Save Me The Plums by Ruth Reichl {review}

Save Me The Plums

Genre: Memoir



My Review - 5 Stars

This review contains affiliate links.

Ruth Reichl’s books are among my favorite food memoirs. I regularly give away my copy of Tender At The Bone (Amazon | Barnes & Noble) to friends but Comfort Me With Apples (Amazon | Barnes & Noble) and Garlic And Sapphires (Amazon | Barnes & Noble) are right up there too. After finishing Garlic And Sapphires, which goes into her experiences as the New York Times food critic, I fervently hoped her next book would be about her time as the editor in chief at the now shuttered Gourmet magazine.

Save Me The Plums was worth the wait. Reichl gives a no-holds-barred account of her transition from food critic to EIC, her coworkers, the triumphs, and how it all came to an end. She was a very unconventional choice for Gourmet and we get to see very clearly how it played out. She had quite the learning curve but what a marvelous ride she had. It made me a little bummed I never read Gourmet, at least not that I can recall. But given her account of what the magazine was like before she took over, I can understand why I would have written it off as “not for me” and never taken another look.

Reichl changed the culture of the staff and that in turn led to vibrant years together. I really enjoyed hearing about the risks they took, the way various people left their imprint on it, and the various writers they hired for articles, including Junot Díaz, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and David Foster Wallace. The behind-the-scenes on DFW's piece Consider The Lobster was especially fascinating. She also admits where she messed up and what about the role worked for her and didn’t.

She also shares luminously about 9/11, both the personal impact and how the magazine staff came together to feed the rescue workers. It made me tear up, thinking back to where I was that fateful day and how we’ve changed as a nation since then.

Several recipes are included and I’ve bookmarked a few, including Spicy Chinese Noodles and Thanksgiving Turkey Chili. The love of food permeates the pages and while Reichl has a more adventurous palate than I do, she excels at making her readers love the journey as much as she did. Save Me The Plums is a marvelous addition to the food memoir canon.



Trailblazing food writer and beloved restaurant critic Ruth Reichl took the risk (and the job) of a lifetime when she entered the glamorous, high-stakes world of magazine publishing. Now, for the first time, she chronicles her groundbreaking tenure as editor in chief of Gourmet, during which she spearheaded a revolution in the way we think about food.

When Condé Nast offered Ruth Reichl the top position at America's oldest epicurean magazine, she declined. She was a writer, not a manager, and had no inclination to be anyone's boss. And yet . . . Reichl had been reading Gourmet since she was eight; it had inspired her career. How could she say no?

This is the story of a former Berkeley hippie entering the corporate world and worrying about losing her soul. It is the story of the moment restaurants became an important part of popular culture, a time when the rise of the farm-to-table movement changed, forever, the way we eat. Readers will meet legendary chefs like David Chang and Eric Ripert, idiosyncratic writers like David Foster Wallace, and a colorful group of editors and art directors who, under Reichl's leadership, transformed stately Gourmet into a cutting-edge publication. This was the golden age of print media--the last spendthrift gasp before the Internet turned the magazine world upside down.

Complete with recipes, Save Me the Plums is a personal journey of a woman coming to terms with being in charge and making a mark, following a passion and holding on to her dreams--even when she ends up in a place she never expected to be.


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Disclosure: I received an advanced copy from Random House in exchange for an honest review.


Updated Mug Brownie

UpdatedMug Brownie

Almost 7 years ago, I shared my Mug Brownie recipe. I've been making a variation of the recipe I originally found in the Chicago Tribune for about ten years now. I like tweaking it and trying different add-ins but I recently came up with my best version yet. 

I was craving a sweet treat while I was petsitting a couple of weeks ago and luckily they had all the ingredients on hand so I whipped one up. And it was tasty but I found myself thinking it could stand to be more balanced. The chocolate was just a little too much—words I rarely utter, especially not when it comes to a staple recipe.

I decided I'd try cutting down the cocoa powder next time and see what happened. Earlier this week, I was in need of dessert and out of Oreos. Mug Brownie to the rescue! I cut down the cocoa powder and on a whim, I added some cinnamon.


It's not a new idea to add cinnamon to brownies, I just hadn't thought to do it with this recipe before. I can go months without making a Mug Brownie but I've made myself this updated version almost every day this week! It's that good.



Updated Mug Brownie

4 T all-purpose flour

4 T sugar

1 T cocoa powder

2 T vegetable oil

2 T water

a pinch or two of cinnamon (I just eyeball this but it could be as much as an 1/8 teaspoon)


Simply mix all the ingredients in a mug or ramekin. Microwave for one minute. If it doesn't look cooked through enough, do another 30 seconds. It will be very hot so you may want to let it cool for a minute or two before eating.


Review: The Comfort Food Diaries by Emily Nunn

The Comfort Food Diaries: My Quest For The Perfect Dish To Mend A Broken Heart - Emily Nunn

The Comfort Food Diaries


My Review - 5 Stars

Given the premise of Emily Nunn's food memoir, I was pretty sure I was going to like it. Then I came upon this passage and I knew I was going to love it:

"Despite my dive into the mysteries of comfort food, my plans were not suddenly tied up in a neat bow. And unlike what you might expect from a story like this, I didn't have a road map for the next year of my life, a rock-solid timeline, or an uncharacteristically smart but rustic man hovering in the wings to make my life happy and perfect again. The truth was that I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do with the rest of my life, except in the short term. And even the short-term was sketchy." p. 62

Emily Nunn is my kind of people.

In the course of her memoir, we see her do the good and hard work of becoming sober, of processing her complicated and often toxic family dynamics, of grieving, of figuring out just who she is. It is not always neat or pretty but it is an honest account of someone taking stock of their life and doing their best to become healthier and stronger. It's worth reading for that alone.

Emily grew up in Galax, VA with two brothers and two sisters. Her parents ultimately divorced and her dad was not very involved with the family afterward. She moved to New York where she covered theater and wrote the original Tables for Two column for the New Yorker before taking a restaurant column job at the Chicago Tribune. Once in Chicago, she met the Engineer, who would become her fiancé, and his 7 year old daughter.

In so many ways, it seemed like Emily had an ideal life. But there were cracks along the surface and they shatter after her brother Oliver died by suicide. Shortly after Oliver's death, the Engineer breaks off their engagement and as Emily had become a stay at home stepmother of sorts, she has to figure out employment and housing. All while recognizing she was an alcoholic, like Oliver was.

After seeking treatment for her alcoholism, this ultimately launches a year or so of staying with different friends around the country, freelancing, and figuring out what she should do with her life and how things got this bad. One friend quips it'll be her comfort food tour. Everywhere Emily stays, she and her friends or family discuss the idea of comfort food. They make favorite recipes for each other. They consider what makes comfort food comforting and why we turn to it when we're in distress or need to celebrate. (One smart person raised the idea of why we associate comfort food with sad things when food is also an important part of many of our happiest moments.)

It made me think about the role of comfort food in such unexpected ways, going beyond my go-to choices. It was interesting to consider what we cook for people when they're in distress and how it's formed by our own ideas of comfort, as well as how "the things people truly need from us at the very worst times in their lives are often much smaller than what we try to give them" (p. 24.)

While Emily has a complicated relationship with her immediate family, her cousin, aunt, and uncle shower her with love and affection and open up their homes to her for extended periods of time. I loved these relatives for being stable presences and for the way they nurtured Emily. I loved how they showed her it's possible to be part of a stable, loving family. 

As Emily visits her relatives and reconnects with old friends from college and tries to settle somewhere, her relationship with food evolves. Early on she notes how she cooked to show people how much she loved them or to make them love her. But as she's putting the pieces of her life back together and people give to her when she has little or nothing to give in return, she realizes she has to let people take care of her for a while. In the process of allowing people to love her unconditionally, she becomes more of who she truly is. The contrast between her past relationships and the ones she encounters after Oliver's death was truly striking and I ached over what she'd gone through and settled for.

"I felt uncomfortable about taking so much, having given so little. And it would be a long time before I could repay them. Or anybody...But they gave me all this generous comfort so freely, so happily, that I just decided to sink into it; outside, the birds were singing and inside, the dogs were nuzzling their noses on my leg, the signal for me to drop something into their mouths." p. 173

The Comfort Food Diaries is beautifully written. I'm adding it to my list of favorite food memoirs. Nunn thoughtfully weaves in recipes from her travels and there are many I can't wait to try. The food and her history complement one another and I was truly impressed with her ability to unspool her story in such a seamless way. It may be her Southern heritage but Nunn knows how to tell a story, that's for sure.

More than that, I'm glad I read a story about someone who doesn't have it all together, who is still figuring things out. That's where I find myself these days and I am grateful whenever I encounter someone who doesn't have the next chapter of their life thoroughly outlined and annotated. (I'm not entirely sure how old Nunn was during these events but I'd estimate late 30s or early 40s. She truly is my people.) 

As I write this review, I have a mug of breakfast tea by my side and a plate with some of the No-Knead bread I made the other day. I'm contemplating beef stew or green curry chicken for dinner. These are my go-tos when life doesn't quite make sense and there's something healing about kneading and chopping and stirring, whether I'm only feeding myself or sharing with others. 

I was raised in a family that welcomed others to the table and who brought meals to people who were sick or grieving. I've done my best to carry on those traditions, though not as well in recent years due to my own big moves and the hazards of making a new state your own. But perhaps this break in hostessing will have served me well. I've learned a lot about what comforts me and, more importantly, how to be there for others during this time and the lessons I've learned from this memoir will only add to that knowledge.

Food can't fully mend a broken heart but when someone shows up with a dish or a beverage in our time of need, something does start to knit us back together. If only because that person's presence tells us they see us. We're not alone. We're enough. We'll get through this.

"Food has become my touchstone for understanding what real love is. The best thing? Food makes it easier to give love, untangled. Since it keeps us alive, the smallest, simplest gesture can seem miraculous: I brought you this soup." p. 303 



Another favorite quote: 

"Luckily, I had figured out that life was not a banquet at all but a potluck. A party celebrating nothing but the desire to be together, where everyone brings what they have, what they are able to at any given time, and it is accepted with equal love and equanimity. You can arrive with hot dogs because you are just too tired or too poor to bring anything else, or you can bring the fancier, most elaborate dish in the world, and plenty of it, to share with people who brought the three-bean salad they clearly got at the grocery store. People do the best they can, at any given time. That's the thing to remember." p. 300


Buy The Book Here:

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Disclosure: I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Affiliate links included in this post. 

Favorite Places to Eat in Nashville

  Favorite Places to Eat in Nashville

I've lived in Nashville 5 years this month and have thoroughly relished eating my way through the city. There are, of course, plenty more restaurants I wish I had time to try before I move to San Francisco but these are the places I'll miss the most.

(While some have establishments in a couple of neighborhoods, I listed the one I go to. A few restaurants are in ambiguous areas so if you don't see a neighborhood listed, that's why.)


Coffee and Tea

Crema (Rutledge Hill)- If you go in the fall and they have Bourbon Barrel Double Sorghum Latte on the menu, order it post-haste. Otherwise, you can't go wrong with the Cuban. I've done a lot of great writing and conversing in this place. Amanda and I used to have weekly writing dates there, which means it will always have a special place in my heart.


2015-02-04 17.28.57
Edgehill Cafe (Edgehill)- This place is my other staple, whether I'm writing or meeting up with friends. They have a great loose-leaf tea selection from Rishi and I am especially fond of the Tangerine Ginger. When I'm in a latte mood, I go for Always Fall Somewhere or Abbe Road or one of their fun specials.


2014-11-16 08.29.17-1Tea cup chandelier at Thistle Stop Cafe

Thistle Stop Cafe (West Nashville)- The cafe is a part of Thistle Farms, a social justice enterprise for women who survived prostitution, trafficking, and addiction. I'm a huge fan of their work. The cafe has a tasty menu (always get the soup) but I go mostly for the tea. You can order a pot of their loose leaf tea and it will be served to you in a china teacup. The cafe is lit by various teacup chandeliers. However, they also have great coffee and lattes, if that's more your style.


Ugly Mugs (East Nashville)- This shop sits next to Silly Goose, which is next to Jeni's Ice Cream, so basically all your needs are met for the day. Whatever special drinks they're offering that day, go with it. They've never steered me wrong.


The Well (Brentwood)- This is a nonprofit missional coffeehouse, which means any profit they make is put toward building wells in impoverished areas around the world. So there's that. But they also offer a range of loose leaf teas and various fancy ways of preparing coffee.


Breakfast and Brunch

Biscuit Love (The Gulch)- Started out as a food truck and now serving up breakfast and brunch daily. I could weep from how delicious the East Nasty is. Try it and thank me later.


Edgehill Cafe (Edgehill)- You can't go wrong with their frittatas but when I'm feeling indulgent, I get The Grilled PBCB, which is a grilled peanut butter, chocolate, and banana sandwich. Amazing. Their specials are top notch- I'm still dreaming about the Biscuit and Peaches dish I had last summer.


Marché (East Nashville)- I head here when I want a little nicer breakfast. They use local and seasonal food and the menu changes regularly. It's almost always busy so try to get there early. Otherwise you can order coffee and pastries at the counter while you wait.


Mere Bulles (Brentwood)- The best Sunday Brunch Buffet I've ever experienced. They have crab bisque, an omelet station, and crème brulee French toast. I rest my case.


2014-01-18 10.22.18-1
Pinewood Social
(Rolling Mill Hill)- The Pot Roast Hash won me over from the start. More on this interesting place below.


Star Bagel (Sylvan Park)- This is my breakfast (and lunch) go-to from even before I moved to Nashville. They have amazing bagel sandwiches. I usually order The Breakfast Sandwich with bacon or The California. If it's closer to lunchtime, I'll get the Asiago Turkey. And you MUST get the fruit tea. It is the best in all of Nashville.


Tavern (Midtown)- Brunch is served up on the weekend only. I recommend getting there right when they open. If they have a dish with their homemade sausage, get it. The Red Velvet Waffle sounds good but it sadly doesn't live up to its reputation. Skip the waffle and get a libation instead.


Lunch and Dinner

312 Pizza (Germantown)- I'm from Chicagoland so I have high standards when it comes to pizza. Lucky for me, the owners also hail from Chicagoland and decided to remedy Nashville's pizza situation. Lou Malnati's is my favorite Chicago pizzeria and this is almost as good as that. No small feat. I also love that you can get your Chicago sports fix here. It gets busy fast so I recommend trying to go early if you don't want a long wait.


Burger Up (12 South)- I go here for the Lamb Burger and fried pickles. I've ventured out into other burger territories but the Lamb Burger always tempts me back and rightly so. If lamb isn't your thing, try the Woodstock. My best friend swears by their Chopped Kale Salad and another friend raves about the Marathon Burger, which is vegetarian. 


The Dog of Nashville (Hillsboro Village)- This is the hot dog place of your dreams. I'm especially fond of the Chicago dog (shocker). The basket of fries is enormous so order one and plan on sharing. Be sure to take in all the Chicago sports memorabilia. Go White Sox!


Edgehill Cafe (Edgehill)- Yes, this is the third time I've mentioned this place. It is that good! The lemon-basil chicken salad is a refreshing choice, as is their kale salad, and I've loved every sandwich I've ever consumed there. But 9 times out of 10, I go with a special. The BLT Flatbread I had a few weeks ago might have changed my life.


2014-01-18 07.56.52Fried pickles and BBQ Nachos at Edley's

Edley's Bar-B-Que (12 South)- How do I love thee, Edley's? Let me count the ways. I love thee for thy fried pickles, BBQ Nachos, and Chicken Sandwich. And I love thee most for thy Brisket Sandwich. Get in my belly, right now, please and thank you.


Epice (12 South)- This is a Lebanese restaurant and it is beyond amazing. Try the hummos, of course, and any of the lamb dishes. The Fattayer, a trio of savory pies, is also a great choice.


Fido (Hillsboro Village)- While you can go to Fido for all your coffee and breakfast needs, I prefer to go there for lunch or dinner. I alternate between the Local Burger, which is one of the best in Nashville, and the Braised Beef Sandwich. I always get the fries. Sometimes I only get fries.


2015-02-19 17.52.03Hanging at Flip Burger with my best friends.

FLIP Burger (Sylvan Park)- If you're a fan of Top Chef, you'll be excited to learn this is Richard Blais's restaurant, which first started in Atlanta. Nashville got a location earlier this year and we are better for it.  I'm partial to the Lamburger, though the RBQ and Oaxaca are also quite tasty. Last time I was there, they used liquid nitrogen to create my cocktail, which had a mesmerizing effect. Viva la Gingerita! (Sadly now closed.)


The Local Taco (Sylvan Park)- I used to live a couple blocks away and loved walking down for an easy meal. Pick how many tacos and/or enchiladas you want. Mix and match to your heart's content. Favorite tacos: Tequila Lime Chicken, Carnitas, Smoked Brisket, Portabella. Favorite enchiladas: Chicken Tinga, Mushroom & Spinach. I always get the lemon crema sauce on my enchiladas, though I also love the verde. The Chicken Salad (really, a salad with chicken) is another great choice, especially if you get the jalapeno ranch dressing.


The Loveless Cafe (Bellevue)- This is a local institution that you should experience at least once. Go during off hours, otherwise plan on waiting a while. The Loveless is known for their biscuits and jam and I've been known to eat more than my fair share. A classic meat-and-three, I'm partial to their poppyseed chicken when it's on the menu. Otherwise, it's fried chicken all the way. (They also serve breakfast.)


Mas Tacos Por Favor (East Nashville)- It's not much to look at but the flavor that comes out of this kitchen is no joke. The menu is always changing but if you see cast iron chicken tacos listed, get at least one. This is another place to head to early, as seating is limited and the line can be long. They also have a food truck!


The Pharmacy Burger Parlor & Beer Garden (East Nashville)- If the weather's nice, plan on sitting outside. It can take over an hour to get inside so head here early. The burgers are great but if you're feeling adventurous, try one of the homemade German wursts to accompany your beer. Not in the mood for beer? They've got a soda shop, too.


2014-08-05 10.52.38-2Drinking the Good Sinner

Pinewood Social (Rolling Mill Hill)- Meet friends for coffee and stay for lunch or grab a seat at the bar or chill poolside. Bowl, if that's what you want to do. What I'm trying to say is: this place has options. They also have super fun cocktails. I recommend the fried broccoli if you order an appetizer. Really. I'm also partial to the fried chicken.


The Silly Goose (East Nashville)- This place never fails me. It's hard to pick a favorite: maybe the Sicilian Couscous or Bird Wrap. But I can't forget The Frisby either. The dinner specials change on the regular. No matter what, you can count on good fresh, quality ingredients. Plus, if you've got room, you can head next door to Jeni's Ice Cream for dessert. (Sadly now closed.)


Taco Mamacita (Edgehill)- The guacamole is top notch. I come here for the stellar margaritas (and drink specials!), as well as their interesting take on tacos, like the California Club, Loaded Gyro, and Oy Vey. I've been known to polish off the Grande Chopped Salad with jalapeno ranch dressing in one sitting. 


Thai Esane- This is my favorite Thai restaurant here. It might seem unexpected but order the homemade sausage. It's an experience! The papaya salad is as good as what I ate in Thailand.


Treat Yo Self Restaurants

2014-01-10 22.34.56Scenes from my 34th birthday at City House. Look at all that mood lighting.

City House (Germantown)- I love coming here when there's something to celebrate or I have company in town. The menu is ever changing according to the season and what's available locally. But I can tell you this: try the pizza, made in their wood-burning oven. Add a farm fresh egg. Revel in ecstasy. The cocktails are inventive and refreshing. Reservation recommended.


Husk (Rutledge Hill)- This place, y'all. If I could afford to eat there weekly, I'd sign on in a heartbeat. The menu changes with the season and each dish comes together thanks to complicated technique and layered flavors. Sean Brock is a culinary genius. I had a filet of beef that practically melted in my mouth from the tenderness. I'm drooling just thinking about it. I haven't tried going for lunch but I hear the fried chicken is out of this world and sells out fast. My friend and I treated ourselves a couple of years ago and decided to save room for dessert. This was a wise decision, as Lisa Donovan was still the pastry chef at that time. I got to take a baking class from her and she is the real deal. Dinner reservation recommended.


Rumours East (East Nashville)- On a nice evening, there's no place I'd rather sit than their back patio. The food is tremendous, as is the extensive wine and cocktail list.



Food Trucks

There are literally hundreds of food trucks in Nashville. These are the ones I can't resist. Follow them on social media to find out where they are.

Deg Thai

Grilled Cheeserie

Loco Donut (not currently operating as a food truck but I hope for your sake they come back around)

Riff's Fine Street Food

Sum Yum Yum (banh mi!!!!)


Sweets and Treats

The Cupcake Collection (Germantown)- The perfect cake-frosting ratio, I'm a happy camper when Red Velvet, Blackout, and Peanut Butter Mousse are on the menu.


IveyCake (Franklin)- Gold Digger (chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting) is my absolute favorite. I'm not ashamed of how many of their flavors I've consumed over the past 5 years.


Jeni's Ice Cream (East Nashville)- Nothing wrong with this gourmet ice cream and I've sampled about every flavor to prove it. Get out of your comfort zone and try something new, like Goat Cheese and Cherries (tastes like cheesecake) or Queen City Cayenne. Just make sure you leave enough Buckeye State for me. Flavors change seasonally.


Las Paletas (12 South)- These Mexican popsicles are a refreshing treat. Avocado is my favorite but I've been known to eat the fruity paletas, too. You can also go to Hot & Cold in Hillsboro Village and get your paleta dipped in chocolate or dunked in your coffee.


Fried Pickles

I will never turn down fried pickles and have eaten more than my fair share around this town. These are especially superb.

Bobby's Dairy Dip (Sylvan Park)

Burger Up (12 South)

Edley's Bar-B-Que (12 South)


Whiskey Kitchen (MStreet)

One Year After Whole 30: An Update

A year ago
I had just finished the 10 day reintroduction phase of Whole 30. Whole 30 is a nutritional reset, an elimination diet. For 30 days, you cut out sugar, grains, gluten, dairy, legumes, and alcohol. You focus on balanced meals and healthy fats. You make sure to eat breakfast, you check lots of labels for hidden ingredients, and you don't snack. Meals consist of meat, veggies, and a healthy fat.

It is not for the weak. But if you have any sort of medical condition, it can be extremely helpful in determining whether or how your diet plays a role.

That is precisely why I spent the latter half of October and first couple of weeks of November completing it. I've had eczema since I was a baby and intermittent insomnia since junior high. Last fall I'd reached a breaking point with my eczema and figured I had nothing left to lose.

Because my diet was pared down, it was easier to identify culprits during Whole 30. This is how I determined nuts (one of the approved healthy fats) actually caused my eczema. It made unfortunate sense. In the year or two prior, I'd tried to eat healthier snacks, like almonds. It was no wonder my eczema had become worse, instead of better.

After the 30 days, I then reintroduced dairy and then gluten, followed by grains and then legumes and paid attention to what my body said.

My body immediately pointed a condemning finger at dairy. It was my worst fear come true. You cannot understand the enormous depths of my love for all things dairy. Ice cream is an obvious love but really, my heart has always belonged to cheese. My mom used to tell me she thought there was a correlation between dairy and eczema and I'd plug my fingers in my ears because I didn't want to hear it.

I would easily give up anything other than dairy. At least that's what I thought pre-Whole 30.

I felt so good during the last 2 weeks of the challenge. I slept through the night, yes, but best of all: I wasn't scratching the hell out of my legs. It makes sense that I'd sleep better if my eczema was under control. That was my normal for years! Horrifying.

After experiencing the good life, I couldn't go back and I've lived the 99% dairy-free life ever since.

I say 99% because I don't have any dairy products at home but I'm not as strict when I eat out. Dairy is in everything at restaurants, whether it's delicious butter slathered on a hamburger bun or feta studding a salad. Because it doesn't cause me intestinal difficulty and because I love dairy in all its forms, I often eat whatever I want and deal with the consequences.

I also try to counteract the consequences. When eating dairy, I use a digestive essential oil as soon after the meal as possible. I also take melatonin before going to bed. These two actions make a huge difference. Still, it's best for dairy to only be an occasional indulgence. Goat and sheep milks seem OK but I haven't experimented enough to eat or cook with it regularly. There are no exceptions to the nut rules. (Thankfully peanuts are a legume, not a nut, and are totally fine.) It turns out red wine is also problematic so I stick to white wine or cocktails when I drink.

As you can imagine, quite a few of my staple recipes have undergone changes or been eliminated altogether. I never thought I'd be able to live in a dairy-free world but there are so many great alternatives, it's not as great of a loss as I thought. I swear by Trader Joe's Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream, for example.

For the holidays, I'll be indulging in all my favorite foods, dairy and all. It will be a true feast and I'll enjoy every second of it. But I'm also going to use Earth Balance baking sticks (not an endorsement or perk) when I make Christmas cookies. The dairy-free life is an adjustment but it's worth it. I only wish I hadn't waited so long to figure it out.