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Mom's change in eating leads to new job, healthy, tasty recipes

Ami Patrick loves to shop for produce at her new workplace, Trader Joe's in Amherst (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

By Scott Scanlon – Refresh Editor

Few people have seen as many benefits to healthy eating as Ami Patrick, subject of today’s “What are you eating?” feature in WNY Refresh.

Gastrointestinal issues dogged Patrick for years as the Geneseo State College graduate worked in public relations. Then, after the birth of her second child, she struggled to lose all of her pregnancy weight and fell into bad eating habits as she cared for her newborn and toddler.

But the last five years have brought a new focus on the power of food. The result: a healthier Patrick, a healthier Patrick family, a holistic health coach certification and a new job at her favorite “whole foods” store: Trader Joe’s.

The former Weight Watchers coach focused on her own care when her transformation began.

Back then, “I had used nutrition more for weight loss and appearance,” said Patrick, 38, of Youngstown. “Then I started to delve into it and found out how we can use food and nutrition to really make us feel better and impact our overall health.”

Patrick – who ascribes to a mostly vegan, gluten-free diet – is a 2010 graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and owns her own small business, Embody Health and Wellness. She started working at the new Trader Joe’s in Amherst several weeks ago.

We talked about her business and her new job during an interview earlier this week. She also sent me some holiday recipes you can read below.

Patrick teaches health and wellness to individuals, as well as offers group programs in churches and civic buildings, mostly in northwestern NiagaraCounty. She also does some small group work in homes.

“Instead of having a jewelry party or a makeup party, I work with groups of women – friends and family – who want to get together and learn how to be healthier. ... That’s been rewarding and successful,” Patrick said.

“I’ve been a huge fan of Trader Joe’s for many years,” she added. “I think they have incredible products that are of great value. I’ve always enjoyed the experience of shopping there. The staff has always been very helpful, very informative and very fun.”

Before the new store opened, she and her girlfriends would often go to Trader Joe's in Cleveland “to stock up,” and then to Rochester. She called her new job “another avenue to promote health and wellness to our community – and get a discount!”

What are some of the things she buys at work?

“Lots of produce. Nuts and seeds, my cashews, my almonds, my walnuts. ... We have some great convenience products that don’t have the dyes and the preservatives and the additives, so I have a favorite bagged frozen rice that I get there. Also for the kids, I get a lot of treats there, because I know it’s not going to have red dye or high fructose corn syrup.”

Her passion for healthy nutrition has rubbed off on her husband, Mark, who works at Compu-Mail and Sales on Grand Island, and their two sons, Finley, 8, and Desmond, 6.

Mark Patrick became a vegetarian a couple of years ago.

“He just turned 40 this year and he said he feels better at 40 than he did in his 20s,” his wife said.

Meanwhile, here are three of Ami Patrick’s favorite recipes:

Breakfast salad


• 1 large bunch kale

• 1-2 tablespoons olive oil or flax oil

• Juice from ½ lemon

• ¼ to ½ teaspoon Himalayan pink sea salt

• pinch of nutmeg, cinnamon and/or ginger


• Raw walnuts or pecans, chopped

• Homemade granola

• Sliced bananas

• Diced apples

• Dried fruit

• Ground flaxseed


1. De-stem the kale. Leave the more tender parts of the stem (toward the top of the leaf) in the salad, but the harder stems toward the bottom of each leaf should be torn out. Rip into smaller pieces.

2. Place the kale in large bowl.  Add the oil, lemon juice, salt and nutmeg, cinnamon/ginger. Massage the mixture thoroughly (1-2 minutes). The kale will shrink in size and get juicy, releasing chlorophyll.  Salad will keep 1-2 days.

3. Right before serving, top with nuts, granola, fruit, flax, etc.

Chocolate orange truffles


• ½ cup raw cashews

• ¼ cup creamy almond butter

• 1/4 cup organic raw agave

• 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

• 1 tablespoon orange zest

• ¼ cup cocoa powder


1. Place cashews in a food processor and pulse until the texture of coarse sand. Add almond butter, agave, cocoa powder, vanilla and orange zest and pulse until smooth.

2. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours, until firm.  Remove from fridge and roll into ½-inch balls. Coat with cocoa powder. Store in fridge or freezer.

Real food brownies


• 1¼ cups pitted dates

• 9 tablespoons cacao or cocoa powder

• ¼ cup grapeseed oil or unsweetened applesauce

• ½ cup agave nectar or  maple syrup

• 2 cups canned garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained or 2 cups fresh cooked beans

• 4 organic eggs

• ½ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Measure the dates into a liquid measuring cup and pour in hot water to the 1½-cup line, turning the dates over with your hands until the water reaches all the dates. Let sit for at least 10 minutes.  Pour off ¼ cup of the liquid in the dates and process the rest in a blender or food processor until it forms a smooth paste.

3. Put the date paste into a large bowl and add the cacao or cocoa powder, oil/applesauce and agave, mixing well.

4. Combine the beans and eggs in a blender or food processor and process until very smooth. Add the garbanzo mixture to the date mixture, stirring well to combine. Add the baking powder and cinnamon, stirring to combine, and pour the batter into a 9-inch pan or pie dish. (If using a glass pan, grease slightly with oil.)

5. Bake for 45 minutes. Cool at least 15 minutes, cut and serve. Store remainder if fridge.


Twitter: @bnrefresh

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About The Refresh Buffalo Blog

Scott Scanlon

Scott Scanlon

Scott Scanlon is an award-winning reporter and editor who has covered various topics in his quarter-century as a journalist in South Florida, Syracuse and Buffalo. He is aiming to pass along what he is learning these days about health, fitness, nutrition and family life.

@BNRefresh |