In Good Taste – January 2022

Planning for the New Year
By Vera Stewart | Photography by Amy J. Owen


In 1979, after my first son was born, I made the decision to be a stay-at-home mom and leave the classroom. Equipped with a degree in home economics and a passion for cooking and entertaining, I struck out from my home kitchen to begin the roots of what was called Vera Stewart Occasions and more recently, VeryVera. As we jump into 2022, I continue to be grateful for the organizational skills developed through my background as an educator. These skills help my commitment to make each year my best. Let me share my goal strategy:

Develop an organizational system.
I certainly depend on my Google Calendar for meetings/Zoom calls – those 10-minute reminders are life savers.  However, I continue to be a planner enthusiast and have enjoyed the Day Designer brand for the last several years.

Look in the mirror and decide if you like what you see.
Whether it’s stress from a mistake within our organization, the bags under my eyes sometimes or a bad hair day, I take note of the impact my appearance will have on who I meet each day. You must be accountable. Allowing the mirror to prompt a course of action is a winning recipe.

Read best sellers in areas of personal interest or where you feel you need to allow further education.
I’ve found in the last 10 years that finding time to read has become non-existent. However, most any book on leadership or entrepreneurship that I’ve read throughout my career is available on audio. This is a motivating option that can also be achieved while walking or traveling. 

Challenge yourself to DREAM big and DO good.
DREAM has been part of my bio for years and I’ve used the attribute for my professional growth in many areas. Recently, Kathy Izard, an award-winning author and friend, was a guest on my show and I discovered the DREAM part of her philosophy as well as the DO good. I have challenged myself to have DO good as a big part of my 2022. 

No-Bake Oat & Nut Energy Balls
Serves about 40 | Prep Time: 15 Minutes | Cook Time: 5 Minutes | Total Time: 20 Minutes, plus time to chill in the fridge or freezer

1 cup old-fashioned oats, pulsed briefly in a processor to break them up
1/2 cup peanuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed or wheat germ
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup pitted dates, finely chopped (6 to 8 large dates)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut, for rolling

1. Place the oats and nuts in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the oats turn slightly golden and fragrant, about five minutes. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and stir in the flaxseed, cinnamon and salt.

2. Place the pan back on the stove over low heat. Add the peanut butter, dates, honey, vanilla and water. Stir until evenly combined (you’re not “cooking” the mixture; warming it just makes it easier to combine). Using a rubber spatula, scrape the mixture into the bowl with the oats/nuts. Stir until evenly combined. Refrigerate the mixture for 5 to 10 minutes, or until cool enough to handle.

3. Place the coconut in a shallow bowl. Roll the mixture into tablespoon-size balls, then roll in the coconut to coat. Place the balls in the refrigerator, uncovered, to set until cold, a few hours (or about 45 minutes in the freezer). The bites will keep in a covered container for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The energy bites can be frozen for up to three months. Let them cool completely and store in an airtight container separating layers with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Before serving, remove them from the container and let them come to room temperature.

Appears in the January 2022 issue of Augusta Magazine.

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RSS Augusta Magazine’s Front Porch

  • Episode 11: Jay Jefferies
    Jay Jefferies stops by to deliver the weather and much more!
  • Episode 10 - Nesia Wright
    We had the pleasure of sitting down with Nesia Wright, owner and CEO of the Georgia Soul Basketball Team. Ashlee and Nesia discuss life as the owner of a basketball team, retirement and more.
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    Venus Morris Griffin, one of the top real estate agents in the Augusta area, stops by our front porch to talk about her success and her upcoming book. This episode is sure to set a fire in you to go for your dreams!
  • Episode 8: Michael Romano
    Michael Romano, self-proclaimed carbohydrate king and executive pastry chef for Edgar's Hospitality Group stopped by our front porch to chat with Ashlee.


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