Thursday, June 30, 2011

Can You Eat Healthy While on Vacation?

Every year for the past 10 years we have gone to Duck, North Carolina for our summer vacation.  We rent a house where we cook about half our meals, and eat the other meals "out".  And never in those 10 years have I put on any weight - honestly!  What's my secret?  Well, there are several actually.

First of all, and most important of all, I take long walks along the shore every day.  I take my ipod with me and select songs with a nice steady beat and just go and go and go...

On the nights I cook, I bring recipes from home, making it easy to stick to a low-fat, relatively low calorie diet.  When we do go out, I make sure to order any sauces "on the side", including salad dressings.  Because salad dressings can be surprisingly high in both fat and calories, I am careful to order either a Balsamic Vinaigrette or whatever the restaurant's "low-fat" dressing might be.  If the main dish comes with anything fried or ooey-gooey creamy, I replace it with either rice or vegetables.   You can always replace items on any menu at any restaurant.  Even at sandwich shops or deli's, you can omit the sauces and the cheese and skip the fries.  I do not put butter on baked or sweet potatoes or on the restaurant's bread.  But I always do have a piece of bread - it's one of my weaknesses.  : )

I'm on vacation, so when we eat out, I do have an occasional dessert, usually a fruit cobbler or something like it with no ice cream.  I have an outstanding recipe for a very easy fresh fruit pie and make a couple of them when we eat at the beach house.  We stop at a local fruit stand on the way to the house and I like to buy fresh blueberries and peaches for these pies.  I use low-fat ready-made graham cracker crusts and mash half the fruit in a saucepan, add a little water, cornstarch, raw sugar to taste, and make a "glaze".  Then I line the pie crust with slices of the peaches or a layer of the berries and pour the glaze on top.  Then it goes in the refrigerator until it sets. 

For breakfast I eat oatmeal, Go Lean Crunch with Soy milk, or a bagel with fat free cream cheese and a piece of fruit.  Lunch at the house is often a salad - I make a nice one with boiled fingerling potatoes, dried fruit, fresh baby greens, and a homemade vinaigrette.  I don't have time to make this salad too often when I'm home - too busy...

I always look forward to our "beach week".  It's incredibly relaxing.  There are no demands, no set schedule to follow, and nowhere we "have" to be.  Part of what I really enjoy there is the food - I must confess.  We have a favorite restaurant we go to every year, then we try a couple of "new" ones, which have included a Brewery, a Japanese steakhouse, and a nice Mexican restaurant in Nags Head.  And keeping it healthy is really not too tough at all. 

Hope you find this helpful.   Happy summer to you all!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

College Prep Course: Eating 101

So they receive their diploma and go off to college.  How can you make sure they are eating enough, eating right, and keeping it healthy?  When they were in your house, you made sure that they started their day with some kind of breakfast, that they ate their vegetables, and went easy on the sodas, chips, and fast foods.  But now they are on their own.  They can eat whatever they want, whenever they want.  Scary....

To be honest, if you did not start them eating healthy when they were young (like my Vegan friend has done and like I hope I have done), there may be little you can do to assure that your College student will be eating right.  My advice?  Before you have that last talk about the birds and the bees, drinking, and drugs ("don't do them"), have a little chat with your son or daughter about the importance of eating well.

First, make sure they start the day with breakfast, even if they are in a hurry and have missed the cafeteria spread.  Have them keep a box of breakfast bars on hand - just in case.  Without breakfast, energy levels will drop and concentration will be challenging, especially with back-to-back pre-lunch classes. 

Go easy on (or better yet, avoid) fried foods at lunch and dinner and only eat dessert after having had a healthy meal first.  Don't ever replace meals with sweets.  I see some kids do that now.  It's a habit that should be broken.  Also, try to avoid soft drinks, especially caffeinated ones, especially late in the day.  They will be at the age where caffeine could begin to affect their sleep if they have it too late. 

When they need that pick-me-up in the middle of the day, encourage fruit, carrot sticks, yogurt, and/or whole grain crackers and cheese.  All of these now come in handy snack-size packages.

Make sure they vary their diets.  Chik Fil A is a yummy lunch and most campuses have them, but it shouldn't be eaten every day (or every other day, or even every other, other day - even if they replace the fries with the carrot slaw or the soup). 

Good news is all of them will be physically active - college campuses are often huge, with classes spread in all directions.  And without a car, walking is not just a form of exercise, but a necessity.  So they will need to eat a lot.  No meal-skipping...

Realistically, your college student will eat whatever tastes good to them and is readily available.  But a quick course in Eating 101 couldn't hurt.   : )

Good luck to all the rising Freshmen out there!   And, to you all, happy, healthy eating...   

Sunday, June 26, 2011

What Do You "Keep On Hand"?

When we were in Richmond last weekend, we toured the Museum of the Confederacy and the Jefferson Davis mansion.   Neither place was particularly crowded so we could take our time as we stepped back through history, relishing every artifact, photograph, and beautifully ornate furnishing.  Between Charleston, South Carolina and Richmond, Virginia, I've been inspired to read up on the Civil War, reliving its tragedies, and admiring the heroism of some of our truly great Generals.  But the inspiration for today's post did not come from the historic grounds on which I walked or the books that helped me understand what I had seen.  They came from the cute little guy in the photo above. 

My father, son, and I watched him as his head completely disappeared into a hole he had obviously dug long ago, in which he stored treats to be found and savored at a later date.   We watched as he finished one acorn and then sniffed around for where he had buried another.  Some of them had rotted, so he threw them across the lawn with his tiny "hands".  But he found enough to satisfy himself, finally sending him on his way content and full.   And I realized that there was wisdom to be gleaned from what I was watching.

There are certain items that it is wise to always keep on hand.  Start with your favorite spices. Mine take up 3 small shelves in my kitchen and include Turmeric, Indian Curry Powder, Coriander, Mango Powder, Saffron, as well as all the common ones like Garlic Powder, Oregano, Paprika, and Chili Powder.  

A container of Basmati Rice, a box of Brown Rice (quick-cooking has all the nutrients of the longer-cooking variety), a box of spaghetti, some cans or cartons of broth, tomato sauce and paste, diced tomatoes, a jar or two of your favorite pasta sauce, and a variety of canned beans is a nice start for the pantry.  Across the kitchen, in a separate cupboard, I keep my flours, olive oil, baking soda and powder, vinegars, honey, agave nectar, and sugar. 

For the freezer, always make sure you have a variety of frozen vegetables, as well as some "foods" that you might enjoy in a pinch.  I try to always keep Trader Joe's Spanakopita and a few packages of their frozen Steel Cut Oats on hand. 

I guess the "rule" should be - make sure that you have what you need to make a meal or two (or three) in an emergency or if you know you won't be hitting the market for a while.  Life gets crazy sometimes and we just can't find the time.  But like the little brown squirrel above, it is wise to always have certain staples around - just in case.... 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Grocery Shopping 101

Before you even think of setting foot in a grocery store, plan your menu for the week.  And as you see it unfolding before you, remember to keep your menu balanced.  If you eat meat, vary your meats.  Have lean turkey one night, boneless, skinless chicken breasts another, then fish, and maybe a pork tenderloin.  It is a good idea to have a couple of days per week that are meat-free as well.  When planning your sides, remember to eat different colored vegetables throughout the week - orange carrots, red tomatoes, green beans, etc.  Then make your shopping list off of your menu, remembering snacks for those in-between times of the day when most people need a pick-me-up.   

#1 Shopping Rule: Never shop when you are hungry.  You will end up  buying a lot of extraneous items.  Cookies, crackers, gourmet cheeses, and fresh rolls will call to you as you walk past them.  Try as much as possible to stick to your menu plan and to only buy the items on your list. 

# 2 Shopping Rule: Utilize the store layout efficiently and wisely.  I like to start with the produce section of the store.  This is the area where I spend the most time, since I search for Organics when necessary, and carefully select the items I buy.  I then move to the non-perishables (making sure to read labels to avoid harmful additives, food colorings, and trans fats), and finally end up in the refrigerated and frozen sections, always ending with the dairy and meats since they are the most sensitive items to temperature changes.  Of course, it helps to choose a one-stop-has-everything market, one with a lot of Organic options and the freshest meats and fish. 

Before they brought Wegmans to our area, I used to do half my shopping each week at Giant and the other half at Whole Foods.  Wegmans may be a further drive from here, but it was worth it to be able to do all my shopping for the week at one place.  The CSA I joined has helped me in being able to shop more locally without the necessity of hitting Wegmans as often as I once did.  If you do not live near a Wegmans or do not have anything like it near you, supplementing your weekly shopping with a trip to a Farmer's Market or other fresh produce stand will help you to find the freshest and safest produce to add to your balanced diet.  

For those of you who do not enjoy grocery shopping, when you go with a well-layed-out plan, it is much more fulfilling and enjoyable.  Not to mention healthier....

I hope you are enjoying the beginning of what I pray will be a wonderful and relaxing summer!  Until next time, healthy and happy eating!


Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Visit From The Wisest Man I Know

I have my Dad visiting us from California this week.  He's here for my son's graduation.  I won't tell you his age, but suffice it to say that Calvin Coolidge was President of the United States when he was born.  My Dad is one of the sharpest, kindest, and wisest men I know.  But he is also (knock on wood!) one of the healthiest.  What is his secret?  For one thing, he is extremely active.  He runs a restaurant and works 10 to 12 hours a day, 5 days a week.  While on "vacation" here, he has come shopping with me, gone hiking on the trails around our neighborhood, and helps me cook dinner. 

Today he and my youngest son (pictured above) came with me to the "Farm" to pick up this week's box of produce.  That's it in my son's hands.  If you look closely you will see that it is primarily full of greens - Swiss chard, lettuce, and a few cherries and some peas in their pods.  We cooked the Swiss chard with some lite bacon, thinly sliced sweet onions, and golden raisins, and it was very good.  My husband and my Dad had seconds!  We served it as a side dish, of course, with a glazed boneless ham, mashed potatoes, and a Greek salad.  See photo below:

The Swiss chard is in the skillet on the right.  Now, I asked my Dad about his diet and he told me that, like me, he eats no beef.  He drinks very little alcohol - only wine and only with a meal.  He eats lots of fruits and vegetables (very easy to do when you live in California and have your own garden), and does not ever eat to excess.  The Monks on Mount Athos have nothing on my Dad, who goes easy on any processed foods and enjoys just about any type of fish.  Like my 100-year old friend who I wrote about a couple of months ago, my Dad also said that he never worries or lets himself get stressed-out.  It isn't worth it and accomplishes nothing.  Oh, how I wish I could be like him in that respect! 

Growing up, I remember that my Dad was never wrong.  I mean it.  If he had an opinion on something, it was difficult to argue with him.  He was always so calm and collected, and just made sense.  If he made a prediction, 99% of the time, it came true.  And I find that, after all these years, he has not changed at all in that respect.  There is still much to learn from him.  We have a very long and busy weekend ahead of us and I plan to soak in as much of his wisdom as I can.  Until next time, happy and healthy eating!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Baseball Awards Banquet Serves Up Innovative BBQ!

The menu for the Choral Awards banquet last week included Mandarin Chicken and Vegetarian Lasagna with Ceasar Salad.  It was elegant.  The baseball awards banquet usually is a BBQ with hamburgers and hot dogs, which makes sense actually. To paraphrase my son, "It's what big, strong athletes like to eat - grilled meat and lots of it!"  But this year it was stepped up a notch by having Willard's BBQ cater the affair with a choice of pulled pork, pulled chicken or brisket.  The meats came with choices of sauces to put on the sandwich.  I had the pulled chicken and mixed the Hot with the Sweet sauce and the combination was delicious.  The meat was served on soft potato rolls.  The side dishes went well with the main course and consisted of a perfect potato salad (not too creamy, potatoes cooked just right), baked beans (which consisted of a tasty mix of Kidney, Pinto, and Gigantic beans), pasta salad, lots of fruit, and fixings such as lettuce and tomato slices.  I thoroughly enjoyed the meal and loved watching the boys I have grown so fond of this season receive their Letters, Pins, and Academic Achievement Awards. 

To the graduating seniors, good luck in all you do, and I hope to catch you on a ball field somewhere down the road...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Great Time, and Catering Made it "Almost" Effortless!

Ever since we moved into our home two and a half years ago, I have been meaning to have my husband's high school buddies and their wives over.  Through the years, we have formed quite a bond with this group.  The once-State- Championship football players are more like brothers than friends.  Well, my husband had a milestone birthday this year right around the time that my oldest son is about to graduate from high school.  I decided to have one big party for both of my guys and made it easy by buying ready-made appetizers from Trader Joe's and Wegmans and having the dinner catered. 

Appetizers consisted of an outstanding smoked salmon from Trader Joe's served with TLC original whole grain crackers; 6 packages of Trader Joe's Spanakopita (72 total pieces); Trader Joe's Artichoke and Asiago Dip; Wegman's Cranberry Cinnamon Goat Cheese served  with low-fat Wheat Thins; and Cinnamon Almonds that we bought at last week's wine festival.  All of these items were met with rave reviews and I would definitely serve them again.

Dinner was a combination of Greek and Italian food.  The Greek food was from Amphora's restaurant and was what they call their Grecian Grill - a combination of gyro meat, chicken souvlakia, and falafels all kept warm with bunson burners in metal holders (see photo above).   Amphora also provided dozens of pita breads to place the meat or falafels on, tzaziki sauce, bowls of shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, feta cheese, and hummus (for the falafels).  The Italian part of the meal was provided by Ciro's Pizzeria and was a large tray of Penne Pasta with meat sauce.  To top it off, my husband picked up restaurant-quality stuffed grape leaves from a favorite little Greek restaurant in D.C. We fed 40 people and had plenty of food left over.  And it was all very good! 

Dessert was a combination birthday/graduation cake with ice cream, and some Turkish Delight from the same D.C. restaurant.  Below are some of the soon-to-be-graduates flanking the cake.
Honestly, even though it was one of the largest groups of people I have fed in my home in years, it was the easiest get-together I have ever hosted.  Yes, there was a lot of shopping to do for plates, cups, napkins, decorations, beverages, all the appetizers, and such.  Plus, I had to round up enough tables for all the guests, with the younger group congregating in our finished basement and the adults combining tables in our Dining/Living room.  But it was nothing compared to how I used to entertain in "the old days" when I gave parties for dozens of people, having spent hours making quiches, a large meat, a Greek dish or two, and miscellaneous side dishes.  In those days, I used to start the evening with home-made Rumaki's, Hot Artichoke Dip, California Tortilla Rolls, and other rather labor-intensive appetizers.  I used to even make my own Tyropites (Phyllo dough triangles filled with Greek cheeses).  Those took a full day to make, after which I would freeze them and then bake them as needed.  Not to mention the themed, often elaborately-decorated cakes and assorted bar cookies!

What can I say?  I am not as young or as healthy as I used to be.  Someday, I would love to host an entirely home-made feast again.  But, for the foreseeable future, I am truly grateful for the likes of Trader Joe's, Wegmans, and ethnic restaurants that deliver food for a crowd!  You can keep the meals healthy, serve meatless options for your vegetarian friends (like the falafels above), and work within pretty much any budget. 

The feasts are far from over, but this was one of my "big ones".  I hope you all had a great weekend and, until next time, happy and healthy eating!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

So That's What Collard Greens Look Like!

With much anticipation, I picked up the 2nd installment of produce from our Farm today.  Our box contained red leaf lettuce, spring onions, cherries, strawberries, a handful of asparagus, a cute little cilantro plant, and a big bunch of collard greens.  That's a picture of them on the left there.  Unpacking them, I realized I have never seen uncooked collard greens before.  They look like weeds I have tossed out while cleaning out our flower beds.  And after cleaning them (tossing out the stems), there is nothing left but a pile of unimpressive-looking leaves. 

Good news is I found a recipe online that turned those piles of leaves into a tasty, traditional Southern dish:  Collards with Bacon (Canadian bacon, to be exact).   In my opinion, this recipe tasted better than last week's kale.  But my husband thought the kale was more tasty.  As for my boys, it was a toss-up for them.  In case you have been looking for a nice and relatively quick-cooking recipe for collard greens, here goes:

Short-Cut Collards

1 and 1/4 lbs. collard greens, stems removed and cut into 1/2-inch strips
1T. Water
2 slices Canadian bacon
1 T. Olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 T. cider vinegar
1 T. maple syrup
dash of pepper flakes
3/4 cup chicken broth
salt, to taste

Place greens in a large microwave safe bowl with water and cover tightly.  Microwave on high for 5 minutes.  In the meantime, preheat large skillet and cook bacon 2 minutes on each side.  Remove and chop up.  Add oil and onion to pan and cook until soft.  Add collard greens, vinegar, maple syrup, red pepper flakes, and broth.  Bring to a simmer.  Cook covered for 30 minutes or until tender.  Add chopped bacon and season with salt.   Serves 4

I'm not sure how many more weeks of greens we have to look forward to, but I have to say that I have enjoyed these first 2 more than I expected to.  Until next time, happy and healthy eating!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Chorus Awards Banquet - The End of An Era For Us

For the past 4 years, our oldest son has been part of the Westfield High School choral program, the last 3 of them as a member of the Chambers Chorus.  We have been to every Fall Concert, "Christmas" performance, Spring Fling, and everything in between.  Tonight was the Chorus Awards Banquet - the last one for our son, who is a graduating senior.  And it was very well done.  Between awards, a soloist sang from each of the school's 4 choirs and each choir sang as a group.  That's the Chambers Chorus on the left - and they are unbelievably good.  Every time they perform, they are flawless.  Their voices blend beautifully, with crescendos and decrescendos that have given me goosebumps on many occasions.  I hope my son will continue to sing in college.  I hate to think that we are completely closing that chapter of our lives.  It's been a wonderful 4 years!

Dinner tonight was a choice of Mandarin chicken, meat lasagna, or veggie lasagna.  My men all had the Mandarin chicken, which really looked good.  I got the vegetable lasagna.  It was packed with perfectly cooked brocolli, spinach, and mushrooms, which were layered between noodles and at least 2 kinds of cheeses.  On the side, we were served Ceasar salad and a bread stick.  My men got a fried eggroll with their meal.  Dessert was a choice of 3 kinds of cake: white, chocolate, and carrot.  I got the carrot cake - my favorite kind of cake, hands down!  To drink we were served iced tea.  Not bad for a meal that was catered and fed a couple of hundred people.  I realize that my lasagna looks like mush in the photo below, but you have to trust me.  Although it did not quite hold its shape, it was delicious!

Tonight I will hit my pillow with a song in my heart.  I hope you do the same - it makes for sweet dreams.  Until next time, happy and healthy eating!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Wow! Fresh, Home-Grown Produce Makes A Big Difference!

I have to ask myself how old the asparagus is that I buy from my local market.  Last night we finally had the asparagus that I brought home from our farm on Thursday and it was fresh, crisp, and loaded with flavor.  It was 3 days old and was perfect.  I usually use asparagus I buy from the market within 2 days of bringing it home and it is often a little mushy at the top and has lost some of its "crisp" when I snap the ends off.  Not to mention a subtle, yet undefinable odor that can be a little off-putting.  The red leaf lettuce was just as fresh as the asparagus, and red leaf lettuce is one that tends to get mushy rather quickly - or so I thought.  The strawberries were a little worse for the wear, but I had been warned that, due to all the rain we had earlier this season, they were never exactly "up to par".   They tasted fine, but were a bit small and I had to throw a couple of them out.

I used all the ingredients above to make a delightful dinner of Asparagus Pasta (the recipe is a family favorite and can be found in the March 23, 2011 post entitled "A Nice Way to Usher in Spring"), and a salad with lettuce, strawberries, and red onion.  I crumbled some soft goat cheese on top and made a dressing in the blender with 4 strawberries, 2 tablespoons of lime juice, some fresh mint, a half teaspoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of honey, 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar, and 2 tablespoons olive oil.  See below:

I realize that I really need to hit the Farmer's Market to supplement what we get from our Farm each week.  There is nothing like freshly picked produce!   It makes eating a predominantly meat-free diet much, much easier. 

I hope you have all had a nice weekend.  We actually went to a Wine Festival yesterday.   Virginia has some excellent wines.  We bought an outstanding Merlot (I tend to prefer reds), but tasted some excellent Viogners, Cabernet Francs, Pinot Noirs, and some hard-to-pass-up dessert wines, too.  The last table we went to had the most unusual wines, including a pear one that was hard to pass up and a jalapeno one that was so hot that my mouth burned for about half an hour after tasting it.  The world of wines is not what it used to be and I love it!   I have to admit that I do enjoy my occasional glass of wine and got a lot of nice ideas today.  Some of the more unusual ones would pair well with fresh-from-the-farm produce and a nice warm baguette.  Yum...

Well, until next time, happy and healthy eating to you all!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Prom Provides a Detour From Cooking, And Doing Anything Else Productive...

So last night was my son's Senior Prom.  Above is a clever side-view shot my husband took of "the group" - a group of 13 kids that had 8:15 p.m. dinner reservations and, thus, actually made it to maybe the last hour of a $120-per-couple event.   (What, I ask, happened to dinner being served at the Prom?)  A lot of the group (including my son) went to an after-prom party after their one-hour foray at the Marriott so, after the above photo-shoot, the next time I saw him was late this afternoon.  So, I ask you, why am I exhausted?  And why are the remaining items from this week's share of our farm sitting uneaten in our refrigerator?  Well, I couldn't cook last night because, by the time we finished taking over 125 photos of our beautiful, dressed-to-kill offspring (can't really call them kids or children anymore), it was too late to cook, so we ate out.  And tonight, even though I was not the one who was up all night dancing and partying in evening attire, I am totally and completely wiped-out.  What's up with that?  Is it just me?

In this picture, most of the "kids" have arrived to the hour and a half long photo shoot and you can see that  the girls' gowns would not be out of place on your typical Academy Awards Red Carpet.  And the young men?  Ties, vests, and cummerbunds that match the vivid colors of their dates' gowns add originality to the elegance of their classic black tuxedos.  Somehow, I don't remember our gowns and tuxes being quite so elegant.  It could be because, in my day, our dates tuxes matched our gowns - not their accessories.  Yeeesh!  What were we thinking?  My date's tux, if I recall, was Carolina Blue!   And my dress, like those of most of my friends, had some sort of "sleeves".  If not, we wore shawls until we actually got to the hotel.  Our dates looked like Easter eggs and we were elegant-wannabes.  But I digress...

It's that time of year now at High Schools all over the world.  And moms like me are making sure the tuxes and corsages are ordered, the pictures are taken, and that the endless night ends with everyone home - safe and sound...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

We Are Officially "Farmers"...Oh Yeah!

I picked up our first box of produce from our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture, i.e. "Farm") today.  There it is on the left.  I didn't know what to expect.  I had been told that, sometimes, especially early in the season, you get a half-full box.  Or you get nothing but Kale.  And I don't particularly like Kale (or at least I didn't think I did).  As you can see, we received a generous amount of freshly picked produce.  And we own what is known as "half a share".  On the far left is the infamous Kale, which we actually had (and enjoyed!) tonight.  You can see Green Onions in the front, and some Asparagus that is underneath the plastic container of Strawberries (next to the Kale).  In the right side of the box is a bag of Red Leaf Lettuce, underneath which was a small Basil plant (that is now in my kitchen window) and one of the biggest live spiders I have ever seen!  Yikes!  I hope that was a one-time-only freak accident.  But my husband tells me to expect that sort of thing from Organic, 100% pesticide- free"just-picked-and-ploppod-into-a-box" produce.  So from now on, I will set newspaper out on my deck on CSA Day and turn the box upside down onto it and wait before bringing the produce indoors.

I have to admit that I was quite pleased with the array of items we received.  I looked online and found a Kale recipe that got almost 5 stars, with 121 people rating it.  Six of us tried it tonight and we all liked it, including three 18-year old boys and my 16-year old son.  If you have joined a CSA and have a pile of Kale sitting on your counter or if you have heard how nutritious it is and would like to try it, I recommend the following recipe:

Sweet & Savory Kale
2 T. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. Dijon Mustard
3 t, sugar
1 T. Cider Vinegar
1 and 1/2 cups broth (vegetable is preferable)
4 cups stemmed and torn Kale
1/4 cup dried cranberries
Salt & Pepper to taste

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat.  Stir in onion and garlic and cook 5 minutes.  Stir in mustard, sugar, vinegar, and broth.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Stir in kale and cook 5 minutes.  Stir in cranberries and boil, uncovered, until liquid is reduced by more than half, about 15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Makes 4 servings.  150 calories each, 5 g. fat

Note:  This is the amount of Kale that came in my box.  It was the perfect amount for this recipe, which as a side dish, served 6 of us, as I mentioned above:

For tomorrow, I have planned a menu that will incorporate the asparagus, most of the red leaf lettuce and the strawberries.  I can't wait to share it with you.  Until then, happy and healthy eating!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Food Pyramid is Out, Food "Plate" is In

It was announced today that the USDA is doing away with the infamous Food Pyramid and is replacing it with a Food Plate.  No, that is not a picture of the aforementioned plate on the left there, but it does represent what will be at the crux of the new dietary recommendations: namely, that half of what we eat should be fruits and vegetables.  Those of us who have been studying nutrition have been saying this for a long time.  Fruits and vegetables, besides containing healthful vitamins, are chock full of anti-oxidants and fiber.  Rumor has it that it will also be recommended that dairy be consumed either low-fat or fat free, and that sugary beverages should be replaced with water.   It was said that the old Pyramid was confusing and difficult to follow.  And that people needed a visual, i.e. a plate full of food to be able to figure out what they should eat.  The new "Food Plate" cost approximately $2 million to develop and design.   All this is, no doubt, an effort to help reduce the myriad of diet-related health disorders plaguing mankind.  Time will tell whether the Food Plate will make a difference.  

Tomorrow we receive our first box of produce from our CSA - I can not wait!!  Tune in to see what surprises it will hold and what exciting recipes the contents of it will yield.  Until then, happy and healthy eating!