Bigger-than-Big News, the Journey that Made it Possible, and a Call for Recipe Testers

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I want to waste zero time and finally share my bigger-than-big news. Even though I’m not so great at keeping secrets, it was very important for me to make sure that I was ready, in all ways, to share what’s up with this warm, thriving community. You send me virtual hugs and cheerful notes regularly and I really appreciate them so I’m thrilled to announce the following news:

Inspired by my recent wellness journey and the need to feed myself (and others) well, I documented my process and created a bunch of new recipes for {drumroll, please} a brand new cookbook! It’s called A NEW WAY TO FOOD: Recipes That Revamped How I Eat & Made Me Love Me, At Last and it’s being published by Roost Books (distributed by Penguin Random House) in early 2019. This cookbook is a notebook of sorts that shares my life-changing journey from fat girl to mostly well and happy-to-be-just-me lady. I want to tell you all about it but before I go too much further, I want to take a few moments to talk about how I got to this place.

As many of you know, I’ve gone through a lot of changes over the last three to four years and, oftentimes, I want to tell you all the details of every shift and aha moment right as they come. Sometimes it feels so weird to write about a simple recipe or how I eat now, when there are so many other essential strands that play into this new life. This new cookbook will share all about how I found this brand new life or something that feels like that to me, anyway.

Since I started Eat Boutique as a blog almost 10 years ago – the site’s 10th birthday is in August – I have often chronicled my shift from old to new; from a long career in start-ups at the beginning of the internet to one that is beginning to feel firmly planted in food; from a food blog to a more serious business; from online food gift purveyor to in-real-life retail food market designer; from young girl to far more confident business lady; and from journalism grad to published author. (And if I’m being honest, that last one may be my favorite – the chance to delight my Mom, who’s not doing so well these days, with my first book, was something I’ll hold onto forever.)

I have told you about the soft stuff, too, sometimes. You know, the insecure stuff girls or ladies (and some guys) don’t usually talk about aloud, like learning to like my body; losing +/- 70 pounds (depending on the day); walking for miles and loving it; living without joint pain, sinus infections, and lethargy; eating a lot of delicious food that fuels me; and letting go of calorie counting and extreme portion control for good. The soft stuff is harder to discuss because you never know if all those details have a place on a food blog, let alone a site that showcases my work in sourcing the very best ingredients (and their makers) and how to combine them into tasty dishes.

More than anything else, I suppose what I’ve over the last 10 years is that there are no rules. I can write what I want. I can reveal as much or as little about myself as feels good at the time. I can post a pretty recipe one day and talk about the gut-wrenching process of learning to love yourself on another. I can develop recipes for this site, write a cookbook, and learn all the hard skills needed to open a retail space in one of the hardest commercial real estate markets ever, good old Boston – which means I now love thinking about things like EBITDAs, operating expenses, food margins, and, especially, how we all want to shop for food over the next twenty years. Sure, the biggest food news in so many years may have been revealed last week, but I’ve tracked food and retail trends for a long, long time (in a galaxy far, far away, ha!) and no one gets the grocery shopping experience right just yet. I promise that I’m working on it in my own way.

If indeed there are no rules, and let’s say you can break down and rebuild a life in whatever way works for you, then I want to share a few more of my hard-learned lessons. First, you don’t need a diet book to change your life or your body. A strict food plan and a regular exercise regime may work for some but not others. In fact, for better or worse, I lost the bulk of my weight without exerting a lick of physical activity; I just changed the food I put in my mouth. I’m sure that’s a little bit disconcerting for those of you who exercise daily and count your calories. Bravo to you! I just can’t do it, or it never worked for me.

Trying to stay under a certain count each day just reminded me of all the food I couldn’t eat, instead of all the food I could. Imagine living analyzing every piece of food in front of you, wondering if it was meant for you or banned from your mouth for life. If I even put a potato chip near my mouth, I felt naughty or guilty or just plain like a thief in the night, getting away with the most priceless of diamonds. But, I just don’t have time for all those feelings anymore.

And whenever I started an exercise program, my legs or knees would give out, my back would strain instantly, my heart would pound as brisk as a heart attack. I would get mad at myself, mad at whoever was making me exercise (a girlfriend, a trainer), and grumpy with all the aerobically blessed around me who skipped rope and climbed stairs with ease. If they did so while keeping up a conversation with someone (I mean, who can exercise and talk simultaneously?), I’d get jealous or mad and then guilty for feeling mad. Again, I just don’t have time for those feelings anymore.

I do, however, have time to eat well and cook better. I do have time to make sure I eat a lot of produce everyday. I do have time to shop for food and when I do, I make sure to buy wholesome organic ingredients that are not processed in anyway whatsoever. When I shop, I spend most of my available funds on produce, nuts, beans, seeds, good fats and oils, grains, and far less than ever before on animal-based proteins – and my grocery bills have reduced by more than half. I also keep my condiment door and spice drawers stocked so I can add lots of flavor to the food I cook. And when I say I do all these things, I mean, I make the time in my busy life because NO ONE ELSE WILL. I had to choose to make the time.

In addition to all these wholesome ingredients, I stock cookbooks and bookmark recipes. Because I work in food, I have close to 500 cookbooks in my cookbook room (I guess it’s known as the TV room to everyone else) and I cook from them regularly. But even if I had only 10 cookbooks on hand, I have easy access to thousands of recipes and inspirational food imagery via the Internet. Just type, search, and click to so many ways to turn those same old black beans into chili or tacos or nachos or dip or brownies or anything you can imagine. Diet books have never worked for me, but cookbooks and recipes have. And I believe they will work for you too. If you cook just a little more than you do today, you have the power to make food you love and realize all your potential. My next cookbook was inspired by all of this.

A NEW WAY TO FOOD is for me and for you. It’s full of a bunch of tiny victories, a few a-ha moments, and perhaps some all-too-raw thoughts that, rounded up together and played out in my own personal sequence, got me to my other side, the side where I finally see me worthy of good food and good health. It’s filled with the recipes that totally revamped my pantry; the people and tips that keep me on my path; a magical time cooking away in Vermont; how to get your food life together with or without your partner; and recipes from my childhood totally reinvented to feed my strong soul and awesome body (and in some cases, kept just as they are because, balance).

I think perhaps, mostly important, it will chronicle my personal reckoning with all the reasons I was unhealthy. I had to stare all those reasons straight on, accept them, and begin to break them down into manageable chunks. I hope that this new cookbook helps you break whatever “rules” you have been following or, maybe even, not following, to get to your other side, too.

RECIPE TESTERS

I’m testing recipes for A NEW WAY TO FOOD all summer long and I’d love your help. I’m gathering a small team of experienced recipe testers to make about two recipes each week from July to September. These recipes are mostly wholesome, though some of them might be more likely labeled healthy-ish versus healthy. They fall across the spectrum from vegan and vegetarian, to animal protein rich or dairy-free. If you think this opportunity may be perfect for you, please fill in this form by July 6.

Thank you for sticking by me, through all these changes. I promise this new phase is going to be a lot of fun and also super focused on eating the very best that you can. Cheers to you and to cookbooks!

Eat Boutique is the go-to resource for all things food gifts, including one-of-a-kind, small-batch products and inspirational articles. We’ve got food gifts in our award-winning shop and story-driven recipes for everyday cravings, special occasions, and for anyone who needs a little food gift love—and, really, who doesn’t?!

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Comments

  • SALLY PASLEY VARGAS

    Maggie, Congratulations! on all of it! You work so hard and inspire so many people. I am very excited to see this new book.

    • Hi Sally, It’s so very kind of you to write. I can’t believe I have to wait almost 2 years to see it, but it’s the process / the journey that’s part of the fun. I can’t wait for you to see it! xo

  • Peggy Witter

    Maggie, oh my your words so resonate with me. I have just begun this journey once again…. this time with a completely different mindset, a mindset where there are not failures just learning experiences. Finally being at the place mentally and emotionally where I can trust again having learned to let some things in my past go, choices others made which deeply affected me. It’s hard but oh so rewarding, so exciting. So with this tome I’m thrilled about your new book! (and the recipe testing opportunities!)

    • It’s very sweet of you to write, Peggy. Thank you for this very kind message. I’ve been on this journey for years and years, and it’s not over yet. It’s a long, winding road and the key is to just believe we’re enough, which we are. xo

  • Maggie, this post is so moving and deep and wonderful and inspiring. I need and want this book and I am so happy you are going to write it. Thankful for all your work and insights and creative courageous presence in the world. What a gift to me personally and clearly I am not alone in this feeling. On you go. Gratitude and big cheers!

    • Nancie, you’re the sweetest and it’s such a joy to see your comment. Seriously, I’m honored. Thank you, lady. I hope a hug is in our future at IACP 2018! xo

      • Absolutely! NYC IACP February 2018. Cold outside but hug from you will warm me up!

  • Caroline Foote Betcher

    Maggie, oh my gosh– I’m so excited! For you mostly, as you seem to have found something so many of us are searching for. But also excited for all of us, that we get to sit down and read your beautiful and courageous writing!
    I am away one weekend in August but would otherwise love to test for you! Let me know!!

    • Hi Caroline, thank you so much! You’re so sweet to leave this note. If you want to commit to testing, we’d love to consider you, make sure to fill in that link above. No worries, either way, I’m so excited to make this book. xo