In Colleen Duffy-Someck’s kitchen, every meal is a different dance. In her new cookbook “Dancing in the Kitchen” she writes about a two-step stirring of beans, a twirl for the carrots and following the leads of hunger and fullness in her own healthy relationship with food.
The co-owner of the “Jimbo’s…Naturally” grocery chain wrote the part cookbook, part self-help memoir to show people the steps in creating healthy, delicious food and to help inform decisions about how and why we eat our food.
“Cooking to feed yourself and those you love is a lovely dance, a dance that is definitely worth learning,” said Duffy-Someck, who lives in Carmel Valley. “It is my honor to share my story and recipes with you in hopes that they may show you a new way of dancing in the kitchen.”
Duffy-Someck has always had a passion for food and making healthy food taste good. When she moved to California from Minnesota, Duffy-Someck worked at a macrobiotic restaurant just down the street from Jimbo’s’ first store on 30th and University. Eventually she found her way into working at Jimbo’s behind the deli counter, making her specialty spins on nori rolls and Maple Nut Crunch Granola – both store favorites whose recipes are included in the book. She also met her future husband and owner of Jimbo’s, Jim “Jimbo” Someck.
The two eventually began dating, on the one-year-anniversary of the store in 1985. After marrying in 1988, the chain and their family continued to grow: They celebrated the openings of the Carmel Valley, Escondido and Carlsbad stores, as well as children Michael, Josh, Noah and Sara. New Jimbo’s have been added in 4S-Ranch and Horton Plaza and there are plans to expand into a bigger store at Del Mar Highlands Town Center.
A lot of the recipe development for the items in the cookbook came from making all of her family’s food from scratch. For years she doled out recipes here and there for friends but didn’t think seriously about publishing a cookbook until she started working on the book four years ago.
As she started typing, the stories just started to flow out and she surprised herself by sharing the story of her 20-year battle with bulimia and anorexia.
“I never thought I would share that story,” Duffy-Someck said. “I must’ve just needed to do that.”
Her eating disorder began after she moved away from home to go to college and it grew out of severely limiting herself as to what she could and couldn’t eat. She would lose it when she ate something that she wasn’t “supposed” to.
While she lightly touches on her struggles with an eating disorder in the book, it mostly deals with her recovery and help for others to do the same. She writes about quality not quantity, finding a balance and being mindful.
“If you want to eat something not so healthy, sit with it consciously, eat until you’re satisfied, always stay connected,” said Duffy-Someck, who doesn’t hesitate to have a croissant with her coffee, savoring every bite and eating until she’s satisfied. She listens to her body and pays attention to what her body wants and needs. “Tea really helped me. Drinking tea was a time to sit and be quiet, take a breath.”
While the recipes in “Dancing in the Kitchen” are all vegan, she said the book is for all diets.
“My book is not written to tell people how to eat,” she said, noting she encourages people to make the dishes their own by adding meat, cheese or butter to their banana pancakes. “That’s your dance with your food.”
For her vegan-tailored recipes, she always offers an alternative — while her recipe may list agar flakes, simple gelatin will do.
She admits there will be some variations depending on the types of products used — not all maple syrups or almond butters are the same and consistencies will differ, it’s all a matter of experimenting.
Even salt can taste different and veggies can vary depending on the season.
“Don’t think you’ve failed,” she advised.
The book includes recipes for grains like mullet and quinoa, salads and soups.
“My kids weren’t big on salads so soups were a way to get them a lot of veggies,” Duffy-Someck said of recipes for pinto bean and miso soup.
Her book includes a recipe for clear broth, which she likes to call “liquid gold”— she uses it for making rice, preparing soup or as an alternative for tea.
Duffy-Someck is also a big advocate for beans — on any given day you can open her fridge to find cooked beans. While busy lives can make it difficult to make meals at home from scratch — prepping beans ahead of time will ensure you have some on hand to toss on salads, make into hummus or use in a soup throughout the week.
The Mexican Lasagna is something that everyone seems to like, using beans and corn tortillas and sauce all layered in. Duffy-Someck likes to add an egg to the top, she puts cheese on one-half so Jimbo can have his vegan half and her kids add slices of avocado and salsa.
Some of the more unique items in the cookbook are her desserts — such as her pumpkin pie filling with fresh-cooked pumpkin and almond butter and the almond crème topping (in place of whipped cream) for people who don’t have dairy. Grandma Duffy’s Cookies are made without Crisco, white flour or white sugar.
The book also includes instruction on making your own nut milks — encouraging people think beyond almond and try for cashews or macadamia nut milk that can be used in recipes for pancakes, pies, muffins and cakes.
While the cover was shot professionally, Duffy-Someck’s 13-year-old daughter Sara did all the photography for the book during a “cooking marathon” earlier this year.
More than anything, Duffy-Someck hopes that readers will come away armed with tips and tricks to build their own healthy relationship with food.
“If my suggestions don’t work for you, don’t quit until you find out what works for you, because we are all worth it. Don’t let anything stop you from feeding yourself well,” she said. “There are a lot of ways to do things. This is one way, take what you want and leave what you don’t. Choosing to not be afraid and make mistakes is how I was able to fly and I’d love for everybody to be able to do that.”
“Dancing in the Kitchen” is available at all Jimbo’s locations, Good on Ya Deli in Encinitas, The Curious Fork in Solana Beach, Anjali Lifestyle Spa in Carmel Valley and online at www.DancingintheKitchen.io and Amazon.com.