About Me

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Chef Liesha Barnett 

I became interested in food at an early age. I watched my mom navigate the kitchen with the phone on her neck and a coffee mug in her hand.  We did not have much growing up but she devoted a lot of time and energy in that space. She prepared breakfast lunch and dinner for us most days. Saturday mornings my dad often woke me up with the smell of bacon and pancakes. He would cook before hitting the golf course. I watched Martin Yan, Julia Child and Jacques Pepin on PBS. By the time I was in middle school my parents mastered the art of eating my dishes with a smile on their faces. They had no idea that I would end up a chef. My experiences as a child from Oakland shape my passion for food justice. 


I joined the Navy my senior year in high school and cooked for thousands of sailors, worked in hotels, restaurants, a casino boat, catered events, and even spent some time working in sorority house. When people ask me what my specialty is I cannot name a single cuisine. My specialty is activism. I am passionate about providing the tools that the community needs to achieve and maintain good health. I am anti- diet culture, and a firm believer that every person must follow a way of eating and exercise that suits their own needs. I do not believe in "clean" food because of the psychological implications. I advocate for those who live with disordered eating habits.  I have a B.S. in Nutrition with an emphasis on technical communication and social media. I am a Personal Chef and a Master Food Preserver. I am also the voice behind The Mindful Chef.


Check out my blog to learn more about food justice, food insecurity, health/nutrition education.

Mise en Place 

A collection of thoughts on food,  justice, health, diet culture and more.  

In Search of Wellness 

June 19, 2018

When I was ready to write this entry I typed in the words "health and wellness" into the search box for stock images. None of the images I was given looked anything like MY wellness. I doubt my friends and family picture that when asked. Yet, here we are. Images of very thin people in poses that most of us are unable to achieve as the picture of wellness. Elaborate bowls of fruit and herbs that look too beautiful to eat are present as well. And let's not get started on the beach, lake, park, etc...

My wellness looks nothing like that.......and that is just fine with me. However, that was not always the case. There was a time when my wellness was making it through the day without cussing out 3 people. Yes, I had a policy of no less than 3 people. Anger was my outlet. However, as a woman of color without a budget for spa packages and a nice safe park in my neighborhood my wellness often looked a lot different from the many images I often see in media. I am now able to afford those spa packages but I still find that my wellness may not include them on a regular basis. 

Those in the health and wellness industry often give advice that generally suits the financially privileged. What happens to those who are unable to afford their brand of wellness? Does that mean wellness is not within reach? Will they have to spend the rest of their lives in search of wellness?

That is why I talk so much about my bath time. Daily relaxing baths are an integral part of my health and wellness regimen. Epsom Salt is cheap and so are candles and wine formerly known as Two Buck Chuck. When the kids were small I waited until they went to bed, ran my bath, grabbed my music, wine and candles and disappeared for as long as my heart desired. I am an extrovert but those moments of peace that followed me after a bath are priceless. 

It is ok if your wellness looks like a bath in the evening. Perhaps your wellness is drinking lemonade on your porch while the toddler is sleeping. Going for a walk around the block at dusk may be for you. Whatever it is remember that it is YOURS. Do not let media define your wellness. The photo I decided to use was one of the few peaceful images that I felt all people could relate to no matter how much money they have in their pocket. Enjoy! 

The Importance of Community 

June 19, 2018

This morning I met with a group of local women. It was a transformative meeting to say the least and yet it was a simple meeting. We did not have famous guest speakers, no motivational exercises either. We decided against a formal agenda in favor of an overall theme. 

What ended up happening was something so special that words fail me. We all had similar stories to tell. As women of color we recalled stories of hardship, guilt, shame, defeat, addiction, loss, and SURVIVAL. We all survived our darkest days. There were tears and laughter and an uplifting of spirits as we let each other know that someone out there has your back. You do not have to fight alone. 

Too often, someone gives up on a dream because they did not have a cheering section. Maybe your family does not understand your dream. Maybe your spouse thinks that you are too weak to carry it out. Maybe you do not have money and have yet to find an investor. If that is you.....just keep going. Do what you can. It will pay off. 

Everyday People 

June 14, 2018

I am starting a series called Everyday People and I am so excited! This is where I get to share the stories of the people. What you will find with posts labeled "Everyday People" are stories that people have chosen to share with me about their pursuit of health and wellness. 


I felt it was important to allow people to have a place where they can vent, and even share success stories about their personal health journey. I was inspired to do this when I read a study that had an abundance of statistics about health and wellness. The numbers were fine but I could envision people behind those numbers. I was one of those people. My family and friends are those people. Strangers on the street are those people. I felt as though the platform I have is a opportunity to allow others to share their stories. It is my hope that others do not feel alone and that those in the health and wellness industry would take note. 


I am looking forward to sharing you some inspiring stories and stories that may compel you to take action in some way. If you have a story to share email me @ [email protected] 

#VacationMode 

July 11, 2018 

I have been having the time of my life the last few weeks. I recently acquired a plot at my local community farm and will be transplanting most of my at home garden there. I am preparing for another kombucha workshop in two weeks and there is still space available. Email me for registration information.


I ventured to Vegas with the husband and kids then off to New Orleans for EssenceFest. For those of you unfamiliar; it is a music festival organized by Essence Magazine. All of my favorite artists were there. It was definitely a trip of a lifetime. Of course I am working on a podcast and blog to talk all about my last two trips. I just wanted to make sure I stopped by to let my friends know that I have not forgotten about you. I am just out here living my best life! The photo is of me on the porch of my AirBnB. I have always been in love with southern porches and I got my chance to drink coffee w/chicory (a true New Orleans thing) on the porch in the beautifully humid warmth of the morning. 


I have gathered several testimonies for the Everyday People series and will be updating those as well as new recipes. So, stay patient with me as I try to balance the last four weeks of school, my wedding anniversary, 41st birthday and the completion of my degree. I am partying and working all at the same time. Workshops are in the works too! 


Summer 2018 is on fire!!! 

A New Life 

July 17, 2018

Like many personal things, I straddle the line between sharing too much information or none at all. If you follow my podcast you may have heard me mention that I have had weight loss surgery. It is not something I ever planned to keep a secret, but also not something I planned to shout from the rooftops. 


I am a member of many weight loss surgery groups online and I have heard the horror stories of what people say and do once they have heard that someone "took the easy way out". So, in an effort to protect myself from criticism and perhaps to save a few folks from hearing "decorative words" fly out of my mouth I kept my surgery to those who love me most. 


As the months past by I carefully selected people who would be privy to this information. Today is my one year surgery anniversary. Something we like to call in the weight loss surgery community our "surgiversary". I am 100 lbs lighter this year than I was last year. How I feel today compared to last year is so very hard to explain. The only real thing I know is that I got my life back. Without the surgery I would not have the courage to continue to fight for poor people and their need for food equity. I would not have the stamina to learn to garden, or to teach people how to cook. Without the surgery I would still have high blood pressure and high blood sugar. I did not know I had either until I started on the path to surgery. 


Today, I can walk a little farther, stand a little longer, laugh a little harder and dream bigger. It was the right choice for me. This is God's work....the podcast, the blog, the social media posts...all of this is divinely ordered. If I had not had the surgery I could not help the people. 


Check out my photo for this post. It was taken in New Orleans. I am pretty sure I have not truly smiled like that in a very long time. That is the smile of a woman who knows where she came from and where she is going. I have learned that my relationship with food is an emotional one. I will talk more about that in a future podcast. If you are out there thinking about the surgery let me know. We can talk in private. I can tell you about my experience and offer up some hope. I cannot give medical advice but I do believe that no one should have to do this alone. Thankfully, I have an amazing support system who cheered me on from the very beginning. For that, I am grateful. 

A Community Farm in Need 

July 18, 2018

The other day I took the kids to our family plot to work on it. The plot is rough and in need of some serious TLC before we can plant anything. While there our local newspaper The Stockton Record was conducting interviews with a few plot owners. Apparently, the place is in need of funding to continue its mission to help the community. 


I had a chance to share what keeping the farm open meant to my family and the community at large. Community farms like Bogg's Tract do more than just allow people to grow food. They are heavily involved in teaching the children how to grow food, nutrition and culinary skills. This particular farm also harvests honey and has egg laying chickens. The honey and eggs are sold to the public at the farmers markets in the area. 


I hope you would consider donating to this worthy cause. Food insecurity is high in South Stockton and culinary/nutrition education is scarce. One of the best ways we can protect future generations is through health education. Arming them with the tools they need to achieve and maintain good health is invaluable. 


Click on the image to the left for the link to the story. You will find their GoFundMe campaign there. 

http://www.recordnet.com/news/20180716/boggs-tract-in-need-of-donations-to-help-gardens-grow

Health Equity 

July 23, 2018

If you listen to my podcast The Mindful Chef (available on iTunes, Anchor, Google, and Spotify) you already know that I am a different type of chef. I spend a lot of time talking about health and wellness but more specifically, I discuss health equity. 


As a chef, I have submerged myself in a world of some of the finest ingredients, creating the most beautiful plates and it is not lost on me that there was once a time when none of these things were available to me. Growing up poor in Oakland I remember the days when my parents had to stretch and literally pray that what they have prepared will be enough to fill our bellies. 


Now, as an adult who has seen both sides of the coin I recognize that there are deeper reasons why people are unable to achieve the level of health that they desire. I have met people all over the world and this is what I know. Those who have money are more likely to be healthier than those who do not. 


Now, this is not an all or nothing characterization. So, before you all jump on me about specific situations please know that I am well aware. This is not a blanket statement being made about ALL people. However, it is something that is heavily documented in studies done all over the world. It is also perhaps the sole reason why fundraising efforts are so heavily solicited for developing nations. 


Money is the great equalizer in good health. That is why there are people like myself who are looking at ways to bring in the elements that are available to others. Affluent neighborhoods have plenty of variety when it comes to fresh food, great schools, and green spaces for exercise. The children born in these areas have a leg up on those who grew up in areas without these three elements. 


So, when someone says that lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and hypertension runs in their family, I can say without a doubt that it simply isn't true. What DOES run in their family is.....three or more generations living in a neighborhood without access to a variety of fresh food, green spaces for exercise and good schools. Generations who live near manufacturing plants, dump sites, etc. Generations where a grocery store does not carry more than a few vegetables and the ones they have look unfit to consume. Generations who have a liquor store and church on every corner but no parks. Families without cars to drive to the nearest store with the better food. Schools that cut recess in favor of instruction time because of standardized testing. Parents who have to work late so children are not allowed to be outside playing because it is not safe. 


These are the reasons why people are not able to achieve the health they desire. That is why my upcoming series (September 2018) Everyday People will feature people who are just like me and you, working hard to provide themselves and their families with what is needed to survive. I will also feature dishes that are simple, and with only a few ingredients that most can find in their local market. These dishes are meant as inspiration to show you that despite the challenges you are facing you can still create your own beautiful and nutritious meals at home. 


It is time to embrace health equity. I hope you will join me on the journey. 


http://www.recordnet.com/news/20180716/boggs-tract-in-need-of-donations-to-help-gardens-grow

What's Next?

August 21, 2018

 I finished school this summer and like all college graduates I have been asked the infamous question...."What are you going to do now?" Earning a BS in Nutrition Communication seemed like only a dream. Now, it is reality and I am overjoyed that I made it. I did not get here on my own though. My support system is strong. They prayed for me, listened to me cry and threaten to quit a multitude of times. They held me up when I just could not stand. So, what AM I going to do next? 


I have a lot of ideas in my head and some are even written down in various notebooks and binders. They have been building up over the last few years and now excitement has taken over. This is what I have been preparing for. There is the cookbook, my life story, social justice, community service, and the classes I plan to teach. They all have a place. Just do not ask me where that place is. 


I think I am a little nervous about this next phase. I spent the last four and half years as a college student and it pretty much defined my existence. Whether or not I went to birthday parties, trips, or even meeting a friend for coffee all depended on my ability to manage my schedule. As a wife, mom and student that was quite difficult. There were times when the people closest to me were unhappy about the amount of time and attention they received. I missed them as well. But, there was this goal I had in front of me and I needed to stay focused. 


Fast forward to today and I am talking to my husband who says........ "what are you going to do with all of your time?" I say I will write, work on my workshops, etc. But part of me will likely do a few really cool things and just chill awhile. 


I need to relearn how to be me. I have a long list of dreams and aspirations that are just waiting to come out but I refuse to rush it. I am going to take my time. Enjoy date night, movie nights with the kids, and more than likely start calling my friends for that coffee date. My treat. 



The problem with Thug Kitchen 

August 28, 2018

 There is this website called Thug Kitchen. I am sure you have heard of it. I first ran across the name on Facebook a couple of years ago and was I happily impressed with the meatless dishes they featured on their page. As a chef who is passionate about the health of my community I often look for resources to share. I thought this was one that would be well received among my family and friends. 



I felt it was clever that they used tons of profanity in their posts. I know it is not for everyone but as a veteran I am no stranger to decorative words. I made the assumption that Thug Kitchen was a play on words, like everything else on their page. These "guys" surely must be from South Central, Oakland, Baltimore, Detroit, etc. You get the picture. I could not have been more wrong in my assessment. 



Thug Kitchen is the brain child of Michelle Davis and Matt Holloway. They are a white couple who lives in Hollywood. This couple uses common AAVE (African American Vernacular English) formerly known as Ebonics in their social media posts and books to sell vegan recipes. 



Pause. 



Before some of you check out of this post keep reading. I promise it is worth it. 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with using a dialect that belongs to you. I know PLENTY of non black people from my neighborhood and we all sound the same. With the exception of the 'n-word,  our vocabulary, tone, voice inflection, and level of comprehension are the same. So, if you were about to head down that road of "Oh, geeze...she is going to talk about what white people can't do"......... STOP. Just pause. This post is not about what white people are "allowed" to do. However, I am going to give some harsh criticism. If you cannot be open minded and hear what I am saying then this is not the post for you. 



This post is about the gentrification of a culture for monetary gain. Thug Kitchen has a podcast. I listened to a little bit and the way they speak is NOTHING like the way they write. I have taken plenty of English and Communications courses to know that YOUR VOICE is what makes you a successful writer. Producing work that highlights who you are is of utmost importance. So, why then does Thug Kitchen write so much differently than they speak? For those who know me personally wouldn't you say that my written content is a reflection of my actual persona? That is on purpose. I refuse to change my professional persona with the hopes that I would attract a larger audience. That is called selling out. 



When you are branding yourself in business every step you make is with purpose. Every decision you make is with your audience in mind. When I created my social media accounts and and webpage I had to ask myself some specific questions. Who am I? What do I want to say? Who do I want to say it to? What audience does Thug Kitchen want to capture? And why do they want that audience? 



I belong to several food based groups on Facebook. My favorite food based group is VeganSoulSistuhs because there are women of color from all walks of life in that space. These women are all shades of brown and exploring a journey into health and wellness by avoiding the use of meat. Many of their family members do not understand the choice that they have made. Many are curious but think it is too hard to make these changes. This is their safe space.  They are welcome to be who they are fully. Naturally, when a discussion about cookbooks shows up Thug Kitchen is one the most recommended books along with books curated by people of color FOR people of color. Most of the women thought that the book was written by a person of color. They had already purchased books by Bryant Terry, Jenne Claiborne, A. Breeze Harper, Luz Calvo, Catriona Rueda Esquibel, and Terry Hope Romero to name a few. They made the assumption that Thug Kitchen was also created by a person of color based on their usage of AAVE. Many were not only surprised but offended that a white couple wrote this book. 



This is problematic because as I mentioned earlier...it is all about branding. In the world of publishing it is incredibly difficult to break through. The world of cookbooks it is even more difficult. Thug Kitchen made it in because they write the way my friends and family talk and they happen to be white. Not because their recipes are especially delicious or vary from what is already out there. Some would call this a niche market. Cookbooks are a dime a dozen. These days you need more than a collection of recipes to sell a book because everyone uses the internet to find recipes. A person purchases a cookbook for a very specific reason. Something resonated with them beyond the food itself. In this case it was language. 



Imagine for one moment, my photo next to the title Thug Kitchen and ask yourself if my book would be a bestseller. You already know the answer to that question. 



Basically, I am saying that there is the lack of knowledge and understanding about the way people of color eat.**I will totally write about this in a separate post**There is a misconception about why they eat the way they do. And there is a sense of privilege that comes with suggesting that I adapt an entirely different persona to teach you how to do "better". 


On their FAQ page they mention that they promote accessibility and community. Where? They live in Hollywood, so have they met or collaborated with Ron Finley? Have they reached out to anyone else who is promoting health in the community they claim to want to help? If they are, then why is it not prominently mentioned on their website and social media accounts? Oh and...why did they remain anonymous for years? 


At the end of the day, it is up to you how you choose to spend your money. Perhaps you do not find TK to be offensive and you really enjoy their recipes. That is totally your choice. I just ask that you take some time to really delve into this subject for a few reasons. 


1. Cookbooks by POC are few. 

2. Cookbooks by POC are generally based on one type of cuisine and not marketed to the masses the same as others. 

3. Specialty cookbooks by POC are even FEWER. 


Lastly, stop giving people permission to appropriate by giving them your money. Maybe you did not purchase the books but every "like",  "share", "follow", and "comment" supports them financially. 





A Taste of African Heritage 

September 14, 2018 

 I am happy to announce that I am now a certified instructor for Oldways A Taste of African Heritage! I have been following this website for about a year now and I finally made the commitment to join the movement. 


Oldways is a valuable resource for those who are looking for culturally specific information regarding health. If you have listened to my podcast you already know how important I believe cultural appreciation is to the health and wellness of the community. 


Oldways provides resources for people of many different backgrounds and that is what makes them so special. As an instructor in A Taste of African Heritage I am able to provide more resources for the community as I present new and fresh ideas in the kitchen and beyond. 


What does this mean? Through Oldways I will offer a six week course that will encourage, enlighten and strengthen your knowledge and skills in the kitchen while respecting and honoring your African heritage at the same time. 


It is a common misconception that our African ancestors regularly ate the soul food we see today. Through this six weeks we will explore the wonderful diverse influences that the continent of African has on Black Americans and ways that we can honor, respect and enjoy our roots in a delicious and healthy way. 


Stay connected and visit the Events page often as I will post the dates and information for the class. If you are interested in hosting a class in your area and want to partner with me send me an email at [email protected] In the meantime, visit the Oldways website for more information. 











Everyday People Post #1 

September 17, 2018 

 

I thought it would be best to start off the series by talking about myself. Not in a self absorbed way, rather a way to illustrate my reasoning for starting the series to begin with. I have gone back and forth over what to share, how much to share and how I would be perceived. Honestly, I am still not certain how this will all play out. 


What I can say is that I had a feeling that I was not the only person who faced challenges in achieving particular health and wellness goals I set for myself. When I joined the Navy at the tender age of 17 I did not feel strong but I knew I wasn't weak either. I was a skinny teenager who liked to tell my younger siblings what to do. I was often voted president of clubs for the same reason. I was an unlikely candidate to wear the uniform and take orders. But I knew that the military was my ticket to college. So, I took the plunge. 


Fast forward a year or so and I fell while running during the physical readiness test. Things have gradually gone downhill since then. I had several diagnosis but now they have all led to degenerative joint disease in both knees. I am certain that my wrists, feet and back are all now somewhat affected by the way I have had to adapt over the years too. 


The early years were hopeful, but now the story is the same. Whenever I am not feeling well the subject immediately goes to weight and weight loss. I am not seen as a person who has been in pain her entire adult life. Perhaps, I do not show it enough. Maybe I should show up to appointments in tears and rolling around the exam room. Maybe then they will believe me. 


Maybe they will believe me when I tell them that I REALLY love vegetables and I have always loved water. Maybe one day they will believe me when I tell them that I LOVE to exercise but it HURTS TOO DAMN much to do so. Maybe they will one day believe me when I say I want to change the world. 


That is my story in a nutshell. I have been side eyed, denied, mistreated and insulted by almost every medical professional I have ever had the displeasure of meeting. One day, that will stop. One day I will have ONE that looks me in my eye and believes me when I say I am practically a vegetarian, drink water, exercises, gets enough sleep and enjoys long walks (when my body allows). Until then......I will remain a squeaky wheel for myself and others like me who are never fully seen. Never given permission to take up space. Always told that EVERYTHING that is hurts is OUR OWN fault for being FAT. 


That is what Everyday People is about. This is why I do what I do. 












The future of food....micro enterprise home kitchen

September 21, 2018

 Yesterday, Governor Jerry Brown (CA) signed a bill into law that will make it legal for home cooks to sell food straight from their kitchens. Personal chefs, caterers and meal preppers are probably working on their new and improved business cards and websites as we speak. The tamale lady is now likely going to see a robust increase in sales. 


For those who are on the fence about supporting the bill I would like to offer something to chew on. There are thousands of people like me. People who have a particular set of skills that are beneficial to the community. Some of these people have small children. Some have a chronic illness. They may be disabled, or dealing with a major life change. This bill supports those folks. This bill supports the person who may need to be home in time to meet their child at the school bus when the majority of food related jobs do not allow you to customize your schedule. Those folks on disability may be able to work for short periods of time without affecting their injuries or supplemental income. 


There is oversight. This change does not mean that people will be cooking all willy nilly without any oversight. The state and local authorities determine the process of applying and receiving the micro enterprise kitchen permit. There are steps that will be taken. 


Now that you know why this is a good thing and how it can benefit the community let me offer some advice on how to ensure the consumer is safe. And the business owner is responsible. 


I have spent my entire adult life cooking commercially so I am familiar with food safety in a way that makes me annoying to my friends and family. If you have a Facebook account you may have seen kitchen posts that are cringe worthy and some that would send you immediately to the nearest restroom to give up your last meal. So, it is no surprise that many people have legitimate concerns about the safety of such a law passing. We are looking at the future of food. 

 


1. Ask for their food handlers card aka ServSafe or other entity. It may annoy some but the truth is, if they are annoyed then you probably should not be eating their food. Many food establishments pay for their employees to get this card. Others require the employee to make an investment. I have paid for my own for the last 10 years. It is not a fun class. In fact, it is super boring. BUT....the information is VITAL. The only exception to this I would make is for someone who you know personally and can say that they have a financial barrier to attaining one. 


2. Ask if you can see their kitchen. If you meet someone on Facebook who is selling plates and you have to pick up at their home ask if you can see their kitchen. If they refuse to show you DO NOT EAT THE FOOD.  I have never turned anyone away who wanted to see my kitchen. I tend to be a messy cook when I am in a zone but a mess is different from "nasty". 


3. Is the hot food HOT? Is the cold food COLD? When I say hot I mean hot. Like so hot you have to blow it. Time and temperature control are just about the two biggest factors that contribute to foodborne illness. If the food was held at the wrong temp for too long then bacteria will grow rapidly. Now....this of course brings me back to point #1. If the person has a food handlers card or certification then they already know this. Most people only concern themselves with hot food. But, cold foods being cold are also important. Not room temperature. COLD. 


4. Look at their hands. Proper handwashing is one of the major indicators of proper food safety. If their hands are dirty, have extremely long nails (sorry ladies.....I just cannot...even with gloves on....issa no for me) or they have a lot of cuts, bruises, etc. This is an indicator that they may not have their food handlers card *see #1* or they lack knife skills. Knife skills are a learned skill that takes time. But, when it comes to food preparation, especially from someone who is not professionally trained I would be concerned if they were cutting themselves often. The skin from the cuts have to GO somewhere. *shivers* 


5.  When in doubt.....do NOT EAT IT. 


Hopefully these tips can help you become an informed consumer. 




















Dismantling the Traditional View of Wellness and Redefining Self Care for Poor Women and Women of Color 

October 19, 2018

 The last year of my life has been interesting and complicated. As I worked hard in school I also did a lot of work behind the scenes in my own mental and spiritual development. It all led me to understand just how important it is that I use my platform, however so meager to tear down old traditional views of wellness and build up new and more accurate ones. 


Nothing made that more clear than the day I went in search of stock photos and found no one that looked like me or my friends connected to wellness or self care. As frustrating as that was, I was not surprised. If I had been real with myself I would have noticed this when I was a teen who loved to read magazines. With the exception of a few publications geared specifically toward black girls there was nothing for me. I remember spending my teens years trying to reconcile the view that my own life had versus what the media thought about a girl like me. For a teen growing up in Oakland in the 90's that was no easy task and one that I honestly was not able to even tackle because other matters were far more important. 


When wellness is mentioned it is rare that someone pictures a group of women from the local church going for a walk at the park. Chatting while the kids play on the swings.  Or meeting for coffee/tea at the local coffee shop. It is never accompanied by a photo of friends on the couch with Netflix and snacks. But, oddly enough, THIS IS WELLNESS for me, my sisters, mom, aunts, friends, etc. This is how we cope with the everyday stress of life. This is how we get by. My mom used to sip coffee while talking on the phone with her friend for HOURS. They would talk about marriage, sex, parents, children, church, school, politics, and everything else in between. It seemed as though no topic was off limits. Of course, I can only speculate because I was not allowed to sit under her when she was with her friends. This was their time. Their wellness routine. They would talk on the phone or accompany each other to the grocery store. Usually, only a few friends had cars and those who did may have had one that barely worked. They were working class people who depended on each other to manage the everyday struggles of living in a inner city in a world that never fully appreciated them for who they were. 


When I mention wellness this is what I mean. When I talk about self care this is what I am talking about. Black women deserve self care! Let me say that again...black women deserve self care! I am choosing to focus this discussion on black women because in my circle I see more black women making comments that they cannot afford or perhaps even deserve to take care of themselves. They say they have children, significant others and extended family to care for. There is no time to care for self. I have heard black women call other black women selfish when they do things that are described as self care. It is especially problematic for those in faith based communities. These communities emphasize putting yourself last in the name of your faith. The problem is that there are rarely any teachings given on how to balance all of that out. Community work is necessary. But, how we go about that is critical. We must stop encouraging people to put their health on the back burner in exchange for volunteer work. Because yes, self care is tied to health and wellness. It is also tied to our ability to fulfill the duties of ministry work. More on that another time. 


For many, self care/wellness will never be yoga at 5am, avocado toast, and mani/pedis. Majority of the women I know would not even consider these things part of their wellness routine. They may not have the funds nor desire. Simply finding the strength to wake up 30 minutes before the kids is an act of God. So, when articles come out suggesting that they find a way to pay for spa days, girls trips and quiet time they know this is not for them. Then on some level they start to believe that wellness in general is not for them. They begin to internalize the message that wellness belongs to the privileged. I can imagine that most believe that self care is beyond their reach after Googling the price of a membership at a local yoga/pilates studio. Or even finding out the price of getting a 1 hour massage. Oh, and have you noticed the price of avocados? So yeah, even if time is not a barrier, money certainly is. 


What do I do for self care? My self care is centered around having at least one hour of silence per day and bath time. The silence helps me deal with a world full of noise. The bath helps me to relax. I pray in the silence. I pray in the tub. Sometimes, I purchase expensive bath products. But, this practice started when I did not have money for that. I would use some cheap bubble bath, two buck chuck and my iPod to relax every night after a long day.  


When you know women from all walks of life who put their hopes and dreams to the side to care for her children, spouse and the entire neighborhood of forgotten souls the phrases "self care" and "wellness" sounds frivolous. It sounds like something that can be exchanged for a more practical life. It sounds like something that does not belong. However, I am hoping that through some very in depth conversations and emotional work we all will begin to see that a magazine, website or celebrity does not get to determine what that looks like for me. It is my prayer that we begin to understand that it is not selfish to take care of self. It is my hope and dream that confident, happy and whole women will be something we see more of. We need more women to see that their hopes, dreams, ideas, and existence is needed. It is appreciated. And it should be celebrated. 


Self care is saying no. 

Self care is enjoying your favorite show without interruption. 

Self care is Netflix and chill with your loved one. 

Self care is going for a walk. 

Self care is giving yourself permission to take up space.

Self care is prayer. 

Self care is reading. 

Self care is knitting. 

Self care is jewelry making. 

Self care is making a puzzle. 

Self care is coloring. 

Self care is listening to music. 

Self care is people watching. 

Self care is making and/or eating a meal you enjoy. 

Self care is speaking up. 

Self care is being silent. 

Self care is going to bed early. 

Self care is going to bed late. 

Self care is letting go. 



Self care and wellness are what YOU make it. Do not let anyone else define these things for you. Do what makes you feel refreshed. Nourished. Cared for. Take this into your own hands. No one else can tell you what your self care routine should be. Self care is not out of reach. 


Self care is putting on your oxygen mask first so that you may help others. 



















 10 Easy and Inexpensive Ways to Prepare for "Cold and Flu Season" 

October 20, 2018

 It is almost the end of October and that means we are headed into that time of year dubbed cold and flu season. A term I hate because cold and flu is technically NOT a season. But, it is important to do our best to safeguard ourselves from the influx of germs swimming around the atmosphere. I am here to offer some tips to help combat the cooties from invading your space. 


1. Learn/teach proper hand washing in your home. Make sure that you are using warm water, soap and washing for at least 30 seconds or more. It also does not hurt to wash past your wrists when you are able to do so. Supervise young children and do not just take their word for it when they say they did it properly.


2. Drink water. I know that sounds very basic and something that everyone thinks they already know this. However, it is easier to drink water when the weather is warmer than once it starts to cool off. So, in order to make sure you stay on top of your water consumption, consider purchasing a large water bottle like the 40 oz Takeya (I got mine at Costco). Most people do not even drink 40 oz so imagine how hydrated you would be if you were able to drink more than one of these per day! Consider adding fresh fruit and/or veggies to your water to break up the monotony. Infusing flavor will increase the likelihood that you will actually drink it. Not to mention the vitamin and mineral infusion you get as well. Invest in some smaller, lighter weight water bottles for the kids. If their school allows, send your student to school with a refillable water bottle. If they are unable to bring those consider donating a case of water bottles to the classroom periodically. A healthy classroom means a lower chance of your child getting sick. So, consider it a community service opportunity. 


3. Take a multivitamin. We all would like to think that they are not necessary if our diet is on point. However, the majority of us are not getting the necessary nutrients strictly from our food intake. I know that navigating the world of vitamins can be a little tricky. There are articles shared online daily about how many of them are full of fillers and very little vitamin content. Before you head to the nearest vitamin store and empty your bank account in an effort to get the "best quality" talk to your doctor. You may be able to get a prescription for the vitamins that you need based on your lab work and not only will that be cheaper but also more effective because it is based on your individual needs.


4. Stock your pantry. Keep honey, teas, oranges, lemons, limes, ginger, elderberry, bee pollen, garlic, and broth on hand. Each one of these things work to fight cold and flu before it shows up but it can also help alleviate symptoms after they appear. Look online for recipes to create your own syrups made with citrus, honey, and ginger. Those are all powerful ingredients that work together and are more effective and cheaper than any traditional cold and flu syrup on the market. Remember, most of what is sold in drug stores are synthetically formulated to mimic the natural properties of some of the items I listed. These natural ingredients will not induce drowsiness, which make them safe for work. They are all also safe for the whole family and have proven health benefits. 


5. Get some probiotics. I know I sound like a broken record to those who follow me on other platforms. There are a lot of expensive probiotics in just about every health food store. While I do not believe that there is anything wrong with using those, I like to share information that is geared toward the masses rather than those with the pockets. Kombucha is my favorite probiotic because it is easily accessible to all. It is inexpensive when you make it yourself and with so many flavor choices the possibilities are endless. Gut health is especially important in fighting off illness so a high quality probiotic is important. For those who are unsure of what it is, kombucha is fermented tea. The drink is centuries old and is known in some parts of the world as the immortal tea. Other types of food type of probiotics include kefir (there are dairy and non-dairy options), kimchi, sauerkraut. 


6. Increase you intake of plants. No seriously. Eat more vegetables and fruit. It sounds simple but it is the most important thing you can do for your overall health in general. The nutrients provided through plants make the most impact on our bodies. We can literally not eat enough of them. Consider implementing 1-2 meatless meals per week. Offer a side salad with lunch and dinner. Make a commitment to eat plants daily. Studies show that most Americans do not consume plants daily. 


7. Eat at home. Reduce the number of meals consumed at restaurants especially those with drive thru windows. I spent many days working alongside people who could not afford to take a day off from work while sick, myself included. The foodservice industry is not family friendly, the wages are low, the hours are long. If you are not vomiting or have diarrhea it is recommended that you show up for your shift. This is not something I am proud to admit. But, I worked while sick at times and the best thing I could do was make sure my hands were raw from frequent hand washing. My standards were always a bit higher than the average person so if I am telling you to abstain from eating out please know that there is a really good reason for it. The food industry is incredibly difficult to work in. Being a woman with children makes it much more difficult. I had to fight to ensure I still had a job after missing a couple of shifts for sickness. This advice is not limited to fast food restaurants or chain. Even reputable establishments slack on quality at times. Consider this time of year one with family and eat in. Create space in your weekly menu plan for fast food type of meals to satisfy the cravings. 


8. Use home remedies. For the typical cold and flu your mom knows best. Avoiding over the counter and prescription medication is your best bet and path to healing. Home made soups, stews, broth, juice, essential oils*, rubs, salves, ointments, baths, and rest are more effective than anything you can purchase in store. Use these tried and true methods. 


9. Use a Neti pot or saline rinse. Stuffy nose? Put down that pill or syrup and pick up a neti pot or another type of saline nasal rinse. For small children use a saline spray. Turn on your shower to full heat. Close the door and turn off the fan. Put a towel under the door and create a steam room. This worked especially well for my kids when they were babies and I wanted to avoid giving them medication. 


10. Practice good food safety. Sometimes we think we have a cold and it could in fact be a food related illness. Make sure if you do happen to go out to eat that you only take home a box if you are heading directly home and the box will be immediately refrigerated. When you reheat the food transfer it from the container you brought it home in and heat on the stove. If the item is not something that will reheat well on the stove then use the oven. Use the microwave as your last resort. Keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Do not eat anything that is not quite hot or not quite cold. Reject food from family/friends and food establishments that do not appear clean. This is the season of sharing. But it is ok to toss that food item your neighbor gave you as a gift if you know that they are not good at washing their hands. Be leery of potlucks this time of year. If there is no way to keep the hot food hot....do not eat it! If there is no way to keep the cold food cold....do not eat it! 


I hope you found these tips helpful in combatting the cooties this season. I pray that you have good health all season long. If you have any questions about these tips or for more help staying healthy this season make sure you send me an email at [email protected] I look forward to hearing from you. Be well. 


*Certain essential oils are not safe for all ages. Please use caution when using any natural remedy. Many natural remedies also have strict instruction on usage. Make sure you shop at health food stores for homeopathic remedies. They generally have a Naturopathic Doctor on staff to assist you. Many homeopathic remedies are not safe for children of certain ages. Many homeopathic remedies are not safe with prescription medication. Some medications are not safe to combine with certain foods, over the counter drugs, and oils. Young children, elderly and those with compromised immune systems need to be monitored closely. Use extreme caution when taking any form of medication. 























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 Happy New Year! 

December 27, 2018 

 Wow! I cannot believe it is already the end of December. This has been an incredible year for me and I am thankful for those who have been along for the ride. 


One of my greatest achievements of the year was graduating from Arizona State University. It was a long road and I really wanted to quit so many times but I am glad that so many people continued to encourage me along the way. I am now the proud holder of a Bachelors of Science in Nutrition Communication. The reason why this degree means so much to me is because of the work ethic that my parents instilled in me from the time I was a very young girl. They always stressed the importance of getting an education. They also lead by example as it relates to community work. 


What's next? I think I asked myself that earlier this year about 23942389476 times. 


I am currently working on plans for 2019 but before I get knee deep into that I am creating a vision board. This years board was fun to create and the majority of the goals I put down on paper actually came true. This year I plan to create a solid action plan based on my vision board goals. It will help me become more intentional with many areas of my life. I feel like some things do not come to us because we are just waiting for life to happen. 


What are some of my goals for 2019? My largest goal is to reach as many people as I can with the support that they need with culturally relevant nutrition and health information. That is really the bottom line. I plan to do that in a variety of ways and I am looking forward to sharing with you all as they unfold. 


Thanks again for being my support system. 

























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 Happy Balance w/ Cheryl Colbert 

January 7, 2019  

Last year I spoke about using this platform as a vehicle to tell the stories of the everyday person. It was important to me that people were given a voice to speak their truth regarding health and wellness. Over a period of months I took interviews and emails from folks who wanted to have their say. But, something was missing. There was an element of the stories that I was not able to capture just using the printed word. That is when I decided that I needed to use the Mindful Chef podcast so that people could tell their stories in their own words. 


The first episode of The Mindful Chef for 2019 features a woman named Cheryl Colbert from Virginia. The following is a short bio that Cheryl wrote to give you an idea of who she is. I think you all are going to really enjoy the time I spent talking to her. 


Cheryl Colbert is a single mom raising a 17-yr old son and a 15-yr old daughter. At the age of 20, she had lived only ¼ of her life in the United States. The first five years of her life were spent in Papua New Guinea and most of the rest in Yaoundé, Cameroun, where her introduction to local cuisine happened on the regular. In the food arena it is rare that she will not try something new at least once, and she is proud that she can tell you how to make peanut stew and plaintain the way they made it when she was a girl, roast grasshoppers for a nutritious snack, and prepare a chicken to be ready for cooking, starting in its live state. Cheryl’s food pyramid base is a solid brick of peanut butter and jelly and her favorite activity in the whole world is solid, gut-bustin’, snot-flyin’, cryin’ belly laughter with friends, until her sides are sore from the effort. 


*Cheryl later reminded me to make sure I let everyone know that it is imperative that you drink a lot of water on a high fiber diet. Something we did not discuss during the podcast. 


You can find The Mindful Chef on iTunes and other podcasting platforms. 


https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mindful-chef/id1345627449?mt=2

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 "Masterpiece of Minimalism" ~Darius Lovehall 

January 12, 2018  

I may have mentioned to a few people that I was writing a book. Over the last few years I found reasons to be too busy to accomplish the task at hand. Now, that I am a college grad (yay! and yes, I will likely say this all year) the hours I spent on writing papers and reading PubMed studies can now be used to write my own stories.


Ever since I was a little girl I remember creating stories and books. I would take stack of paper and fold it into a book and write and illustrate my own thoughts. It was fun and I honestly never considered becoming a writer as a young person. I enjoyed reading poetry but felt as though my own poetry could not live up to the standard. You know....Phyllis Wheatley and Maya Angelou. Someone should have shown me what Tamika next door wrote because I was probably alright. Who compares themself to the greatest to ever write? That would be me. 


I thought writing a book would be fun. It is not. Samin Nosrat, chef, writer and the woman behind the Netflix series "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat", warned me when I met her last spring at the Food and Justice Summit in SF. She said writing her book was the most difficult thing she had ever done. Do not get me wrong, I did not think it would be easy, I just expected a few of the words to just flow out from under me. They are not flowing. They are currently drizzling. 


Someone suggested that I schedule myself time to write and commit to it. Right now my schedule is all over the place. One of the problems I have with writing is focusing my thoughts. I have so many different themes in my head. There are so many stories to be told. So much research to be done. That is why I am throwing my hat into the world of freelance writing for publications before I finish my first book. 


I have a lot of words to say about food and it seems as though people like to hear them but I am still second guessing my writing abilities. I promised not to make any resolutions this year. However, I did promise not to let fear hold me back. So, I decided that you have to get in the pool in order to swim. I will be submitting proposals and fully written articles to publications this year. All they can say is no. Right? 


Cheers to no fear! 


You can find The Mindful Chef on iTunes and other podcasting platforms. 


https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mindful-chef/id1345627449?mt=2

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 Men's Health w/Carlos Jordan 

January 14, 2019

You just might hear me say "this is my fav podcast so far" every week but it is true! The people I have featured on my show have so much insight and it makes my heart happy to hear their stories. That is why it is was imperative that I give them the space to tell it. And this session with Carlos Jordan is no different. 


Carlos is the first male I am featuring this season and I am glad I started with him. His story is not only inspiring but we had a fun time talking. As a woman I feel as though I tend to focus on health and wellness through the eyes of a woman so it was nice to hear a man speak on his journey. 


Carlos wrote up a short bio of who he is and his journey to wellness. Here are his words from the heart:


My name is Carlos M. Jordan and I am a 40 year old husband and father of two teenage daughters. I want to live a long, healthy and prosperous life with and for my family. This is something I have to say to myself regularly because it is really easy for me to get off track. I grew up in Washington DC the oldest of 4 and around plenty of family and relatives in my grandparents home. My grandmother almost cooked every day, so I always had 3 main course meals and generally a snack after school and dessert after dinner. I developed a healthy appetite early on healthy in the sense of big :) but my brothers and I was always active playing outside, football , basketball you name it. In High School, I played football so I was around 244-246 weigh wise but I lifted alot of weights but I was not really into running. Fast forward a few years I enlisted in the US Army and I went in around 290, by the time I graduated basic training I had come down to 235. a couple of months later I was in A.I.T and I was in the best shape of my life also the smallest weighing in about 218-220. Fast forward a few years later, I am out of the military and married for the first time (yes I said first). I had gained so much weight. I attribute the weight gain to several things, being unhappy, I ate horribly, and almost never worked out. Around 2008-2009 one of my best friends made a comment to me that he believed that I was at least 300 pounds, I would lie and say no man I am only 280. The truth is I was around 315 pounds. My stomach was huge and I was just eating to compensate for my unhappiness. At that very moment I knew I had to change. My body would hurt really bad if I tried my normal routine of lifting weights and running so I went on a Juice fast to lose the initial weight after watching 2 documentaries on Netflix (Fat,sick and nearly dead) and (Forks over knives). I dropped my first 25 pounds within a month's time and then I was able to workout. I was still up and down in weight for the next few years but it wasn't until I addressed an equally important factor in my life was I able to finally get a hold on my battle. Mental health and happiness, I divorced my first wife which I attribute a lot of my unhappiness and eating the wrong things to compensate my lack of mental strength. A few years later after detoxing mentally and physically I found a new outlook on life and love. I got married to my best friend and truly begin to experience life in a new lense. My wife and I work out together and help each other not just reach our goals but exceed them. Today January 3, 2019 I am around 237 pounds and I try to stay around 230-235. This year I will incorporate swimming to my workout regiments, and I plan on running my 3rd half marathon this year with my wife. I hope to run my very first Marathon in the near future. I am still a foodie, but I love my new body more. At one point at my heaviest wearing 3xL shirts and 46-44w pants now I comfortably wear XL shirt 38W pants. I don't desire to be any smaller just continue to workout frequently and live a healthy lifestyle full of laughter and happiness. I truly believe that is the key.



You can find The Mindful Chef on iTunes and other podcasting platforms. 


https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mindful-chef/id1345627449?mt=2

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 Health, Wealth, and the Pursuit of it all.

January 22, 2019 

This week's podcast features Katrina Carter. I had such a good time talking to her for the podcast because she was the one who encouraged me to start one. I am grateful for the advice so I had to have her on to talk about food and nutrition. Her story is one of inspiration and perseverance. I am sure you will be inspired just like myself. 


Here is her bio and information on how to reach her. Click on her photo to see her website: 


Katrina Carter helps people across the United States take steps to change their mindset in order take ownership of their lives. The author, speaker, nutritional chef, certified personal trainer and real estate agent is on a mission to inspire and teach people of every age to live well by challenging the deep psychological barriers that prevent them from creating consistency in healthful and holistic living as well as reaching their home ownership goals.


Katrina began her career in real estate in 2001 as buyer's agent for a growing real estate team. She quickly set herself apart as an agent who could help individuals realize their dreams of becoming homeowner's by listening to client's challenges and finding solutions to overcome common barriers to buying and selling property.  Katrina became passionate about successfully helping those who had previously been told that there were no possibilities.


With the economic downturn in 2008, she was lead into fitness with industry giant 24 Hour Fitness where as a Fitness Manager, she was exposed to the challenges of a general population who struggled with weight yo-yoing and depression.  She immediately began to understand the issues inherent in an overworked society, struggling through commutes, tepid family relationships and burgeoning responsibilities. 


She quickly surmounted a following through her social media sites where her followers garnered tips, education and inspiration to live more simply and make better nutritional and fitness choices. Carter, a San Francisco Bay Area native, understands the challenges that real life brings. “Many of the solutions I see presented don’t take into consideration single parent households, people with multiple jobs and long commute times. So many of today’s health and nutrition thought leaders are only speaking to a specific population where people are expected to have time to cook elaborate meals and spend hours in a gym. I try to offer support to the person for whom eating healthy and exercising is something they worry about but feel they don’t have the time for.”


As a Realtor, Katrina takes these same challenges to heart to help guide her clients through the home buying process, beginning with developing the habits and mindset necessary to become a home owner. Carter coaches her clients, so they are able to discover the underlying challenges sabotaging their opportunity to achieve more energy, longer lives, and better living through health and home ownership. Carter has her wellness coaching certification through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She credits her grandmother with inspiring her passion for cooking. Katrina has been featured on HGTV and Bravo.


You can find The Mindful Chef on iTunes and other podcasting platforms. 


https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mindful-chef/id1345627449?mt=2

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 It's a Family Affair 

January 30, 2019 

What can I say about this guest? First of all, he is my brother. Like my for real for real brother. Same mama, same daddy. 


I like Joe. I mean, I love him because we are family but I legitimately like him as a person. All of my siblings have one thing in common and that is our diverse circle of friends. Joe's ability to bond with people from different backgrounds is part of what makes him so special. He is an avid sports fan...I do not think there is a sport he does not watch. He pretty much hates reality tv because it is not real. He is into politics like myself and immediately turned the conversation we had towards that in the podcast. It was like sitting on the couch with my favorite drink talking to him. We even hate the same food! Joe is married and they have a daughter who will be one in May. One of his gifts is music. He makes beats in his spare time (if that is a thing) and is pretty freaking good at it. 


I hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed recording it. 


https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mindful-chef/id1345627449?mt=2

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 Sharita Cavonne

February 3, 2019

When I went online asking for people to be guests on my show many volunteered but almost every one said the exact same thing. I do not know what I am going to talk about is the most common response. I always reply by telling them that everyone has a story. I could tell that Sharita was not convinced until after we spoke. 

We had a great conversation about her search for the best way for her to proceed in her quest for health and wellness. Part of that includes her battle with PCOS. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is something that affects many women of all backgrounds and does more than affect a woman's ability to get pregnant and carry a baby to term. Listen to her share her heart in this touching episode. 


https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mindful-chef/id1345627449?mt=2

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 Tiffany Golden 

February 11, 2019

Tiffany and I met in middle school and over the years kept in touch through random moments around our city until Facebook. Like most of my online friends...we knew each other when we were young and reconnected through the power of the internet. 


Fast forward some years and she has become a fantastic author who has a lot to say about chronic illness. I let Tiffany share her story in her words on my podcast and I hope it brings encouragement to all who are dealing with something similar in their life. One take away from our time together is self care. Keep that in mind as you listen. It is not only ok to care for yourself but necessary. 

You can find Tiffany's books here..


Do not forget to listen to The Mindful Chef. 

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 Woah....did that just happen? 

February 21, 2019

Two days ago I held the official grand opening of the Barnett Community Wellness Center. When I started this whole "wellness thing" I never expected to arrive at this place. I mean, I dreamt it. I felt it in my spirit but when you have so many things coming at you from all directions even the most confident person would question themselves. That is what happened to me. I have been steadily, quietly (at times) building this community and I had just hoped in the back of my mind that people would embrace it. 

Not only have people embraced "it" but they have embraced ME.....who would have known? 

It is an amazing feeling to have the love and support of my people. I genuinely appreciate it. But, I still need your help. I need everyone to share my website, my social media posts and donate to my GoFundMe. My vision for the wellness community is that all those who have been forgotten or cast aside are given the information they need to improve their health. I am looking forward to watch the future holds not just for myself but the community at large. Thank you for being part of this process. 

Here is the link to my GoFundMe...I appreciate every dollar given. 


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 Afro Beets

February 25, 2019

I met Christin through his podcast Afro Beets. As a new podcaster I often find myself listening to others to see what they are doing and how I can improve mine. I stumbled upon this one and was happy to hear a guy talking about the topics that I love to discuss. This was one seriously fun session and we are already talking about round two because there is so much to unpack. Here is a little more about him in his own words:


Hey! My name is Christin Riddick,

I love gardening and plant based soul food. I'm a certified goofball who is always the first one at the table to clean his plate. My blog AFRO Beets is your source for garden to table content inspired by soul and culture. I transform my indoor vegetable garden into amazing afro vegan masterpieces. The worlds food system is in a crisis more than ever and we need to grow our own food and know exactly what is going in our bodies. And when you start producing your own vegetables your going to need to know what to cook.

I was born and raised in Montgomery County Maryland where I suffered from an identity crisis because my mom was a Washingtonian while my dad was a southern gentlemen by way of Virginia. So whenever people ask what home is for me I just say the DMV.

The way I got involved with the urban garden community is thru the influence of a entrepreneur named Josh who ran a business called Fresh Truck in Boston. This company went around to food deserts in the greater Boston area to provide fresh produce to those who deserve more.

Since then I've been researching and keeping my third eye open the nations food system. And IT...IS...GARBAGE! I had enough of just standing by and decided to do something about it. Ever since I grew my first seedling I haven't looked back since.

Make sure say hi on all major social media platforms as well as "The Afro Beets Podcast" where podcast are hosted.


You can listen to the episode featuring Christin here.



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 Change is in the air! 

May 21, 2019 

I realize that it has been a month of Sunday's since the last time I posted and I have to tell you, I missed it. One thing about writing for me is that I MUST have something I NEED to say in order to write. And, even though I have been busy chatting away on Facebook and in person, I found it difficult to actually write my thoughts out. I have those moments where writing is easy and the words just flow and then there are times when I struggle to make a single sentence coherent. 


I would like to think that the real reason why it has been so long since I posted is because of all the major life changes that have happened and not a case of writers block. To catch you up to speed...I am working part time as a Nutrition Educator for a local food bank. I started doing local and virtual workshops, and planning two major events in June. 


So, despite the fact that the website took a dive on my priority list I am still here. Adjusting to working part time while building a business has been a challenge all its own. I had my reasons for taking the job and those reasons have evolved over the last two months. I am enjoying the work that I do because I am able to be with the community on a daily basis and provide the information that they need. However, it has been a time of schedule changes, furniture moving and of course.....gardening. Yes, I have been working very hard to get my community garden plot looking like something presentable. A very difficult task for a person who has some physical barriers. Nevertheless, I am pressing on and will continue to do what I can when I can. 


Which brings me to the latest news.....June 1st I am hosting a health faire at the Wellness Center. I am looking forward to partnering with the community to give them the tools that they need. The next month is sure to be crazy busy. But, I thrive on this so I am shouting from the rooftops to bring it on! 


I have some stuff to say so be on the lookout for the newsletter. I decided to make it quarterly. Check me out on Facebook every Monday at 5 pm PST for Chef Talk Monday. Most of the time I rant about social food justice and wellness for poor people. And in the mix of all that I answer your nutrition and culinary questions. 


That is all for now. I think. 


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 Food Security For All 

May 29, 2019

Starting June 1st California will be issuing CalFresh benefits to people who currently receive SSI. I know you may be asking yourself why this is such a big deal and as usual I am here to help you. 


For those who are not aware, SSI stands for Supplemental Security Income. It is a federally funded program for those over 65, or have disabilities. Until now, California was the only state that did not allow those who collect SSI to qualify for CalFresh. 


This is a major move for the elderly and the disabled communities whose monthly payment does not bring them out of the poverty line. Being able to utilize another program to help put food on the table is another step toward securing the community. 


It is concerning to know that while California remains progressive in so many areas that this was left on the back burner. I have personally seen the elderly and disabled population expand in my own community. Every single day I meet new elderly and disabled individuals that rely on resources such as the USDA federal commodity program as well as food banks to survive. 


We are talking about people who spent their lives working and contributing to society yet once they became a certain age they were no longer able to make ends meet. 


It is not clear why California waited so long to make this change. But, I am glad that a new day is here. 

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 Expect the Unexpected

September 6, 2019 

I decided to do something I said I would not do......you ready? I am now offering meal prep services. I know, I know....you were expecting something much more dramatic than that. It is pretty dramatic for me. I am the Queen of limiting myself and even though I am the most fierce, THEE baddest woman in my head, reality is often quite the opposite. 


I am very open about my physical struggles because they are real and despite the many hours of physical therapy and assistive devices I still play these games in my head. Thankfully, I have THEE most amazing support system a girl could ever ask for. And while the devil is busy in his playground, my folks are busy praying, sharing posts, and gassing me up as much as possible. They too see the vision that I have and they are just crazy enough to not only join me on this ride but actually put measures in place to see me through. 


That is why I am now starting meal prep services. Of course, I am doing it my way so if anyone is expecting the same old run of the mill stuff....sorry to tell you that ain't me. What you CAN expect is good fresh food with lots of flavor and a variety of choices. Each week I will offer a few choices for you to order right here on the website. We will arrange a day and time for pick up or delivery and that is it. 


Oh and I got ALL the vegetarians and vegans. My goal is to keep the flavor IN and the animals OUT. And if you DO happen to eat meat, then you can always add your fav protein source to any dish for an additional cost. 


My service will require communication between myself and the client. I believe in customer service. There are no trade secrets in my meals. I just make the food with love. That means if you have a question about ingredients I will happily share them with you. 


I look forward to working with you. Share the website and information with your friends. 

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 I met Alice Waters!!! 

September 20, 2019 

A few months ago I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a weeklong training for the Edible Schoolyard Project in Berkeley, CA. Words cannot describe my excitement over what I learned, the people I met and the team from Stockton who I had the pleasure of joining. 

Ok, I am certain you all are wondering just how this thing happened. Well.....my dear friend Patricia Miller-Battiste invited me to attend the training. I thought she was just sharing a chance to attend a typical conference. What she shared literally changed my life. 

A few years ago I was asked what would I do if I had my own restaurant and my answer was to open a place like Chez Panisse. Not matching the cuisine or anything like that. Just being able to open a business that was seasonal, local, fresh, unpretentious and supporting of the local community. That is my dream. When Alice created the Edible Schoolyard Project that just made me love her even more. To know that a chef of her caliber was invested in what the local children in her city was eating made me love her even more. 

Imagine my level of excitement to learn that I would not only have a chance to learn from her world class team but also met the woman in person!!!!  OH EM GEE!!!!!!! I was nervous ya'll. So nervous that I almost did not take a moment to walk up to her. Thankfully, my dear friend and colleague Patricia had my back. Because ya girl thought her knees would buckle. I do not get star struck by many. But Alice is one that holds a special place in my heart. As a woman from Oakland, I have always found that California chefs do not get the same respect from the industry like others. 


I mean, they think we are all avocados and tacos. WHICH WE ARE.......however, there is so much more to us than that. And Alice broke through that barrier and made people pay attention. There are now people all over the world following her philosophy on food and I happen to have met the woman in person and she has given ME her blessing to continue this Edible Schoolyard work right here in my own neighborhood. 


So, get ready Stockton, CA!! Edible Schoolyard Project has set it's eyes on you and you are in for a treat. That is about all I can say about that at this time. Just make sure you visit the Edible Schoolyard website to learn more about this dynamic program so you can be just as excited as I am about what the future holds. It is going to be a wonderful time. *Chance the Rapper voice* 


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 A Year of Promise

November 1, 2019 

I tried to wait until next month to write this but I just could not calm down. When I woke up this morning I was exhausted physically but mentally my mind was racing. This time last year I was laying in bed recovering from reconstructive foot surgery, mad that I had one last class to take for my degree and truly wondering where life would take me next. 

I was worried because the future seemed so uncertain. I knew that I had a long road to recovery but I also wanted to celebrate this incredibly difficult process of earning the degree. I questioned myself for so long about this path. I knew it would come with heavy criticism but I felt this pull that just cannot be described. 

I am not the picture of someone who studies nutrition. A quick Google or IG search will show you that. Yet, that was my reason to do it. I fully believed that I could not only bring myself to my version of ultimate health but I could also do that for the people in my community. 

There were a lot of side eyes along the way. A lot of hushed tones. A lot of micro aggressions too. If it were not for my amazing support system I would have given up the first time I failed chemistry. It was SO hard. My husband, kids, friends and family often wanted more of me and I just could not do it. I felt like I ALWAYS needed to study. The A's did not come easy for me. There were many sleepless nights writing and reading and.......crying. That is why this is such a big deal. 

This time last year I started my business. Barnett Community Wellness was born from my bedroom while I recovered from foot surgery. So when I was not studying, I was creating this vision. Again, I must have been nuts to think that I could do such a thing. The NERVE. And again, it was not me. There was no way I could have done this without so much support. 

One year later and things are moving faster than a 747. The business has evolved, I worked as a Nutrition Educator at a food bank, I have done catering jobs and meal prep and now I am working with the Edible Schoolyard Project. I can honestly say that it still all feels like an incredible dream. I no longer ask myself why I have been chosen for this path. I no longer question whether or not I am prepared. I get nervous but, I think that helps me stay on my A game. I have now started asking myself HOW I can make things happen and if they are feasible for me and my family. Because I will not stop. I just sometimes need to pause and be a little choosy about the projects I take on. I am the type of person who has to stay busy. It is not a character flaw....it is how I am made. Once I accepted that, life got a little easier. I no longer have to fight my desire to plan and create. You know what that means....I will have more announcements coming soon.