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Posts Tagged ‘children

Hi! I’m back, still committed and excited as ever to continue my quest to cook/eat through David Grotto’s “101 Foods That Could Save Your Life” and “101 Optimal Life Foods.” Yeah, I know – the original 1-year deadline has come and gone. I should be flogging myself, but instead I choose to continue, out of the sheer joy of discovering great new foods, increasing energy, decreasing bloat and sharing cool recipes and stuff with the 10-15 TRUE FRIENDS who will read this.

Almost everyone I know complains that life is moving too fast. Work, family, travel, activities – where in this whirlwind do we find time to plan and consume fresh, optimal-life meals or even snacks? One particularly expeditious route is to jam a bunch of healthy ingredients into a blender, hit puree and drink the goodness. Perhaps my favorite recipe in “101 Foods That Could Save Your Life,” is the Whey Protein Smoothie from Dave’s three beautiful (and now nearly grown) daughters (p. 351). It’s a great bet for kids who are either finicky or pressed for time, before school or between sports practices.

INGREDIENTS:

1 t vanilla extract

8 oz. nonfat milk (soy, rice, almond, oat)

1 packet frozen Acai pulp

1/2 c. frozen mango or mixed tropical fruit

1 scoop non-denatured whey protein*

2T agave nectar

Blend, garnish with fruit chunks and SLAM. So. yummy.

*Full disclosure: I have no idea if my whey protein is denatured. It’s the Whole Foods 365 brand (vanilla), and I DO know that it does not taste like Play-Doh, unlike some others I’ve tried.

Another wonderful find in this category came courtesy of my aunt, Molly Hawley (incredible portrait artist, in case you feel like being immortalized in vibrant color), on a recent visit to her home in Vermont – a place with health and soul-boosting properties of its own. While Uncle Rick was the head chef (and what a chef!), Aunt Molly treated us every morning to one of her savory smoothies, also labelled “green drinks.” Salad in a glass is not your typical breakfast fare, but these raw concoctions are refreshing, cleansing and delish.

You might want to start with a basic recipe like this one, and then experiment, based on your taste and vitamin needs (I add a handful of baby carrots and, sometimes, red bell pepper). I use a food processor instead of a blender  because mine’s easier to clean, but the results are chunkier. Convenience. Texture. Do what you gotta.

1/2 avocado

1 small tomato (or a handful of grape tomatoes)

Organic baby spinach (2-3 good handfuls or enough to pack the food processor bowl)

Sprinkling of fresh cilantro and/or basil leaves

1 c water (add more for a lighter texture, flavor)

I’m sure it’s imaginary, but I actually feel my skin glowing after I drink one of these  (in a healthy, non-alien way).

Mrs. Darlene Parker, an incredible baby sitter that I’m happy to recommend (available through College Nannies and Tutors in Glenview, IL), turned me on to this one:

Pineapple (two rings, cut into small wedges)

Cucumber (1/3 of a large or 1/2 of a medium-sized cucumber)

Organic baby spinach (again, enough to fill the FP bowl)

Somewhere, I think there’s a cocktail version of this with vodka and champagne, but I may have dreamed that.

You’d be hard pressed, I think, to come up with another way to prepare 3-5 servings of fresh raw fruits and vegetables in 10-15 minutes (including clean up), with such a tasty result. It almost makes you wish that all meal prep could be this easy. Why not?  Just cram and blend some pork chops, noodles, green beans, applesauce et. al. into a tasty, hearty smush.

Yeah…but don’t.

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OK, SO…

I am counting on the belief that the 12 or so loyal friends and cousins who read this blog knew with absolute certainty that, although I disappeared for 7 months after committing to doing a Julie and Julia
through my friend David Grotto’s “101 Foods That Could Save Your Life” and “101 Optimal Life Foods,” I would return to honor my commitment.

Here’s the thing:

– Two weeks after my last entry, The Optimal Life Romantic Train Picnic (for VALENTINE’S DAY, thank you very much), I started a new job (a job at Red Hat, a job that I LOVE) that proceeded to kick my butt for six months. I have finally reached a point of sufficient clarity and control that I feel comfortable picking up extracurriculars.

– Have to confess – perusing a copy of the book Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, I had a bit of a panic that, in identifying this project with that book, I had set an unrealistic expectation. In the 5 months that remain of this project, there will be few, if any, personal epiphanies, and there will almost definitely not be anything worthy of a film starring Meryl Streep. On the upside, I will probably not say “fuck” as much. We’ll see.

– Let’s face it – I still get off on the adrenaline rush of leaving things to the last minute. SOME things – I’m never late to the airport anymore, we do our taxes a month before the deadline – just give me this.

So, without further ado…

OMG, we need new things to do with chicken! Are you with me???? AND someone needs to force the FDA to add “tasteless” to the “boneless, skinless” chicken breast label.

The answer for our family, lo these past seven months, has been Chicken Thighs with Red Wine, Dried Plums* And Garlic in “101 Optimal Life Foods” (p. 323). It’s fantastically tasty and so easy, but presents like a gourmet entree (or, as my kids say, with little wrinkled noses, “DINING ROOM FOOD”).

Dave has passed along his publisher’s permission to share this great recipe with you in its entirety (occasional individual recipes are OK, as long as we’re not giving away a whole book  – you understand). This will be a slightly “mommified” version, offering modifications for tighter schedules and less expertly appointed kitchens (do you own a pestle? I don’t  – haven’t used one since college botany lab).

Coming clean on the health front, this recipe does contain more fat than a simple roasted chicken breast (11g as compared to 3g for a 4ish oz. portion), and slightly more saturated fat (3g as opposed to 1g). The protein level (29g) is comparable. As always, free-range, organic chicken will be lower in fat, free of chemical crap and, best of all – TASTE LIKE CHICKEN!

Here goes:

Chicken Thighs with Red Wine, Dried Plums* and Garlic

Ingredients (with “mommifications”):

8 pitted dried plums (or more to taste – I always use more)
8 cloves garlic, peeled (or 2  TB minced garlic)
2 whole cloves (or 1t ground cloves)
1/2 cinnamon stick, bashed with a pestle (C’mon now – 1t ground cinnamon)
1 fresh rosemary sprig, bashed with a pestle (or not)
8 chicken thighs (a 2 lb. package of 8 serves two adults and two children under 5)
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth (vegetable broth works well)
Juice of 1/2 an orange (or 1/2 c of orange juice, not from concentrate)
3/4 cup dry red wine (I used pomegranate wine once, in a pinch – nice; not so much for drinking, btw)
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Scatter the dried plums, garlic, cinnamon, cloves and rosemary in the bottom of a roasting pan. Arrange the chicken thighs on top, skin side up (meaty side up if they’re skinless). Mix the broth, orange juice and red wine together. Pour over the chicken. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 2 hours (I baked for 1 hour when time was tight and no one got sick). Let the chicken rest in the juices for 10-15 minutes.

Remove the chicken to a platter. Pick out the dried plums and garlic cloves (if you used whole cloves) and serve one with each piece of chicken. Strain the juices and ladle off the fat. Check for seasoning, adjust with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with mashed or boiled potatoes (include the chicken juices!), and steamed kale, green beans, turnips or any vegetable you like.

Bon Appetit! And PLEASE, if you have interesting, healthy, family-friendly chicken recipes, please share!

*Prunes, re-branded – so much sexier, yeah?

Getting a late-ish start on my favorite New Year’s Resolution, I am thrilled to announce “The Kim & Dave 101 Foods Project.” Inspired by “Julie & Julia,” the only film I actually saw on a big screen in 2009, and more deeply inspired by my friend David Grotto’s enthusiasm for nutrition and culinary discovery, I hereby resolve to prepare in 2010 each and every one of the recipes in Dave’s two books, “101 Foods That Can Save Your Life” and “101 Optimal Life Foods.” And then we can talk about them. And then we’ll all have roles when Hollywood makes it into a movie (with Meryl Streep playing Dave).

Dave, a long-time registered nutritionist/dietician, has been a friend since we went through the Second City improvisation training program in 2003-2004 (which, by the way, I recommend – the skills apply everywhere and you meet the coolest people – another topic). During class breaks, he would talk about his “nutrition housecalls,” in which he’d visit people’s homes and build a personalized shopping and diet plan for them based on an assessment of their refrigerator/freezer/cabinet contents. He’d also make little comments about apples helping diabetics or oregano fighting cancer, or how food was arguably more important than drugs in fighting and preventing disease. I didn’t feel moved to do anything with the information at the time, but it stuck.

It didn’t take long after receiving my copy of “101 Foods That Could Save Your Life” for the full-fledged conversion to kick in. I started taking tablespoonfuls of honey instead of cough medicine. When an ache or pain surfaced, I’d first look through the book’s index to see how it might be treated nutritionally before turning to pills. These days, I pile garlic on everything and, lo and behold, we’re halfway through cold and flu season without a single incident or vampire sighting (of course, you know I just jinxed my whole family).

So now we’re going the full monty. Please come along for the ride. Dave’s given permission to share recipes here and there, but I wholeheartedly encourage you to get the books. Your life will be better for it.

101 Foods That Could Save Your Life

101 Optimal Life Foods

Here’s what’s great:

IT’S NOT A DIET. You’d have to living under a rock in rural North Dakota not to have gotten the memo that diets don’t work. They’re temporary and they focus on deprivation. They stink. “101 Foods…” is about introducing a wider range of foods into your lifestyle that taste great and make you feel great- including facilitating weight loss. It’s a positive and, if you’re willing, permanent move.

FOOD IS GOOD MEDICINE. What’s better – whole wheat toast and yogurt or a lifetime of Lipitor? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of pills, am I right? Nuff said.

THE RECIPES ARE EASY AND AWESOME. I’m no Julia Child, are you? Dave’s grade school-aged daughters helped create, test and re-test these recipes, so I think we’ll be OK, which brings me to my favorite point:

DAVE WROTE “101 FOODS THAT CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE” WITH HIS KIDS. That, honestly, is what inspired me to do this. I want to bring MY kids into this process, to introduce them to the amazing variety of foods that we are blessed to have at our fingertips, and, I hope, introduce some other important conversations, such as:

– The importance of trying new things
– How food makes your body grow and feel good
– Sharing food with people who don’t have as much

Of course, my kids are 3 and 5, so those conversations will go south a hundred different ways, but I’m excited to try. And I hope that some of you will join me. You can start by getting the books right here.

101 Foods That Could Save Your Life

101 Optimal Life Foods

Bon Appetit!

(Actually, that’s taken – we need our own catch phrase – anyone? How ’bout “Eat This!”)




Did everyone else know that November is “National Blog Posting Month” (cleverly shortened to “NaBloPoMo”)? Yeah, apparently you’re supposed to post every day. Didn’t get the memo, and am probably out of the club. But some of my good, good friends are reading this and that. is. e. nough. for. me. so. there.

Work kicked my butt last week – hence the absence –  but my awesome teammate (Yo, T!!) and I accomplished great things.

Did everyone have a nice Halloween? Did you celebrate Day of the Dead (November 2)? El Dia De Los Muertos has done a much better job of capturing my imagination lately (although the sight of my kids dressed as Sparkly Dorothy and a Construction Foreman, getting all worked up about collecting candy that they oddly have little interest in eating, is a memory to be treasured forever). I think it’s that we -collectively – have lost touch with the soul of Halloween. When have we ever known it to be about anything more than random spooks and candy? FWIW, History.com has a nice, succinct little write-up on the celebration’s history. Turns out the Irish and Romans were key to its origin, but the Americans turned it into a party. Go figure.

Halloween has some loose ties to All Soul’s Day (another name for Day of the Dead) but, as I said in an earlier post, I’ve yet to find a book for pre-school-aged children that makes that connection (if you know of one, please share). Halloween books are all about playing up (or dispelling) the spooky factor, without giving it much of a source. Day of the Dead books, on the other hand, very clearly focus the celebration on the remembrance of  (or, if you really buy in, reunion with) loved ones who have gone before. There are cemetery parties, traditional foods (e.g. sugar skulls), and, my favorite, the creation of altars to honor and remember ancestors.

My aunt, whose birthday is on November 2, has collected hundreds of Day of the Dead art pieces and altar-ettes, displayed in cabinets and diorama frames all around her house, which she has promised to leave to me in her will as long as I promise not to set them up in a haunted doll house (which I thought was a REALLY cool idea, but whatever – c’mon, it would have been a hacienda)! Anyway, our discussions of this led me to daydream about the altars I would create for our family. Given my aunt’s blank, slightly wide-eyed stare, I must have gotten a little too excited when describing the altar I’d make for her (“…and there would be a bed and a giant TV showing vampire movies and little skeleton daschunds and…”). I believe it is not a good idea to fantasize about a person’s death right in front of them. But, when the time comes, I’m gonna build it.

I think the increased appeal of this celebration is that I see the clock ticking for several of our beloved elders and a) it would be nice to have a positive way to frame their inevitable passing to my children and b) it would be equally nice to maintain my own hope that the end we see isn’t really THE END.

One of my favorite memories of my mom, who died when I was 5, is a time when she let me stay up late to watch The Wizard Of Oz on TV. We had “a party” with popcorn and soda, and watched it together on our family room couch. It was the beginning of a lifelong love of the film and its anthem, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” which we’d both sing around the house. When I was getting my hair/makeup done on my wedding day, I didn’t pay attention to the radio background music until I heard Judy Garland’s voice. When in your LIFE have you ever heard Judy Garland sing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” on the RADIO?? I desperately want to believe that it was my mom signaling that she’d gotten some kind of furlough from the afterlife to be there. On a similar note, my late grandfather told my grandmother in a dream that he was coming to the wedding, so we set a place card for him.

So what do you  think? Do our loved ones really pop in for Halloween/Day of the Dead and other special occasions, or do they just live on in our hearts (which is not all bad either)? How do you/would you talk to your kids about it?

SparklyDorothy

Sparkly Dorothy

ConstructionForeman

Construction Foreman


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  • hi2mommy: Thanks, Laura - I'll never give up! YOU post some of the most exquisite recipes I've ever seen. You are going to be featured here very soon.
  • susie: well im not really sure what the 2nd reply post was all about, but i reckon this is still a classic game, whatever way you look at it.
  • Laura: Yum! I love a fruit smoothie - especially on a hot summer day. I'm with you on the fruit - mango or raspberries. Picking up where you left off is a

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