“She came out of the house today with her hands full of food,” Sean Bartlett, a spokesman for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, said of an early morning car ride during which his boss attempted to ply her staff with bites of banana-packed this and cinnamon-spiked that.
Being armed with wholesome treats has quickly become the calling card of the Democratic National Committeee chairwoman’s latest persona. The “clean-cooking congresswoman” is a not-so-secret identity the Florida Democrat has been gradually cultivating.
Wasserman Schultz has been documenting her burgeoning passion for the culinary arts via social media for nearly a month now. And she’s not embarrassed to admit it’s all still very new to her.
“I’m really a total novice. I was someone who could barely boil water,” she said of the frightfully limited experience she had in the kitchen.
To wit, she noted that heating water once proved almost insurmountable.
According to Wasserman Schultz, the range in the family home was switched from an older electric model to a newer gas appliance. Roughly three months later, she said, she threw a pot of water on and then continued about her business. When she returned half an hour later, the water was still at room temperature — because the gas main had never been connected and Wasserman Schultz had just never noticed.
But that all changed after battling her way back from breast cancer.
Wasserman Schultz divulged the diagnosis in 2009, only after undergoing intensive treatment. But even then, she noted, she continued to subsist on convenience, stocking her shelves with preservative-filled cardboard boxes and hastily spooning dinners out of carry-out containers.
She said she reached a tipping point about two years ago — that’s when the post-cancer weight gain began eating away at her.
“I just wasn’t happy,” Wasserman Schultz shared. “But I couldn’t go on a weird fad diet where you only eat grapefruit or have to drink a shake for lunch every day.”
Her road to salvation began at a 2011 news conference at a South Florida branch of The Fresh Diet. Wasserman Schultz said she decided to give the custom meal delivery service a go.
She experimented with the delivery service and it ultimately took her seven months to shed the nagging 20-plus pounds that had been troubling her.
Of course, her pocketbook was a lot lighter, too.
“They were kind of expensive,” she said of the ready-made bundles.
Even worse: The quick fix faded fast.
“I was healthier. But I gained 10 pounds back,” Wasserman Schultz bemoaned.
Then, this past winter, TV changed her life.
While watching “Morning Joe,” she said she saw cheflebrity and cookbook author Rocco DiSpirito hawking his latest tome, “The Pound a Day Diet.” Although skeptical, she said she was intrigued by the idea of keeping all her favorite foodstuffs in play and possibly broadening her culinary repertoire.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.