Diana Glasser has joined Eugene Daily News as our food and nutrition writer. She will give EDN readers a new recipe each week in her column “Pofta Buna!” “Pofta Buna!” is the Romanian equivalent of “Bon Apetit!” We went with the Romanian equivalent because Diana is originally from Moldova. She will also occasionally share her thoughts on health, wellness, and nutrition as well. Diana is currently earning her M.S. in Holistic Nutrition and has a blog called The Kitchen Rag.
In the first installment of “Pofta Buna!” EDN’s R.L. Stollar interviews Diana about her life, her love for food, and her interest in nutrition. Then Diana shares an easy recipe for a fantastic dessert.
A little bit about Diana
Can you tell me a bit about growing up in Eastern Europe?
I was born in a small rural community in the Republic of Moldova. My parents are two extremely hard working individuals, who live on a beautiful self-sufficient farm. When I was five years old I witnessed the fall of the Soviet Union. My country was in chaos and one of the poorest countries in the ex-Soviet bloc, but my family had fresh delicious food for every meal. I never grew up feeling as though we lacked anything. I learned to milk cows and goats by the time I was 7. We had a big vegetable garden and a beautiful apple orchard behind our house. My mother baked all of our bread in a big clay oven once a week. My main responsibility during summer breaks was feeding the chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, piglets, calves, etc. We never bought our food at the grocery store, but instead preferred our own homegrown, homemade meat, borsht, salad, fruit, cheese, kefir, and bread.
What prompted you to move to Eugene, Oregon?
I fell in love with the classics at a very young age. The world of Homer, Virgil, Voltaire, Rousseau, and Dostoevsky fascinated me. Foreign languages both spoken and dead were my favorite subjects in school. At the age of 18 my English teacher (a Peace Corps volunteer) sent me a link to Gutenberg College. It was the perfect fit. I would study the classics for 4 years and learn German and ancient Greek in the process. My application to Gutenberg was accepted, so I gave up my free ride to the State University of Moldova and booked a flight to Eugene.
What got you interested in holistic nutrition?
4 years of learning how to think critically and analyze difficult texts was an outstanding preparation for the controversial world of nutritional science. After spending a few years in the U.S. I started to feel a bit alienated from my food. Fortunately, I picked up a copy of Michel Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”, an accessible and eye-opening book that was pivotal in my choice to pursue nutrition and a gateway to the wide world of alternative nutritional literature. Our culture tells us that there is little to be done about things like cancer, heart disease, arthritis, dementia, allergies, etc, except to take more and more medication. But increasingly more thought is being put into the colossal role of nutrition in health. I want to be a part of this new field of medicine so that I could help people take their health and the health of their children into their own hands, instead of being pushed around by pharmaceutical corporations and the like.
Do you see a connection between your interest in holistic nutrition and your cooking?
For me the two are intimately connected. My meals have become not only tastier, but more nutritious; I am more aware of the health benefits – and detriments – of the food I put on the table. One of the coolest connections is being able to cook meals tailored to nourish specific needs and occasions, like a sick person, an athlete, an expecting mother, a Celiac, a diabetic, etc.
What is your favorite dish to cook?
I enjoy cooking veggies. It’s fun to discover the optimal way to prepare them in order to get the highest nutritional value. My husband cooks the meat and I cook the plants.
What is your favorite dish to eat?
I love a good roasted whole chicken with gravy and mashed cauliflower.
What one food do you most hate?
I religiously avoid anything containing soy in its various forms, which is certainly not just one food! I’ll make an exception for a traditionally fermented dish, like Miso.
Has living in Eugene impacted your views on nutrition and cooking?
Yes, absolutely. Eugene has so many possibilities compared to most places in the country. There are a great ton of veggie and meat CSA’s. The local boutique grocery stores, like Kiva, Capella, and Sundance, have wonderful options for organic and wholesome products. The farmer’s markets are outstanding here, abundant with fresh, local, and organic produce. Even before I was interested in nutrition I loved walking to the downtown market and chatting with the hard-working, local famers. People here tend to be more interested in things like alternative approaches to health. I feel blessed to live in a place where that kind of thing is welcome.
One more question. If you could tell everyone in the world to do one thing to better their nutrition right now, what would that be?
Try to shop only on the periphery of the grocery store. Avoid the aisles. They mostly contain highly processed food.
And now for a quick and simple recipe…
Honey Sweetened Banana Cream Pie
- 4 overripe bananas
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 whole eggs
- 2 tsp real vanilla
- 7 honey-sweetened graham crackers
- 4 tbsp butter
- Process graham crackers with butter; compress onto baking dish to form crust.
- Blend bananas with 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup honey, 1 tsp vanilla, and eggs; poor into pan, on top of crust.
- Bake in preheated oven for 10 min at 375*; when done, refrigerate until cold throughout.
- Whip 2 cups heavy cream with 1tsp vanilla and 1/4 cup honey; pour on top of banana layer; sprinkle with cinnamon.