At age 40, Oak Parker Norma Rixter was diagnosed with possible multiple sclerosis and diminished lung capacity.  According to Rixter, she was “prescribed a ton of medication, but nothing was working. Nothing changed until I changed my diet.”

Rixter took to heart the words of Hippocrates,  “Let your food be medicine and medicine your food!”

Rixter explains,  “I had to learn that the foods I ate had a direct correlation to how I looked, how well I slept, and how I was feeling, which was not good most of the time. I learned that everything I was eating affected the functioning of my brain as well as my body.  I realized that I was responsible for my health, not my doctor, not my spouse. I had the responsibility to eat foods that promote wellness within my body.”

Her new book  Norma can COOK!  includes recipes that are healthy and delicious and that fit a busy lifestyle – and they all can be prepared in 30 minutes or less.

The focus is on a vegan diet.

One of Rixter’s goals with her book is to “dispel the myth that ‘If it’s that good for you, it can’t possibly taste good!’”  

Rixter’s approach is simple: “ to give people food that is filled with flavor, just a few ingredients, lots of variety in terms of taste and texture, containing lots of nutrients and easy to prepare. It’s the winning combination: easy, delicious and nutritious!”

Norma Can COOK! takes recipes from Rixter’s former Southern Standard American diet and translates them into plant-based versions of old favorites.

“My cookbook,” says Rixter, “is completely vegan, except for a handful of recipes for fish and chicken.  I included these recipes for those on a transition or Flexitarian diet to help them learn to load up on the veggies and whole grains and minimize the amount of animal protein in their diet. “

I asked Rixter about her favorite local restaurants. She mentioned Sen Sushi for the sweet potato roll, edamame and miso soup; Penny’s for the vegetable bowl (with extra veggies; no noodles) and A Taste of Brazil for collard greens and lentil soup.

But what does she eat when she’s home alone and no one ‘s looking? Rixter confessed, “Dark chocolate-covered almonds, dark chocolate flourless cake, dark chocolate fondue. You get the picture.”

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David Hammond

David Hammond, a corporate communications consultant and food journalist living in Oak Park, Illinois, is a founder and moderator of, the 8,500 member Chicago-based culinary chat site. David...

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