Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pick of the Week: Red wine

I have so been looking forward to No. 12 of Everyday Health's healthiest foods: red wine!
If it were up to me, it would have been No. 1, but 12 has always been my lucky number, so it's appropriate that red wine stars today.

Everyday Health picked red wine -- in small amounts -- because, they say, a small amount of any kind of alcohol each day does your heart good by increasing HDL cholesterol and reducing the risk of blood clots. They say that red wine also contains powerful antioxidants, reservatrol and saponins, which may provide additional cardiovascular benefits. That's the good news.

The bad news: Resist a refill because more than one drink a day has been linked to high blood pressure, exactly what my husband's cardiologist told him in January. Dr. Moskowitz said 4 ounces of red wine a day is fine, but made it clear that 5 ounces is too much, and if you have 4 ounces on Monday, that does not give you license to have 8 ounces on Tuesday. If you don't have red wine one day, you've lost that chance.

I look at it this way: If you limit yourself to 4 ounces of red wine a day, that eliminates any chance of ever getting a hangover. Love that. It also eliminates any chance of ever getting a slight buzz, but at least you’ll be healthy.

I am not a wine critic, so I’ll limit today’s tips to cooking with wine:
1. Only use wine in cooking that you would drink. Never, ever, use cooking wine. It’s horrid and way too salty.
2. Know that the alcohol in wine cooks off when it is heated, so that 4-ounce limit is not counted in your daily total. But for the alcohol to cook off, the wine needs at least 10 minutes of cooking time.
3. Full-bodied reds are perfect additions to marinades, stews and brown sauces, although I do have a slamming recipe for a white fish with a red wine sauce. At least I used to have one. I lost it years ago. Guess it's time for me to search the Internet!
4. White wine is a perfect addition to poultry and seafood.
5. The last two rules are definitely made to be broken.

What follows in one of the best red sauces, and comes compliments of "The Cook's Bible: The Best of American Home Cooking" by Christopher Kimball. He is the founder and editor of Cook's Illustrated magazine,which for many is the bible of cooking mags. I have made this sauce over and over again because it is just that good. My only addition is that I only use San Marzana tomatoes, which specify a region not a brand name. There are numerous canned tomato manufacturers who use this wonderful tomato. And since I use these sweet tomatoes, I never add the sugar.

2 strips bacon
1 Tblsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and minced
1 large carrot, minced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 lb. ground beef or pork
1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, drained, juice reserved (I use San Marzano tomatoes)
2 Tblsp. minced flat-leaf parsley
1/4 tsp. fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. sugar (I never add)
2 Tblsp. red wine
1 Tblsp. brandy
3 Tblsp. heavy cream
  • Saute the bacon in a large skillet. Remove from pan, drain on paper towel, and reserve for another use.
  • Pour off all but 1 1/2 tablespoons bacon fat and add olive oil. Over medium heat, saute the onions for 7 minutes.
  • Add the carrots and cook for 5 minutes more.
  • Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes.
  • Add the beef or pork and cook another 10 minutes.
  • Place drained tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor and puree for a few moments until smooth, but still a bit coarse in texture. Add to the pan and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Add remaining ingredients except the heavy cream and simmer for about 45 minutes. If sauce becomes too dry, add reserved tomato juice.
  • Add the heavy cream, cook another 2 minutes, and then serve over pasta.
  • Makes enough sauce for 2 pounds of lightly sauced pasta, or 1 pound of pasta if you prefer pasta heavily sauced.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Recipe Exchange

I belong to a terrific book club, and one of the first things we decided was to serve dinner at meetings, and to theme those dinners to reflect the book. Sometimes we succeed; other times it's take-out.

I hosted a few weeks ago, had some extra time, and wanted to go the theme route. My only problem was the book I chose was "Game Change," a look at the candidates in the last presidential election. Originally I thought I would pick a recipe to fit every candidate, but then I got real. So I decided to honor Obama, but that had its own set of problems: Chicago? Hawaii? Indonesia? I chose Kenya, because in Obama's book, "Dreams From My Father," he talks in depth about the impact his visit to Kenya made on him. He also talks about the food.

The menu was really interesting, and the chicken dish that follows is my type of cooking: easy to make, easy to eat. I also made the sauce early in the day, so all that was left at night was to put the chicken in the pan and cover it with the sauce. Perfect recipe for company. I liked it so much, I made it for my family a few days later, and they loved it as well.

I served it with black beans with a twist. Kenyans love coconut and coconut milk, and use it all the time. I have trouble cracking coconuts -- blame that on carpal tunnel -- so I changed the traditional recipe, and I think I will use this technique forever. I soaked a pound of black beans in a mixture of half water/half light coconut milk. I discarded the soaking mixture, and then simmered the black beans in light coconut milk until they were done. I also threw in a diced onion and come curry powder while the beans cooked.

Another side was kale -- and I held my breath, because, let's face it, kale can be a challenge. I don't know if my friends were being nice or if they really loved it, but there were no complaints. (I also had corn and rice, so I knew no one would go hungry!)

The following recipes I found online, at whats4eats. I did lighten them up a bit, because I really am trying to lose weight, and a 1/4 cup of oil or ghee would immediately attach to all the wrong places.

(Kenyan chicken in coconut curry sauce)
3 lbs. chicken, cut into pieces (I used breasts)
1 onion, chopped
2 or 3 hot chile peppers, chopped
2 Tblsp. ginger, peeled and chopped
2 Tblsp. garlic, chopped
1 Tblsp. olive oil
1 Tblsp. curry powder
2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 cups chopped tomatoes or tomato sauce
2 cups light coconut milk
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • Add the onion, chiles, ginger and garlic to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Add a little water if necessary.
  • Heat the oil or ghee in a large pot or wok over medium flame. Add the onion puree and curry powder and sauté, stirring frequently, for 5 to 8 minutes, or until cooked down. Stir in the tomatoes and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Then add the chicken, coconut milk, salt and pepper and cilantro. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through and tender, anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the type of chicken. Add more water as needed. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper..
  • Variations: Some recipes add potatoes or hard-boiled eggs to the curry. The potatoes can be cooked ahead, cut into chunks and stirred into the curry toward the end. Eliminate the hot chiles for a milder dish. Or substitute a chopped sweet bell pepper. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

(Kenyan greens simmered with tomatoes)
1 tsp. olive oil 1 onion, chopped
2 lbs. kale, destemmed and finely chopped
2 cups tomatoes, chopped
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
  • Heat the oil over medium-high flame in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the onion and sauté until translucent.
  • Add the greens in batches, sautéing each addition until wilted.
  • Add the tomatoes, stock, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer gently until tender, from 20 to 30 minutes. Adjust seasoning and serve with a little bit of the broth.
  • Variation: Add a chopped chili pepper or two with the onions if you like Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Happy Monday!

Two great things happened to me this weekend. I'll start with the terrific World Cup party we went to yesterday, hosted by two friends we haven't seen in years. Everyone at the party were people I worked with at Gannett in the early '80s, and what was so amazing is that none of us have changed one bit. The conversation flowed -- and the food -- my God it was glorious.

On the drive to the party, I had made a vow that I was not going to overeat, and challenged myself to make great food choices. Goal accomplished. Instead of eating everything in sight I was selective. Instead of focusing on the food, I focused on the people present and the conversation. It wasn't that I didn't eat. I did. But I didn't overeat, and for that I am patting myself on the back.

On to great thing No. 2: Every weekend, I walk on the beach with my friend, Ann, something we have been doing for about four years. What I find curious is that I have lived in Fairfield County for four decades, and until Ann suggested we take our mall walks to the beach, it had never occurred to me. Our annual vacations to Hilton Head include daily walks on the beach, but I never thought to extend those walks throughout the year.

On may way home from my Sunday walk I had another aha moment, wondering why I ignore Fairfield beach during the week? The beach is always there. I'm the one who is missing. So this morning, I set the alarm for 5:15, and Jack and I walked the beach. It was empty, except for the seagulls and beached horseshoe crabs.

It just doesn't get any better. And what a glorious way to start the day!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Negative calories

I first heard about negative-calorie food from my daughter, Kara, who told me that all her friends were eating celery because it had negative calories. Eat it, and just the act of chewing, swallowing and digesting, brought the calorie count down to less than zero.

So I read with interest an article on Everyday Health, in which Kimberly Lummus, MS, RD, Texas Dietetic Association media representative and public relations coordinator for the Austin Dietetic Association in Austin, Texas, said there is no such thing as a negative-calorie food, which just proves that if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

"Some foods do require more energy to digest, but digesting foods that are so-called 'zero-calorie' such as celery or cucumbers, is not going to have much impact" on your total calorie expenditure or weight-loss efforts, notes Lummus. "It wouldn't be smart nutritionally to think that you are somehow tricking your body and subtracting calories."

Foods that are sometimes touted as being zero-calorie or negative-calorie include:

  • Apples
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Garlic
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemons
  • Lettuce
  • Mangoes
  • Onions
  • Spinach
  • Turnips
  • Zucchini

Lummus points out that you would have to eat such large amounts of these foods to make your body work hard enough to cancel out the calories that it wouldn't be worth it. That's the bad news.

The good news: There are some benefits to eating from the above list of foods -- all are fruits and vegetables, high in fiber, with a hefty dose of nutrition. Fruits and vegetables tend to be "nutrient-dense," meaning that they contain relatively few calories in comparison to their high level of nutrients.

What's more, they can help you lose weight. Fruits and vegetables can be just as filling as higher-calorie foods, but with far fewer calories and often a lot more bulk. Lummus suggests adding vegetables to your main dishes, snacking on fruit, piling sandwiches with fresh veggies, and substituting fruit for desserts.

If you are trying to lose weight, start by adding vegetables to your main dishes, snacking on fruit, piling your sandwiches with fresh vegetables, and having fruit instead of dessert after your meals. This doesn't "trick" your body into a calorie deficit, but it can help you feel full and satisfied while still eating fewer calories and getting lots of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients.

That crunching you hear is me munching on celery, trying to prove that you can eat enough of it to get into the negative-calorie mode!

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Last night was great: Dinner with great friends in an Asian restaurant, a chance to celebrate a milestone, a telling of one of the funniest true stories I have ever heard AND a huge aha moment: I should only eat with chopsticks. They are a dieter's dream utensil:
  • They force you to take small bites, because that's what you can grab with the sticks;
  • They force you to eat slowly;
  • They force you to pick your food carefully;
  • And because chopsticks are not particularly comfortable for me to hold (carpal tunnel perhaps), I put them down between bites. My fork never leaves my hand.
Granted, I cannot imagine bringing chopsticks to my favorite neighborhood Italian restaurant, but I certainly can use them at home. And because my coordination is not terrific, even if I used them daily, I would never be as chopstick-proficient as Asians are. There is no chance of eating my food quickly with chopsticks.

When I started this blog, one of my stated goals was to undo decades of too-fast eating. Like every other diet tip, it's hard to change habits, especially ones you have done for years. There are meals when I remember to space my bites, and to chew each bite 20 times, and then there are months when I forget to chew at all. I can't even count the number of times I finish my meal and look around at my meal companions only to discover they just began eating.

So chopsticks it is. I already had breakfast, eaten with a spoon because it was yogurt. But I am already excited thinking about lunch. My noon salad is going to take me a long time to devour.

I cannot wait for the look on my husband's face at dinner tonight.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pick of the Week: Pomegranates

Pomegranates: No. 11 in's list of super foods. It's a strange time for me to be talking about pomegranates, because they are not in season, but since I committed to exploring the foods on this list, pomegranates it is. Today, the focus is on pomegranate juice.

I loved pomegranates way before they became an it food. Everyday Health loves pomegranates because they have three times the amount of antioxidants of red wine and green tea, and the juice has been shown to reduce artery-clogging plaque, which in turn prevents heart disease and stroke. In addition, Everyday Health says it MAY also help slow aging and protect against cancer. I highlighted the word may because it's not definite, but drinking the juice certainly cannot hurt.

What is so frustrating is that Everyday Health does not suggest how much pomegranate juice or pomegranate arils (aka fruit or berries) we should be eating. I came across an article on WebMD about pomegranates, which cited a small study of 45 people with ischemic heart disease (CHD) and myocardial ischemia (not enough oxygen getting to the heart). Half were given 8.5 ounces of pomegranate juice daily for three months; the other half, a placebo drink (fake drink with similar calories, color and flavor). In those drinking pomegranate juice, blood flow to their heart improved 17%, and decreased 18% in the placebo drinking group. In addition, there was no negative effect on those drinking pomegranate juice, even on blood glucose levels or body weight.

The article was written by Elaine Magee, whose syndicated column, Recipe Doctor, ran in The Advocate and Greenwich Time for years. She researches well, and we never had a complaint from anyone about what she wrote -- which is truly amazing. Check out her post on WebMD, in which she cites other studies, and touches on pomegranate juice and prostate cancer.

The following recipe is from POM Wonderful -- the company that began America's love affair with pomegranates. Come September, I'll revisit the fruit, because there is always lots to tell about those wonderful seeds!

1 cup POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice
3/4 cup vanilla soy milk or regular low-fat milk
2 ice cubes
1 large banana, peeled and broken into chunks
2 Tblsp. slivered or sliced almonds
2-4 Tblsp. protein powder (optional)
1 tsp. honey or to taste

  • In a blender combine the pomegranate juice with soy milk, ice cubes, banana, almonds, protein powder (optional), and honey to taste. Cover and blend on high speed for 30 seconds.
  • Pour into 2 tall glasses and serve immediately.
  • Makes 2 servings. Per serving: (11-1/2 oz., with protein supplement): 283 calories, 11g protein, 51g carbohydrate, 6g total fat (.5g saturated), 0mg cholesterol, 102mg sodium, 824mg potassium.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I read an article in USA Today recently that talked about weight plateaus, and how as we age, they get harder to break through. According to the article, when those older than 50 go on a diet, they will lose 5 percent to 10 percent of their weight in the first 3 to 6 months of the program. To go beyond the 10 percent mark, you need to make some serious lifestyle changes. Aging really does suck.

And why is it harder? It cites five reasons:

  • loss of muscle mass;
  • lower overall levels of physical activity as aging occur;
  • poor eating habits;
  • hormonal changes as a result of menopause or andropause;
  • genes.

And, of course, women tested after menopause burned an average of 100-150 calories less per day – and all were still doing their normal schedule. If they were less physically active, they burned as much as 200 calories less per day. The lack of estrogen is also being blamed for an increased appetite for specific foods containing carbohydrates and fats.

Strength training can help, because it tones the muscles, minimizes muscle loss, and makes muscles more efficient at burning calories. And exercise, although it might mean muscle aches in the beginning, will eventually minimize the aches and pains we all feel as we age. Plus, it really does make the weight come off faster – not to mention help keep the weight off.

OK – so what can we do? We all know. It’s all about developing an action plan, and then following it daily. The following list is how successful dieters lose – and then keep off – the weight. Everything on the list needs to be a priority.

  • Add 45 minutes of aerobic exercise 5 days a week;
  • Eliminate unhealthy habits/foods and substitute healthy ones;
  • Limit calories to 1200-1800 a day;
  • Write down what you eat;
  • Weigh and measure what you eat;
  • Prepare food at home instead of eating out;
  • Make yourself a priority, even with all your commitments;
  • Take a short break from your diet if necessary, maintain the weight you lost, and then go back at it again.

Absolutely nothing new here, which is so discouraging. I am still searching for that magic pill. And we all know how well that's working for me!

Friday, June 18, 2010


I love Fridays and all that they signify. The end of the work week. The beginning of a few days off. A chance to relax. A chance to see friends and family.

The downside of weekends is that I tend to eat more. My work day is so scheduled, plus I usually bring my lunch, which translates into terrific food choices. But on the weekends, I sometimes forget to eat breakfast, sometimes lunch, and by the time I remember to eat, my portion control flies out the window.

Yesterday, I did what I promised to do: Went to Staples and bought a huge bag of thin rubber bands. I was at a cocktail party last night, and on the drive to the party, I snapped that band over and over again, screaming in my head: Enough is enough! I tried two tiny hors d'oeuvres, sipped one glass of wine, and must have snapped that band at least 100 times. But instead of focusing on food, I focused on the guests, had some great conversations, and left knowing I had accomplished what some would say is a tiny goal, but for me, was a tremendous feat.

The rubber band is a crutch. Do I care? Not in the least, as long as it works.

My goals for the next week are simple:
1. Remember to wear the rubber band.
2. When tempted to eat something that is better left at the store or on the plate, I'll snap the band: An immediate dose of reality.
3. I will eat three meals a day this weekend -- at times that are appropriate.

That's it. I want the band snapping to become part of what I do, and those three tiny words -- enough is enough -- to become my mantra. I cannot think of three little words, when put together, are more meaningful to my weight and my health. A powerful message.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

When enough really is enough

Two things happened this morning:
1. Without thinking I got out of bed, put on my sneakers, and did a 2-mile walk with my DVD buddies on Leslie Sansone's "Walk Away the Pounds."
2. After my walk, I checked my e-mail, and found Jane Powell's three-times-a-week Weight Meditation waiting for me. And the heading, "Enough is Enough!" is exactly what I had been saying to myself during my 2-mile walk. Kinda freaky!

After reading the meditation, I went outside and watered my flowers -- and really started to think about this weight-loss journey I am on. Instead of a straight road, my trip seems to be going in one big circle. I lose some pounds, I begin to feel better, and then something happens and I start eating yet again. I know I've written about this before -- too many times -- but if someone could figure out what starts someone eating, they would make a fortune.

But thank goodness something deep inside me makes me scream "Enough!" -- and I know it's time to get serious yet again.

The meditation I read today points out that when someone says "Enough is enough!" it's an epiphany, a major turning point, and one that will stay with them forever. It's the forever part I take issue with.

I have said that phrase over and over again, and yes, I am happy I reach that point -- over and over again -- because if I didn't, I would be an excellent candidate for the Biggest Loser. But as I was watering my plants, I thought about how tired I am of dieting, how bored I am talking about it, and how thankful I am for this blog, because by writing what I am thinking, I talk about dieting very little.

That doesn't mean I don't think about it. It consumes my thoughts whenever I have some downtime. And that cannot be good.

So here's my latest plan, and something I tried years ago that worked quite well. I am going to Staples today to buy rubber bands, and will wear one daily. Whenever I start thinking about food, or reach for something I really shouldn't eat, I am going to snap that band and say "Enough is enough!" If that doesn't help, I'll snap it again, and internally scream, "Enough is enough!"

Because, really, enough is enough.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pick of the Week: Flaxseed

Drum roll please: Everyday Health chose flaxseed as its 10th most powerful food.

For years, I had seen flaxseed oil in what was then called health food stores, but had no idea what to do with it. Plus, it was pricey, so I never bothered to find out. Then I went on one of my thousands of diets -- Ann Louise Gittleman's Fat Flush, and flaxseed oil and ground flaxseed became part of my daily diet.

Everyday Health chose flaxseed because it is loaded with alpha-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid that helps reduce inflammation. It has been used for centuries for medicinal and health reasons. Even Ghandi said: "Wherever flaxseed becomes a regular food among the people, there will be better health."

The seeds are a great source of fiber, very usable protein, fatty acids, and minerals such as magnesium, potassium and zinc.

Gittleman includes it in her diet because of its metabolism-raising action and ability to bind to the oil-soluble poisons in our livers, carrying them out of the liver for elimination. And the essential fatty acids stimulate bile production, crucial to the breakdown of fats.

The hardest thing about flaxseed is how to incorporate it into your diet, something that Everyday Health failed to explain. So my tips are from Gittleman.

1. You cannot cook with flaxseed oil because it is a highly unsaturated oil, sensitive to heat, air and light, and can go rancid if not treated with TLC. The oil must be kept in the refrigerator and used before its expiration date.
2. The seeds must be ground because we cannot digest the whole seeds. It's best to buy whole seeds, and grind them as you use them.
3. The down side of flaxseed is that it contains cyanogenic glycosides -- also found in lima beans, sweet potatoes, yams and bamboo shoots. Cyanogenic glycosides metabolize another substance, thiocyanate, a chemical that has the potential, over time, of suppressing the thyroid's ability to take up sufficient iodine, raising the risk of goiter. To counter this, Gittleman suggests consuming a maximum 3 to 4 tablespoons of seeds a day, and toasting them in a 250-degree oven for 15-20 minutes, until crispy. (The oil does not contain cyanogenic glycosides.)

And one more thing: Gittleman says the oil has a nutty taste. I call it funky -- reminding me of the liquid vitamins my mother forced on me when I was a kid.

As for the capsules, since Gittleman says you need 2 tablespoons of flaxseed oil a day, that translates into 18 capsules a day. That really hurts your wallet.

With so many rules, what's the best way to incorporate it into your diet? Gittleman's cocktail, which is anything but. Or, the oil can be used as a dressing, sprinkled on vegetables, or stirred into yogurt.

Her cocktail, which you take first thing in the morning and just before bed, increases elimination and balances hormones. It really does take some getting used to. In the morning, you follow the cocktail with a glass of warm water and freshly squeezed lemon juice -- and I promise that any elimination issues you might have are gone.

The first step in her cocktail is to make cranberry water, a mix of 4 ounces of unsweetened cranberry juice and 28 ounces of water. That's unsweetened cranberry juice -- not cranberry juice cocktail, which is loaded with sugar. Believe me: Unsweetened cranberry juice is not tasty. I always used Trader Joe's.

The cocktail is 8 ounces of cranberry water mixed with 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed. Another thing about flaxseed: It does not mix well into the cranberry water. But you get used to that.

In addition, on Gittleman's diet, you consume 1 tablespoon of organic high-lignan flaxseed oil twice a day. According to Gittleman, the oil is essential for its high omega 3 fat-fighting and insulin-regulating potential. I took it plain, because I really didn't like the taste and didn't want to spoil a good salad. But here are two Gittleman recipes starring flaxseed oil.

4 Tblsp. flaxseed oil
3 Tblsp. apple cider vinegar
3 Tblsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Put all ingredients in a small covered jar and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Makes 4 servings.
4 Tblsp. flaxseed oil
4 Tblsp. fresh lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Put all ingredients in a small covered jar and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Makes 4 servings.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ronnie: This one is for you!

I was first introduced to Ronnie Fein back in the '80s, when I took a part time editing job at The Advocate newspaper in Stamford, CT. I was there to do lots of different things, but the job I loved most was editing the weekly food section. In 1985, Ronnie Fein was already a fixture at the paper, writing as many cover stories as the paper could afford.

You could say I inherited Ronnie, but I never once wished I hadn't. I love Ronnie's writing, her recipes, and over the years, have come to love and admire Ronnie the person.

This is all a long winded way of spreading the word about Ronnie's new blog, Kitchen Vignettes, which can be found at It is chockful of food lore, wisdom and recipes, so worth a daily stop. Right now, she is taking us all on a culinary World Cup Tour -- with foods and recipes from different countries -- so even if soccer is not your thing, you can join the festivities.

What follows is a recipe Ronnie posted last week prior to her World Cup tour -- so easy and succulent, I recommend it highly.

1 roasting chicken, about 4-6 pounds
1 orange
1 lemon
1 large scallion, finely chopped
2 Tblsp. finely chopped parsley
1 Tblsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
2 Tblsp. softened butter
2 Tblsp. honey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup orange juice
2 Tblsp. lemon juice
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Rinse and dry the chicken; remove pinfeathers; remove the giblets.
  • Grate the orange and lemon rinds into a bowl. Halve the fruit and squeeze the orange to extract the juice; add more if necessary to make the 1/2 cup. Squeeze the lemon to make the 2 tablespoons of juice. Mix the orange and lemon juices together and set aside. Place the fruit inside the cavity of the chicken.
  • To the bowl of citrus peels, add the scallion, parsley, ginger, butter and honey. Mix the ingredients until well blended. Rub onto all sides of the chicken. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Place the chicken breast side down on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Roast another 15 minutes. Pour the reserved juices over the chicken and roast another 15 minutes.
  • Turn chicken breast side up. Continue to roast, basting occasionally, for another 45-60 minutes or until fully cooked (a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 160 degrees. Remove the chicken to a carving board and let rest for 15 minutes before carving. Serve with the pan juices. Makes 6 servings.

Monday, June 14, 2010


I used to call myself a control freak, but then my kids became teens, and within a few years, I realized the danger of trying to always be in control. In most cases it is toxic, causes stress, and is an unachievable goal. That's not to say I stopped trying to control, but the more I tried, the less successful I was.

This weekend, I was talking about control with a friend, and we both decided that it keeps many people from being happy, especially as we age and our roles as mothers and care takers changes. And since that conversation, I have been doing probably too much thinking about control. But it did lead to one of my famous aha moments, and this one I plan on thinking about a lot more.

Now follow me here: If the only thing I can really control is me, that should translate into my being able to control what goes into my mouth and how much I exercise. Simple? Ha!

Remember how well that worked when I tried to control others? So why should it work with me, especially because I love to eat and hate to exercise.

So trying to control what I eat will only make me angry with myself? YES! That happens all the time. I fight with myself about whether I should eat that jelly bean, and then I get angry at myself after it has been swallowed. So I need to stop trying to control me.

So here's my new plan du jour: Replace my desire for control with optimism. Will that work? Optimism will make me happier. We all know glass half-full and glass half-empty people. My days need to be all about making choices that will keep my internal glass half-full.

I view losing weight as an uphill battle, so the image I should keep in mind is me standing at the summit, with a silhouette that won't cast a 2-ton shadow. That's positive reinforcement.

My need to control uses up valuable inner energy, which as I age, becomes more precious. So if I instead funnel that energy into making me a healthier, well-balanced, more vibrant and energetic person, won't life be a whole lot more fun? And how do I do that? By eating healthy food and exercising more.

OK, I'm convinced. Let's see how it works the rest of the week.

Friday, June 11, 2010

That time of year

I turned my closet over yesterday -- a task I really HATE to do. Why? Because I have too many clothes. Should be a nice predicament, but in my case, the only reason I have so many clothes is that I have three sizes: big (which I am in now); middle (which if I lose 15 pounds they would fit); and then there are my size 8s and 10s (which is where I want to be).

I should be patting myself on the back because my extra-bigs went to Goodwill last year.

I was locked in my closet all day, sorting and hanging, packing my cold-weather clothes away. And hour by hour, I was getting angrier and angrier. Why? Because my closet is 9-feet-by-12-feet -- and there is absolutely no reason why I should have to ever put clothes away for a season. If I was one size, there is more than enough room to hang four-seasons worth of clothes, with room left over for my sizable collection of shoes.

Just another reason why I need to lose weight. The only other option is to stop trying, but I'm not prepared to do that.

But I do have a plan.

The extra-bigs hung around my basement for three years before they were dropped off at Goodwill -- just in case I ever needed them. Ridiculous. Now, once something gets too big, it immediately is going to Goodwill or the tailor for alterations. So as I shrink, so will the space in my closet.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


For years, I have been receiving daily e-mail meditations from They are inspiring and grounding. Some days I delete them before reading, because I am just too busy. Of course, those are the days I should be reading them most. They are short, but in most cases, powerful. And they are free.

The following information comes from one of the site's weekly articles, much longer than the meditations, but equally informative. The topic is self-love, something I am beginning to realize just might be the key to dieting success. Because if you really think about weight, if you really, really loved yourself, wouldn't you want your body to function at it's optimal level, which means feeding it only nourishing foods? As a mother, I never gave my children everything they wanted because they would have grown up to be people I would never want to be around. They had limitations, but we made those limitations because we loved them dearly and only had their best interests at heart. I would never let my kids eat a package of Twizzlers in one sitting. Then why should I let myself?

As a child, I memorized that Christ wanted me to love others as I love myself. In reality, self-love was mixed with a heaping does of guilt, and the true way was to put the feelings of others before mine. For me, it became a recipe for self-loathing.

Enough about me: On to the practical advice from Jane Powell's Meditations for Women. And maybe, if I take this information to heart, I'll be able to let go of some of the baggage from my childhood! She claims the formula to achieve self love is a only three easy steps. I don't know about you, but I have learned easy steps don't always translate into an easy plan of action.

1. Let go of what others think of you. This is something that often grips at your heart. It is easier if you step back and get a really big view. How important is it really? Take a couple of deep breaths and ask yourself the magic question, "How much will this matter in a week, month, year or more?" Answer truthfully and you might decide that it was not as important as your first reaction indicated.

2. Acknowledge yourself for your gifts. You are the only 'YOU' there is. No one is exactly like you. Make a list of 10 things that are special about you. Now do this every day for a week. By week's end you will have 70 different things you appreciate about yourself. If you get stuck ask others for ideas. What do they see? What do they appreciate about you? If you have never asked this question of others get ready to be happily surprised.

3. Be Happy. Do, at least, one thing each day that makes you smile. Who do you prefer to be around? Someone who is grumpy or happy? Be the person you want to be around. It makes loving yourself much easier. Even really small mini changes here can bring huge results. Watch a funny program and laugh. Post smiling faces all over the house to remind you that when you smile stress is released. No one around to hug you? Give yourself a big bear hug and say "I love you."

Easy? Number two already has me stumped! But I've printed three copies of these steps. One is in my wallet, one for my computer at home, and the third for my computer at work.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pick of the Week: Eggs

I'm up to week 9, focusing on's list of 13 super foods. Today, it's all about eggs, a food I must confess to not loving. I do like omelets and frittatas, but that's because there are so many other ingredients, the taste of egg is hidden.

The reason that eggs made the top 13 list: Eggs are the best protein source on the planet, consistently outranking milk, beef, whey, and soy in the quality of protein they provide. In addition to containing all nine essential amino acids, eggs are loaded with nutrients. As for the yolks, they contain choline, which helps protect heart and brain function, and prevents cholesterol and fat from accumulating in the liver. Of course, if you have heart disease, the American Heart Association says to limit egg yolks to two per week, and use plain whites or cholesterol-free substitutes the rest of the week.

Select fresh, clean eggs from refrigerated cases. Check each one for cracks and dirt, sure ways for bacteria to enter. Since the shell can contain bacteria, take care when cracking the egg, avoiding getting the shell in the bowl -- I know: Easier said than done. My mother never separated eggs by passing the yolk between the shells, because she said doing so can cause contamination. Because of mom, I always use an egg separator, or I carefully crack all the eggs into the bowl, wash my hands really well, and pluck out the yolks. And once you are finished with raw eggs, wash everything -- including your hands -- well.

Size matters: If a recipe does not specify size, use large eggs, especially important for pastry recipes, where amounts are exact. There is an approximate 3-ounce difference between sizes.

Color: Whether the shell is brown or white does not affect taste or nutritional value.

Store in the refrigerator, in their carton, as soon as you get home. I remember when all refrigerators came with open containers in which to store eggs. The problem here is that eggs absorb refrigerator odors, which will change the taste of your eggs. And check the packing date. Eggs stay fresh about 5 weeks after that date. Hard-cooked eggs stay fresh about 7 days if refrigerated.

Substitutions: 2 eggs whites equal 1 egg

And now for one of my favorite weeknight meals -- a terrific Frittata that changes weekly depending on what kind of leftovers are in the fridge. This is a basic recipe that can be added or subtracted to at will.

6 eggs (Recently, I've been using 4 eggs plus 4 egg whites and no one has been any wiser)
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
Olive oil spray
About 1 cup chopped vegetables, meat or poultry, or a combination
1/2 cup Parmesan, Cheddar or feta cheese
  • Place eggs and pepper in a bowl and whisk well. Set aside.
  • Spray 10-inch oven-proof skillet with olive oil, and saute onion and garlic till tender Add the chopped vegetables or meat, and saute until cooked through.
  • Heat oven broiler.
  • Pour eggs over vegetables Cook over medium heat. As mixture is cooking, lift portions of the edges up so parts to the uncooked eggs will flow underneath. Continue cooking until most the eggs are almost set, but the surface is stil moist.
  • Sprinkle surface with cheese.
  • Place skillet in oven, about 4 inches from the heat source. Broil only about 2 minutes, until mixture sets and cheese begins to turn golden. Cut into wedges. It's supposed to feed 3, but since this is dinner, it's perfect for 2.