Food Memoir Panel at Litquake!

September 16th, 2016 — 7:36pm

Delighted to be on a food memoir panel for Litquake SF!
Sunday, October 9, 2:15 at 777 Valencia Street in SF. So if you’re in the neighborhood, come on by!

Culinary Memoirs: Why We Write about Food, moderated by Margo True (Sunset Magazine), with Georgeanne Brennan, Jessica Fector, Dayna Macy, and Alex Prud’homme


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“Ravenous” Five Years Later

May 23rd, 2016 — 9:37am

When I published Ravenous five years ago, I wanted to document my journey of losing weight and making peace with my body. I examined the difference between real and processed food, I visited farms,I cooked with a Zen chef. I did a 4 a.m. yoga practice given to me by an Ayurvedic practitioner and yoga teacher. I was trying to figure out why the simple notion of “eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re satisfied”, was so difficult.

I’ve learned through experience the truth of the neuroscience behind why diets fail. In a recent New York Times article, neuroscientist Sandra Aamot writes that everyone of us has a set point of a certain weight range. If you go below it, your body burns fewer calories, increases the production of hunger hormones, and finds eating more rewarding, and leads to long term weight gain. “The brain’s weight-regulation system considers your set point to be the correct weight for you, whether or not your doctor agrees.”

It’s true. I now comfortably weigh 25 pounds less than when I began writing Ravenous. I am healthier, my knees no longer hurt, I feel lighter inside and out. I’ve learned through observation which behaviors make it more likely I will stay in my set point range, and which won’t. Eating real food (especially lots of veggies), ditching processed food, drinking enough water, moving my body, spending time in nature — all these help keep my weight in my set range. Eating sugar doesn’t. It throws my hunger cues off wack.

And never underestimate the power of gratitude. I give thanks for the body I have, which is a great thing because it’s the only one I’ve got. No more waiting to reach a perfect weight in order to live an imagined perfect life. As the saying goes, “Be here now.” In fact, it’s through trying to stay present that I’ve managed to keep my weight in a reasonable range. What helps me do this is yoga and meditation. Which is what Aamot discovered in the course of her research: “[We need to] relearn how to eat only as much as the brain’s weight-regulation system commands. Relative to chronic dieters, people who eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re full are less likely to become overweight, maintain more stable weights over time and spend less time thinking about food. Mindful eating also helps people with eating disorders like binge eating learn to eat normally.”

“Depending on the individual’s set point, mindful eating may reduce weight or it may not. Either way, it’s a powerful tool to maintain weight stability, without deprivation. I finally gave up dieting six years ago, and I’m much happier. I redirected the energy I used to spend on dieting to establishing daily habits of exercise and meditation. I also enjoy food more while worrying about it less, now that it no longer comes with a side order of shame.”

Amen to that. A healthier body matters because you need vitality to live a good life — one that is beyond obsession with food, a size, or a number. Life is bigger than that. Time time to live it.

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Still laughing, Still Crying, Still Living…

February 25th, 2016 — 11:55am

…was my answer when a friend asked me how I was.

I’m 55, and this is an incredible time of life. Taking care of the generation behind us and before us. I see doors opening, and closing and I try to see them with a clear eyed kindness as best as I can. I don’t always succeed.

My mantra for this time of life is, “Let it go.” My G-d, i just quoted a Disney song. And yet maybe its appeal lies in its truth. The more we shed what isn’t essential, the more room we have for what is. And that’s a song worth singing.

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This is water…this is water…

August 17th, 2015 — 9:58am

Thinking about my boys going to college in two years, thinking about what I hope for them. This, from David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech at Kenyon College in 2005, is my hope:

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.

That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing….

It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

‘This is water.’

‘This is water.'”

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The Inside-Out Body

July 3rd, 2015 — 12:55pm

I’ve come to realize, after decades of wrestling with my body image, how much happier I am when I live from the inside out.


For the last few months, I’ve been asking my body, what do I really need. Need is one of those tricky words. Sometimes it rides in tandem with what we want. Sometimes, it doesn’t. The answers were pretty simple. My body told me to 1. Move more. 2. Eat lots of veggies, beans, fish, some fruit. She told me sugar really was my enemy.

And she told me this: move towards whatever brings me into greater freedom, in body, mind and spirit.

I’ve been listening. I’m feeling better. My body feels more coherent, more beautiful.

And day…I stepped on the scale and…I didn’t lose as much weight as I thought I did. As I thought I should. My idea collided with a number. The result? I got depressed. I moved less. I ate some salami.

After a few days of moping, I picked myself up, and began again. I swam my beloved laps. I did more yoga, and not just my usual supine poses but standing poses and easy inversions. I reached for sardines, for berries, for for avocados. My body said yes! I walked Nico, my pup, through redwoods. I started learning a new song on the guitar. I stopped apologizing for a family (of origin’s) judgmental behavior and narrow-mindedness. I got rid of clothes that no longer suited Dayna 2015. All these things move me towards equanimity and freedom.

The body has an intelligence so deep and vast, it tells us what we need and when we need it. I remember asking Ana Forrest, a fierce, and kind yoga teacher, what if you ask your body what she wants and she says “salami.” Ana answered, “there a difference between the voice of knowledge and the voice of addiction.” Echoing this thought, Aadil Palkhivala, another remarkable yoga teacher, said “A body in balance will crave that which keeps it in balance. A body out of balance will crave that which keeps it out of balance.”

Which is why developing practices around food and eating can be so helpful. Give your body some love and attention, give her good food, fresh air, and lots of movement, and she pays it back by wanting more. She pays it back with greater joy. And definitely greater freedom.

Bodies from the Inside Out. What it is: tapping into our body wisdom to show us how to walk our path towards greater freedom. What it’s not: Judging ourself from, well, the outside in. There’s no end to the pain this can cause. We are more than our wrinkles or our clothing size. We are more a number on the scale.

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Still Learning

June 15th, 2015 — 11:05am

I got an email today from a yoga teacher and writer which began like this: “I am a huge fan of your journey both as a yogi and as a writer. That you have used yoga as a way to transform your life off-your-mat strikes a giant chord with me.”

I share this not to brag, though whenever someone is moved by my work, I’m happy. Rather, I realized something that I should have realized a long time ago: whatever power there is in my work, it’s not through representing myself as I wish to be, but as I am, flaws and all. Take my lovely body for instance. My body is beautiful not because I look like someone you’d see in a magazine, but because she is so intelligent. Really intelligent. When I listen, when I get out of my way, I know pretty much what I need, (More water please. Need a swim today! Avocados. Lovely avocados. Oh no! Life is difficult and I feel unmoored. Time to do standing poses and spread my toes…you get the idea).

It’s this intelligence that makes me respect my embodiment even more. How we are embodied is a giant opportunity to learn something about our soul and our journey. There are no shortcuts. Most people approach the body from the outside in. But for me, it’s the inside out that holds key.

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“All I’ve got is this one breath, and if I’m lucky, I get another…”

May 20th, 2015 — 9:36am

I’m on the email list for Berkeley’s amazing Freight & Salvage. Sam Baker will be performing this Friday. I don’t know much about him but his words cut straight through me. From the Freight’s website:

[Baker] was traveling on a train in Peru in 1986 when a bomb planted by the Shining Path killed seven of his fellow passengers and left him with a long, hard road back to reasonable health. “Life is a gift,” he says. “I went through a lot of bitterness. A lot of anger. But those things are toxic. Gratitude for what remains is more helpful than resentment for what was lost. Ultimately, I came to understand that these days are wicked short and terribly beautiful. All I’ve got – no matter what I hold in my hands, drive around in, or put in the bank – all I’ve got is this one breath, and if I’m lucky, I get another.”

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Food Talk!

April 15th, 2015 — 11:21am

I’ve been asked to give a food talk at Peak Flavors Fest this September in Estes Park, CO.

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 11.19.15 AM

So what should I talk about?

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Speaking of Soup…

March 24th, 2015 — 4:21pm

…I love making it, smelling it, tasting it, serving it, and sharing it…soup is nourishing and healing.

In this in-between season, when it’s not fully Spring nor Winter, beans are a great choice. And beans love to cozy up to sherry where they create something greater than the sum of their parts.

Here’s a recipe for Black Bean Soup with Sherry and Herbs from my book:


Black Bean Soup with Sherry and Herbs

2 cups of black beans, picked over for stones
1-2 Tbs. olive oil (depending on whether pancetta is included)
4-oz.diced pancetta (optional)
1 cup diced onions(about 1 small onion)
1 cup diced carrots(about 2 carrots)
1 cup chopped celery(about 2 stalks)
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp.)
1 tsp. Celtic sea salt
2-oz. dry sherry
2 tsp. dried thyme

Place beans in a heavy pot with two quarts of water, and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and cook for an hour. Drain the beans and set them aside. Rinse the pot.

If using pancetta, heat 1 Tbs. olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat and cook the pancetta for 7-9 minutes, or until cooked through and crispy. Remove pancetta with slotted spoon. Leave two tablespoons of fat in the pot and discard the rest.

Add carrots, onions, celery, garlic, and thyme. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the beans and 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil then cook, covered, on low heat for three to four hours.

If using pancetta, return the pancetta to the pot. Puree if you prefer a smooth soup. Add sherry and stir. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 8 (makes 14 cups)

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February 24th, 2015 — 12:22pm

It’s been a while. Some friends and extended family members are ill, so I haven’t had as much time as I like to update my blog.

One thing I have been doing a lot of is making soup. It nourishes people and makes them happy. And it makes me happy to cook it.

Here’s my Chicken Soup recipe from Ravenous. It’s really delicious. And the kombu (which you fish out before serving) adds much needed minerals to the broth.


1 4-lb organic chicken, rinsed and giblets removed
6 cups chicken stock
6 cups of water
1 large onion
1 4-in. square piece of kombu (optional)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 bay leaf
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced into ¼-in. thick rounds (about 1 ½ cups)
2 celery stalks, diced (about 1 cup)
½ tsp. turmeric
handful of fresh dill, chopped
kosher salt and cracked pepper to taste

Place chicken in large stock pot with chicken stock, onion, kombu (if using), garlic cloves, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer over high heat, skimming any scum that floats to the surface. Add 1 tsp. kosher salt. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer soup for 2 hours.

Remove chicken from pot and set aside to cool. Strain stock and return to the pot with carrots, celery, and turmeric. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

Discard the skin from chicken and remove the meat from the bones. Shred or chop the meat, then add it back into the pot. Taste, and if the soup needs more flavoring, add more salt and cracked pepper to taste. Raise heat to medium and bring soup back up to a gentle simmer.

When done, serve in bowls topped with freshly chopped dill.

Serves 6-8 (11 cups)

Can serve with noodles or matzoh balls if you like.

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