Talking to Rorie Weisberg about her new cookbook
The irony of sitting with a cup of coffee and a piece of cake as I get ready to interview Rorie Weisberg about her upcoming cookbook is not lost on me. It seems almost criminal to be eating such fare in her presence.
My fears, however, are unfounded. (Probably because I finished my breakfast before I logged on.) Speaking to this most balanced health coach opened my eyes to the message of health that Rorie so generously shares. I would venture to say that she hasn’t produced a cookbook as much as a life book. Her philosophy includes no judgment, self-sacrifice, or regimens. As the title so aptly describes, Rorie simply introduces us to “food you love” and makes good on that promise.
A Mission Born of Tradition
As a child, Rorie’s love of all things kitchen was ignited by her mother and grandmothers. “I was the one in the kitchen, cooking with my mother, grandmother, and Bubby,” she says. “My mother loved cookbooks and was always trying new recipes. We weren’t the kind of family who ate the same thing all the time. And my grandmother’s food was my absolute favorite: Hungarian, simple, and so good.”
Rorie credits her Bubby with unleashing her creativity. “To my Bubby, the kitchen was just another canvas,” she says with a laugh.
She brought all those elements into her own marriage, but her cooking enjoyment waned when she wasn’t feeling well after the birth of her fourth child. “In the past I’d been sensitive to certain foods, but digestive discomfort became more frequent. I also seemed to be swinging between exhaustion and feeling wired, tired, and going nights without sleep.” Her doctor assured her it was thyroiditis, a normal syndrome that some women get postpartum, and that it usually goes away soon. But for some reason, it didn’t.
Eventually, looking for a way forward, Rorie stumbled into the world of functional medicine. “I’ll never forget that life-changing moment when I watched a speaker discuss how food affects us,” she says. “In her hands she held three foods — an apple, a bag of pretzels, and a bag of almonds. Each had a total of 100 calories. The woman said, ‘These three items have the same number of calories, but each one gives our body different instructions.’
“I felt like I had found the pivotal cog, the missing piece — that is, understanding how foods instruct our bodies to behave.”
Rorie knew it would be hard, but after a few days of vacillating between the “two hards,” as she refers to it, she made a conscious decision to move into the new world full force and get her vitality back.
“At one point, before things started to improve, I remember davening and promising Hashem that when I got there, however that happened, I would give back by helping other people regain their health,” she says.
The journey took a lot of trial and error, but ultimately, that’s exactly what happened.
“When I got to a place where I had the energy I needed and felt better than ever, I was overwhelmingly grateful,” she says. “And I needed to fulfill my promise.”
Becoming a health coach was Rorie’s way of learning more about the amazing things she had touched on in her own research — and of doing for others what she wished someone could have done for her.
What she didn’t know at the time was that her clients would become her biggest motivation.
It soon became clear that it wasn’t just guidance her clients wanted. It was a road map to living a healthy lifestyle. Tips, tricks, tools — and recipes.
“Everyone wanted recipes,” Rorie says. “When I started cooking differently, I tapped into my love of cooking, got messy, and revamped some of our favorites so that we could still eat the way we loved to.” She was thrilled to share it all.
That’s also how her line of mixes started and grew. “Some clients loved the gluten-free mix, but other clients needed other types of bread: low carb, grain free, spelt, sourdough.” Finding solutions for them, and later for her online community, kept spurring her toward the next step.
“When it came to the cookbook, it was a dream I had. The final tool in the growing toolbox of Full ’N Free. A place that I could give over everything I had learned, so that other people could use it the way it works for them.”
When Rabbi Gedaliah Zlotowitz of ArtScroll responded to her proposal with “The kosher world needs your book,” Rorie says she was on a high.
“I couldn’t believe it would be real,” she says. “I still can’t believe it.”
Living Full and Free
Full ’N Free isn’t a diet, and this book isn’t a diet book.
“We’re all so individual,” says Rorie. “My philosophy is about gaining healthy and personalizing habits for your needs. It’s your canvas. Make it yours based on what speaks to you and what you realistically will be able to take on.
“I guess I’m also hoping that seeing all of these delicious recipes will help people realize that healthy food isn’t scary or daunting,” she adds. “Hopefully, it will help normalize it to some extent.”
In Rorie’s words, this book embodies her legacy: making it easier for women to live the life they want without having to struggle through the trial and error she endured. That’s why, aside from the recipes, she added helpful resources to her book.
“Some reviewers said that they felt I was acting as their personal meal planner,” says Rorie. “The menu section teaches you how to plan all your meals, from breakfast, lunch, and dinner to Shabbos, Yom Tov, and even Melaveh Malkah.” The best part is that by reading through it, many people become intuitive and learn to swap out items in their own menu.
Shopping Lists and QR Codes
“I remember scrolling through endless health blogs, trying to find recipes that worked for my body and that my family would actually eat,” Rorie shares. “Those blogs couldn’t teach me how to make cholent and kishka. But between the blogs and shopping at Whole Foods, I learned a lot about different ingredients I could use.”
Products like soy-free coconut aminos and Fiordifrutta jam were game-changers. And they’re so easy to find. The comprehensive grocery list in the book offers a whole selection of treasures that many of us just pass over in the grocery, but they can make for easy swaps that have a big impact on our food’s quality.
“I don’t use hard-to-find ingredients,” says Rorie. “You can pretty much find anything I use in your grocery, and the rest is available on Amazon.”
The book offers a peek inside Rorie’s kitchen, straight to yours. It even contains QR codes you can scan to watch a tour of Rorie in the grocery store, how she sets up her fridge as a pantry every week, and how she makes sourdough. “My goal is that all of these recipes and information shouldn’t just sit on the page,” she says. “They should become real and doable. They should become yours.”
Recipes for the Day, Week, and Year
Rorie’s face lights up when she talks about how she set up the recipes to make them as user-friendly as possible.
“At the end of the day, most cookbook readers want recipes,” she says. “And that’s what shines most! The photography is stunning. I’m so grateful to my amazing photographer, Sara Goldstein. We worked remotely for most of the shoots, and her work was literally incredible.”
The book is set up intuitively. The breakfast section is made up of meals in one. “Every breakfast is a macro meal,” Rorie says. “All my Mishpacha readers know what a macro meal is!”
Then there are breads — Rorie’s pride and joy — and salads, plus a “readable salad bar” and information on how to build a salad that actually fills us up for a long time. (I notice my stomach grumbling and wonder if I should’ve tried one of those for breakfast instead of my cake.) The fish and dairy sections make humble pizza look embarrassing.
For dinner, Rorie divided up the building blocks of every meal. “The fish, chicken, and meat sections start off with healthier variations for typical go-to dinner proteins. Then it gets more elegant and transforms traditional mains for Shabbos and Yom Tov with natural, wholesome ingredients.”
But because a lot of cooks have their protein dishes already and really want those healthy side dishes and fill-ins for when the typical stuff gets boring, Rorie kept those recipes separate. “This setup makes it easy to find exactly what you’re looking for and make a meal of it,” she says. “Choose a cooked veggie, a starchy side, and a protein, and there’s your meal!”
As for desserts, the largest section of the book (!), let’s just say that I’m already making room in my freezer for fudge pops and chunky monkey brownies.
What about the Rest of the Family?
The goal of this book is to bring a healthy lifestyle — whatever that means to you — within reach. But what about our families?
“That’s exactly where I’m coming from,” Rorie says. “My purpose in testing and developing all my recipes to begin with was really for my family. I’m a simple eater and don’t need complicated meals, but I wanted to make it possible for all of us to enjoy a Shabbos that felt like Shabbos and a Yom Tov that felt like Yom Tov. Now that my collection of recipes is integrated into our life, we can all enjoy the same foods we always loved together.”
The way her family relates to food is a huge source of pride for Rorie, but not in the way we may assume.
“My kids really love my food,” she says. “At the same time, I do have food in my house that I myself don’t eat. When I started, I was much more black-and-white about it, and it wasn’t working for my kids. Now I realize that the choices are theirs to make. I cook the way I do, and they love it. But nothing’s demonized in our house. Food is just a non-issue. And that mindset is so much healthier.”
Being That Someone
While she was making her way, Rorie wished someone could just give her everything she needed on a silver platter, saying, “Here’s what you need to do. Here are the traditional kosher-style recipes you need. Here are the tools you need to make it all happen! Oh, and while we’re at it, here are tips you can implement so that you can actually manage all the shopping and prepping.”
Now that she’s actually made it to the other side, she says, “I’m just so grateful to be able to be that person for you.”
Her gratitude isn’t only about seeing how her journey came full circle. It’s a true zechus, she feels, to be able to fulfill the promise she made Hashem on that bleak day that ultimately illuminated her entire trajectory.
The Full ’N Free toolbox is complete. Coaching. Mixes. And now, a cookbook…that’s really a life book. (“That is, until the cookbook bug bites again for Food You Love Two,” Rorie says with a laugh.) It’s a toolbox created by a woman who has been there, done that, and raised the torch up high, to help every person live happier and healthier in the way that serves them best.
(Originally featured in Family Table, Issue 792)
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