Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Story Starts Somewhere

I have shared the story of how I was able to turn a 240 pound lost soul, into a 175 pound optimistic, positive believer but I have not; until now been able to really share the journey that took me to be that 240 pound lost soul.  

My need to want acceptance, a steady life, and a family of my own has made me stay in situations; both friendships and partnerships that have not been the healthiest to my soul. Instead of getting to know me I associated the love of a man and a plethora of people as happiness.

Eleven years ago, I had a promising career as a model and I was with someone I thought I would spend the rest of my life with. After leaving home at 16, this was the most stability I had since venturing on my own, and there was nothing I would not do in order to sustain it. A few years would pass and eventually he and I would split on horrible terms.  To date, I wish the end was not as it played out, though that would shape me for the next few years.

One by one a series of great men who were also in pursuit of their own growth would cross my path however I could never maintain a relationship. I found myself conforming to be the perfect woman to and for each of them; though it would always lead to a dead-end. Eventually the insecurities would set in- what was wrong with me? Was I not smart enough, pretty enough, or skinny enough? Was I being judged because of past mistakes? In my head I was constantly in battle with myself all while trying to clamor for my own success- I refused to be a statistic or what everyone deemed as my outcome.

Fast forward, August 2007 I broke up with one of the greatest people to enter my life, and lost my job all in the same week. The black cloud was cast, I became introverted, and reclusive which consequently became depression. On top of the world, running the hottest restaurant in Harlem, dating the man of my dreams and physically appealing. To hiding my car from repossession, single, packing on the pounds and pushing the friends I did have away.  

My depression would last for four years before I was able to identify it, and look myself in the mirror. I had gained 80 pounds in a little less than four years, sabotaged relationships with friends/family and somehow tricked myself into believing that I was taking time to get to know myself. But who knew, I had settled into my new position, had a successful running event and besides the extra pounds I hid it all behind a smile. Those close to me could not even pinpoint what was really going on.

The day I looked myself in the mirror for real, was the day I decided to release all the hardship brought on by being the product of teenage parents. Cast away all the struggle of fighting my way through life so not to become what so many thought I would. Forgive all who betrayed my love and devotion and love all the enemies made because they did not see past this young child trying to raise and come into her own.  I wanted to live again and the only way to do that was to fix myself from the inside out.

Lots of therapy, days of dragging myself out of bed when all I wanted to do was hide in a dark room and eat, and support from people who I thought were against me, is what has delivered me to present day. As you can imagine the story is so much deeper than the words written but I hope the message is as profound.

Things happen in everyone’s life, some more tragic than others. We battle abuse, addiction, loss, failure, shame, and regret. Through it all fighting the one person that has the ability to pull you though it all-YOU! We must remember that no matter how great the impact; if you want change in your life, it has to start with you first. No trainer, doctor, or individual can make the choice for you to be happy, only you can make the decision to be who you want to be.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Writing My Own Story

This blog as you can see has not been touched since 2010- right around the time I slipped into my deepest depression..... Well three years, and a different person later I would like to share my NEW story as I write a different page day by day! Of course no better way to do so than to start from the beginning. So here I go...

Back in September 2011 I took a business trip to Spain; two of my girlfriends would later join my trip so we could make a little vacation after the work week was over. As the vacation started in Barcelona to Madrid I noticed a negative person inside me creeping out. I lashed out at both my friends who I have known for a decade over petty things, even isolating myself at times and it only worsened when it was time to get dressed up and hit the town. By the end of the trip I was completely off to myself and did not speak to them for days to follow.

On the ride back to the US I really looked at myself and why I was feeling this way, all of a sudden a light went off. Here I was 29 years old, nearing my 30th birthday and I was 240 pounds and DEPRESSED. The flight home was a constant mental battle with myself but by the time my plane landed in NYC I had devised a plan. My starting point was to lose at least 40 pounds between October and February 4th 2012, which by no coincidence would be my 30th birthday.

By the first week of October I had hired a trainer, purchased a juicer and threw away any item in my home that may hinder my 40 pound in 4 month mission. It was a tough four months, I remember the first time I stepped on a treadmill I could not run five minutes without wanting to throw up and pass out. However as the days, weeks, and months passed I noticed that missing a day at the gym made me sicker. It’s funny that as I type I still get a bit choked up.

As January rolled around it was time to find a special dress for my special day and I remember grabbing all the 16’s in the store, not realizing that I was now wearing a size 12. By my 30th birthday I was down to 190 pounds and back to the happy person all my friends knew me to be.
Now 31, I have completed my first marathon, signed up for a few more in the coming year, in the best shape I have ever known myself to be in and down to 175 pounds. And what surprises me most is not my physical transformation but how I feel inside. I love myself, more today than ever- working out has been my therapy to overcome obstacles that have plagued me since childhood. My spiritual path is bright, my desire to motivate and help others is so keen, and long/short term goals are more obtainable than ever before.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Rosemary Jalapeño Lemonade

Cooking is not the only way for you to be creative in the kitchen when it’s time to entertaining at home. Ever go to a restaurant and see some interesting liquor flavors? Ever taste a drink and think that would be great to share at a dinner party or cookout? Being a foodie and lover of exotic flavored cocktails, I’m going to show you how to give your ordinary drink a kick and give you one of my favorite mixtures to try.

Infusing liquors has been around for many years so I can’t proclaim to be the originator, but I can say I have come up with some amazing recipes. I love anything spicy and I love working with herbs. So naturally jalapeno and rosemary would be my first combo to try. You can pretty much infuse any of your favorite fruits and spices into vodka.

*If infusing fruit, use 1-3 depending on their size. Aim for about two large apples’ worth; one is usually enough for larger fruits (i.e. grapefruit), but you’ll need 3-4 for smaller fruits (apricots, plums, etc.)

*If infusing fresh herbs, use 1-2 fists filled with the herb, depending on its potency. Use about half as much of dried herbs or spices.

*If infusing berries, use 2-4 fists filled with the berries.

*If infusing peppers, use as many as you want. The more you use and the longer you infuse, the spicier the end product will be.

This process takes anywhere from 2-5 days to complete, and make you look like a genius at serving time. While you are thinking of your combo try this one, if you like a little spice in life then this will surely fancy your taste buds.

*If infusing fresh herbs, use 1-2 fists filled with the herb, depending on its potency. Use about half as much of dried herbs or spices.

*If infusing berries, use 2-4 fists filled with the berries.

*If infusing peppers, use as many as you want. The more you use and the longer you infuse, the spicier the end product will be.

This process takes anywhere from 2-5 days to complete, and make you look like a genius at serving time. While you are thinking of your combo try this one, if you like a little spice in life then this will surely fancy your taste buds.

*If infusing berries, use 2-4 fists filled with the berries.

*If infusing peppers, use as many as you want. The more you use and the longer you infuse, the spicier the end product will be.

This process takes anywhere from 2-5 days to complete, and make you look like a genius at serving time. While you are thinking of your combo try this one, if you like a little spice in life then this will surely fancy your taste buds.

*If infusing peppers, use as many as you want. The more you use and the longer you infuse, the spicier the end product will be.

This process takes anywhere from 2-5 days to complete, and make you look like a genius at serving time. While you are thinking of your combo try this one, if you like a little spice in life then this will surely fancy your taste buds.

This process takes anywhere from 2-5 days to complete, and make you look like a genius at serving time. While you are thinking of your combo try this one, if you like a little spice in life then this will surely fancy your taste buds.

* 14 ounces vodka * 10 ounces fresh lemon juice * 4 ounces Simple Syrup or ½ cup of sugar * ½ tablespoon Tabasco * 5 jalapeño peppers * 6 springs of rosemary * Sliced lemons (Garnish) * Ice
· Crush rosemary and jalapeño peppers gently. Slice peppers and place ingredients together in a clean, airtight container (glass works best). Allow 3-5 days to infuse.
· Strain and transfer vodka to a pitcher. And add lemon juice, Simple Syrup and Tabasco
· Refrigerate 1 hour. Add lemon wheels for garnish.
· Pour over ice.
· Add ice and lemon for garnish
If you like more sweet or sour, feel free to add more lemon juice or simple syrup…

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Sweet Turkey Chili

I know it has been awhile since my last blog, but as I explained before; though I’m a chef I’m a writer just the same. My creativity needs to be motivated- that includes my paintings, and my dishes.

Most would consider me a hopeless romantic. I find when I’m in love or like I create some of the most interesting visual scenes with the stroke of my brush on a bare canvas or a touch of a rare simplistic spice to a dish. Art and food alike does something to my mind, my body and my soul. It’s a non physical orgasm that explodes in me. 

Today though as I sit home alone relaxing with self, I’m neither in love or like with one in particular. I am however in love with what this year has in store for me. So alone with my thoughts I was motivated, motivated by self-further sending me on a creative binge. 

So tonight for my mental overdose I have my 36x36 canvas and oil medium, a bottle of South African Bordeaux 98’ and a bowl of tasty Turkey Chili.

Yeah I think I pretty much got this year covered…

Happy New Year, May all your dreams come true this year… I know I making sure mine do….


1 ½ pound ground turkey

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes

1 (15 1/2-ounce) can kidney beans w sauce

Sliced scallions, cilantro, sour cream grated Cheddar cheese, and tortilla chips

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped/ 1 tablespoon minced in bottles

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 med jalapeno Pepper, sliced

1 teaspoon sugar

salt for taste

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onion, chili powder, and oregano; cook, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and the Jalapeno Pepper; cook 1 minute more. Add the turkey, breaking it up, and cook until the meat is light brown, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes sugar and beans; bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 10 minutes.
Serve and garnish with sliced scallions, cilantro, sour cream grated cheddar cheese, and tortilla chips

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cranberry Apple Sauce

Year long I look forward to Thanksgivings; as many know it’s my favorite holiday outside of my birthday of course. Whether I trek to Florida to see the family or stay right here and cook for my preferred friends (which is anyone who shows up) I just love it. The long lines at the market, the smell of Sage, Rosemary, fresh celery and Turkey roasting just makes me all gooey inside.

So in true tradition, this year was no different. I began to cook Monday, contributing Greens and my famous Chicken Apple stuffing to my office Thanksgiving potluck. This would continue every night through Thursday morning, brining, marinating, chopping, and occasionally sipping a great full body South African Boudreaux. I was in my happy place.

Another ritual I’ve adapted over the years is naming my Turkey, I mean come on you clean, rub, pat and damn near molest the bird; you should name her. This year it was Betty -don’t know where the name came from it was a feeling she gave me; I mean she truly looked like a Betty.

Anyway after Betty was stuffed I slid her in the oven at 6am and mapped out the rest of dinner and dessert menu.


Mozzarella Tomato and Fresh Basil Salad


Smoke Cheddar on Crostini


Sage Rosemary Roasted Turkey w/ Chicken Apple Stuffing (Betty)

Garlic Truffle Mash

Greens w/ Smoked Turkey

Yams in Maple Whiskey and Kaluha

Sautéed Mushroom

Macaroni casserole w/ Broccoli and Shrimp

(My dear friend’s contribution)

Fresh Cranberry Apple Sauce


Chocolate covered Strawberries and Apples

Deep Dish Pecan Pie

Sweet Potato Pie

(Of course)

Strawberry cupcakes

(Another great contribution of a dear friend)

The scene was set, and the friends started to pile in around noon fully equipped with Tupperware and spandex pants, and no sooner did I say gang “its chow time” was everyone circled hand in hand blessing the food. Most may not know this, but I’m extremely sentimental and going around the table giving thanks with my friends literally brought tears to my eyes.

For the next hour I would hear nothing but crickets, and an occasional “damn”. With all that was on the menu, the Cranberry Apple sauce seemed to be the fan favorite and the first to go.

The eating and laughter would move from noon till the wee hours of the morning. We played Taboo, Spades, watched TV and told funny “for these walls only stories”. The last of my crew stumbled out around 5am after many plates and several shots. Really I could not have dreamed of a better day or a different set of friends to share it with.

So I will leave you with this: “Thank you for blessing me with such an amazing friends over the years. I’ve prayed to have at least one person I could share the present you bestowed upon me with. Instead my cup overflows with love and true friendship. I am truly thankful and humbled by your gift and take not one moment as a millionaire of love for granted. My last pray is that you continue to afford me the opportunity to feed the world. That is my return gift to you. Thank You.

Cranberry Apple Sauce


  • 1 (12- ounce) bag cranberries, fresh
  • 1 ½ cups of water (enough to slightly cover fruit)
  • 2 chopped red apples
  • 1 peeled chopped orange
  • orange zest
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ ground ginger
  • 5 cloves


In a sauce pan combine cranberries, apples, orange, orange zest, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Bring to boil and stir occasionally as cranberries begin to pop. Allow sauce to thicken and remove from fire.

Cranberry apple sauce can be served cold or warm. And after Turkey day can be a great Sunday brunch addition.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Grandma's Sweet Potato Pie

Where do “Sweet Potato Pie Dairies” and “Ms Sweet Potato” derive from? And when will you post your recipe? Are questions that I have been asked several times. It was my intention this past New Years to write a blog as a sort of food therapy for myself and to get those in my peer group to appreciate the dynamics of food and what it can do in your love, friend and family life. This particular blog has really taken time for me to write because the name isn’t something I shot off the top of my head. A lot of thought and deep meaning is behind it.

As most may know already, I come from a crazy background and upbringing. Never being in one school or town long enough to have long lasting childhood friends; I befriended the adults in my life-Great grandma being one of them. Even before daddy’s banana pancakes and mom’s extravagant weekend dinner parties, Grandma showed me love through aroma and taste.

There was nothing this woman could not create. All the while her little sugar pie (me) stood upon stools and chairs just to get a glimpse of her next great creation.

In May of 2007 my grandmother passed and since then I have hated myself for several reasons. You see, this is the woman who taught me how to be a lady. With both parents absent for the first few years of my life, it was she who did my hair and walked me to the bus stop. She, who wiped the blood from my knees after falling off yet another tree, She who gave me a spanking because I yet again managed to ruin a brand-new, white Easter dress. She, who pretended to love my dirt pies and she, who I laid next to every night scared to sleep in my own room because I was terrified of the dark.

So I hated myself because my grandmother was sick for many years before she was finally gone and because I was so caught up in my own personal life and ambition, never went to see her. There she lay in that very bed we shared for many years, paralyzed by a stroke and me running the streets of New York trying to prove to my friends and family that I can be great against all the odds that I had faced while growing up.

I will never forget the day that I got that phone call. My friend and I were in a Soho eatery celebrating the opening of my 3rd restaurant, tipsy and flirting with the men at a nearby table - ironically I was wearing an all white sundress.

The call was from my dad who had a very faint distraught voice. (Faint and distraught? – oxymoron?)
- “Yes daddy? What’s wrong? Hold on….I’m walking outside; it’s loud where I am”
-“Daddy can you hear me?”
-“Iman…. Grandma’s gone.”

There I stood in my white dress flowing in the spring air speechless. I guess my face read what I was feeling because my friend was by my side in minutes. I couldn’t even get the words out. My dad was repeating my name over and over
- “Iman?”
- “Iman?”
- “Are you there? Did you hear what I said? She’s gone.”
- “Iman say something.”
- “Daddy I have to go. Call you back.”
I was on the road the next morning to North Carolina.

Sweet Potato Pie was the idea my great-grandmother had for a restaurant; a dream that would never come true. So when taking the chance on my dream to penetrate hearts with my candid stories and dishes; the name was only fitting and how more fitting than to take on the persona of Ms. Sweet Potato?

A letter to you grandma: thank you for being such an influential part of my life. Thank you for wanting me when no one else did. And even though I was not there for you; thank you for forgiving me. I love you…. your sugar pie Iman.

This recipe is not exactly as my grandmother’s, similar, but some ingredients I just have to hold close to my heart.

I do hope you understand.


3 pounds sweet potatoes
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
5 cloves
5 star anise
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2-3 graham cracker ready to use pie crust

1. Boil potatoes with star anise (discard star anise and cloves when finished boiling) until tender; cool slightly. Slit the skins and scoop the potatoes into a bowl. Mash until smooth. Whisk in the cream, brown sugar, eggs, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg and scrape into the pie shell.
2. At 350° bake for about 40 minutes or until the filling is set.
3. great to serve with a dollop of whip cream

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Brown Sugar Brownies

My blogging has been few and far in between for some time now. I realize that though I love to write I get these extreme writers block patches and since I’m not currently being motivated by some amazing world wind love affair or sexy acquaintance I’ve been flat. Now since this is my dairy of how food correlates to events in my life I never wanted to give some faint daydream stories that have no real validity. Heck if that was the case I would write all day everyday.

If you can’t tell by now my summer fling has fizzled.

Well since I’m in my chill off period I have had much time to reflect, create new recipes, cook and bring leftovers to work. My team loves me right now by the way.

Anyway I guess this entry is just to reflect on my un-amusing love life. I’m really tired of hearing from men and women alike:

- Why aren’t you married by now? Damn girl (licking fingers) I would have snatched you up longtime ago.

- Don’t you think if I knew that answer I would be married? And who says I want you to snatch me up?

I mean come on really?

Recently I had what most would consider a breakdown. So bad that I had to call my friends at 4am to talk me through this crossroad. You see that question is one I ponder on most days. I’m young, easy on the eyes and completely open to life and what it has to offer- not to mention I can whip up pretty much any dish of your desire in 4inch pumps with a flash of light. And here I am single.

To most that question is valid because there are women who run around here mean, nasty, that can’t cook and always have their hands out swept off in love. I’m starting to feel like it’s just the nature of life.

I wonder if there is some site like where you can post your personal resume and be called to interview with the best suited emplovers (I know it isn’t a word-playing on employers.. work with me here) This site would have to cover everything from timeline to desired salary.

Now most will read this and say there must be something wrong. There isn’t I assure you, but I continue to get the ones I don’t want and chase away the ones I want because they too are at some crossroad in their life and don't know what they want.

WHAT GIVES??? Ok I’m clearly just on a rant right now so I’ll stop and go make some Brown Sugar Brownies. But in the meantime riddle me this?

Why do men and women have this ideal mate conjured up in their minds then once given the chance to live happily ever after they chicken out? Am I naïve to think there is such thing as love and happily ever after?

Brown Sugar Brownies


2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup pecans (4 ounces), coarsely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and lightly flour a 9-by-9-inch baking dish. In the top of a double boiler, melt the butter with the chocolate; let cool. You can substitute this with putting 2 cups of water in a large sauce pan and chocolate and butter in a smaller sauce pan. Boil wataer and let vapors melt chocolate and butter.
2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the eggs with the granulated sugar and brown sugar until thickened; beat in the vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the chocolate mixture until combined. Sift the flour over the batter and fold it in. Fold in the pecans.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached. Let the brownies cool in the pan for 45mins before cutting into squares