- - Sunday, January 3, 2016

This time of year can be both joyous and stressful, from the packed shopping malls to the hazardous road conditions. Balancing the holidays and the new year with all the stress that they can bring has the potential to be difficult. So before we all panic, let’s try some of these easy stress relievers.

A head massage. With medium pressure, press your fingers from the base of your skull, around your hairline, slightly behind your eyes.

Simplify. You don’t need to be busy every second of the day. Stay home with your family and enjoy the bonding this season brings. If only for a month, get in the habit of saying no to things you don’t want to, or don’t have time to do. And do so without feeling guilty.

Focus on the positive. Take a look around you. What do you have to be grateful for? Personally, I like to take time each day and write three things down for which I am thankful for on the top of my to-do list. It serves as a powerful reminded of just how much is going right in my life.

Slow down! You have been pulled in many directions all year. Have realistic expectations of yourself and others.

Meditate. Meditation can be a great way to relax, especially if you are under a lot of stress. Meditation can be helpful in lowering heart rates and blood pressure as well as improve cognitive performance. Just relax your muscles, close your eyes and focus on one thing. I typically focus on a prayer or Bible verse and think how I can apply it to my life going forward.

Turn up the heat. Heat relaxes muscles, and taking a long bath or hot shower can be soothing for the mind as well.

Nurture yourself. A body that is well taken care of is much more easily able to deal with the stresses of everyday life. Eat well, (despite the copious amounts of pie available) and get the rest your body needs. The advice our mother gave us in our youth works even better as we age.

I have consulted a local chef for food preparedness ideas. My interview with her is below.

Q: Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

Hello, I’m Erika West, head chef for AWE~Mazing Plates. I am a native Marylander with a passion for fine cuisine in the field of culinary arts. I began gaining experience at a 5-star hotel in Washington, D.C., and later worked in leading roles at several elite restaurants within the metropolitan area. Even in these arenas my thirst for creating dishes was not quenched, causing me to create AWE~Mazing Plates. I realized the need for a higher level of service to meet the demands of my customers.

Q: What is AWE-Mazing Plates?

AWE~Mazing Plates is a small private chef business that provides gourmet meals in the comfort of your own home, or delivered to your workplace. It is my desire to have several establishments, including brick and mortar restaurants and food truck venues.

Q: How did you name your business?

The name AWE~Mazing Plates is a tribute to Ms. West’s late grandfather Arthur W. Brown, who had a great influence in her pursuing a career in the food industry. A= Arthur W= Winfred E= Erika ~Mazing Plates.

Q: Can you give our readers advice for eating healthier?

During this holiday season, people should aim to eat more fresh seafood and less fried foods. Fish is the only food that directly supplies large amounts of the omega-3 fatty acids that have been shown to cut the risk of heart attack and stroke. Omega-3s may also elevate mood and help prevent certain cancers, boost brain development and its healthy fats can even improve skin and hair. Also, use sea salt instead of the usual iodized salts to season your foods. Sea salt is more natural and has endured less processing. This allows for vibrant flavor with less salt.

Q: Tell us more about your business model?

I offer many services. I started my business by coming to the homes patrons and cooking meals for their family and guest. Later, AWE~Mazing Plates branched out to catering events like holiday celebrations and office gatherings. It soon became apparent that the busy individuals I served were also in the need of more assistance preparing meals. That’s when I begin meal prepping. I prepare as many meals as my customers request. I have a specialty menu that I work from, but I am always open to new ideas and customer’s request. I differentiate my business by offering a higher level of service, giving my clienteles the option for meal deliveries to their home or work.

Q: When I make _____, I always add _____ to make it taste even better.

When I make sauteed vegetables, I always add white wine to make it taste even better.

Q: Last weekend on earth — what city are you eating in?

Last weekend on earth I’m eating in my hometown, Washington, D.C.

Q: Person you would most like to cook for?

I would love to cook for the undefeated boxing champion Floyd (Money) Mayweather.

Q: Favorite ingredient to work with?

My favorite ingredients to work with are fresh herbs & Mexican spices, especially cumin — a little kick never hurt anyone.

Q: How can they reach you?

AWE~Mazing plates can be reached at awemazingplates@gmail.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/awemazingplates

Instagram: awe_mazingplates

We ended the interview with Ms. West proclaiming her slogan; “Gourmet or No Way.” After sampling a few of her meals, I can say the food is amazing. Use this information to contact one of D.C.’s best, up and coming convenient chefs business.

Maurice Nick the associate editor of American CurrentSee. He is a writer, public speaker, and youth leader living in Upper Marlboro, Md.

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