Denise Nassar Interview

Jul 07

Denise Nassar Interview

I always love to feature new bloggers who have unique, valuable content I know Saturday Saloners would enjoy.  So, I am happy to feature Denise Nassar, of Edible Harmony, a young mother who shares gluten, sugar and dairy-free recipes in her quest to provide her family with healthy and delicious food.  Here’s our interview:

What was your motivation for starting a gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free recipe blog?

The answer to this would have 2 parts: The idea of going gluten-free, and then the creation of the blog. For many years, and despite eating well and exercising consistently, I’ve always had a small “pooch” in my abdominal area, and the straw that broke the camel’s back was when on several different occasions, people asked me how far along I was- when I wasn’t pregnant. I’ve exercised, dieted, and tried everything under the sun, all to no avail. Someone mentioned something about gluten and its potential for creating abdominal distention. I wondered whether this was the “missing link” in my quest for answers, and to make a long story short, it was. As for the blog, the idea came from my husband. Our friends kept asking for recipes and he thought that rather than answer the same questions over and over again, I should just create a forum where I could post recipes and not have to send and resend multiple times to multiple people. At the time it didn’t seem like a realistic project, as I am technologically-challenged as well as the fact that I had just given birth to my second daughter. In any case, I started writing recipes and before I knew it, I had gathered a solid collection and realized that I had to cook anyways and it would just take me a few more minutes a day to type them up–and so Edible Harmony was born. Nowadays, it actually takes a lot more time than I had envisioned, but I absolutely love doing it. I have gotten a lot of positive feed back and gratitude from people who are trying to change their lives by eating healthier– that makes it all worth it.

Do you follow a gluten, sugar, and dairy-free diet strictly yourself? If so, how long have you been eating this way and what have been your results?

I am very strict when it comes to gluten and sugar, but I do cheese occasionally, even the blog has a couple pizza recipes that require cheese. It all started when my first daughter started solids 2 1/2 years ago. I wanted her to eat healthy and I knew I had to lead by example. I couldn’t have a piece of cake in front of her and then tell her she couldn’t eat it, so I started eating additive and refined-sugar free foods. A few months later, after having battled abdominal distention for years, I was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance, so I cut out wheat and other grains. I started researching more food sensitivities and thought my daughter’s constant runny nose, persistent cough, constant rashes and dark circles under her eyes could also be gluten-related, so we put her on a gluten free diet as well. Within a week, her symptoms all disappeared. One by one, most of my family members have discovered that going gluten free has helped them with a lot of their ailments.

Finally about 6 months ago I decided to go on a Paleo diet, which is essentially going back to eating how our paleolithic ancestors ate…no grains, no legumes, no preservatives, no refined sugars and no potatoes. I feel better now than I ever did, I have more energy than I know what to do with, and I no longer get that uncomfortable, full, bloated or tired feeling after my meals t. I went thirty-some years thinking that I felt good and healthy and making a few dietary modifications made me realize the difference between feeling “fine” and this new feeling of vibrant wellness, and abundance of energy, that allows me to keep up with my two daughters and everything else I have going.

How do you say no to your children if they want a cupcake? (or do you allow it once in a while?)

The key in my opinion is NOT to say NO or deprive your children of anything–the idea is to give them healthy versions of those foods. I NEVER say no to a cupcake–however, I give her cupcakes that I make at home from all natural, sugar-free, gluten-free ingredients, rather than the toxic mainstream cupcakes found at most parties and other social gatherings. I oftentimes make cupcakes for my oldest daughter (Lucia, my youngest, is not eating solids, yet), I keep a batch in my freezer and just thaw one out whenever we get invited to a social gathering. She enjoys eating things that are healthy, she oftens eats a veggie and says: “Mommy, look at my big muscles”. We have childrens’ books and games that talk about the importance of eating foods that are healthy. For us it’s much more than a diet, it’s a lifestyle.

How would you handle a family dinner if none of the foods were ones you could eat, without hurting your hosts’ feelings?

The million-dollar question, no doubt! It’s quite challenging to balance tact while being disciplined and sticking to one’s dietary commitments. Having a gluten intolerance definitively serves as a reasonable explanation; nowadays it is also the ice-breaker and opener for some interesting discussions on gluten-free lifestyles.

The truth is that I don’t go to someone’s house to be fed, I go to socialize or celebrate an event and their company and conversation is enough for me.

There are so many gluten-free foods in the stores now – what are some of your family’s favorites?

We try to stay away from processed foods and I realized that often times gluten-free products have a lot more chemicals and preservatives than the wheat versions, but we do have a few raw snacks that we enjoy such as “Go Raw” Super Chips and “Elemental” SuperFood Crumble. I also always carry Larabars and trail mix in my purse for convenience.

 Of the recipes you’ve discovered or created, which is your favorite?

 Banana Scramble! It’s like having dessert for breakfast… it doesn’t taste anything like it sounds…think of banana bread pudding made in a skillet in just a couple of minutes! Just last week I got a great email from Australia, from a young nurse who said she now eats it every single day, sometimes multiple times in the same day! For someone who is always on the go, working insanely long, tough hours, combining simplicity, convenience, and healthy options made this the perfect snack for her.

About the banana scramble, here is the recipe http://www.edibleharmony.com/banana-scramble/

 

7 comments

  1. Wonderful blog! Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
    I’m hoping to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m totally overwhelmed .. Any recommendations? Appreciate it!

    • admin /

      Thanks Lilian,
      There is a lot to learn in the blogging and the writing worlds. They are connected, of course, but very different. WordPress had the best sites and so many templates to choose from, I would go with that. If you’re a techie or don’t mind slogging through the forums online, you can learn to customize your blog, add sidebars, thumbnail pics with each post, etc. If you want help selecting a site, the best thing is to make a short list of what you want your site to accomplish, select a few templates from the Word Press site that have the feel you want, then ask someone who does websites to help you select one that will function technically or can be adjusted to function to suit your needs.
      The next bit is more time consuming, but essential for the success of your blog. You need to learn a little about SEO: Search Engine Optimization. You don’t need to hire anyone to do this for the basics. Your web designer should be able to help with this. Pay for a half hour consultation and ask a lot of questions.
      Step 3 is driving traffic to your site. Again, not rocket science, just time-consuming. Commit a half hour a day to visiting other websites, creating a dialogue, getting the word out there. Create a facebook page, twitter, google +, etc and have “follow” buttons to whatever social network sites you have.
      The most important thing, really, which can be lost in all this marketing and techie shuffle, is the writing. Don’t forget to take your time writing quality posts, providing valuable content for your readers. Don’t be afraid to recommend other sites that you find worthy – there’s always room at the top, my mother used to say.
      Hope that’s enough info to get you started. Feel free to contact me through the contact page if you want to get more specific about blogging or writing. Thanks for stopping by the Saturday Salon – hope to hear soon about you hosting your own Saturday Salon. With the election coming up and people being so polarized politically and in other ways – my goal is to get people to start talking, and hopefully, listening to each other. If you don’t want to wait for the physical book to get shipped to you, click on the cover and try the e version-it’s around $5.00 and has everything you need to know about the history of conversation salons and how to host your own.

  2. I’m already connected with Edible Harmony and love all Denise’s posts; however, any other news coming from this blog in reference to anything PALEO, WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED. I’v just recently started eating PALEO, AND SO FAR,SO GOOD.

    • admin /

      Welcome to the Saturday Salon, Diana! You would have loved tonight’s conversation topics at LingFei and Jose’s Saturday Salon in Irvine. Several of our topic questions revolved around food-how we eat, what we eat, and what effect it has on us and on the world we live in. Rashmi, a wonderful yoga instructor in Irvine, shared her Ayurvedic perspective on food and diet, while others talked about Barbara Kingsolver’s book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”. Wonderful book. The group was wonderfully diverse as always, with people bringing their experiences from India, the Midwest, California, Mexico and Taiwan. I always learn something new and enjoy getting to know new people and hear their thoughts on whatever questions they put into the hat. The key to the Saturday Salon is not to assign a topic, but to let everyone bring whatever’s on their mind and so the conversation is always fresh!
      (And yes, I will be including many healthy Paleo recipes in the mix!) along with a few occasional indulgences :)

    • PaleoMomRx I was suppose to cook Green Chili Turkey Burgers last night for dinenr, but Tim had to work and came home with a gargantuan Salad that was left over from his training. I decided we would just eat the salad since I was late getting home from running the kids around town, having a date

  3. To the aspiring blogger (and anyone else interested), a GREAT book recommendation is “The Digital Mom Handbook”. Someone recommended this book to my wife, and I picked it up and haven’t been able to put it down. It describes how 2 moms transitioned from the corporate world to “mommypreneurs”, where they created their dream careers from home. Good luck! And to Mrs. Davisson, keep up the AMAZING work!

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