Thank you, Martin Ginsburg!

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In the spirit of authenticity and honesty, it’s time to fess up. I have a major obsession… Cookbooks! I LOVE to cook and I LOVE good, healthy food that I can share with family and friends. It’s October, and everywhere I go, every magazine and cookbook is front and center presenting a new temptation.

It’s REALLY hard for me to NOT buy a cookbook (whether new or used), especially when these titles and book covers are staring me in the face:

  • “Small Victories-Recipes, Advice + HUNDREDS of Ideas for Home-Cooking TRIUMPHS
  • Feast-Generous Vegetarian Meals for ANY eater and EVERY Appetite” (you just want to pull out your fork and eat what’s on the cover)
  • “Kitchen Hacks-How CLEVER Cooks Get Things Done”
  • “The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook”
  • “The Kitchen Ecosystem-Integrating Recipes to Create Delicious Meals” (this one was autographed too!)
  • “Simple-The Easiest Cookbook in the World: No Recipe has more than 4 steps or 6 Ingredients!”

And then there’s “Plenty” and “Plenty More!” I mean come on! Don’t I want to be clever, experience triumphs, ease, deliciousness, and be smitten with plenty more in my life?? In my defense I’m also doing research so that I can share healthy resources with you, my readers! I do get credit for that, right?

Christy Begien | Christy's Non Toxic LifestyleOn this morning’s CBS Sunday Morning, we learned that Martin Ginsburg, husband of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg, was considered a master chef, owning  shelves of cookbooks. From NPR: The idea for a cookbook, “Chef Supreme: Martin Ginsburg,” came from Martha-Ann Alito, wife of Justice Samuel Alito. It hit her the day after Marty Ginsburg’s memorial service in 2010. “One of my first conversations with Marty, in the fall of 2006, was about food and nourishment, and how satisfying an expression of love that it was for him,” she recalls. “And that, in part, led to the idea that we should put the cookbook together.”

Over the years, Martin Ginsburg became a genuinely famous amateur cook, with a repertoire that ranged from French cooking, to Indian, to Italian, to Asian. So when it came to limiting the number of recipes for a cookbook, the task was daunting. More than just another cookbook, this is a tribute to a wonderful man and extraordinary chef, created with love by the spouses of the Supreme Court justices. Of course, I must have it. To read more on this remarkable man, click here. Thank you, Martin Ginsburg!

Christy Begien | Christy's Non Toxic Lifestyle

Gorgeous saffron-infused paella

Many of you who know me know that I am an extremely visual person, thus my love of photography, design, art and gardening. It’s remarkable that I’ve been able to pare down my fabric collection to one box! Of course there’s a pillow or some other creation to be made “someday” as I say to my husband. Part of the appeal of cookbooks then is that the photos are food porn for me; close up shots of fall Brussels sprouts drizzled with caramelized onions and balsamic vinegar, soups of orange butternut squash with side salads of juicy beets, a gorgeous saffron-infused paella cookers and apple tarts in golden puff pastry, oh my!! I mean, come on! How to resist? If you love food photography, check out (I did say “check out”) “What Katie Ate.” Katie Quinn Davies won a James Beard Award for Photography with this, her first cookbook.

Christy Begien | Christy's Non Toxic Lifestyle

Savory butternut squash soup

Twice a year I do a personal “reality check” which involves culling through EVERY cookbook I own and donating them to either a local bookstore or friends. After admiring my neat and pared-down shelves, I make the commitment to NOT buy any more cookbooks or cooking magazines. In Feng Shui, there is the practice of “clearing of space” to make room for the “new opportunities” that may present themselves in the future. (I get an A+ for creating that new space, let me tell you.)

For most of the first few months I do well. Then along comes “Salad of the Day-365 Recipes for Every Day of the Year!” That’s around late Spring when I know produce is going to be abundant for the summer and man does that sound healthy, and after all we love salads! Makes sense, right?! So just that one seems to be okay, I say to myself.

Note: I am being honest when I say I didn’t purchase any summer cooking magazines!

In addition to cooking, I also enjoy reading cookbooks. Many a night you will find me engrossed in and marking pages in a cookbook. My dreams and sleep tend to be much happier and peaceful than closing my day reading a murder mystery. In addition to the visual and educational delight of flipping through pages, I’ve enjoyed some great “foodie” books – “Tender at the Bone” and “Garlic and Sapphires” by Ruth Reichl, “Kitchen Confidential” by Anthony Bourdain, “Pomegranate Soup” by Marsha Mehran, “Blood, Bones and Butter” by Gabrielle Hamilton, and “The Last Chinese Chef” by Nicole Mones.

Christy Begien | Christy's Non Toxic Lifestyle

Tender at the Bone

Christy Begien | Christy's Non Toxic Lifestyle

Pomegranate Soup

Christy Begien | Christy's Non Toxic Lifestyle

The Last Chinese Chef

With the holidays around the corner there are book jackets by some of my favorite chefs that beckon the “best” is within their chosen pages. Can I resist? In my mode to “simplify” my life, this is my challenge. In my spiritual journey I can always say I have everything I need… but do I need all of these cookbooks? I can justify that all of the cookbooks on my pantry shelf (stacked now), on the kitchen counter and even on my nightstand relate to “healthy eating.” I do aspire to feed my family the healthiest and yummiest meals whenever I can. I could have worse obsessions, you know?.

However, as I confess and joke about this obsession, it is truly time to get serious about examining my collection and thinking about winnowing down to a reasonable grouping of say 12 favorites.

Christy Begien | Christy's Non Toxic Lifestyle

Reading cookbooks at the library saves $!

How do I continue to enjoy the new books that come out without feeling the need to “own?”

  • I think of the money that I’ll save
  • I think of the space that I’ll save, perhaps for chocolate bars (organic of course!)
  • I can spend more time at the library and settle in with a cup of tea and enjoy these books, taking notes if I have to
  • I can make a commitment to be totally happy with my 12 favorites and to cook more recipes from each of them
  • I can always find most recipes and new ones on the internet, The photos aren’t as glam, but then…..
  • I can always borrow from my birthday sister and fellow cookbook-lover, Gale!

And speaking of printing recipes from the web, I have a 6” binder loaded with clipped and printed recipes. YIKES or YAY??

I’m also an Aries and part of what makes us tick is “creation.” I get bored with making the same dishes often so I am always on the quest for another healthy, delicious and mostly simple dish.  As you see, this obsession then is not entirely of my making. I’m an Aries!

Christy Begien | Christy's Non Toxic Lifestyle

Delicious chicken chili with sweet potatoes. © Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Free Cookbook!

In the spirit of “simplifying” and being with my mantra of “enough” I’m giving one of my cookbooks away to the first six readers who send comments on this post!

Also, in light of this post, I feel I must share another fabulous, healthy fall recipe – Chicken Chili with Sweet Potatoes! Click here for the recipe.

October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month

For more serious reading, please see my previous posts,as October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Prevention, Healing and Tips!

The Perfect Storm Theory of Breast Cancer and Iodine Deficiency

Breast Cancer: Recovery and Creation

I invite you all to email me with any questions you may have or if I can help you or loved ones in any way. I am blessed to be a 13-year breast cancer survivor and continue to send healing and love to everyone affected by this terrible disease. Please email me at:

Are you Eating Well to Prevent Breast Cancer?

Here are some tips from a wonderful article by Lori M. Kase:

  • Christy Begien | Christy's Non Toxic LifestyleEat Mediterranean – A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, fish and extra-virgin olive oil were 68% less likely to develop breast cancer than women on a low-fat diet
  • Limit Sugar – A study out of MD Anderson Cancer Center showed sugar triggers enzymes leading to inflammation which is thought to play a role in breast cancer diagnoses.
  • Close the Kitchen after Dinner – another study indicates that those who put at least 13 hours between dinner and breakfast cut their risk of recurrence by 36% and had better blood sugar control. High blood sugar may increase your risk for breast cancer.

To read the complete article, click here.

Please be healthy, friends, and Happy Cooking!

Christy Begien | The Non Toxic Lifestyle



If you “Like” this post, I’d be thrilled if you’d share it.

“Eat to Help Prevent Breast Cancer” – Lori M. Kase, Eating Well Magazine, September October 2016
“Chicken Chili with Sweet Potatoes”  Eating Well Magazine, September October 2016
“At The High Court, A Tribute To A ‘Chef Supreme'” – Nina Totenberg, NPR, December 12, 2011



  1. Kathleen  October 11, 2016

    Christy my sister! As you well know I too am an Aries and LOVE to collect cookbooks and cook! Thank you for the Chicken chili recipe! Can’t wait to make it.. Sending love

    • Christy Begien  October 11, 2016

      Enjoy the recipe, Kathleen and you’ll be receiving one of my cookbooks soon! Hugs! C

  2. Kathleen  October 11, 2016

    Christy my sister! As you well know I too am an Aries and LOVE to collect cookbooks and cook! Thank you for the Chicken chili recipe! Can’t wait to make it.. Sending love