Personal Chef Services available in Baltimore, Maryland

Risotto with Artichokes and Leeks

Risotto with Artichokes and Leeks

Update May 2017:
I wrote this blog post when I moved to Frederick, MD in 2009. I moved to Baltimore in April of 2015 and have been serving clients in Baltimore and the surrounding areas for the past two years. I still service the DC area as well.

Coming home late from work, Beth walks into her home with a toddler in tow, and remembers with a flash that she had her personal chef come and cook meals for her family today.  A sigh of relief and a feeling of excitement fill her body as she looks forward to trying the delicious meals awaiting her in the refrigerator.

Her husband comes home just as she is heating up some of the meals for them to enjoy for dinner.  Everything looked so good, it was hard to decide what to try first.  Without having to cook anything, they settle down to the table and enjoy their meal together with their daughter.

This is the kind of experience that I give people when I cook for them as a personal chef.  I started my business, Sarah’s HeART of Cooking Personal Chef Services in 2006 and quickly started cooking full time.  However, I also became pregnant in March of 2007, slowing me down quite a bit, to say the least.

Last year I continued cooking for a few of my clients but I didn’t go back full time like before my pregnancy.  I also started my online service, the Nourishing Foods Menu Planner, so that I could start to serve people from home and on a wider scale.

My family and I have been living in Berkeley Springs, WV, but as of the end of this March, we will be moving to Frederick, Maryland.  My husband is from the Baltimore area so one reason why we are moving is to be closer to his family. Once we move, I will once again cook for my clients on a regular basis.  I am also accepting new clients so if you are looking for someone to do all the work and you live in or near Frederick, give me a  buzz.

One of my clients from Arlington, Virginia told me that I was the only personal chef she could find in the area that was willing to work with her limited diet instead of a fixed menu.  Because of a health condition, she had a long list of foods that she couldn’t eat.  When we started working together I used her “good” list and created a menu that worked for her body as well as her taste buds.

Indian Style Eggs

Indian Style Eggs

Another client who I cooked for last year who suffers from congestive heart failure said that the first personal chef he approached wasn’t willing to “sacrifice taste” by making salt-free food to cater to his low-sodium diet.  I created a menu for him with low-sodium foods and made meals that were still very tasty.

I also have many clients who simply want to eat healthy and nutritious meals.  They don’t have time to plan, shop and cook their meals because of a work schedule and enjoy having this done for them in the safety of their own home.

For me I love being able to give people the gift of healthy, organic, home-cooked meals free of preservatives and chemicals.  Many people simply don’t have the time or desire to cook and end up eating restaurant food or frozen meals.  Unfortunately, this diet can affect one’s health.  I offer a great alternative – home-cooked meals without having to do any of the work.  My clients love it!

Underlying my services is a deep belief that the quality of the food we consume is an intrinsic part of our well-being.  Food affects us on more levels than just the physical – it nourishes our hearts, minds and our spirits!  Furthermore, it offers us deep healing qualities that one can find only by eating certain foods.  To me, it is very amazing to think of the bounty that the earth gives us every day in order to nourish and heal our bodies.  This philosophy coupled with my wide knowledge of cooking for limited diets makes my service unique.




Grain-free, egg-free experiments

Pecan Crusted Amaranth Bread, Grain and Egg-free
Pecan Crusted Amaranth Bread, Grain and Egg-free

But what if it doesn’t turn out?

I am usually a very experimental cook, but I do find myself stalling sometimes; stalling to try something new in cooking or baking.  The reason is simple; it’s entering into the territory of the “unknown” and that little question, hiding in the background, seems to take precedence over my best intentions sometimes.

The little question?  “But what if it doesn’t turn out?”  For some reason this stops me, and many others, from trying something new and dabbling in a little creativity.  Our minds simply don’t want to deal with the risk that something terrible might happen if we actually get up the nerve to try coconut flour or egg-free baking.

And if we really think about it, the worst that can happen is that something doesn’t turn out and we are left with a pile of tasteless crumbs.  Or maybe they are tasty crumbs that need to be eaten with a spoon.  Either way, if we actually face this question straight on, we see that it is just a small part of ourselves that is a little afraid of something new.  And that’s okay, because we all have a comfort zone that is, well, comfortable.

But what happens when life hands us a different set of cards and we find ourselves with less ingredients to work with because of an allergy or condition that limits a food group from our diet?

I have always loved eggs.  They are great protein and fill my tummy up very well if I have them for breakfast.  I even gave egg yolks to my son starting at 6 months old because they “supply cholesterol needed for mental development as well as important sulphur-containing amino acids.”  I used all organic eggs from pasture-raised chickens, which are rich in omega-3 amino acids.  These fatty acids are essential for the development of the brain and are also found in mother’s milk.  I learned this from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon (pg.600).  Egg whites however, should be avoided in a baby’s diet until at least one year of age because they can cause an allergic reaction if introduced too early.

However, though not officially tested yet, Elijah breaks out around his mouth now, even after eating just an egg yolk, even worse if he has egg whites.  So, while I have always been hesitant to use egg replacements, simply because I haven’t had a problem with eggs and because it is easier just to throw in an egg, I have started using some of the many concoctions that are great for replacing eggs in my baking.

And the foods I am creating egg-free are still turning out great!  In this week’s menu planner, I included a recipe I adapted from an Arrowhead Mills package of amaranth for Amaranth Date Pecan Bread.  The original recipe had wheat flour and eggs and butter in it (I used butter but you can easily use grapeseed, safflower or coconut oil) and I converted it to be egg, wheat, gluten and grain free.

At this point, it was almost a fun challenge to see if I could make it grain-free and still taste good.  So I made up a quinoa blend with tapioca flour and potato starch.  The result was surprising!  Chewy, a little crunchy, and sweetened with dates and honey, it was a real treat.  It was very yummy and even Elijah agreed.  It ended up being great as a snack, breakfast, or slightly sweet treat.

So next time you notice a part of yourself stalling in someway to try something new in cooking or baking, take a step back and just notice the question or thought that might be getting in the way.  Then tell it to take a break and have some tea and you’ll get back to it when you’re done with your little experiment.  (Or not!)  Even if something does turn out to be a flop, you will always learn something from it.  And the best medicine I’ve found for being disappointed with an experiment?  Laughing!

Pecan Crusted Amaranth Bread, Grain and Egg-Free
Pecan Crusted Amaranth Bread, Grain and Egg-Free

Amaranth Date Pecan Bread (Grain-free)

Servings:  4

Prep and cook time:  1 hour and 25 minutes

1 cup chopped dates
½ cup amaranth, whole
1 cup boiling water
2 eggs or egg substitute*
½ cup honey, agave or maple syrup
¼ cup butter or safflower oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups Quinoa blend**
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup chopped pecans

* I used 2 Tbsp flaxmeal in 6 Tbsp boiling water.  Let sit for 10 minutes or until thick
** Grain-free mix – 2 cups quinoa flour2/3 cup potato starch1/3 cup tapioca flour

A reminder about egg replacements:
Use for 1 egg:

  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce (or another fruit puree) + 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp flax seed meal + 3 Tbsp hot water.  Let stand, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes or until thick.  Use without straining.
  • Egg Replacer, according to directions.

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.  Soak dates and amaranth in boiling water for 15 minutes.  Beat eggs (or use substitute), add honey and butter (or oil).  Stir in remaining ingredients, except for the nuts, mixing well.
2.  Pour into oiled loaf pan and spread chopped nuts over top.  Bake for 50 minutes – 1 hour, or until tester comes out clean.

Substitutions: Whole amaranth: amaranth, qunioa or millet flour.  Quinoa blend: other GF blend, spelt, barley or wheat flour.  Pecans: leave out if allergic to nuts or use sunflower or sesame seeds.
Recipe inspiration: Adapted from recipe on Arrowhead Mills package of amaranth

The “insides”
Elijah and the amaranth bread
Elijah and the amaranth bread.  Yes, I was having fun with photoshop:)

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