular order….

  1. Cold Cuts (aka lunch meat). There’s not much that makes me gag more than lunch meat. It has a nasty stench that makes you think it was slivered off the animal right then and there. This is what I’d imagine a dead person to smell like before embalming.
  2. Cheese. If it’s so accepted for stinky cheese to be good, then lay off my durians!
  3. Chinese Food. Don’t get me wrong, I love Chinese food–the dishes that are more on the plain side, like brown rice, moo shu, or vegetable lo mein. But what is that horrific sauce that is orange? The smell is so strong it knocks me over.
  4. Vinegar. First of all, I LOVE vinegar. When it’s on a salad, you barely notice that it stinks. But when people use it in their hair, or if a bottle breaks — hold your nose! Vinegar smells like dirty feet.
  5. Hot Dogs. If you think hot dogs smell good, you are thinking of the onions and sauerkraut toppings. A regular hot dog boiling is similar to what I described above for cold cuts. Blech!
  6. Tomato Juice. I was once seated at a lecture next to a woman who was drinking tomato juice. Now that was an unforgettable foul smell.
  7. Fish. This is one 90 percent will agree with.
  8. Alcohol. This is why I don’t like to dine out. If there’s a bar, you can smell stale alcohol and it ruins your appetite. It’s as if it’s stuck in the wood; even in the fanciest of restaurants, that diseased smell exists.
  9. Coffee with milk and sugar that is sitting around. Don’t get me wrong on this one, fresh-brewed hot, black, coffee is one of the greatest smells. But, cold coffee with milk and sugar, just hanging around for over an hour, has a smell that can make you gag.
  10. Cigarettes. Okay, this isn’t a food, but the way some people are addicted, it might as well be one of the food groups to them. And they are the worst stench of all! There is nothing sexy about cigarettes. When I see someone in the street smoking, I will cross the street just to avoid them. If I’m exposed to your cigarette smoke, I should be allowed to kill you. (That’s a joke).

What foods do you find most offensive? Share in the comment section below!  

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at:

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing. She is also available for book signings and motivational speaking engagements. She is the author of the following books :

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, visit:

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here:

“The Gypsy Smiled” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, go here:

Easy Homemade Miso Soup

Published January 12, 2016 by Maryanne

SAM_9494Homemade Miso Soup (photo by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta)

Miso soup is one of the healthiest dishes and this is the first time I ever made it. I can’t believe how great it came out. My husband loved it too. We both cleaned our dishes.

Here is the very easy recipe:


1 tablespoon dried wakame (I love Eden brand!)

2 scallions, sliced thin

4 ounces of firm tofu, cubed

3 tablespoons white miso

1 teaspoon sesame oil


Soak wakame in cold water for five minutes (it will expand) and then drain.

Boil four cups of water in saucepan.

Add scallions and cook for two minutes

Add tofu and turn off heat.

Take some of the broth aside and mix with miso until smooth, then add to the saucepan, along with the wakame. Stir in sesame oil.

Healthy and delicious!

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is the former editor of NJ Health & Fitness and the column “Here’s to Your Health.” She presents lectures on healthy food choices at libraries and assisted living facilities. For rates and availability, contact Maryanne at:

When It Comes to Food, Go Where the Love Is!

Published September 24, 2015 by Maryanne

SAM_8617Having fun — at a DINER! ❤

I recently became managing editor of an upcoming food magazine. It’s a great thing, because I love to eat. I flip flop between eating very healthy and going for good ol’ diner food. And there’s a reason why I am not militant about eating healthy all the time.

When I first came on board as managing editor, I was thrilled to see how many farm-to-table restaurants there are, but a little leery about the pretense that comes with it. I’ve been to so many restaurants, some are just too “foo foo” for my tastes that I’d never set foot in them again.

Of all the restaurants I’ve been to in my life, I have to say Pure Food & Wine on Irving in New York City is the ONLY restaurant that rates five stars with both food and service. Every time I’ve been there, I’ve been treated like a queen and the food was amazing. But then again, what do you expect from a place that has a $6000 Japanese water filter?! The water is like silk!  And no attitudes at all! That’s why Pure Food & Wine will always be my favorite. However, I don’t live in NYC, so I don’t get to go as much as I’d like. And since no other restaurant quite adds up to Pure Food & Wine, it’s often a toss up. What is most important? Good food? Good service? Healthy, natural food? Price?

Your guess is as good as mine. If I’m going out to eat, it just depends what area I’m in that day.

About half a year ago, I vowed never to go back to a certain gluten-free eatery because the service was the pits. Today I was in a health food store I was never in before. The cashiers and manager had such piss poor attitudes. These are the kind of women my husband and I call “Health Hags.” That means women who work in a health food store but are ugly inside and out, the opposite of a picture of health!

I gave this terrible store bad reviews all over the internet and even sent them an email that they could learn something from McDonalds. Check out this heart-warming story:

I won’t even talk about the food I got in that health food store today because it’s irrelevant. When you get bad service, you can’t even properly enjoy your food. Of course you’re upset so you eat without truly tasting. This is why I say, it’s sometimes better to eat cheaper, crappier food — IF you are in a more relaxed environment.

The other day when I was on the cable show in Long Island, my friend and I hit a diner on the way back. We had Greek salads and sweet potato fries. Of course the salad was non-organic. And the fries were probably sugar-coated. But because the service was so fantastic, we ate in peace and really enjoyed our meal, which was stretched out to two hours! This is most likely why they say countries like France and Italy have less of an obesity rate than the United States — because they eat slow and enjoy. When you’re not stressed, you digest better. This is why I say, you can eat all the kale you want, but if you’re not happy, it ain’t gonna do you any good! (DO YOU HEAR THAT HEALTH HAGS?!)

So, next time you’re thinking about going on the road, please, do not stress over cooking in your hotel room or even seeking out the nearest health food store. Just go to a freakin’ diner and ENJOY! You’ll probably get a sexy cougar type waitress, chewing gum and calling you “Hunny Bunny.” Can’t beat that and you certainly won’t get that kind of cool in a farm-to-table restaurant or health food store!

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is a health advocate and a public speaker. She presents various health topics, including healthy food samples. For bio, rates, and availability, email her at:

My Interview in the Observer (Regarding the Paleo Lifestyle)

Published April 10, 2015 by Maryanne

SAM_5886Grass-fed beef chili w/avocado

The other night I presented my lecture “Paleo for Beginners” at the Washington Township Library in Long Valley, New Jersey.

It’s an awesome group, and many thanks to librarian Jane Gold for having me.

Coinciding with the lecture, I was interviewed by the Observer. Check it out:

I present “Paleo for Beginners” at many local libraries and am willing to expand to church groups, senior groups, rotary clubs, etc. The presentation includes a paleo dish.

If you’d like to have me, please email for rates and availability:

I am willing to travel.

Hunger Construction

Published June 19, 2013 by Maryanne

Hunger ConstructionI just saw a genius concept — a lunch truck with healthy options!

Hunger Construction ( was parked outside of the Montclair Public Library. The sign that said “VEGAN OPTIONS” caught my eye such as seasonal vegetables and bean dishes. Sweet potato ice cream sounded interesting too.

I didn’t try anything, but I think this is a terrific idea, especially for ball games and outdoor events, because usually the only vegetarian choice is a pretzel and options are always a good thing.

Kudos to these guys for thinking of us vegetarians!

Healthy Raw Non-Dairy Dessert

Published May 30, 2013 by Maryanne

Raw Coconut Cream Ice Cream

I’ve always been a fan of raw “ice cream” (which isn’t really ice cream because it’s made without milk, making it a non-dairy vegan product). I love raw ice cream because it’s easier on the stomach and actually tastier. It just melts in your mouth. It’s low glycemic and has no artificial ingredients or preservatives. And because it’s raw (uncooked, unprocessed) you get all the enzymes — the full benefit of all the natural ingredients.

Today for the first time I tried the Coconut Secret brand. I went for the Madagascar Vanilla – and it’s heavenly!

I’ve been using Coconut Secret products for a couple years now. I love their coconut vinegar and their coconut amino acids (so much better than Bragg’s in my humble opinion).

I can’t wait to try the other flavors! It’s pricey, but I’m worth it!


Infini-t Cafe, Princeton, New Jersey

Published May 19, 2013 by Maryanne

SAM_0844Tomato Chili Soup

SAM_0843Tomato/Cucumber on Whole Wheat with Chutney and side salad

My husband and I spent a few hours in Princeton record shopping and ate, for the first time at Infini-T Cafe, a green and vegetarian-option restaurant.

I’d love to share their website, but there is none!

Infini-t Cafe is basically a tea room with dozens of teas to choose from. I tried none since I already had my caffeine quota for the day and instead asked for water. I had their tomato soup (the chili pepper next to my sandwich was in my soup — which gave it an extra oomph!) and a cucumber/tomato sandwich with chutney on whole wheat. Both dishes were fantastic!

The place was lovely and cozy, reminding me of a 1990s place when coffee shops/tea places were all very poetic looking. Students from the college come here to study and go online, so it was nice and peaceful.

The people who worked there were very pleasant. It’s like another world in Princeton which is why it’s one of my favorite places in New Jersey — there are more nice people than not-so-nice.

If I didn’t have such a filling sandwich I would have loved to try the green tea cupcakes! Maybe next time!

SAM_0847Delicious meal, I am full!

Fettucine Avocado

Published February 3, 2013 by Maryanne

Fettucini Avocado

Fettucine w/avocado sauce (photo swiped from Google search)

Here’s a delicious recipe I found in Woman’s World. It’s a much healthier version of fettucine alfredo, so I re-named it “fettucine avocado.” This is what my husband and I had for a late lunch today and it was amazing!

Avocado is one of the healthy fats that your body needs to function (and actually burn fat!) Avocados contain potassium, B vitamins and more lutein than any other fruit.

This version is fettucine has no animal ingredients at all, so it’s perfect for vegans.

Add a small salad as a side dish and you have a perfect Sunday meal!

Fettucine Avocado

Prepare two servings of pasta. (I used artichoke fettucine style pasta.)

While that’s cooking, pulse (in blender or food processor) two peeled garlic gloves, juice from 1/2 a lemon, two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil (I always used cold-pressed because it’s healthiest) and two tablespoons of water until smooth.

Then add a medium sized avocado (pitted of course) and one fresh basil leaf and pulse until creamy. (The recipe called for salt, but I didn’t use any).

Pour over pasta and add pepper to taste.


What Comes Out of Your Mouth is More Important Than What Goes Into It

Published January 11, 2013 by Maryanne

Fruit dish with cacao nibsMy fruit dish with bananas, kiwi, cacao nibs

Yesterday I wrote a blog about inspiring women and mentioned a woman who was very negative in her words. A friend commented to me, via email, that the negative woman probably needed to eat healthier.

I reminded my friend that eating healthy is a mere 10 percent of the battle. In order to lead a happy life, it’s a make-up of many things: love/good friendships, exercise, creativity, spirituality/faith, and yes, food, but to an extent.

Some people are too obsessed with food and ignore everything else. I look back to my early days as a raw foodist and remember all the arguments on forums with the “elite” and the “holier-than-thous” who measured their worth by what percentage of raw food they ate.

I always laughed because I’d be out doing something fun, then go back on the computer and see these people still spewing their militant hatred toward anyone who wasn’t raw or vegan. Ewww!

Attitudes like this can’t possibly be healthy. I know because I’ve been there myself. The punchline is I thought I was healthy because my diet was pristine. I only weighed 105. I wouldn’t even go to a restaurant because I wanted to eat nothing but the most pure food. I once looked into a raw food kitchen at a popular NYC restaurant, noticed that McCormack’s spices (non-organic ones) and stopped going to that restaurant.

Is that any way to live? Isolating yourself? Not socializing because food isn’t good enough for you?

Yeah, I looked great, but honestly, I didn’t feel great. I felt like a freak. I felt sad and lonely because I couldn’t participate in social engagements people invited me to. And when I did bite the bullet and eat out, I’d get rashes on my skin as a reaction to having food that wasn’t pure because I was TOO pure! One of my friends referred this to the “Princess and the Pea.”

How awful it was, mentally and my health suffered too. I remember getting more headaches, having more anger inside me and being way too hyper.

One time when a woman found out I was a vegetarian and invited me to lunch at Veggie Heaven in Montclair and stupid me, I said “no” because their ingredients weren’t pure enough for me. I was becoming one of the ugly people on the raw food message boards that creeped me out!

Well, guess what? Now Veggie Heaven is one of my favorite restaurants and I enjoy many wonderful lunches there with friends and clients. I also take home Veggie Heaven food to my husband who loves it.

Once I weaned myself off of raw foods and started adding healthy cooked foods (more macro-biotic) into my diet and some healthy junk like whole wheat pasta and sprouted bread, I gained some weight (many said I looked better with the weight gain) and felt so much happier … more balanced.

I was so glad I realized health is more than just health foods after three years of heading into a downward spiral. Even though I wasn’t anorexic or bulimic, I had the same food issues. All I would think about was my next meal. How was I going to eat on the holidays. How to avoid food at events. And THAT is not good!

Sad to say, I know too many people obsessed with eating clean food, obsessed with their weight, that they don’t know how to enjoy life. And on the other hand, I know people who eat crappy food (or eat healthy but aren’t health obsessed) but are always positive and lead fulfilling lives because they are spiritual and optimistic and know the meaning of “balance.”

Now for me, healthy food is still important. I can definitely get depressed if I eat too much chocolate. It’s called the “sugar blues.” But the key, in my opinion, is balance.

Yesterday a client called me “Happy Pants.”

I laughed and asked, “Why are you calling me that?”

He said, “Because you’re always happy. You’re always smiling.”

Yeah, 90 percent of the time I am! Because I realized good health is not just about food. And this client  knows that too, as he was the one who said to me, “What comes out of your mouth is more important than what goes into it.”

Kind words go a lot further than a kale shake.