September is National Recovery Month: Alcohol-Free Cooking? A Sobering Concept

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September marks the 19th annual National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month and this year's theme, "Real People, Real Recovery" is highlighting the people for whom treatment and long-term recovery have given a renewed outlook on life. Chef Liz Scott is an example of a real person with real recovery. A professionally trained chef, Scott has been in recovery for almost 10 years and her determination to find a way to combine her love of cooking and her commitment to recovery became the concept for her first cookbook, Sober Kitchen: Recipes and Advice for a Lifetime of Sobriety.

September marks the 19th annual National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month and this year's theme, "Real People, Real Recovery" is highlighting the people for whom treatment and long-term recovery have given a renewed outlook on life.

Liz Scott is an example of a real person with real recovery. A professionally trained chef, Scott has been in recovery for almost 10 years. In deciding to seek treatment a decade ago for alcoholism, she feared recovery would end her culinary career; a career that considers alcohol a key ingredient in cooking and entertaining.

The pressing question when she entered treatment was: "Can someone in recovery still enjoy their passion for cooking and entertaining without including alcohol?" She feared the answer was no. "I had heard of the dangers of being around alcohol while cooking or socializing," says Scott. "I knew that cravings could be triggered under these circumstances and that recovery could be put at high risk."

For Scott, relapse triggers were a major concern. Cooking and entertaining were her joy and her life and she wanted to continue in her chosen career, but using alcohol-based ingredients and the social atmosphere that surrounds cooking practically screamed relapse. For those in recovery, holidays, special occasions, and social events can often be a recovery minefield. Many favorite recipes, from main dishes to desserts, often call for alcohol and most social events include wine and spirits. Furthermore, Scott knew that even someone with a long history of sobriety can be at risk for relapse simply from the cravings that are set off by the smell or visual cues of alcohol. Determined to find a way to combine her love of cooking and her commitment to recovery, she focused on what was to become the concept for her first cookbook, Sober Kitchen.

"I began to experiment with different kinds of substitutes to find ways to create the same flavor by using various alcohol-free ingredients, says Scott. "By using substitutes like a special combination of orange juice, orange oil, and bitter orange marmalade in recipes like Duck a l'Orange, a French dish known for its' use of Grand Marnier or Curacao, I was able to create a unique dish that tasted just as yummy as the original dish."

As Scott continued to find new ways to create her favorite recipes without alcohol, she began to see there was little information available, not only for those in recovery, but the medical profession as well. For healthcare professionals whose clients were in recovery, it was a challenge to provide dietary recommendations that would help them become healthier and at less at risk for relapse as their bodies mended from the abuse of alcohol and drugs. As a food expert, Scott knew that good food choices could make a marked difference in the healing process while easing some of the ups and downs associated with the early recovery process. With this in mind, Scott wrote her first cookbook, published in 2003, Sober Kitchen: Recipes and Advice for a Lifetime of Sobriety. In it, Scott created both a practical guide to cooking and supplemental nutrition, along with her own tips for entertaining with a lighthearted flair.

"I wanted to make this book as easy to read and utilize as possible while showing that, like my own recovery, great recipes and healthy choices are made one step at a time," says Scott. "The joy of cooking and entertaining shouldn't be limited because someone doesn't drink or like alcohol. Great food experiences should be for everyone."

The recovery and foodie community were so thrilled with Scott's unique approach to alcohol-free cooking, a demand rose for more. In response, Scott wrote her second cookbook, Sober Celebrations: Lively Entertaining Without the Spirits, in which she expands on Sober Kitchen taking alcohol-free cooking and entertaining to the next level. By incorporating themed ideas for specific celebrations from Bridal Showers to Birthdays, she succeeds in making cooking and entertaining as fun and fearless as it should be.

About Chef Liz Scott: Chef Liz has recently completed two books; one titled Zero Proof Cocktails: Alcohol-Free Beverages for All Occasions which is due out in early 2009. She teaches educational classes and workshops on alcohol-free cooking at treatment centers, is a regular columnist for Recovery Today Newspaper - online, and has an ongoing guest segment, "In the Sober Kitchen," on Recovery Coast to Coast radio (http://www.recoverycoasttocoast.org.) For more information visit Chef Liz Scott's website at http://www.sobercelebrations.com.

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Susan Burnash
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