Mary Miller: Racing Against Time

Baltimore is facing a full-blown economic crisis, along with this public health crisis. The necessary steps to stop COVID-19 – closing businesses, schools, and churches; canceling conventions and entertainment; shutting down parts of our public transit system – have a devastating impact on the local economy.

First and foremost, we have to save lives, and that means complying with the shutdown and all of our government’s directives to stay home and avoid contagion. We don’t know the duration or severity of this pandemic yet, but we are beginning to understand the economic ramifications.

In the past three weeks, 16 million people filed for unemployment insurance. We have never seen this kind of economic contraction unfold with such speed. With economists forecasting a global recession worse than that following the 2008 financial crisis, and the New York Times predicting that the unemployment rate will rise by nearly half a percentage point per day, the impact will be hard and painful. For Baltimore, that means thousands of lost jobs, with nearly 25,000 claims for unemployment payments filed in just the past three weeks.

In 2019, Baltimore had 13,744 businesses that employed over 343,000 people. Small businesses employed over half of these people, and there are an additional 39,000 self-employed and sole proprietors in Baltimore. These are the businesses most exposed to this downturn. A national survey last month showed that 21% of small businesses could not survive a month without income, and an additional 30% couldn’t survive three months.

The impact on individuals is just as devastating, with nearly one in four city residents already living in poverty and many more barely surviving paycheck to paycheck. The interruption in income is already being felt.

The federal government has begun dispersing a $2.2 trillion package of fiscal stimulus, including extended and higher unemployment benefits; direct cash payments to individuals and families; and aid to businesses, state, and local governments. Maryland should see over $2 billion from this package and Baltimore over $100 million in direct assistance. While critically important, these programs may not arrive fast enough to those in need of immediate relief.

Furthermore, many of our most vulnerable neighbors may not see some of these benefits. For example, little accommodation has been made for those without bank accounts and those with too little income to file tax returns that identify eligibility for direct cash payments.

City government should step in – as have many other cities and surrounding counties – with short-term help to bridge this period and serve all Baltimoreans, providing loans and grants to help businesses and non-profits survive this temporary disruption. Baltimore has a rainy day fund, the Budget Stabilization Reserve, and an investment fund, the Neighborhood Impact Investment Fund that can be tapped right now. And the city should undergo a robust public information campaign to ensure everyone knows how to access benefits. It might mean the difference between survival and failure for the employers that keep Baltimore working.

I helped lead our country’s stimulus operation during the recovery from the 2008 financial crisis. What I learned working through that crisis and through the economic recovery in the Obama Administration is the importance of being bold in your ideas, keeping it simple in execution, and, most important, meeting needs as quickly as possible. In a downturn like this, we’re racing against time. I’m prepared to lead our city’s recovery from this crisis on day one.

With strong emergency response and leadership, the pandemic’s health crisis may last a few months, albeit with the psychological impact lasting long after that. Without the right emergency response to the economic crisis, the damage will be deep and long-lasting, causing even further emotional and financial strain on our families.

Annapolis Restaurant Week From February 29 To March 8

Annapolis Restaurant Week started twelve years ago to support local restaurants in the off-season. It is a fun way to support our local restaurants, save a few dollars, have an amazing meal and get out of the house and enjoy time with friends and family.

This is one of the best times to eat out in Annapolis area restaurants. This year’s event starts on February 29, which is Leap Day. The nine-day event runs through Sunday, March 8, 2020 and features over 40 of the Annapolis area’s best restaurants. Those participating in this annual event will be offering price-fixed meal selections for just $12.95 for a 2-course breakfast, $15.95 for a

2-course lunch and a three-course dinner for $34.95. Select locations will also offer additional bonus items and specials, which may include half price bottles of wine, discounted appetizers or specialty drinks.

Courtesy Photo

“Due to the popularity of Annapolis Restaurant Week, we traditionally see a huge upswing in reservations at participating restaurants. So we encourage you to make reservations early especially if you are bringing a larger group,” said Erik Evans, executive director of the Downtown Annapolis Partnership.

This year’s dining options have also increased with four new restaurants joining in the event. The new participating restaurants include Rodizio Grill, Camp Severn Shore, Paladar Latin Kitchen and Rum Bar and Main & Market. Many of the restaurants have also added options to accommodate vegetarian and gluten-free diners. For a complete list of all participating restaurants, locations, menus, gift cards and reservations, visit:

This is the perfect time to try out new restaurants along with your favorites. The City of Annapolis has become a culinary dining destination over the years and this event highlights some of the area’s most popular dining destinations. Several of the areas local restaurants regularly make the list of the top restaurants in nearby metropolitan publications like the Washingtonian Magazine, Baltimore Magazine; and local publications including What’s Up? Magazine and Bay Weekly Newspapers and the show Diners Drive-ins and Dives has also featured participating restaurants.

“Annapolis Restaurant Week is popular with both locals and tourists. With so many dining options and specials you will want to go out to eat every day this week,” said Matt Schatzle Chairman of the Downtown Annapolis Partnership.

For additional information, visit:

Worst Holiday Food Mistakes Are Usually Avoidable

The holidays are upon us, which means dinner with family and friends and a strong desire to put together a memorable meal.

There are downsides when considering what to prepare, and foodies are warning professional and amateur chefs not to get too creative.

“The worst food mistake you can make for the holidays is to try a new recipe when entertaining family and friends,” said Nathan Grieve, founder of Project Hatch, a community website that features case studies from entrepreneurs who’ve created successful businesses and nonprofits so aspiring founders can learn from them. “There is a saying in the athletics community that needs to be applied more often on to cooking. It goes, ‘Nothing new on race day.’”

The entrepreneur spoke from experience.

“When I was younger, I would make macaroni and cheese every year. One year, I wanted the dish to look more festive, and so I added a gold-yellow food coloring,” Grieve said. “After mixing it in, the sauce went completely fluorescent yellow and looked radioactive. Just looking at it put my family off.”

Among the worst food mistakes is making sure not to undercook meat and other items, said Melissa Morris, a writer for, who has degrees in exercise science and educational leadership.

“Two that come to mind are eating raw cookie dough and not using a food thermometer for cooking meats,” Morris said. “Raw cookie dough can cause foodborne illnesses like salmonella, because of the raw eggs and raw flour. Salmonella can cause vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, and dehydration.

“A food thermometer ensures that the food is cooked to a proper temperature and is safe to consume. Undercooked or raw meat can cause foodborne illness like E Coli and salmonella.”

Katie Heil, certified food safety professional with experience in the food mistakes people can make during the holidays, said five common mistakes are easily avoidable.

She lists them as thawing meat incorrectly; not cooking meat long enough; not taking steps to prevent cross-contamination; not washing hands often enough, and leaving food out too long.

“Never thaw frozen meat on the counter. Room temperature is generally within the temperature danger zone— 41°F – 135°F— when bacteria grow the fastest,” Heil said.

When thawing meat in the refrigerator, cooks should plan on one day for every five pounds of meat. When thawing in water, fill a container with enough water to submerge the entire cut of meat and drop in the unopened package, according to Heil.

The water should be as close to 40°F as possible. The water should be changed every 30 minutes, and cooks should plan on 2.5 hours for every five pounds of meat.

“Raw meat can carry bacteria such as E. coli. To kill all the bacteria living on your meat, you must cook it to the FDA’s recommended temperature. Don’t guess at the temperature— use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the food.

The temperatures recommended for three common holiday types of meat are Turkey – 165°F; Stuffing that includes meat – 165°F; and Ham – 145°F.

Heil notes that many people use the same utensils for preparing raw meat as they do for cooking it. This can cross-contaminate your food, even if you cook it to recommended temperatures. Keep your food safe by switching to clean plates and utensils for cooking.

“You should also clean and sanitize your food thermometer between uses. You should also clean and sanitize your utensils, including knives and cutting boards, after using them on raw meat,” she said.

Washing hands with soap and water before and after handling raw meat is essential.

“Don’t use hand sanitizer if you can help it; it’s not as effective as scrubbing with soap. Rewash your hands anytime you think they may have become contaminated,” Heil continued.

Finally, never leave food (cooked or uncooked) out longer than two hours because its temperature can quickly fall into the temperature danger zone when bacteria grow the fastest.

“After two hours, you should put meat and other perishable foods into the fridge or freezer. If any food is left out for four hours or more, throw it away,” she said.

Christmas Village Includes A ‘Cynful’ Delicious Dessert Endor

Experts on The Food Network have noted that the modern and fast-paced world where the phrase “killing two birds with one stone” has trickled into nearly every area of life. “Believe it or not, it applies to a trend showing up on the restaurant scene, too,” Food Network contributor Carlynn Woolsey wrote. “Chefs nationwide are combining desserts and drinks to make for some super special — and convenient — creations.”

And, that’s what Cymande Hagans has done for patrons of Baltimore’s Christmas Village.

She is inviting all to “come taste temptation” at her Cynful Bliss stand at West Shore Park, that’s now a traditional indoor and outdoor German Christmas Market.

“It’s cold, but we are enjoying Christmas Village in Baltimore,” said Hagans, the founder of Cynful Bliss, an online boutique and mobile baker specializing in alcohol-infused cupcakes, cakes, candies and other desserts. “We also offer traditional non-alcoholic dessert options for any occasion.”

However, what’s making the mouths of customers water are Cynful Bliss Salted Caramel Apple Cheesecake, Cynful Colada, and Chocolate Covered Cherry. Also appealing are her creations: Greed, a peach cobbler mixed with peach brandy; Envy, a red velvet cake with rumchata; Gluttony, a chocolate cake with Guinness, Jameson, and Bailey’s; and Lust, a raspberry cheesecake with white chocolate liqueur.

“It’s all a little naughty and taste so good,” Hagans said. “We have something for everyone. This is the first year at Christmas Village in Baltimore; we were at Christmas Village in Philadelphia last year, but after doing some wine festivals here, we decided to come to Christmas Village.”

When Christmas Village closes in December, the delicious desserts won’t. Cynful Bliss will continue to take orders on their website, at Hagans says the company allows customers to “get blissed” with services that cater to weddings, bridal showers, baby showers, birthday parties, and even fundraising events.

“We can come up with the perfect item to sweeten any occasion, including at schools, clubs, and for groups and organizations,” Hagans said. “It’s always great watching people enjoy our desserts for the first time. Our flavors aren’t too overpowering.”

Hagan and her Cynful Bliss will remain at Christmas Village through the closing date of Christmas Eve.

This year, Christmas Village has a remodeled and expanded layout, with a new and expanded open floor plan for the stage, added decorations and space for the Christmas Village Beer Garden, a brand new centerpiece in the middle of the wooden shopping huts, an expanded outdoor food and drink area, a new kids’ corner, and the addition of a second circle of wooden shopping huts.

The 65 feet tall Christmas Village Ferris Wheel returned next to the Visitor Center. Like last year, its colorful lights will shine bright throughout the whole Inner Harbor. The Christmas Village Christmas Tree will again light up at the Inner Harbor Ice Rink, which is sponsored by Joseph and Harvey Meyerhoff Family Charitable Fund, this year.

In partnership with Waterfront Partnership, Christmas Village, Christmas Village Ferris Wheel, Inner Harbor Ice Rink, and other festive attractions will again create the Holiday District in Inner Harbor. Other exciting changes include an expanded selection of mulled wine, even more food options, new artists and vendors, and updated theme weekends.

“It’s the most wonderful time of year on the Baltimore Waterfront,” Christmas Village Project Manager Nancy Schmalz stated in a news release. “After a terrific year last year, we want to continue to surprise and delight with even more new additions, new vendors, more food, and changes in how we use the space.”

The Christmas Village will be open until December 24. Hours are Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Christmas Eve from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The village is closed 9, 10, 16, and 17.

For more information about Christmas Village, visit:

Celebrate The Witching Season With The “Official Drink Of Halloween”: Chocolate Milk

— More often than not, All Hallows’ Eve seems to fall on a weekday when most parents have worked “All Hallows’ Day.” And though we hope the energy of our little monsters becomes contagious, sometimes, that’s not the case. Have no fear! What’s bubbling in the witch’s cauldron is a magic potion— It’s chocolate milk and it’s scary good.

Chocolate milk is the “Official Drink of Halloween.” Finally, something neither children— nor adults— have to be afraid on October 31st. Parents can feel good knowing their little ghouls and goblins are getting a spine-chilling boost of energy they need to make it through the moonlit night, while they too can rediscover that chocolate milk has been an adult favorite for many years.

While you’re conjuring up a unique spirits menu for the adults on the Halloween trail, consider using chocolate milk as a mixer in some of your most enchanting “boo-zy” cocktails. But you don’t have to stop there. Imagine the look on your guests’ faces when they sink their fangs into otherworldly baked goods that have been infused with chocolate milk, proving that this devilish delight can be hauntingly good and enjoyed in a variety of ways.

And at the end of the night, when the guests have disappeared and the last little zombie has rung the doorbell, mummies and daddies can give their families a warm mug of nutrition in disguise as they all settle in to watch the full moon.

Any way you dress it up, chocolate milk is the drink that can make skeletons of any size happy and strong.

Savor SimplicityHoliday recipes worth sharingRustic MinestroneChocolate Chunk Banana BreadCranberry Riesling Brined Turkey

Family Features

Savor Simplicity

(Family Features) Most great holiday gatherings start with great food and end with quality time spent with loved ones. This holiday season, rely on simple recipes that let you spend less time in the kitchen and more time celebrating special moments with family and friends.

As a holiday host, it may be tempting to explore complicated new recipes to lend a festive air to your seasonal celebrations. However, with the right ingredients, a simple recipe can be equally impressive. Delicious holiday dishes start with premium ingredients like Bertolli Olive Oils, which offer enough versatility to be a must-have kitchen accessory throughout the holiday season and onward. From soups to main dishes to desserts, the rich, quality flavor works for nearly every culinary occasion.

After a long day of checking items off your holiday shopping list, there’s almost nothing better than a warm bowl of quick and easy Rustic Minestrone. This vegetarian classic is the perfect mix of marinara blended with aged cheeses, kale, zucchini and beans. One of the best parts: It can be on the table in 10 minutes, meaning less time cooking and more time spent stringing up holiday lights with family.

If you’re looking for a simple way to put a new twist on your turkey, take it to the next level with a seasonal brine made with sweet Riesling, garlic cloves, thyme, fresh cranberries and olive oil. It’s a hands-off way to make a tried-and-true dish a little more special.

Finally, when it’s time to wind down the evening, delight guests by bringing back a classic dessert: chocolate chip banana bread. Served slightly warm with a side of fresh whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream, it’s a sweet finish to any gathering that family and friends are sure to love.

Find more simple recipes to enjoy during the holidays at

  • 3          tablespoons Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
  • 1          small zucchini, sliced in 1/2-inch half moons
  • 2          cups tightly packed, thinly sliced Tuscan kale leaves
  • 1          jar (23 ounces) Bertolli Rustic Cut Three Cheese with Aged Asiago, Romano and Parmesan Sauce
  • 1          carton (32 ounces) vegetable broth
  • 1          can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 1/3       cup shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  1. In 6-quart pot over medium-high heat, heat 2 teaspoons oil. Add zucchini and kale; cook, stirring frequently, about 1-2 minutes, or until kale begins to wilt. Reduce heat to medium; add sauce, broth and beans. Simmer 5-7 minutes, or until heated. Top with shaved cheese before serving.

Tips: Substitute garbanzo beans, kidney beans, pinto beans or tri-bean blend for cannellini beans. For heartier soup, add 3 cups (9 ounces) refrigerated tortellini pasta with broth and beans. Simmer soup 8-10 minutes more, or until pasta is cooked through.

Recipe courtesy of Justin Schuble on behalf of Bertolli Olive Oil

  • 3/4       cup Bertolli Olive Oil, plus additional for coating pan
  • 3          ripe medium bananas, divided
  • 1/2       cup applesauce
  • 1          large egg
  • 1          large egg white
  • 1          teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2    cups all-purpose flour
  • 1          cup sugar
  • 1/2       teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2       teaspoon salt
  • 1/2       teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2       cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks or chips
  • 1/4       cup nut spread
  1. Heat oven to 350° F.
  2. Coat 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with olive oil.
  3. In mixing bowl, mash 2 bananas. Add applesauce, egg, egg white and vanilla to bananas and whisk.
  4. In separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Slowly add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix. Add olive oil slowly and mix until combined.
  5. Fold in chocolate chunks. Pour batter into loaf pan.
  6. Heat nut spread in microwave until it reaches pourable consistency. Swirl spread into top of batter. Thinly slice long, flat strips of banana. Add slices to top of batter for decoration.
  7. Place loaf pan in oven and bake 1 hour. Remove bread and cool before slicing.

  • 1          quart water
  • 6          bay leaves
  • 2          tablespoons whole black peppercorns
  • 1          tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 1 1/2    cups kosher salt
  • 1          bottle (750 milliliters) Riesling wine
  • 2          large shallots, thinly sliced, divided
  • 8          cloves garlic, crushed but left in skins
  • 1          bunch fresh thyme, divided
  • 2          cups fresh cranberries, slightly crushed, divided
  • 1          turkey (16 pounds), giblet package and neck removed
  • ice water, for covering turkey
  • 1/2       cup Bertolli Mild Olive Oil
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  1. In pot, bring water, bay leaves, peppercorns, mustard seeds and kosher salt to boil. Stir until salt is dissolved. Cool to room temperature.
  2. Pour brine into 5-gallon stock pot or container. Pour in wine then add one shallot, garlic, thyme (reserving some for stuffing turkey) and 1 cup cranberries. Slowly lower in turkey.
  3. Pour ice water into pot to cover turkey. Place lid on pot and refrigerate at least 24 hours.
  4. Heat oven to 500° F. Remove turkey from brine, pat dry and stuff with reserved shallot, thyme and cranberries.
  5. Place turkey in roasting pan. Generously massage olive oil into skin of turkey. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Use kitchen twine to tie legs together so turkey will keep its shape. Place in roasting pan and roast 20 minutes. Lightly brush skin again with olive oil, reduce heat to 350° F and roast until internal temperature reaches 155-160° F on meat thermometer.
  6. Allow turkey to rest, loosely covered with foil, 30 minutes before carving.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (Cranberry Riesling Brined Turkey)

Bertolli Olive Oil

Chef Cooks Up Caribbean Delights In New Cookbook

At age nine, Julius Jackson decided he wanted to cook.

“I would stand under my mom or aunts and wait for the food to be ready but I didn’t like being hungry, a pet peeve of mine is having my stomach growl, so I started cooking myself,” said Jackson, now 30 and with a new cookbook, “My Modern Caribbean Kitchen.”

The 176-page book includes 70 original recipes that Jackson says are favorites of his native St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

He has favorites like, “My Mama’s Banana Fritters,” “Granny’s Potato Stuffing,” and “Jackson Clan Red Pea Soup.”

“I was told that I was documenting Virgin Islands history because almost no one put recipes down [on paper] or a book and these are important meals,” he said, adding that, “We cook to survive in the Caribbean, cook to eat.”

A professional boxer, whose father Julius “The Hawk” Jackson is a three-time world champion and boxing hall of famer, Jackson counts as a chef, author, model and actor. He’s appeared on the Telemundo series, “El Cesar,” which is based on the life of the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez.

Jackson also serves as head chef and manager of “My Brother’s Workshop Bakery and Café, where he and others turned the shop into a place for where recent hurricane victims could get free hot meals.

“I’ve been talking about a new book, something about surviving the two category five hurricanes … a Hurricane Cookbook,” he said. “After the storm, we worked with the Salvation Army, the Red Cross and some private donors and they brought in some stuff like canned meat, Vienna sausages and we turned them into hot meals for everyone.”

While the new book is in the early planning stages, his first has received a lot of attention. The publishers say that in the exciting collection, Jackson takes the dishes he grew up with and applies his own culinary fair so you can craft home-cooked meals bursting with the distinct spices and tasty ingredients the Caribbean is known for.

Fantastic, tropical favor is easy to achieve— start the day off with Island-Style Farina for a classic Caribbean morning.

No-Mess Curry Chicken is an easy meal that packs a tasty punch, and One-Pot Wonder Chicken and Rice is a crowd pleaser.

Tangy Creole Fish is crisp and fresh, while pan-fried plantains can be enjoyed anytime throughout the day. Infused with Jackson’s experiences of island life, these recipes are the perfect blend of traditional cuisine, unexpected twists and unforgettable favor, according to

“I’m often asked about my personal favorites. My stewed chicken is a knockout,” Jackson said. “I made that on the Cooking Channel. Another that made the book is Sweet and Savory Pumpkin Fritters, made with calabaza pumpkins, so sweet and savory.”

He says he loves making food that’s “different.”

“I’m always looking for something new to make,” Jackson said.

He credits photographer Jennifer Bloom with helping him with the new book.

“She’s followed my career since the Olympics and she’s also a food photographer. She reached out to me on Twitter and said, ‘hey, you should do a cookbook,’” Jackson said.

And, it’s been a tasty partnership ever since.

“Since I was nine when I fried chicken for my brothers and sisters and I watched them eat it and the smiles on their faces, this is what I knew I wanted to do,” Jackson said.

Baltimore Native Working Hard To Bring Southern Cooking Back Home

Baltimore native Kelli Ferrell says she wasn’t raised with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth. Now, whatever the utensil used, patrons in Georgia can enjoy Ferrell’s kitchen prowess at her popular eatery, “Nana’s Chicken-N-Waffles.”

“I’m from Baltimore. I actually grew up in Edmondson Village and for a short time later my family transitioned to Randallstown, where I went to school and graduated from Randallstown High School,” said Ferrell, a married mother with five daughters.

After high school, Ferrell moved to Atlanta and studied fashion merchandising and design but soon reverted back to a family tradition: cooking.

“Anyone would tell you my mother and grandmother always cooked, so I had no choice but eventually venture into cooking,” she said.

While she has yet to expand her business to include a permanent Charm City location, Ferrell recently received an invitation to host a Pop-Up of her Nana’s Chicken-N-Waffles restaurant at Eager Park in Baltimore, as part of the John Hopkins East Baltimore Medical Center community event.

A plate of chicken and waffles on of the many selections on the restaurant’s menu. Ferrell has plans to open a restaurant in the Baltimore area in the future.

Courtesy Photo

A plate of chicken and waffles on of the many selections on the restaurant’s menu. Ferrell has plans to open a restaurant in the Baltimore area in the future.

However, that event which organizers planned to feature free health screenings, face painting and other activities, was canceled due to the recent floods in and around the city.

Still, it didn’t deter Ferrell’s mission to encourage others, particularly young girls whom she believes by focusing on striving after greatness will help them to achieve success.

“It [focusing on success] makes me work harder, Its very important to me to show my girls that I’m able to be a wife, mom, and still run a business,” Ferrell said. “It’s not always easy but I get it done. Because I grew up in Baltimore and understand some of the challenges and a plethora of negative circumstances that so many inner-city young girls are faced with everyday, I want to inspire them by my success as well as all Baltimore natives.”

Overcoming obstacles, is essential for any businessperson especially women, Ferrell said, noting she has had her share of challenges.

“No one would help me. I had to teach myself and do a lot of reading and research,” she said. “I still have trials and errors, but I’m doing it my way, and it works for me. We’re working hard to build the brand of ‘Nana’s Chicken-N-Waffles.’ So the reality is I can’t worry about doing everything other restaurants have done, because we are carving out our own niche and lane.”

The idea for her restaurant came when she and her husband put together a vision board some years ago and put a restaurant on it.

“We always talked about how it would be nice to combine our family recipes together, and that’s what we did,” she said. “I’d say my grandmother, whom we call ‘Nana,’ is definitely who inspires me.”

With five daughters, Ferrell says she seeks to be an inspiration to them, as well as others.

“My advice has always been to keep God first and don’t be afraid to fail,” she said. “Failure is an inevitable part of success. My first business failed and I had to get a second job to keep it afloat— but I never gave up.”

Ferrell still has plans for several pop-ups in Baltimore and she foresees opening a restaurant in the city.

“We are currently working on two new locations with plans to open a location in the Baltimore area in the near future,” Ferrell said. “I’m so excited about opening our Baltimore location eventually, but for the time being we plan to have a series of pop-ups all around Baltimore every three to four months until our brick and mortar location opens.”

Ferrell says she is also a busy public speaker at women’s empowerment and working mothers groups.

“I just want to inspire others [so] that they too can reach their dreams. It’s important that they at least have dreams,” Ferrell said.

Patient First: Super Snacks For The Game

— The big game is this weekend, and let’s be honest – some of the best parts of game day are tailgating and parties. It just wouldn’t be football season without a buffet line of chips and Buffalo wings!

Here’s the kicker: gorging on game day treats can ruin any healthy eating plan. Making a few nutritious adjustments to your favorite football snacks can make a healthy difference.

Try these healthy game-day snacks:


 Do you love guacamole? Try mashing fresh avocado and adding your favorite salsa to make a great guacamole without the preservatives and mystery-ingredients of store brands. Pair with baked tortilla chips to enjoy this healthy snack.


A healthier alternative to deep-fried Buffalo wings is a baked version. Once the chicken is baked, simply add hot sauce and enjoy.


Replace cheesy nachos with a colorful platter of low-fat cheese, whole-grain crackers, and colorful vegetables with a Greek-yogurt-based dip.


Do you think home-made potato chips sound too time-consuming? Think again! To make your own sour cream and onion potato chips, cut a large baking potato (either Russet or Idaho) into 1/8th inch thick slices. Arrange one third of the potato slices in a single layer on a large microwave-safe plate. Coat the tops of the potato slices with cooking spray, and sprinkle one-third of a packet of dry ranch dressing mix over them. Microwave the uncovered plate on high for 4 minutes, turn over the potato slices, and microwave on high for 3-4 minutes, or until the chips appear dried, crispy, and begin to brown. Remove the chips from the plate and allow them to cool on a wire rack. Repeat this procedure with the remaining potato slices and enjoy.


While the taste brings back memories of childhood, the nutrition here is all grown up.  Make Sloppy Sliders using 95% lean ground meat and add mashed kidney beans for additional protein and fiber. Spice your sliders to taste, serve them on mini whole-grain buns, and top them with diced tomatoes to complete this delicious, healthy snack.


Still worried you may over-stuff yourself with healthy game-day snacks? For many people, the out of sight, out of mind trick works. Sit away from the food table, and focus on the game. Cheering for your favorite team takes a lot of energy and may even burn some extra calories

Here’s another tip. Take a small plate and fill it with the snacks you will enjoy during the game. Remember your meal plan, portion sizes, and resist going back for seconds. Eat slowly and spread your snacks throughout the game to help with portion control.

You may think tailgating and healthy eating may not go together, but a few changes to your favorite football snacks will ensure your diet plan is a winning play.

Brought to you by Patient First.

Is granola healthy?

Yes, whether eaten as a cereal or snack topping, granola can make for a crunchy, nutritious treat. But granola is high in calories, and some versions are healthier than others based on their ingredients.

Granola’s healthy ingredients include oats, nuts, seeds and dried fruit, which deliver important nutrients such as protein, iron, heart healthy fats and fiber (specifically, beta glucan, a cholesterol-lowering fiber from oats.)

Granola is also calorie dense — some contain a little more than 300 calories per cup, but others can pack up to 600 calories per cup, from added oils, coconut, chocolate and added sugars including evaporated cane juice, honey, maple syrup, molasses, cane sugar and brown rice syrup.

“It’s important to be aware of the many sugar sources that could be in granola,” said Rahaf Al Bochi, a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Look for granola that has minimal amounts of added sugar and uses dried fruit for sweetness instead.”

Granola guidelines

It can be difficult to give sugar or fat limits for granola, since portion sizes for granola vary. And it can be challenging to determine just how much fat and sugar is naturally present in nuts and dried fruit, versus how much is added in the form of sweeteners and oils.

So, if you are watching sugars, carbs or calories, your best bet is to limit your portions of granola. Dietitians agree that a quarter of a cup is a good guideline. Use it as a topping to add crunch to yogurt, fruit or even pancakes. Or mix it with a lower calorie, whole grain cereal so you can enjoy a bigger breakfast bowl without going calorie-overboard. You can also use granola as a salad ingredient, or as part of a trail mix.

There’s also the option of homemade granola. “A healthier alternative to store bought granola would be to make your own granola at home,” said Al Bochi. “You would have control over the ingredients and the amount of sugar and fat added.”

To make granola, Al Bochi recommends mixing old-fashioned rolled oats with nuts and seeds. You can add a little honey and vegetable oil to the mix, as well. Bake in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown. Then, add dried fruit and store in an airtight container. Consume within two weeks for optimal freshness.

Just remember, even with homemade, good-for-you-granola, there can be too much of a good thing. So don’t forget to keep your measuring cup handy.