Lois Potratz, Social Media Influencer: Food for Thought
Five Minutes with Lois Potratz, Social Media Influencer:
“Food is a connection to heart and home. Hopefully people will cook along with me on Zoom, focusing on healthy comfort food. It is indeed very therapeutic.“
Food for Health, and Thought
I started Food for Thought a year ago, February. I had thought I was extremely healthy – mostly because I never went to the doctor – and so, under pressure, primarily from my family, I went for a checkup, and found out I had really high cholesterol. It was really a shock to me. I did a little heart scan and I was starting to get some buildup in my arteries. They wanted to put me on medication, and I declined because I felt like maybe there was something else I could do first. I’m definitely not saying that people should not go on medication, but I thought let me at least see what I can do for myself, so that they could get the prescription right. And so I decided I had to make some changes.
I asked the doctor, “What would you tell me to do, if you could give me a menu for my life right now, what would it be?”
And she said that I needed to lose weight, drink a lot of water, and add some aerobic exercise to my life that I could do consistently for three weeks. Then there was the food part: no whole eggs, no egg yolks, no red meat, no dairy. It was right there that my whole world just crumbled because I never met a cream sauce that I didn’t love. Put a little sauce on that!
Making Change a Positive
I had always been thin. I was used to doing what I wanted to do, and eating what I wanted to eat. I was very nutritionally spoiled.
I’ve always loved to cook, and all of a sudden I was kind of depressed. I thought about it, and I was like, snap out of it, because it really is nothing compared to what some people are faced with health-wise, you can do this.
Then, I thought okay, I’ll do the easy things first, like upping my exercise, and making myself drink all the water. Then I thought, what the heck am I going to do about food. I woke up one morning, and honestly the words in my head were “Food for Thought:” do a Facebook page. There are other people out there who have similar issues. I thought maybe I could make this into something good. Make this fun.
Genesis of a Facebook Group
I went on a vegetarian site and tackled all their cauliflower recipes. I worked through this stuff, and I thought, this is actually kind of fun. And it tastes good. And I started writing about it on the Facebook page, and people just started jumping on – people I hadn’t talked to in decades, the kid I was afraid of in high school all of a sudden was a 40-year vegan. Who knew!
Food for Thought has grown exponentially. Right now, we are in six countries, and what I love about lots of the people who are coming on there are that I don’t even know them – they are being invited by other members.
I monitor the page. We only have a few ground rules: No food shaming. It’s not vegan, or vegetarian, specifically, it’s just people who are really putting thought into what they cook, and sharing it. No politics. Food is a politically-free zone. Just be nice to each other, and supportive. That’s it.
And off it goes: it’s about the food. Real friendships have formed on Food for Thought. It is open, and it is not – you have to be invited by someone who is already on there. It’s amazing to me that it’s gotten this far. It’s so fun. I got an email from a friend the other day, who knows someone who has a restaurant on Koh Samui, island off of Thailand. He said, just so you know, my chef checks your page for inspiration on what you are making!
For Love of Food and Sharing Meals
I’ve always cooked. I would never consider myself a “cook.” I’ve always loved the sharing of food and the sharing of meals, and the time that is spent in the kitchen. I identify with the thought behind food; for me, collaborative cooking is just a joy. I like to cook by myself because it’s really relaxing and it’s a cook pressure release for me, I love it. I grew up abroad, eating all kinds of food – no food ever seemed strange. I didn’t even know what fast food was until I was in my teens. We always cooked at home, we were really home cooks.
Sharing the love of food and the love of time together was a big part of how I grew up. It’s also a great vehicle for joy. Being together with friends and family over food is a joyful time – the sharing of a meal.
Social Cooking on ZOOM.
Manda Price, the team leader at Keller Williams, contacted me and suggested that I do a live cooking event on Zoom, just for Keller Williams agents. The goal right now – we are all self-distancing and a lot of people may not have families and we are all missing interaction – was to do this to be connected with each other, and I decided to start with comfort food.
But instead of sitting down and eating chocolate cake, I started with a white miso soup with ramen and fresh ginger and garlic, and spinach and mushrooms. That’s one of my favorite things and it’s easy to make. And, it’s really good. We all logged on, we cooked, and we had fun. I have to tell you, it was funny, it was so connecting.
Evolution of “My Crappy Kitchen”
I’d had this idea for a long time.
Someone suggested a longtime ago that I do a YouTube thing, and call it “My Crappy Kitchen,” because, really I don’t have a very nice kitchen. The concept was to have friends come over, and sit at the counter, and cook with me, and just call it what it was. I have a 110-pound dog that I’m always stepping over, I can never find anything, and my friend said that I barely have a functional kitchen, but I turn out all this great food.
People see what I am cooking on Food for Thought, and they think that I must have this awesome restaurant-grade kitchen, but I don’t. I barely have a heat source!
So, we had a bunch of friends over last Thanksgiving, and I’m constantly thinking about when I’m going to renovate my kitchen. I said something to one of my guests, and she said, what do you mean, please don’t change a thing, this is home. It’s so comfortable.
That’s what it is, really, when we talk about food, we are talking about creating memories. You don’t sit there and think, wow that steak was good… you think, I had such a great time.
You’re Invited: Cooking with Lois
I’m opening up the online cooking event to everyone. It’ll be on my Facebook page, and people can just click on the link. (See below.) At the next one, I’m going to make one of my favorite things, red lentil and spinach masala. You’ll love it! It has ginger, and garlic, and onion, cooked in chopped tomatoes and coconut milk. We are going to make coconut rice. In the trial run of the online cooking event, at first people were intimidated, but you don’t even have to cook.
You can just show up with a drink! It is great fun, and such a timely way to be with other people right now when we are all isolating. It’s a great way to connect. It’s all good.
So everyone who wants to “Cook with Me,” Tuesday, March 31, at 5pm needs to use this link: https://zoom.us/j/9069560163
We are making Red Lentils and Spinach Masala with Coconut Rice. Here is the ingredient list.
Red Lentil and Spinach Masala
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 tsp sea salt
1 15 oz can Full Fat Coconut Milk
1 Cup Red Lentils
5 oz Baby Spinach
1 Small Red Onion, diced
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, minced or ginger paste
1 Serrano Chili Pepper, seeded and minced
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Garam Masala
1/4 tsp Coriander
2 Cups long grain rice (Jasmine Rice is great)
1 can Full Fat Coconut Milk
1-1/2 cups water
1 tbl sugar
2 tsps salt
You will need the following:
measuring cups and spoons
2 medium sized cook pans
Cooking utensils (spoons)
That’s it! It looks long but it really just a few things and a few spices. It will be worth it. Oh.. and BYOB! Feel free to just hang and socialize if you don’t feel like cooking! The more the merrier!
I can’t wait to cook with you!
You can request addition to the Food for Thought group on Facebook by asking a current member to invite you – browse the members list. “Cook with Me,” hosted by Lois, will be live on Tuesday at 5pm, and can be accessed with the Zoom link in the article above.