A respite home for women with cancer located in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, Mary’s Place by the Sea focuses on healing the whole woman: mind, body and soul. Through day retreats, overnight retreats and virtual services, Mary’s Place offers integrative services that complement guests’ medical treatment, such as yoga, meditation, prayer, expressive writing, nutrition education, counseling, and much more. In addition to these services, Mary’s Place has been providing vegan meals to in-home guests since its founding in 2009.
During the respite home’s formative years, guests enjoyed veggie and hummus wraps made by volunteers. It wasn’t until the non-profit moved into its current custom-built, 10-bedroom, bed-and-breakfast-style home with a large teaching kitchen that an in-home chef was added into the equation. Chef Catherine Russo has lovingly taken the hospitality of Mary’s Place by the Sea to the next level. As a chef for over thirty years in the culinary world, working in a plant-based kitchen would be a new, exciting challenge for Cathy. She set out to find and create plant-based dishes for the guests of Mary’s Place, which would not only nourish them physically but emotionally as well. Over the last six years, her dishes have filled Mary’s Place by the Sea with all of the sensations of home.
Mary’s Place by the Sea has offered Nutrition Education since its founding. These sessions help guests as they navigate life with cancer and learn which foods can nourish them as they go through their treatment. Having an in-home chef has taken that education and served it up on a literal plate for the guests, who love to sit around the counter in the large teaching kitchen and ask Cathy questions about what she’s preparing, hanging on to every tip and trick she has to offer. In 2017, Mary’s Place by the Sea released its first fundraising cookbook. Guests, volunteers and supporters of Mary’s Place now had access to the recipes that were so much a part of our new home.
At the onset of the pandemic in 2020, Mary’s Place by the Sea had to quickly pivot to a virtual services program, bringing the services of Mary’s Place into the homes of over 600 participants each month. One of these services was a Cooking and Nutrition Education Class, where Chef Cathy and Mary’s Place Health Coach Laurie Gowen combined efforts, teaching nutritious, comforting recipes to the guests of Mary’s Place. These classes have been adored by the guests of Mary’s Place ever since, and were the inspiration for Mary’s Place by the Sea’s Cookbook Volume II “From Our Home to Yours”. These classes became the “test kitchen” for Chef Cathy as she crafted new recipes that would nourish our guests’ bodies and souls.
This cookbook allows the reader to step into the plant-based way of eating with ease and enjoyment. From Oat Milk French Toast to Vegan Taco Buddha Bowls, and from Roasted Tomato Soup to Sloppy Jack Sandwiches, these dishes are proven to please even the most discerning tastes. Including over 150 colorful pages of vegan recipes and mouth-watering photos. “From Our Home to Yours” features dishes that have been lovingly prepared for the guests of Mary’s Place by the Sea by Chef Catherine Russo. This book is the perfect gift for a loved one or anyone who wants to prepare plant-based meals that are both healthful and delicious.
“From Our Home to Yours” can be purchased for $45 at marysplacebythesea.org