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New Year, New Diet.

The Facts About Top Diet Trends

diet plan

Anyone on a new diet this year, err lifestyle plan?  New Year’s resolutions are all about losing weight, getting healthy and making changes.  There is certainly no shortage of diet trends out there but picking the right one for you can be tricky.  Not everyone has the same goals, or the same budget.  So, I thought I’d help you narrow down the choices based on facts.  Here are the top diet trends, a list of some important info, and a link where you can find more information.  (*Disclaimer: this list is in no way comprehensive or meant to cure or treat any disease or illness.  You should consult your doctor before beginning any new diet plan.  Also, I do have my degree in dietetics and have studied food, nutrition and culinary arts for the entirety of my adult life.  But I’m not a doctor.  The statements below are a collaboration of my opinion (the list itself) and researched facts (specifics pertaining to each diet plan).)  There are a zillion diets out there.  If the one you are interested in is not on this list, email me and I can help!



The basic premise is to eat like a caveman.  There are some conflicting ideas about whether the intention is to eat only foods found in the paleolithic era.  But since woolly mammoths and cave lions are now extinct, we have to be a little flexible.  While finding food is a smidge easier, i.e less hunting and gathering, more loading up the cart at Whole Foods- the idea is that the foods should be about the same; whole, nutrient dense, not-processed foods.



Foods Allowed:

  • Grass Fed meats, Eggs, Fish and Seafood, Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts Seeds, Healthy Fats and Oils (olive, walnut, coconut, flaxseed, grapeseed, and of course avocado). Organic, non-GMO as much as possible.

Foods to Avoid:

  • Grains, Preservatives, Dairy (though some raw dairy is sometimes allowed), Refined Sugar, Refined Vegetable Oils, and even a few surprising foods like Legumes, Beans and Potatoes.

The various foods allowed and not allowed are not just based on what was available when our stone-age ancestors walked the Earth, but also about potential health benefits and harmful properties inherit therein.


Whole 30:

You can do anything for 30 days.  And 30 days is just enough time to cut out the junk, let your body heal, establish healthier habits with food and get to a better you.

Foods Allowed:

  • Moderate amounts of meat, seafood, eggs. Lots of vegetables.  A few fruits.  And plenty of natural fats.  The idea is to consume whole, natural foods that are not processed, as minimally processed as possible, or to be able to read and understand every ingredient on a food label.

Foods to Avoid:

No Alcohol

  • Added Sugar- of any kind. So, no honey, agave, date syrup, coconut sugar, stevia or maple syrup.  Basically, if it makes the food sweeter, it’s a no-go.  I see you sneaky fruit juice!
  • Alcohol, even for cooking.
  • All grains.  Glutenous or Gluten Free.  Period.
  • No one really knows what legumes are (just kidding, we do!), but things like beans, lentils, soy and peanuts qualify.
  • Eggs of all forms-raw, pasteurized, fermented, frozen or soured.  If it comes out an animals mammary glands, it’s dairy.  And just to be clear, eggs are not dairy…they are just usually found in the diary section of the grocery store because that’s where the refrigerators are.
  • Some popular preservatives like Carrageenan, MSG and Sulfites.
  • And they also discourage the creation of “junk like foods” made from approved foods. Trying to make a chicken breast and broccoli brownie just misses the point altogether of avoiding junk food, doesn’t it?

Weight Watchers:

This oldie, but goodie, just got a face lift!  Their new Freestyle program offers greater flexibility with food choices, but still keep the accountability and tracking features that have scientifically proven to contribute to overall weight loss success.

Foods Allowed:  

  • All of them! Each food is assigned a point value, and based on your goals and current stats, you are assigned a certain number of points each day.  Spend, or rather eat, the points as you like, but track it all for greater success.

Foods to Avoid:

  • The usual- highly processed foods, added sugar and unhealthy fats.


Mediterranean Diet:

mediterranean dietAnother classic, this diet has been on the top 5 list for decades.  Developed after the eating habits of Mediterranean countries like Greece, Spain and Italy, it mingles moderation and foods proven to help reduce risks for chronic and acute illness.

Major Points:

  • Eat primarily plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts.
  • Replace butter and other saturated or trans-fats with heart-healthy fats like olive oil.
  • Limit red meat to a few times a month.
  • Eat fish and chicken several times a week.
  • Enjoy red wine in moderation (optional).
  • Get plenty of rest and enjoy meals with friends and family.


Ketogenic (aka Keto) Diet:

First, it is important to note that ketosis is not the same as ketoacidosis.  They are related, but the latter is very dangerous and can lead to serious complications.  Ketosis is the precursor to ketoacidosis, and while it is technically considered an adaptive nutritional state, it does have some important medical benefits.  The diet first started as a treatment method for epileptic patients to reduce seizures in the brain.  Previous therapies included outright starvation, which produced the same result.  However, the body suffered greatly as there was no nutrition to support the rest of the body.  What is now called “fed starvation”, the body gets the nutrition it needs thru the high fat, moderate protein, very low carb diet, and the brain gets the relief it needs thru the production of ketones.

Keto Diet

So what if you don’t have epilepsy?  Here’s where the science happens.  I’ll try to keep it simple.  Basically, the human body “prefers” glucose as a fuel source.  Think sugar and carbohydrates.  That’s why when you are hungry, I mean really really hungry, you unconsciously go for the sugary snacks and drinks.  They work fast because it is an efficient fuel source.  But what would happen if fat was the primary source of fuel for the body, and carbohydrates the last?  Well, that’s the Keto diet!  In a nut shell, the body doesn’t use fat directly as a fuel source, but instead has to convert it to glucose for use.  In that process, ketones are produced, and the body uses them for energy.

So how does someone lose weight eating mostly fat, if they already have excess fat?  Great question!  The answer, it takes some time.  Being in ketosis doesn’t happen overnight.  It can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months, depending on activity level and other factors.  But once you reach that stage, your body has basically converted its primary fuel source from carbohydrates to fat.  And just like ALL FOOD you consume, taking in too much will lead to the excess being stored as fat- so you have to find the ratios that work best for your body and your activity level.

Foods Allowed:

  • Fat, like olives, avocados, bacon, fatty meats, butter, full fat cheese and other dairy, nuts. About 70% of your total calories for the day should come from fat. (As good an excuse to by the Wagyu beef as any!)
  • Moderate amounts of protein like red meat, chicken, eggs, fish and seafood. About 25% of your total calories should come from protein.  (This can be tricky to calculate since most protein is not just straight protein, but also contains some fat.)
  • Net Carbohydrates. Net, meaning total carbs minus the dietary fiber.  You can find it on a food label.  But remember, vegetables are technically carbs, albeit high fiber carbs.  But only about 5% of your total calories should come from carbohydrate food sources.

Tracking is key until you find a rhythm.  I suggest the My Fitness pal app, #notsponsored, because it does all the work and math for you.  Also, it is really easy to select foods from a list or add your own with the barcode scanner feature.

Foods to Avoid:

  • There isn’t a specific list of foods to avoid. Although high sugar foods like sweets, sodas, candies, etc. should just generally be avoided.  Also, high glycemic index foods like potatoes, pasta, rice, etc. are going to be hard to factor in because of their high net carb value.  That 5% will go fast!
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Chef’s Spotlight: Chef Jonelle Luchsinger

This month’s Chef’s Spotlight: Meet Chef Jonelle!

Chef Jonelle Luchsinger
Chef Jonelle Luchsinger

Raised in Anchorage, Alaska and Upstate NY, Chef Jonelle began her informal culinary training at a 100-year-old restaurant on one of The Finger Lakes. She quickly fell in love with cooking and decided to continue her education at Johnson & Wales University.  She graduated in 2007 with an associate’s degree.

Eager to practice her skills and further her education through experience, she worked for a variety of restaurants ranging in Middle Eastern, Modern American and Italian cuisines. She took pride in starting from the bottom, working her way up each station, absorbing everything she could along the way.

An opening in the in-house bakery of Rosalies Cucina, where she worked on the line, led to a full-time head baker position and a new love for bread and pastries. She would later go on to work under Maurizio Negrini, of Izzio’s, learning the art of Artisan Italian Bread.

Restaurant and bakery industries can be rough. They generally require working long hours on your feet during nights, weekends and holidays. In return, the pay is low, the benefits are few and the turnover is high causing for stressful working conditions. Even in the best managed restaurants, it’s hard to find a work/life balance while working opposite schedules as the rest of society. The high demands paired with few rewards of the industry can quickly turn the passion you once had into resentment.

Five years after switching gears to Quality Assurance and Food Safety Roles, she found herself once again on her feet, in her kitchen most nights and weekends. This time cooking not only because she wanted to, but because she had to.  An artist needs a creative outlet and a chef needs to cook!

Chef Jonelle is currently one year into her dream job at Friend that Cooks!  She is able to spend her days cooking; doing what she loves all while having endless creative freedom, a desirable schedule, a great management team supporting her, and amazing clients to cook for! Chef Jonelle currently lives in a north suburb of Denver.  She likes to grow her own vegetables and is planning her wedding that will take place later this year.

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Super Bowl LII Game Day Food

Our Favorite Super Bowl Recipes

It’s time to start thinking about your super bowl eating strategy because let’s admit it – you’re only here for the food. Sure, two great teams are going up against each other for a shot at that ring. But we’re here for the tasty, tasty food. And maybe the commercials too.

Whether your keeping things simple, heading to a potluck party or hosting a huge gathering, we’ve got some great recipe ideas that are sure to keep your guests satisfied from kick off to MVP pick. Check out our personal chefs’ favorite game day food below!

BLT Bites – Chef Brandon O’Dell

1 pkg     cherry tomatoes
¼ lb       crisp cooked bacon (substitute turkey bacon for a low-fat recipe)
1 cup     parsley leaves
½ cup    mayonnaise (you can substitute fat free mayo to make this low fat)

This is a stuffed cherry tomato recipe that resembles the popular flavor of BLT sandwiches. Start by using a sharp paring knife to cut a flat base on the bottom of each cherry tomato. Don’t cut off too much, just enough to give the tomato a small, flat base. With the same knife inverted downward, cut out the stem area of the tomato creating a circular opening ¾ the diameter of the tomato and hollowing out at least half of the inside of the tomato without cutting to the bottom of the tomato. Place tomatoes to the side to drain while you prepare the filling.

Break the bacon into pieces by hand and place in a food processor. Add the parsley and the mayonnaise. Blend until all pieces are small enough to be piped through a 3/8 inch opening. If the ingredients seem too dry to pipe, add mayonnaise until the filling is the correct mixture. Depending on the thickness of your bacon, you could also have to use less mayo than the recipe calls for. If you’re unsure, add half the mayo and blend, then continue to add more until the mixture reaches a consistency that can be piped, but not so loose that it is runny.

Put the filling mixture into a pastry bag, or create a makeshift pastry bag by putting the mixture into a one gallon plastic storage bag, cutting just enough of the tip to make an opening a little less than half an inch. Pipe the mixture into the openings of the tomatoes and chill until it’s time to serve. These tomatoes add beauty to any food table, and are incredibly flavorful while still being very simple.


“Banh Mi” Sliders – Chef Mark Maybon
Banh Mi Sliders

1 lb ground chicken thigh
1 lb ground pork
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp ginger, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 tbsp lemongrass, finely minced (only tender core)
2 eggs
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 cup breadcrumbs


  1. Saute first 4 ingredients until translucent and fragrant. Cool slightly.
  2. Gently mix sauteed veg and the rest of ingredients in a large bowl until just combined and homogenous.
  3. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Spray with cooking spray or oil. With wet hands, roll meatball mix into 1.5 oz balls and slightly flatten before putting on prepared sheet pan.
  4. Roast at 375 F until cooked through, approximately 12-15 minutes.

Cilantro Lime Carrot Slaw
3 cups shredded carrots
1 bunch minced cilantro
1 lime, juiced

  1. Toss to combine.

Oyster Sauce Aioli
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup oyster sauce

  1. Stir together in a bowl.

To assemble, split slider buns and spread aioli on top and bottom. Placed carrot slaw on bottom and top with meatball. (Optionally add super thin sliced fresh jalapeno rounds.) Place top buns on and skewer sliders to hold together for presentation. (If using jalapenos on all or half of sliders, place a slice on top to warn guests of spiciness)


Shredded Chicken Taquitos – Nate Lane

1.25lbs chicken breast, cooked & shreddedShredded Chicken Taquitos
4 ounces frozen chopped spinach
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
one packet Williams taco seasoning
20 corn tortillas
oil for frying


Mix chicken, spinach, cream cheese, and taco seasoning. Heat tortillas in microwave till warm and flexible. Divide chicken mixture among tortillas and wrapped tightly. Use toothpick to hold in place and pan fry over medium heat till each side is slightly browned. Best served with guacamole!

Teriyaki Wings – Chef Karie Baima

2 lb wing drummettesteriyaki wings
1 tbsp minced garlic
1tbsp minced ginger
1/3 c low sodium soy sauce
1/3 c brown sugar
2 tbsp aji mirin
3 green onions sliced
1 tbsp sesame seeds
Salt to taste


Heat oven to 350 °. Toss the wings with salt to taste and spread on a sheet pan. If the wings are touching, then use 2 sheet pans. This way they get crispy. Bake for 25 minutes, flip them and rotate the sheet pans and bake another 15 minutes, or until very tender. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, simmer the soy sauce, garlic, ginger, brown sugar and mirin for 10 minutes. Toss the sauce with the wings after their 2nd part of cooking. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.


Buffalo chicken dip – Chef Travis Shaw

3-5 stalks celeryBuffalo Chicken Dip
1 onion
2-3 chicken breasts
2 cups buffalo sauce
1 package cream cheese
Blue cheese to taste
Salt and pepper to taste


1) Sear chicken, remove, bake in 350F oven till cooked through
2) dice vegetables and add sauce or pan to deglaze
3) add buffalo sauce, cook till simmering, remove from heat, S&P to taste
4) beak apart cream cheese into pan and mix with till melted
5) pull chicken and add to pan
6) sprinkle blue cheese to taste
7) bake to melt cheese
8) enjoy with chips or veggies, great as lettuce wraps


Vegan cheese dip – Chef Emilie Newcomb

1 large carrot, peeled Vegan Cheese Dip
2 medium sized Yukon gold, peeled
3 cups veggie broth
1/2 onion
4 cloves garlic
3/4 cup cashews
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Paprika, cayenne, curry powder, black pepper, salt (to taste)


– Cut potato and carrot into 1-inch cubes
– In a pot, cook potato and carrot with veggie stock until soft
– While that’s cooking, chop the onion and garlic and sauté on medium/low until translucent
– Pour everything into blender
– Add cashews, nutritional yeast, and spices
– If it is too thick, add more stock. If it is too thin, add more cashews and nutritional yeast
-blend on high for one minute
– Add all spices
– Taste, then adjust to your liking
– Enjoy!


For more fun party foods ideas, follow us on social media for daily meal posts! Or check out our website here to learn more about our services.

Click the links below for quick access!


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Cooking lesson party for the Chambers!

I’d like to thank Denise and Rick Chambers, and their friends, for purchasing a cooking party for 8 at the Arthritis Foundation charity auction. I love it when I can cook for a good cause.

We arranged for four courses to be prepared right in front of the Chamber’s guests. The guests get to enjoy the Chamber’s wine and hospitality, while learning to make some fun and easy, delicious dishes.

Here’s what we did.
First course
First we made some tomato basil tapenade from some incredibly ripe, locally grown tomatoes Denise found from a farmer with a stand by the roadside. I didn’t take a picture of their tapenade, but I do have one from another party.
Tomato basil tapenade from fresh, locally grown tomatoes

Second course
Next, I showed everyone how to prepare a fresh peach vinaigrette dressing from scratch.
Tasty salad made with fresh peach vinaigrette, fresh peach slices and ripe local tomato

Third course
For the main course, I demonstrated how to trim a whole beef tenderloin into filets. Buying whole tenderloins at a wholesale store like Sam’s or Costco, then cutting your own steaks can save you more than $10 per pound! They also saw how to make gorgonzola potato hash, seared asparagus, and a balsamic reduction for the steak.
Beef tenderloin with fresh herb wet rub, gorgonzola potato hash, seared asparagus and balsamic reduction

There was one vegetarian in the group, so we made one meal with no beef, but rather an herb roasted portabello mushroom cap with a seared ripe tomato and basalmic reduction.
Herb roasted portabello mushroom cap with seared ripe tomato and balsamic reduction

Fourth course
For dessert, I show the Chamber’s guests how to make crepes from scratch, with a strawberry cream cheese filling and a simple, but delicious, lemon cream sauce.
Strawberry cream cheese stuffed homemade crepes with lemon cream sauce

Cooking lesson parties in your home are a great alternative to a night out. The cost for the food and the service is no more than you would spend on dinner in a nice restaurant, and you can save money by drinking your own wine!

Call Friend that Cooks Home Chef Service to book a cooking party of your own. Make sure to check out our website for a list of all our services, like our weekly meal prep that costs less than half of comparable restaurant food!

Brandon O’Dell
Friend that Cooks Home Chef Service
(913) 660-0790

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Peanut crusted salmon

Here’s a great dish I did for one of our families with their weekly meal prep. For those of you who don’t know about our weekly meal prep service, it’s a cooking service where we go to a customer’s home every week at the same time, then shop for groceries, cook fantastic food to last all week, clean up, and leave their fridge stocked with a week’s worth of great meals that they can reheat in just minutes.

I made the peanut crusted salmon below with pan roasted fresh beets and carrots, sauteed napa cabbage and bean sprouts.

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Recipe – Port Salut potato hash

  • 6 lb small gold potatoes, skin-on, cut into 1″ by 1″ pieces
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 5 clove fresh garlic
  • 4 stalk green onion, chopped with whites and green separated
  • 6 oz Port Salut cheese, cut into 1/2″ chunks
  • 6 oz salted butter
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • Boil potato pieces until fork tender. Strain and remove from pan. Place pan over medium-low heat and melt butter in the pan. Add cream, garlic and green onion whites. Increase heat to medium and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 2 minutes, then reduce heat to low. Add potatoes, salt, pepper, cheese and onion greens. Stir with a spoon to mix all ingredients. Do not mash.

    As with all recipes, check your potatoes for salt. You should be able to taste the salt without it being overwhelming. Potatoes require a lot of salt, and the salt will bring out the rest of the flavors of the dish.

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    Recipe – Cucumber dill vinaigrette

  • 1 whole seeded cucumber, cut into 8 strips then chopped
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 clove finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • Combine all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add lemon juice and vinegar. Mix well. Whisk in olive oil slowly until fully combined. Whisk in water slowly until fully combined.

    Taste the vinaigrette for vinegar and salt content. Different vinegars have varying strengths. You may need to add more vinegar or salt.

    Refrigerate until ready to use.

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    Prom night on the rooftop!

    Mesclumn salad with roasted corn, cherry tomatoes, goat cheese and fresh cucumber vinaigrette
    Mesclumn salad with roasted corn, cherry tomatoes, goat cheese and fresh cucumber vinaigrette
    We did a really fun prom party on the rooftop of some lofts in downtown Wichita this past Saturday. It was a great idea for a party from the hosting couple. I’ve attached some pictures.

    We served:

    Pepper bacon wrapped U-10 shrimp with cherry horseradish sauce

    Mesclumn green salad with fire roasted corn, cherry tomatoes, goat cheese and a fresh cucumber dill vinaigrette

    Grilled filet of beef tenderloin with seared asparagus, smoked cheese horseradish potato hash and sweet onion marmalade

    Bananas Foster

    Rooftop kitchen in downtown Wichita
    Rooftop kitchen in downtown Wichita

    Gourmet dinner on the rooftop
    Gourmet dinner on the rooftop

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    Welcome to the Friend that Cooks blog!

    Hi everyone! I’ve started a blog to keep everyone up on what is going on with Friend that Cooks, myself and every chef/owner/friend in our family!

    Right now, we’re working on getting Friend that Cooks going in the Kansas City area. We’ve put out yard signs in Kansas City, Overland Park, Shawnee, Leawood, Olathe and Mission. We have an ad starting in Her Life magazine out of Overland Park that runs from May to July. Robert is heading up from Wichita at the end of May to help me with a booth at the Just for Her Expo at the Overland Park Convention Center too. Other efforts to get the word out include door hangers in Olathe, an email campaign to luxury apartment offices, and charity auction donations.

    Rose and I are very excited about the potential to grow Friend that Cooks in Kansas City. Rose will be taking on some responsibilities for Friend that Cooks as the chief relationship officer. She will be helping with marketing efforts, managing my appointments and coordinating with myself, chefs, customers, friends and business associates to keep us organized and operating efficiently. I’m excited about the skills Rose brings to our business.

    I hope this blog works well to keep all our owners and myself in constant touch with all our friends and customers as we continue to grow. I welcome all feedback and input from all our friends.

    If you’ve found our blog through the search engines, please visit our main website to find out more about Friend that Cooks Home Chef Service, and please sign up to receive our blog updates.