Home  >  Carol LeBeau's Health Journal  >  Carol's Health Journal

Watermelon! Mouth-watering and versatile. Check out these refreshing new ways to enjoy your favorite summer fruit!
10/9/2014 4:52:20 PM

Is it me or is this season’s watermelon the best ever?  Seriously, I can’t get enough of the tasty treat.  Juicy and super-sweet…it’s like candy!  Tom and I can devour an entire mini seedless melon in one sitting!

But when it comes to watermelon, apparently, I’m not very creative.  At my house, watermelon is served one of two ways…in wedges or trimmed from the rind and cut into cubes.  Period.

My friend, Sara, has completely changed that notion.   On a hot, muggy day recently, Sara served a salad I’ll never forget…featuring—you got it—watermelon!   In a large bowl, she whisked two tablespoons each olive oil and red wine vinegar and ¼ teaspoon salt.  To that she added three cups each cubed, seedless watermelon, sliced peaches and baby arugula; one-half cup packed basil leaves and ¼ cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped.  

Meant to serve four, I think I gobbled down three servings myself!  It was like a cool breeze for the palette!   Sara’s salad is now in the recipe rotation at our house and now I’m on the lookout for other fun ways to enjoy watermelon.

Here are a few of the “wacky watermelon” recipes I’ve found.  From now on, when it comes to watermelon, I’m thinking outside the rind!!

Grilled Chicken-Watermelon Tacos
Toss 2 c. chopped seedless watermelon; 1 jalapeno, minced; ½ sm. Red onion, minced; ¼ c. each lime juice and chopped cilantro; and ¼ tsp. salt.  Serve on 8 (6-in.) warmed corn tortillas with 1lb. sliced grilled chicken and ½ c. crumbled Cotija cheese.
Serves 4 

Feta-Watermelon Stacks  (great for appetizers!)
Cut 1 sm. Seedless watermelon into 1-in. cubes (about 40) Top with 1 (1 –lb) block of feta cheese, cut into 1-in. squares (1/4 in. thick), and 1 c. basil leaves; secure with toothpicks.  Transfer to platter; sprinkle with 3 Tbsp. olive oil and ¼ tsp. each salt and pepper.
Serves 10

Frozen Watermelon Coolers
In lg. blender, puree (stopping often to tamp down solid ingredients with wooden spoon) 4 c. cubed seedless watermelon, frozen; 5 c. ice; 1 c. each raspberry sorbet and lime juice; and ½ c. confectioners’ sugar until thick and smooth.  SO yummy!
Serves 4

No-Cook Watermelon “Cake” (a truly “wacky” watermelon recipe…but looks so cool!)
Slice 2 short ends off 1 lg. seedless watermelon so it sits flat; cut away rink to make cylinder (tricky part!) Transfer to cake stand.  Frost with 2 (8-oz.) containers whipped topping.  Top with berries and mint.
Serves 10

One more thing.  Despite the popular notion that watermelon is made up of only water and sugar…watermelon is actually considered a nutrient-dense food, a food that provides a host of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants for very few, guilt-free calories.


Bicycling Across Iowa… For Dad!
By Carol LeBeau
10/2/2014 2:12:23 PM


“Team LeBeauIt was the experience of a lifetime as I went “home” to Iowa this summer and joined more than 15,000 cyclists for the 42nd annual RAGBRAI…my first RAGBRAI. 

RAGRAI is the somewhat awkward acronym for the Register’s (Des Moines) Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa…the oldest, largest and longest recreational touring bicycle ride in the world.  

Speaking of awkward, as a lifelong competitive swimmer, I quickly learned swimming and cycling aren’t even loosely related.  But my lack of skill in the saddle didn’t really matter, because I wasn’t riding for me.  I was riding to remember--my amazing Dad and legendary Iowa bicyclist--who went home to be with the Lord last year.

My step Mom, brother, three nephews and two grandchildren comprised “Team LeBeau,” a small but mighty family contingent hell-bent on pedaling across the Hawkeye State to honor an amazing husband, father, grandfather and 41-consecutive-year participant of the iconic biking event. 

For those not familiar, RAGBRAI is an annual, seven-day, bike-riding party that begins in a selected community along Iowa’s western border and ends in a town along the state’s eastern border.   This year’s route took us from the northwest city of Rock Valley—through 418 miles of lush northern Iowa farmland—to Guttenberg, a charming river town on the Mississippi.

It all began in 1973 when two Des Moines Register newspaper feature reporters decided to take a bicycle ride across Iowa, writing about their experiences.  Of 300 riders starting the ride, 114 (including my Dad) completed the trek.

Dad was officially honored on Day 6 of this year’s ride…a 67-mile leg that started in Waverly (home of Wartburg College!) and ended in American flag-draped Independence, Iowa.  The course was a blur of color that day…with more than 1,500 pairs of mismatched striped socks warn by riders honoring Dad.  His signature attire, the vintage stockings were on sale through the RAGBRAI website…and completely sold out.   

 As my brother, Carter, and I rode together, we reminisced about the guy who made us clean our rooms and encouraged us in all our endeavors.   I believe his impact on the cycling community rivals that of Lance Armstrong (who, by the way, rode RAGBRAI with his entourage. I was just too far behind to actually see him!) A great cyclist, Dad never cared about the race.  He just wanted to encourage all levels of cyclists to get involved by socializing and having fun.

So from Rock Valley to Okoboji and Emmetsburg…through Forest City and Mason City…we made our way through northern Iowa’s beautiful countryside…celebrating Dad’s life and legacy with hills, heat, headwinds and a sense of purpose… all the way to the northeastern Iowa border town of Guttenberg.   As the magnificent view of the Mississippi River appeared in the distance, my stepmom, Kaye, summed it up.  “I feel like he’s still with me and encouraging me along the way.”  

Me too, Kaye.  Me too.

The Dangers of Heat Stroke: Don’t let the late-summer sizzle into a health emergency!
By Carol LeBeau
9/24/2014 11:43:32 AM


A native Chicagoan, my grandmother lived her entire life on the city’s south side.  As Iowa kids, my sister, brother and I thought it was “cool” to visit the big city and stay with Gram in her cute apartment on the top floor of an old, three-story “walk-up.”  

But during a summer heat wave, Gram’s third story dwelling was anything but “cool.”  With no air conditioning and barely a whisper of cross ventilation, the sauna-like conditions in her home were not only miserable, they were downright dangerous.

Gram actually lost one of her elderly neighbors during a brutal summer heat wave nearly 50 years ago.  She died inside her stifling apartment…the victim of heatstroke.  Fortunately, my Gram survived the brutal Chicago summers.  She lived a full life and died peacefully at the age of 75.

Sad to say, that same scenario continues to play out in cities across the country today.  As the temperatures continue to rise is San Diego, the risk of developing heat stroke increases…especially for seniors…like my Gram’s friend.

A recent study at the University of Chicago Medical Center found that forty percent of heat-related fatalities in the United States are among people over the age of 65.  As we age, our bodies become less resilient to changes in temperature.  In addition, many seniors take prescription medications that can inhibit their ability to regulate temperature or perspiration.  Seasoned citizens are also more likely to have chronic medical conditions that change normal body responses to heat.

Heat stroke is the most dangerous heat-related illness, but recognizing the early warning signs can ward off a dangerous outcome.

The first signal is bright red, hot-to-touch, dry skin.  By not sweating, your body’s natural cooling mechanism is not working.   Body temperature can then rise to 106 degrees or higher within 15 minutes.  Dizziness, nausea, headache, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, fainting, increased fatigue and breathing problems are additional indications of heat exhaustion.

Fortunately, heat stroke is preventable.  To stay safe as the temperature rises this summer and early fall, follow these simple guidelines:

1.    Stay indoors during the heat of the day.  If possible, leave the house before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m.
2.    Drink plenty of water.  Even if you’re not thirsty, continue to drink liquids -avoiding caffeine or alcohol, which contribute to dehydration.  If you’re taking water pills, check with your doctor about how much you should drink when the weather is hot.  Also, avoid cold liquids.  They can cause cramps.
3.    Dress in light-colored, loose-fitting clothes…in cotton, if possible…it breathes better.  Wear a wide-brimmed hat when outside.
4.    If you don’t have air conditioning, find cooler places to spend the day.  Visit the library, mall, movie theater or senior center to escape the heat.
5.    Stay in contact with friends and family. During times of extreme heat, it’s a good idea to have a friend, neighbor or family member check in twice a day to look for signs of heat-related illnesses.
6.    Take it easy.  Avoid exercise during extreme heat.  Rest and take a cool shower or bath.
7.    If you notice signs of heat-related illness, be sure to call 911 immediately.

Although air conditioning is readily available, many in southern California choose not to have it.  After all, most of the year, our weather is quite temperate.  But when that occasional heat wave hits, be on the alert for signs of heat-related illness…in yourself…those you love and the sweet lady in the apartment down the hall.   

It could mean the difference between life and death.

UV Light Lamps
By Carol LeBeau
9/19/2014 3:13:04 PM


When I first heard about Shellac two years ago, it sounded too good to be true!

The sign at Tammy’s Nail Salon in Hillcrest touted the benefits of the new “30-minute, in-salon manicure that dries almost instantly, promising perfect polish for two weeks.”  

Like many women, I’d tried it all. Maintaining acrylic nails took too much time and left my nails paper-thin. None of the gels last and are a mess when they start to peel.  Going natural wasn’t the answer either. My nails constantly chip and crack and most polishes last about a day (especially after working out in a chlorinated swimming pool!)

So, amid the growing “buzz” over the new manicure technique, I gave Shellac a try. Amazingly, the iridescent, candy-red on my fingers stayed fresh, shiny and entirely chip-free for 18 days!!  I’ve been a fan ever since.

But a few months ago, a scaly patch appeared on the top of my right hand. So I’ve been taking a time out from my nail routine to check things out. Could that tiny patch possibly be skin cancer? If so, could the nail salon dryer be the cause?  
A quick check with my dermatologist ruled out skin cancer, but a Google check confirmed my suspicions. According the Web MD, the dryers emit primarily UVA light-the same kind of ultraviolet light used in tanning beds-and are used to dry nail polish or to harden gel manicures. One study suggests the damage can occur in as few as eight visits to the manicurist.

But don’t cancel your next nail gel appointment just yet. While previous studies have linked the UV lamps with increased risk of skin cancer, newer research indicates the risk may be minimal.

After testing 17 different lamps in nail salons, researchers calculated that it would take between eight and 208 visits, depending on the machine, to damage skin cells in a way that raises cancer risk.

Published in the journal, JAMA Dermatology, lead study author Dr. Lyndsay Shipp explains, “I wouldn’t tell a patient to stop going unless they were going multiple times a month.”  

Dr. Shipp’s team believes earlier studies on the UV lamps may have been flawed. “There is a theoretical risk,” says Dr. Shipp, “but it’s very low.”

The study explains lamps with higher wattage bulbs emit the highest levels of UV radiation, but it’s not easy for a salon client to check the wattage before using a machine.

What to do? If, like me, you’re concerned about the possible risk, but want to continue getting gel manicures using UV light, here are a couple of options: 

1.    Coat your hands with sunscreen before having gel nails applied
2.    Wear UV-protective gloves with the fingertips cut off so only the nails are exposed to the light.

As far as I’m concerned, problem solved! And if I run into you at Tammy’s Salon, I’m happy to share my sunscreen!

Chillin' in Catalina! The Best Girl’s Weekend… Ever!
By Carol LeBeau
9/4/2014 2:48:14 PM


Carol and friends on Catalina IslandThe dog days of summer are here. That means millions of Americans are on vacation… taking time away from their daily routines and hectic schedules to relax and enjoy life.

At least that’s the idea.  

I don’t know about you, but vacations wear me out! Planning and preparing for a trip can be overwhelming. Travelling is fun, but can also be exhausting. When I get home, it can take days to “catch up.” 

Hardly seems worth it! 

Well, let me tell you about the summer getaway that has completely changed my “bah humbug” attitude about vacations.   

I just spent three magical days in a vacation paradise. No, it wasn’t the south of France, Fiji or any other exotic travel destination halfway around the world. My three days of perfect rest and relaxation happened close to home on beautiful Santa Catalina Island.

Nine “gal-pals” from San Diego and Los Angeles converged Friday morning on the Long Beach ferry terminal and boarded the Catalina Express for the start of a girl’s weekend like no other… a getaway fit for a king! And I mean that literally! 

We stayed at the historic Inn on Mt. Ada… a magnificent mansion (owned by the Wrigley family) that has played host to royalty, dignitaries and celebrities since the 1920’s. Fortunately, now anyone can reserve a room at the iconic Inn.

And oh! What a treat!

Once inside, I didn’t know where to look first! The Inn is perched high atop a hill overlooking the town and harbor of Avalon, Catalina Island’s only city. From it’s many windows, the Inn commands eye-popping views of the canyon, hills, town, ocean and harbor. 

We’d booked five of the six spectacular rooms at the Inn. The peace was palpable as we settled in to our beautiful, restful bedrooms. We later gathered downstairs to experience the charm of the historic Inn and the comfortable elegance of a bygone era.

For the next three days, we practiced relaxing. In the den, on the sun porch, buried in over-stuffed chairs in the living room, swaying in wicker rockers on the picturesque terrace wrapped around the home… our home, for the next three fabulous days.

From a homey pantry, we could indulge in fresh fruit, mixed nuts, soft drinks, beers, wines, ice cream sundaes (!!!) popcorn, coffee, teas and cocoa. A hearty breakfast, lovely lunch and appetizers served by a hostess in the evening are all included in the price of your room.

We were pampered with comfy robes, hair dryers, movies, games and music. We even had our own golf carts to cruise around Avalon. Free to come and go, we shopped, hiked, zip-lined and even took in a movie in the beautifully restored old Casino Theater.

Ocean breezes lulled us to sleep. We awoke to the aroma of fresh coffee and hot homemade muffins just outside our bedroom doors. That’s right. Breakfast in bed in the “Windsor Room.” Turns out, the cozy corner room with wraparound views has hosted many famous guests, including Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Warren Harding and yes, the Prince of Wales. In this case, it was only yours, truly and my dear friend, Janine!

But the Inn on Mt. Ada is more than fun, food and a place of peace. It is the perfect setting for lotsa laughs and fellowship with friends, old and new. No one wanted to break the spell by leaving our “island home,” but all good things must come to an end.  

So, Sunday afternoon, we boarded the ferry, headed back to the mainland and back to reality - refreshed, rested, and ready-to-go!

Back from a vacation… in every sense of the word!

Marlena’s Chicken Pesto Pasta
By Carol LeBeau
8/27/2014 12:00:00 PM


For more than thirty years, I’ve been blessed to be part of a great group of women… eight faithful, caring, fun-loving friends who also happen to take birthdays very seriously.

In fact, our “birthday group” boldly celebrates aging up with a lively luncheon for each lady - complete with fabulous food, crazy greeting cards, special gifts, lotsa laughs and gobs of gab! 

I love those luncheons- until it’s my turn to host one.

You see, my friends are all highly skilled, domestic divas! Me? I would rather address a joint session of Congress than prepare lunch for eight. But with a sense of humor, a few short cuts, and encouraging friends, I somehow get through it.

This year, when my birthday rolled around, the “girls” surprised me with a gift that keeps on giving… a packet of recipes even I can’t screw up!

They gave me their easiest, tastiest, no-fail, favorite dishes and boy, has dinner taken a turn for the better around our house!

In the coming months, I’m going to share a few of these delicious dishes with you… starting with this incredible pasta recipe from Marlena Brown. Just toss all the ingredients in a big bowl. Then sit back and enjoy the oo’s and ah’s!!


Marlena’s Pesto Pasta

1 jar Classico Pesto  (or any brand you choose.  I like Buitoni.  You’ll find it in the refrigerator section at Vons)
1 6-oz. jar of sundried tomatoes (no need to drain)
1 4-oz. jar of capers, drained
1 4-oz can sliced olives
1 ½ pounds chicken, cooked
1 bunch scallions, sliced
1 lb. pasta, cooked (I love whole grain)

Toss ingredients together.


Take a bow!

Don’t I just have the best friends?! Stay tuned for Kendra Dawson’s awesome posole!!

“Superfoods” may get all the buzz, but don’t forget your favorite everyday food all-stars!
By Carol LeBeau
7/21/2014 9:57:11 AM


Have you ever wondered what’s so super about “superfoods?”    

Somehow, I managed to live more than 55 years without acai? I still can barely pronounce it. I think it’s (ah-sah-EE.) Oh, I’ve tried to incorporate the all-star berry into my diet, but like pomegranate, another fruit rock star, to me it tastes like dirt.

Kale may be the current king of the leafy greens, but hey, it’s an acquired taste.  

Actually, I just read about another trendy green that might give kale some competition. It’s the “fiddlehead.” I’m serious! Fiddlehead is a curly fern that’s getting a lot of buzz as the next “fit food.”

Lately there’s been so much focus on these nutritional newcomers that less glamorous fruits and veggies are sometimes treated like second-class citizens.

Fortunately researchers are discovering new reasons to get excited about the old stand-bys! The best part? You probably already stock many of them in your kitchen.

The crunchy green is back on the must-eat list as a potential cancer fighter. It’s a top source of a flavonoid called apigenin. The substance activates a chemical reaction inside diseased cells, causing them to self-destruct. No one is suggesting celery can cure cancer, but scientists say over time a diet containing apigenin-rich foods may help prevent the disease.

The skins of these snackable bites are bursting with resveratrol…the same superstar antioxidant that helps make red wine good for your heart. A recent study has discovered that resveratrol may also aid in boosting immunity…by helping increase levels of a molecule that kills bacteria and viruses. In fact, adding grapes to your diet may even protect you from contracting infections in the first place.

For years, fungi have been thought to be heart healthy and immunity boosting. Now science shows that they may even help prevent breast cancer by lowering estrogen levels. Cancer researcher Dr. Shiuan Chen found that when postmenopausal women consumed 13 grams of mushroom powder (the equivalent of one and a third cups of white button mushrooms) per day for three months, their estrogen production dropped by 27%.

Bell Peppers
Researchers have long known that smokers have a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s. And while no doctor would encourage lighting up, there may be another way to get the benefit: peppers. They’re a safe source of nicotine, which may protect dopamine-producing cells. The results of a study published in the “Annals of Neurology” found that eating bell peppers twice a week or more was associated with at least a 30 percent reduced risk of Parkinson’s.

Talk about super foods!

And there’s more. Remember the old rule, “eat the rainbow?” When nutrition experts first urged us to fill our plates with brightly hued produce, it made sense.  They were just discovering the powerful benefits of a crayon box of antioxidants – from red (lycopene in tomatoes) to blue and purple (anthocyanins in berries and grapes) to orange (beta carotene in carrots).

Well, guess what? Nutrition experts now admit, “white is a color, too!” Cauliflower packs the powerful cancer-combating compounds also found in its flashy cousin, broccoli. Garlic and onions may be pale, but they protect against stomach and colorectal cancer. And Portobello and cremini mushrooms are just as rich in antioxidants as green beans, carrots and red peppers.

So don’t let so-called “superfoods” crowd out staples that are just as nutritious. When it comes to fresh produce, whatever the color, it’s all good!

The Wonders of Water (and the dangers of not getting enough!)
By Carol LeBeau
7/10/2014 11:04:19 AM


What began as a pleasant bike ride took a potentially dangerous turn recently.   

You see, I’m training for a bicycle tour in Iowa the end of July. Hoping to be prepared for the seven-day, 300-mile trek across the Hawkeye State, I’ve been slowly upping my mileage since early spring. 

So far, so good.  

That is, until something went terribly wrong on a typical training ride. It was hot and dry with Santa Ana winds. I though it would be good training since the July heat in Iowa can be oppressive and the headwinds a real challenge.  

At 18 miles, I started feeling “funny…” mildly nauseous, cool, and clammy. As I pedaled down the Strand in Coronado, I found myself mildly disoriented.

Then I got scared. I thought back to the 16 ounces of water I chugged before taking off two hours earlier… then checked the water bottle on my bike and saw it was still half full.

That’s when I realized I’d become severely dehydrated.

After downing the remainder of my water, I slowly rode home. Exhausted and a little shaky, I gratefully realized it could have been a lot worse.

It’s not like I don’t know the importance of getting enough water. How could any of us forget the timeless mantra reminding us to “drink eight glasses of water a day?”  But with added activity, excessive heat and low humidity, I should have been drinking eight ounces an hour!  

As we head into what’s expected to be an especially hot summer, don’t make my mistake. Get plenty of H2O. Need more motivation? Here are a few more reasons to keep your water bottle close by.  

Stay Slimmer With Water

Trying to lose weight? Water revs up your metabolism and helps you feel full. Replace calorie-filled beverages with water and drink a glass before meals to help you feel fuller. Drinking more water helps amp up metabolism – especially if your glass is icy cold. Your body must work to warm up the water burning a few extra calories in the process.

Water Boosts Your Energy

If you’re feeling drained and depleted, get a pick-me-up with water. Dehydration makes you feel tired. The right amount of water will help your heart pump your blood more effectively. Plus, water can help your blood transport oxygen and other essential nutrients to your cells.

Lower Stress With Water

Up to 80 percent of your brain tissue is water. If you’re dehydrated, your body and your mind are stressed. If you’re feeling thirsty, you’re already a little dehydrated.  To keep stress levels down, keep a glass of water at your desk or carry a sports bottle and sip regularly.

Build Muscle With Water

Drinking water helps prevent muscle cramping and lubricates joints in the body.  When you’re well hydrated, you can exercise longer and stronger without “hitting the wall.”

Nourish Your Skin

Fine lines and wrinkles are deeper when you’re dehydrated. Water is nature’s own beauty cream! Drinking water hydrates skin cells and plumps them up, making your face look younger. It also flushes out impurities and improves circulation and blood flow, helping your skin glow.

Stay Regular With Water

Along with fiber, water is important for good digestion. Water helps dissolve waste particles and passes them smoothly through your digestive tract.

Water Reduces Kidney Stones

The rate of painful kidney stones is rising. One of the reasons could be because people including children aren’t drinking enough water. Kidney stones can’t form in diluted urine, so reduce your risk with plenty of water.

So, are you getting enough water? According to Web MD, most healthy adults get enough to drink by letting thirst guide them. But the exact amount you need depends on your size, level of activity, the weather and your general health. As I learned the hard way, you may need more water, if you exercise or sweat heavily.

The Bayshore Bikeway. Bike the Bay for fun and fitness!
By Carol LeBeau
6/30/2014 10:22:55 AM

Every summer, my home state of Iowa hosts one of the premiere bicycling events in the country. July 20 marks the start of the 42nd annual RAGBRAI – an acronym for the (Des Moines) Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa.  It’s the granddaddy of all cross-state bike rides, drawing cyclists from around the world. This year, for the first time, I plan to be among the 10,000 riders pedaling 450 miles across the Hawkeye state.
I’ve been training several months for the ride…slowly increasing my mileage and the all-important “fanny time” every cyclist needs to prepare for seven days in the saddle!   
Completely out of my comfort zone, I’m grateful for advice and encouragement from my biking pals, good health to keep up with the training and the best place on earth to ride a bike.
It’s true! San Diego is the center of the universe when it comes to cycling. Cyclists who come here to train know it as Bike City, USA.  And you don’t have to be a competitor to enjoy the benefits. There are 510 existing miles in San Diego’s bicycle network – an additional 595 additional miles are proposed by 2030.
While I’ve enjoyed (more like survived!) fabulous rides both in north and east counties – my favorite training rides have been along the beautiful Bayshore Bikeway. And apparently, I’m not alone. The 24-mile bicycle route is rated tops by San Diego County Bicycle Coalition and is a bicycling destination for thousands of riders every day.
I just love the 13 miles of bike paths that make up the car-free bikeway. It’s safe, well maintained and great for an intense workout or relaxing ride. The rest of the route consists of on-street sections designated as either bicycle lanes or bicycle routes.  
Whether you’re training for RAGBRAI or just want a ride with a view, this is an iconic, must-do cycling tour of San Diego’s bay shore.  Starting downtown, hitch a ride (your bike, too!) with “Flagships’ Coronado Ferry” or “Water Taxi” across the Bay. Then start your ride after docking at the Coronado Ferry Landing. The Bikeway makes its way through Coronado along the Silver Strand through Imperial Beach and Chula Vista and back into downtown San Diego.
The route is mostly flat, but definitely lengthy, so bring plenty of water and snacks.  Most of the opportunities to stop and eat are at either end of the course.  And while the ocean breezes keep you cool, they can also kick up in the afternoon, causing strong head and crosswinds. Just allow enough time and stay fueled and hydrated and you’ll have a blast while getting a great workout.  
The Bayshore Bikeway is just one more reason San Diego is America’s Finest City. And from your bike, San Diego Bay never looked so good!
Meet Melissa d’Arabian
By Carol LeBeau
6/24/2014 1:38:04 PM

For all you “foodies” out there, this may be hard to believe, but I have never watched the Food Network. I can’t tell you where to find the Cooking Channel either.   
I realize it’s my loss. It seems everyone I know loves to watch and learn from cooking shows. And while I could certainly use a little help in the kitchen (just ask my long-suffering husband!), I’ve just never found slicing and dicing or simmering and sautéing all that interesting to watch.  
Until I met Melissa d’Arabian!
Left: Melissa d'Arabian (3rd from left) with emcee, Pat Brown (left), yours truly and friend, Vicki Hesterman.
The New York Times best-selling cookbook author, host of “Ten Dollar Dinners,” and winner of the “Next Food Network Star” recently wowed a crowd of 400 as the keynote speaker at my church’s (First United Methodist Church, San Diego) annual “Spring Fling” women’s luncheon.  
Melissa may be a pretty face, a celebrity chef, and an engaging TV host, but as she shared her compelling life story, it became clear she also possesses an inner beauty and depth of character not often seen in the celebrity world.
Early in her work life, d’Arabian found success in corporate America. She received her MBA from Georgetown University and was enjoying a career in corporate finance when she met her now husband, Philippe, in Paris.
When the two returned to the States and started their family in Coronado, d’Arabian made a career shift to stay-at-home mom. And with four daughters close in age, her work schedule was packed full.
One challenge was figuring out how to feed four young children on a sustainable budget, but with her love of cooking and financial savvy, d’Arabian discovered how to kill two birds with one stone. She began making her own baby food and yogurt at home. “I was saving $125 to $150 a month on yogurt alone!” she says.  
The idea became so popular among her friends and family, she began self-recording home yogurt-making tutorials on her cell phone to share with even more moms. 
The concept of combining delicious recipes and money-saving techniques spread quickly leading to her victory on season five of Food Network’s “The Next Food Network Star.”
That was five years ago and the TV competition was true to its name. Melissa is now well known as the star of Food Network’s “Ten Dollar Dinners.” She has a best-selling cookbook of the same name and her second book is due out soon. She is also featured in numerous publications.
But Melissa’s successes are just part of her story. The gifted, bright-eyed beauty is also a down-to-earth, passionate woman of faith…a faith that has carried her through life’s trials, including her mother’s suicide when Melissa was only 19 years old.
As Melissa shared, it became clear that success and celebrity are not what’s most important in her life.  Her main focus is to be on the path God wants her to be on, which affects her daily decisions as a woman, wife, mother and professional. “I focus on staying in a place where I’m grateful for everything I have. Faith is what gets me through.”
Melissa has even turned the pain of her mother’s loss into an opportunity to help others as she champions the cause of suicide prevention through a variety of organizations. She is an active Girl Scout leader for her daughters and was recently honored by the organization as one of San Diego’s “Cool Women.” 
I have to agree with the Girl Scouts. In fact, Melissa d’Arabian is not only “cool,” she’s a breath of fresh air. And now that I’m one of her fans, I plan to DVR her show, if for no other reason than to get a little boost from her million-dollar smile.
Who knows, I may even learn how to separate an egg in the process!
Check out Melissa’s recipes at melissadarabian.net/recipes/
(I recommend her Salad Nicoise. It’s yummy and so easy, even I can make it!)