Healthy Eating: Celebrating a legacy of food in moderation

Deborah Binder with her mother Edith.
Deborah Binder with her mother Edith.

My 86-year-old mother, Edith Binder, has been in the throes of Alzheimer’s for the past three years. She passed away peacefully two weeks ago. Although it’s hard to lose my last parent, it is a relief that she is free to dance with my father and brother now. She was a shadow of herself at the end.

For the past year, she lost her ability to speak as well as swallow properly. This meant she had to have thickener put in her drinks and could only eat pureed food. This was hard for someone who ADORED food. She never lost her big smile though. My mother absolutely loved to eat and she loved to cook and entertain with delicious meals. She is the person who taught me to cook. She was a petite woman with a big appetite. She worked out faithfully at a gym and on the tennis court all of her life and followed Julia Child’s advice….everything in moderation including butter. She said she went to the gym to keep her heart healthy and to keep her “girlish figure.” She worked with a trainer at the nursing home a few times per week to help keep her mobile and safe almost up to the end. I share her love of food and her love of working out. I look a lot like my mother and have inherited her love of food, travel, laughter, curiosity and questioning nature. I have tried to thank my mother for all the things that have gone right in my life and take blame myself for my mistakes and missteps. I sent her flowers on my birthday. Grateful for the life that she gave me.

One thing that’s clear is that my sweet tooth came from my mother. She would rather eat dessert first and skip dinner! The fact that she lived until 86 is proof that having a treat now and then doesn’t harm you. Eating the whole pan might shorten one’s life, but not an occasional treat. My mother came with us on many trips and she would always arrive at our destination with a container full of homemade goodies. At her memorial service, I served one of her favorites: Choco-Chewy Scotch Bars. I invite you to make a batch and celebrate someone that is special in your life.

Edie’s Choco-Chewy Scotch Bars

Ingredients:
1 12 ounce package of chocolate chips (2 cups)
1 15 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
1 cup butter and 2 tablespoons butter
2 ¼ cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
½ cup flaked coconut

Instructions:
Using a double boiler or the microwave, melt chocolate, condensed milk and 2 TBS. butter. Blend until smooth and set aside.

In medium saucepan, melt 1 cup butter. Remove from heat. Add brown sugar and eggs, mix well. Blend in the rest of the ingredients. Spread half of this brown sugar dough in an ungreased 10 X 15 jelly roll pan. Drizzle chocolate mixture over the dough. Dot top of chocolate mixture with the remaining brown sugar dough. Swirl the two together with the tip of a knife.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes until golden brown.
Cool before cutting into bars. Make them small because these are very rich!

Remember to share with those you love!

— By Deborah Binder

Deborah Binder is “dancing with N.E.D.” (no evidence of disease) after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009. She is a foodie who loves to cook from scratch and share here experiments with her family and friends. She attended culinary school on the East Coast and freelances around town for local chefs. Her current interest in food is learning to eat for health and wellness, while at the same time enjoying the pleasures of the table. As Julia Child once said, “Everything in moderation including butter.” Deborah can be contacted at jaideborah@yahoo.com.

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