The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 11 No. 47 - September 7, 2011


Tiny Mites pack a punch

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

From left, Island Tiny Mites are Jason Berzowski,
Thomas Heckler, Gavin Johnston, Dean Stephenson
and Parker Storey.

The Manatee Wildcats Pop Warner Tiny Mites team is off to a great 2 and 0 start. The Tiny Mites team is made up of seven-year-olds weighing in at a whopping 45 to 75 pounds. This is the first time many of them have worn pads for full contact football. As you can expect, they are full of fun.

The team may practice and play home games at G.T Bray Park, but it has strong Island connections. The majority of the coaching staff is Island natives. The defensive head coach is Jaysen Berzowski. The equipment manager coach is Moose Storey. The first year head coach and Offensive coordinator is David Johnston. When asked what is the most rewarding part of coaching football, Johnston said, "I really enjoy teaching the kids the game of football at this early stage, plus how to win, lose and behave properly with good sportsmanship and still compete."

Anchoring the team and packing an Island punch are quarterback Gavin Johnston, running-back Jaysen Berzowski, linebacker Thomas Heckler, offensive lineman Dean Stephenson and linebacker Parker Storey. This solid Island group comprises almost a quarter of the team.

They play five home games and three away games this year. Their first win was a shutout 24-0 over the East Manatee Bradenton Storm. A game that went so well that Johnston pulled the first team offense after halftime. Last Saturday, they defeated Sarasota's Suncoast Bucs, on the road, 30-12 for their second impressive win. They may be tiny, but these little guys have a passion for football and the desire to win.

Making ends meet in a hurricane and beyond

As a former anchor/reporter in Miami and elsewhere, I know that for whatever meteorological reasons, hurricanes threaten Florida more before, during and after Labor Day. As a cooking instructor focused on preparing healthy foods on a budget, besides the incredible health benefits my students often experience, this time of year I hear, "Wow, this is great hurricane food!"

If daily news stories are to be believed, you can't eat healthfully and inexpensively. The media tell us that eating a nutritious diet costs big bucks. Fortunately, these doomsayers are wrong. I set out to write a book that would blow that myth out of the water. I love showing in writing and cooking demonstrations how you can eat really well for a lot less than you think.

Before becoming a cooking teacher and chef, I spent 18 years doing investigative reporting on television. Then I became a financial consultant at the now defunct Smith Barney. I left Wall Street in 2003 to join my husband in his successful media-consulting business and began teaching cooking classes. What started out as a little passion – teaching people how easy it is to prepare delicious, healthful, inexpensive meals at home – became a full-fledged, concurrent second career.

A lot of what I learned as a reporter and financial consultant has made its way into my book and writings. For example, most people fear outliving their savings, if they have any. Most people think that buying fast food is the least expensive way to eat, but a simple investigation of the facts reveals just how wrong that is.

At today's prices, your average fast food meal would cost, say, $5. That might even be conservative, but humor me. Let's figure $2 for a large box of fries and $3 for a whopping big burger with cheese. If you want a drink, you may need to hold the cheese. OK, breakfast may cost less, dinner may cost more. Still, in all, over the course of a year, a regimen of fast food would break down as follows:

• $5 per meal x three meals per day = $15 per day;

• $15 per day x 365 days = $5,475 per year.

Now, take that year and multiply it by the average 30 years in retirement (that's what they told us to say at Smith Barney), and you've got a significant amount of change needed just to eat supposedly cheap fast food.

• $5,475 x 30 years retirement = $164,000.

The calculations show that even in just one year, one person would pay $5,475 (that's more than $450 each month) for so-called cheap food. On my plan, you can eat three great-tasting, nutritious meals for less than the cost of just one of these fast food meals. And you'll be trimmer and healthier for it. Six dollars a day is the average amount for food stamps, or SNAP, as it is now called.

These days I eat a naturally lean, whole-grain, plant-based diet. No dairy, no eggs, no meats. I've never felt or looked better – or saved more money at the store. If you're wondering why I started eating a vegan whole-foods diet, it's simple: I wanted to cheat death.

Doctors had long told me the handwriting was on the wall. My aunt died of breast cancer in our home when I was five. I almost died of a colon blockage the year my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time. When my mom and second sister got breast cancer and I started facing the fact that every member of my family faced something life threatening, mostly heart disease and diabetes – I began reading as if my life depended on it.

Many doctors told me I had to do things drastically differently than my family members. As the youngest child, I learned very well by observation what not to do. And I started changing my diet. Today, as the mother of three girls, I still worry about our genetic odds. But even genetic illness requires a trigger, and genetics do not dictate our destinies. There is much we can do to beat the odds.

Hurricane foods simply are beans, grains and greens, with fruits for desserts. Now that my book is out and thriving, I'll start posting recipes. Stay safe!

You can follow Island resident Ellen Jaffe Jones on her Facebook page and keep up with her just released book:,"Eat Vegan on $4 a Day," or her website: She is also a nationally certified personal trainer and running coach. For training in a gym or private hire, contact Ellen at or 941-704-1025.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper