I have been on the East Coast for the past week visiting friends and family who I have not seen in several years. I’ve known most of my friends over 25 years. This is difficult to believe since I feel like I’m only 25 years old.

But it’s been fun to see familiar faces and talk about where all the time has gone.

I met some of my friends while working at a gym when I was 18. It was the same gym where Rocky Johnson and the Samoans trained. I remember joking with them about the fact that they were professional wrestlers. I would say, “You can’t make a living as a wrestler.” They were very nice men who loved to joke around.

I also remember meeting Rocky’s son, Dwayne Johnson (better known as “The Rock”), when he was in high school. He was very quiet and a little shy back then. He certainly proved that one can make a very good living as a professional wrestler.

Working as a personal trainer spawned my career in nutrition. I found that I could teach people how to move their bodies, but I didn’t know what to tell them to eat to fuel their bodies.

So I elected to study nutrition in college. I also became a weight management specialist, a diabetes educator and attended an holistic culinary school.

I have lived on the East Coast, West Coast and the Gulf Coast. I’ve worked with people from all over the world and have learned how food affects and shapes people’s lives. I have seen my friends and family change over the years as a natural part of the aging process and as a result of a stressful environment and lifestyle choices.

During my trip home, I’ve been trying to help those people I love most by sharing my recipes and nutrition knowledge, but as most of you know, change doesn’t happen overnight. Change is a process that must be implemented one day, one recipe or one little piece of information at a time.

While flying from Atlanta to Allentown, I spoke with a gentleman who had been married for more than 40 years. He admitted that he is lost in the kitchen since his wife’s passing. I shared with him a very simple baked fish recipe.

At Mother’s Day dinner I talked to my family about the importance of omega-3 fats. With a strong history of heart disease and arthritis, they were all ready to take action to get more omega-3s each day.

I spent time with my friend Samina Wahhab, a prominent plastic surgeon with two young children and an amazingly balanced life. We talked about how to get her children to eat more vegetables. Together we made spaghetti and meatballs with a hidden green vegetable for extra nutrition.

I made an orange arugula salad for my BFF Kara. And I’ll be taking a quinoa tabouli salad when we visit family in Delaware (see blog for recipes).

Although no single recipe can erase a lifetime of less than perfect eating habits and lifestyle choices, at least we can all make some positive changes today. If someone had told me that I would make a living writing about my loved ones, I would have said, “You can’t make a living writing about your everyday life!”

I was wrong.

How lucky am I?

Visit Elizabeth’s blog for more articles and recipes, kitchensciencevixen.blogspot.com, or e-mail her at eat2liv@earthlink.net.

Breaded and Baked White Fish

One pound thin white fish: sole, flounder or tilapia

2 cups brown rice or corn flour or whole grain flour of your choice

1 tbs. Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 egg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat baking tray with canola oil. Combine flour and seasonings in a bowl. Beat egg in a separate bowl. Dip fish in egg one piece at a time. Dip in flour. Coat both sides evenly. Set on oiled tray. Bake 10 minutes then flip. Bake 10 more minutes, remove from oven. Serve with green salad.

Spaghetti & Meatballs

2 slices whole grain bread

8 ounces lean beef

1/8 onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup fresh, chopped spinach

1 tbs. fresh or 1 tsp. dried basil

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

Pinch cayenne

1 egg, beaten

Sauce

1/2 cup vegetable broth

1 small onion, fine dice

2 red peppers, fine dice

28 ounce can diced tomatoes

6 ounce can tomato paste

Make by hand or use a processor. Crumble bread. Add meat and mix. Add onion, garlic, spinach, basil, oregano, nutmeg, cayenne and egg. Mix thoroughly and form into balls. Brown meatballs in canola oil. Remove meatballs. Set aside. Add broth to deglaze pan. Add onion, peppers, diced tomatoes and paste. Add meatballs. Simmer 30 minutes. Add more liquid as needed. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with pasta.