my subtalar fusion: two screws, one bionic foot, and the kindness of many strangers

foot xray subtalar fusion dec 9 2014See those two screws, the ones that were inserted into my right foot through an incision in my heel? It’s called a subtalar fusion, and it’s why I haven’t posted here in almost a month.

Long story, short: my rheumatoid arthritis (RA) got between two bones in my foot and wore away all the cartilage to the point that the two bones were rubbing against each other. I had been limping on my foot for about a year, sometimes barely noticing the pain. But when the pain went from bad to worse and I lost (almost) all function in the foot, I went to see Dr. Hubbard, Chief of the Foot and Ankle Service at Mount Sinai Beth Israel. He told me he could fix me, and two short weeks later I was on his surgical table, getting those two guys put in place so I could once again walk painlessly. (I hate to sound like surgery is no big deal, but three years ago I had a C1-C2 fusion surgery on my neck, also with titanium screws, and also because of my RA, which made me a lot more comfortable going into this one.) Once the joint has healed, the screws will keep the bones away from each other, while still allowing it to function as a “normal” foot.

It’s now been three weeks since foot surgery, and tomorrow, it’s time to go back to work. I have been so nervous about how I would get around, how I would open doors, how I would have enough energy to make it through the day. And then yesterday I went outside by myself for the first time in a month — using the life-saving knee scooter that Brian bought me — and I figured out how I would do it.

First there was the guy a block from our building who pulled his truck over, hopped out, and came over to fix the steering on my scooter. Then there was the lady at the corner of 12th and 5th who saw me stumble and asked where I was going, because she wanted to make sure I got there safe. And how about the guy at the corner of Charles and 7th Avenue who asked if he could please drive me home? (I politely declined.)

The answer is: I wouldn’t have to worry about doing any of the things I’ve been worrying about, because strangers would help me. Total strangers. And that was just three of them! Others helped simply by smiling, acknowledging that I was having a little bit of a hard time. It’s one of the many reasons I love New York. These people didn’t want anything in return; they did it out of the goodness of their hearts.

So my worrying, like most worrying, was for naught.

I’ve still got a long road to recovery — another week in the hard cast, six weeks or so in a boot — but at least now I can focus all of my energy on healing and getting back to a healthy, strong place — a healthier, stronger place than I was pre-bionic foot. I want to keep my RA at bay with good food, fresh food, real food, and lots of herbal supplements and vitamins. And when I need, like I did with the strangers yesterday, I’ll lean on western medicine for help. I’m hoping that won’t be often (or at all), but I can only do the best I can. Which is where TV Dinner comes in. As soon as I am back on my feet I plan to get back in the kitchen and cook lots of new recipes… ones that bring wellness and strength to my body. And in the meantime, in the coming weeks, I’ll share some recipes that I cooked up before surgery.

Have any questions about a subtalar fusion, my doctor, medicines, supplements, or RA in general? Ask away — either in the comments below or click here to send me an email. I respond to every single one.

roasted vegetables in mustard + balsamic

roasted autumnal vegetables in balsamic and mustardBaby, it’s cold outside. Time to start thinking about warm cozy meals, while also savoring the last bit of fall. You can do it; eek it out, before it’s officially snow season. Take these beautiful autumnal vegetables for example. Roast ‘em, then toss ‘em in mustard and balsamic. They can play sidekick to a piece of fish or meat — they’d actually be a perfect tablemate to your turkey on Thanksgiving — or you can do as I did (in the photo below) and mix ‘em up with a handful of mini scallops and call it dinner.

My friend Jackie — famous in these parts for her chia pudding recipe and Vitamix-pushing — gave me the mustard and balsamic idea and once again, Jackie has proven her genius in the kitchen. It’s tangy with just the right touch of spice. The cayenne pepper helps, too. Thanks, Jack!

Use whatever vegetables you have on hand; I had brussels sprouts, onions, mushrooms and a sweet potato, but would definitely try it with carrots and other greens next time.

Stay warm and happy roasting!

roasted autumnal vegetables and scallops

Roasted Vegetables in Mustard + Balsamic



  • handful of brussels sprouts, cut in half
  • 1/2 of a red onion, cut in big chunks
  • handful of mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 1 sweet potato, cut in small chunks
  • salt, pepper and cayenne pepper
  • 5 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TBSP Vegenaise/li>
  • 1 TBSP whole grain mustard


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a big bowl, lightly toss all the vegetables and potato in salt, pepper, cayenne to taste, along with half each of the olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  3. Lay everything on a roasting pan and cook in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until you can easily pierce through the potato with a fork.
  4. Meantime, mix together remaining olive oil and balsamic with vegenaise and mustard. Salt and pepper to taste. Then, when roasting is done, toss the vegetables and potato in this mixture and serve.

A Recipe From Jamie Stelter |

attention vegans: jessica murnane made my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe egg-free!

jessica murnane egg-free choc chip cookieI’ve sang Jessica Murnane’s praises before… but this time, man. Homegirl took my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe — which was already grain- and dairy-free — and removed the eggs. BOOM. Now all you vegans can enjoy them in all their egg-free glory. Check it out / make a big batch of ‘em / thank me (and Jessica!) later.

will you walk with me… to help cure arthritis?

jingle bell run walk 2013That was me emceeing last year’s Jingle Bell Run/Walk with 4-year-old honoree, Paula, who has juvenile arthritis. Each year the Arthritis Foundation recognizes different people with arthritis — their doctors, too — who are doing remarkable things to either spread the word, raise money, or fight for a cure. This year — in exactly one month from today — I’ll be the celebrity honoree.

I’m really looking forward to it because it’s been a rollercoaster of a year for me, arthritis-wise. I was the strongest and healthiest I’ve ever been leading up to my wedding in February, but since then have been dealing with a serious bout of pain, inflammation and disfunction in my ankle. I continue to try different measures — some old, some new, some western, some integrative/holistic — and I’m hoping to strike the right balance soon and shake this limp once and for all. The good news is, pain I was feeling elsewhere — in my hands, wrists and shoulder — has subsided… at least for now. But it’s a lifelong battle; one I’m learning more about every single day.

Which is why it would mean so much if you could walk with me on Saturday, December 6th here in NYC. Some people will run, some people will walk, and some others — like myself — will hobble as best they can. There’s nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about with this group. It’s a fun day, celebrating the life and function that we DO have. Not what we don’t.

So join me! Walk with me! And if you can’t be here, you can still support from afar.

Rishia Zimmern’s Chicken With Shallots

chicken with shallots in skillet, flat shotIf you, like me, wanna keep things real simple in the kitchen by the middle of the week… but also wanna make sure you have something healthy and satisfying for your family… this chicken dish is for you. Bonus if you, like me, only have two mouths to feed: you can pack up the rest and bring it with you to work for lunch. I was the envy of the office when, one morning around 10:30 (I get up early, remember), I peeled the lid off my tupperware, allowing the smell of mustard and shallots waft through the kitchen area. It was fantastic the night before, sizzling straight outta the skillet, but like most things even better cold the next day.

Major kudos to Rishia Zimmern, wife of Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmern, for sharing her delicious recipe with NYT Cooking.

chicken with shallots, in skillet

noah’s citrusy crunchy kale salad

kale salad in serving bowlA few weeks ago we had dinner at our friends Noah and Marissa’s apartment and (for our first course) he made us this sensational salad. I know kale salad feels a little played out considering there’s one on every restaurant menu these days, but this one is different. This one is better. This one bursts with flavor and texture and sweetness so addicting that while I was eating it I asked for the recipe. (I usually wait til the next day / as part of a thank you note.) I then made it at home three times over the next two weeks. Twice I made it as a starter dish, and the third time I decided to go crazy and put a piece of mahi mahi on top (as seen below) and serve it as an entree. And now as I type this I’m dreaming up a way to make it again this week and still have it seem new and exciting.


chicken cacciatore a la food52

chicken cacciatore in dutch ovenI am so utterly tickled by how good my home smells right now… how delightful this bubbling pot of chicken, bacon, vegetables and spices looks…that I am left no choice but to post this recipe for you right now. I’m also waiting for B to get outta the shower and get ready to sit down and eat, but I’m not pointing any fingers… just pointing you to fantastic recipes — like this one on Food52! Try it, and you too can be as tickled as I am by this chicken cacciatore.

bubby’s roast beef

bubby's roast beef MAIN

bubby's roast beef on dining tableI’ve been thinking a lot about my Bubby and Zayda recently and sometimes when I do, I wear my Zayda’s shirt or my Bubby’s hand-knit sweater or necklace. Other times, I make food that reminds me of them. It makes me feel close to them, like they’re here or they know what’s going on in my life. Enter my Bubby’s roast beef / her signature dish. For years I had no idea that it was also called brisket or that roast beef could be served any other way besides in a big roaster with potatoes, carrots and a spicy tomato sauce gravy. Whenever she was serving it, or my mom would make it at home, we would all get so excited. The tenderness of the meat. The sweetness of the sauce. The comfort of potatoes. Best of all: how the house smelled… like love. That’s the power of grandparents. It’s magical, isn’t it?


the prettiest rosiest homemade applesauce

brian eating applesauce

apples in potI love applesauce. Gimme a spoon and I’ll take down a jar of it in one sitting. Only problem is that the first ingredient listed on most store-bought kinds is high fructose corn syrup. Not even apples! High fructose corn syrup. Kinda sad, isn’t it? Sad and disturbing.

Instead of standing tall on my anti-sugar soapbox though, let’s discuss how to make a healthier version… one that barely needs sugar at all.

I bring you: the prettiest rosiest homemade applesauce that won’t give you diabetes. (Didn’t promise I’d stay off the anti-sugar soapbox.) This recipe is adapted from Elana Carlson at Food52, who uses cinnamon sticks and a lot more water. I don’t particularly care for cinnamon, so I just used a dash of it. Some apples, water, the sugar of your choice (I like organic palm sugar), and you’re ready to roll.

My mom-mom used to make her own applesauce with a foley, but that’s way too complicated and laborious. And unnecessary! Leave the skin on, as per Elana’s advice, and if you like your applesauce smooth, just pulse it through a Vitamix (or any kind of blender) after the apples are cooked down.

This is not your grandma’s (or sugary store-bought) applesauce. This is the new and improved applesauce. Your new favorite TV Dinner side (or, if you’re like me, midday pickmeup). Grab a spoon and dig in.

applesauce, pre-cut and cook

applesauce in jars with spoons

The Prettiest Rosiest Homemade Applesauce



  • 15 apples (I used 11 of different red varieties, 4 pink-inside winesaps)
  • Water
  • Sugar, to taste (I used ~2 teaspoons of organic palm sugar)
  • Cinnamon, to taste


  1. Cut and core apples and dump in a big pot.
  2. Pour water in to cover about 1 inch of apples on the bottom.
  3. Turn on medium heat and cover. When water and apples start to bubble, lower the heat, stirring occasionally.
  4. When apples get to your desired softness, taste for sweetness. I only used a dash of cinnamon and a teeny bit of sugar. It is naturally very sweet.
  5. If you want it smooth and not chunky, put a few servings at a time through a Vitamix/blender.
  6. Put in jar or container to store in fridge or freezer!


This recipe is adapted from Elana Carlson at Food52 who says you do not have to skin the apples. The skin gives it more flavor and (better) texture.

A Recipe From Jamie Stelter |

hemsley hemsley beef ragu + courgetti

beef ragu and courgetti, with cookbookI eat fast. I know I shouldn’t. I should slow down, savor each bite, take a breath, enjoy the fruits of my labor. But I can’t help it. I scarf food down like it’s going to be taken away from me if I don’t finish within minutes. Brian, on the other hand, eats slow. So slow that after I’ve finished eating (and checked Twitter, instagram, my email…) I’ll joke that he must hate the food I’ve made. (He doesn’t; what he hates is me saying that.) I’ve said before that I equate how much (and how fast!) he finishes with how much he loves me. Which is why just minutes after I gobbled down this plate of beef ragu and courgetti… or as I like to call it, zucchini noodles bolognese… I was gobsmacked to see that Brian had also cleared his plate. I checked under the table, inside his crumbled up paper towel, even behind him on the couch, but he ate it. Every. Last. Bite.