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Comfort Food for All

Do you suffer when you eat certain foods? Do you have a family member that has trouble tolerating typical home-cooked dinners? Well, the problem may lie deep down within your digestive make-up. There are some of us that are just a little more sensitive and finding good alternatives can make all the difference in the world. Meet Josh Cohen, a recent high school graduate who suffers from Ulcerative Colitis, a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBS). He took it upon himself to find not just “good” alternatives, but instead created delicious recipes for people that suffer from common stomach ailments like Irritable Bowel Syndrome. He recently wrote and self-published the book “Comfort Food for an Uncomfortable Stomach.” Through his research, writing and recipe development he has brought relief and enjoyment to many families. Kiddish got a chance to sit down with Josh to find out more about his endeavor.
1) How old were you when you took an interest in cooking?
   
At Temple Beth Sholom preschool I remember having fun braiding challah. As early as four years old, I enjoyed cooking with my mom and Judy, a family friend.
2) Can you remember the first thing you made on your own with the KitchenAid bowl your Mom gave you?
   
I loved making  shortbread cookies for Hanukkah and shaping them into dreidels, stars of David and menorahs.
3) Growing up, did you ever share your snacks at school? If so, what did your friends think?
    No, my diet did not really change until my ulcerative colitis finally got diagnosed, which was during my sophomore year of high school.
4) How has adjusting your diet helped with your ulcerative colitis issues?
   
After adjusting my diet, I became less tired after eating, had less frequent stomach pain, and I overall felt healthier.
5) What are some easy substitutions people can make to combat sensitive stomach issues?
   
Everyone’s individual situation is different. Some people are just sensitive and others have severe diseases that require consultation with your doctor and additional medication. In general, replacing dairy products with plant-based alternatives such as coconut, oat, cashew, almond and soy products are beneficial to many. In addition, replacing wheat flour with almond, coconut or tapioca flours can also be helpful. These alternative flours are low in carbs, packed with nutrients and gluten free. I also really like substituting coconut sugar for white sugar. The coconut palm sugar is low on the glycemic index and still has a great taste.
6) What is your favorite recipe in the book?
    My favorite recipe in the book is “Lisa’s Waffles” as they are the recipe I make the most and eat for breakfast the majority of mornings. We make large batches and then freeze them so it is easy to pop in the toaster.
7) Is there any food that you miss, and have you found a good substitution?
    I refer to many of my favorite substitutions in my book under the “Great Healthy Food Brands I Enjoy” section, but my favorite include the Siete chips instead of corn based tortilla chips and Coconut Bliss which is an ice cream alternative that is coconut milk based and dairy free. It uses natural, clean and minimally processed ingredients.
8) How are you finding the nutrition classes you are taking now? Were you already prepared for some of the things you’ve learned and/or surprised? If so, in what ways?
    I found my nutrition class I took this past summer very interesting. I knew some of the information already, but the class really expanded my knowledge and introduced me to areas of nutrition I had not yet been exposed to. This class provided me with a lot of new tools. For one of our projects we were asked to analyze what we ate and how that compared to the suggested daily recommendation per food category. For example, I realized I was eating too much protein and not enough vegetables. It also calculated how many grams of vitamins and minerals I was getting, which was extremely helpful to see. One thing about nutrition that I was surprised to learn about was that vitamins and minerals are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so it is difficult to understand what vitamins are best quality and if the product is supplying too much or too little of a vitamin or mineral. I hope to expand my knowledge of this area in the future.
9) Do you plan to continue writing and or studying nutrition?
   
I enjoyed the process of creating and self publishing the cookbook and giving back the proceeds to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. I would like to continue writing to help myself and others. I am considering studying nutrition as a potential minor in college. I have also thought about making another cookbook in the future and have also considered writing about other areas for teens focusing on another hobby of mine which is investing/finance. I believe financial literacy is also valuable. 
10) How are you feeling today?
    I am grateful that most days I am doing very well. Like anyone with an autoimmune disease there are good days and bad days.
    I love food and this book was a way to empower youth and their families to find ways to enjoy food even with the limitations of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. These hints and recipes can be utilized by the entire family. 
    To date I have sold over 100 books on Amazon. In addition to my book, I also raised over $1,600 as a Team Leader for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Orange County during their virtual Take Steps fundraising initiative. For more information please contact at Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation Jessica Reiter-Flax at
jrflax@crohnscolitisfoundation.org or Julie Rommel at
juliegr3@gmail.com.  

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