Why Skinny People Live Longer

This past week I had my annual exam, you know the one you dread. You might think I dread it for the awkward small talk you have with your doctor while their head is in a place you can’t see or the drawing of blood which leaves a bruise on your arm which makes the grocery clerk think your husband beats you, no. I dread the part where I have my clothes on and am sitting in my doc’s office and we have to discuss “my weight.”

I know I have a good doctor because we always discuss “my weight”, no matter how much both of us hate it. The real problem is that years ago I did get down to a really good weight so he says to me, “I know you can do it, because you did it before.”

Since my check up three different friends have confessed to me they have “middle-aged check-upitis” too, all because they do not or did not want to have the weight discussion with their doctors. One friend even said she has not had a check up in three years because she wanted to lose weight before going in to see the doctor. That plan back fired because she ran into her Doctor out socially and he told her there she had to lose weight and get in for her check up.

Now, I have never had a doctor even raise his voice to me about my weight, but that is what is happening in my own head. Every person who needs to lose weight already knows it, but it is your doctors job to say it out loud.

So here is my theory why skinny people live longer…. Without having the dread of the stepping on the scale at the doctor’s office they are more likely to get their annual exams and catch potential illnesses before they go too far.

Also, skinny people often exercise to the point that they wear their knee joints out prematurely. This often interferes with their ability to work out which they actually like to do, so they seek out more medical attention than just their yearly physical. I am amazed how many people find life threatening heart problems when they go to get their pre-op exams. If it weren’t for their crazy need to run 13 miles a day they might have died of a heart attack while waiting in line at the DMV.

I also don’t know one skinny person who attributes odd pains to gas. If something in their middle is not feeling right it certainly is not due to something they ate. That pain is worth exploring and not waiting until the Mexican food you had yesterday has had it’s way with you.

So we all know that losing weight is good for your health, but maybe pretending you are skinny, at least in your mind, and getting your annual check-up is the best way to live a longer life.

Diet Jeopardy

In the spirit of Alex Trebeck…

“What is 22.”

“How much weight I have lost?”

“What is $558.25”

“How much money per pound is pledged?”

“What is 182”

“How many people, couples, families or companies are supporting me in the weight loss challenge?”

Regularly I am going to report my results on the first of the month, but I will not be near my regulation scales on July 1st, so today is the day to close out June.

That leaves me four more months to reach all my goals. I think that I am on track to lose 50 pounds by Nov. 1 and you can be sure I won’t be closing October out early. You can’t imagine how helpful it is to me to stay the course when I have all of you supporting, cheering or just plain watching me to see if I can do it.

My second goal of trying to raise $1,000 per each pound lost is by far the harder goal to reach. If you are reading this you probably already pledged something and I thank you for that. If you haven’t pledged, it is never too late. There are some benefits for you. Your donation to the Food Bank will be tax deductible, you will be included in the list of my supporters on the blog and you will have the satisfaction that you are feeding people who are hit the hardest by this economy and are truly thankful for you. I have met these people and it is humbling how appreciative they are for donors like you.

The best part is that The Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC will take every dollar you donate and turn it into $10 worth of food. What leverage that is, you help me eat less food while at the same time you help other people get to eat something.

I know the phrase win-win is over used, but this is a win-win-win.

So I have to do the dieting part and I hope that you are reading and enjoying the blog and the recipes. Any help you can give me by forwarding the blog to everyone you know would be appreciated. I don’t think I can get to the $1,000 goal by myself. I need you, your neighbor and your neighbor’s mother to join the campaign.

Thanks again and God bless each of you and your dog.

Who Shouldn’t Fly- And It’s Not Who You Think

Last week Carter and I flew to NYC and tomorrow I am off to Texas.  This frequency of air travel is reminiscent of my life before Carter was born and I flew over 100,000 miles a year, but that was pre-9/11.  Thank goodness all this flying is not my normal life anymore.


Recently I have noted there are certain segments of the population that should never attempt to go anywhere via commercial airliners.  First, hoarders.  With most airlines allowing only one small carry-on before charging you outrageous fees to check a bag, a hoarder has a hell of a time deciding what not to bring home from a trip, what with all the sample size shampoos and lotions available at hotels and the half–eaten lunches, that are still perfectly good and deserve to be brought home to be eaten at a much later date, perhaps 5 or 6 years in the future.


The second segment is the technology non-savvy.  I can’t even imagine how in the world someone who is not a computer whiz can even purchase a ticket on an airplane, let alone get a seat or a boarding pass.


The third group is the out of shape, at least if you don’t have a direct flight.  Now a- days airlines don’t seem to give a hoot that they are selling tickets where passengers have to make a connection in less than 45 minutes.  Heaven forbid you are seated in the back of the plane on your first leg, with a full flight of people who all carried on all their bags because they had to, and those bags are really heavy with stolen shampoos and lotions.  So you are spending 25 minutes trying to get off the first plane parked at gate A24 only to discover that your next flight takes off from D99.  As you deplane the “I can’t be any more bored with my job” gate agent’s helpful words are, “You better RUN.”


The fourth group, are the dieters.  The good news is that airlines no longer serve you bad food that is also fattening.  One might think that no food would be good for dieting, but not for six hours or more.  And the TSA really frowns upon you trying to bring anything liquid or wrapped in foil through the security line, so none of the food the hoarders doggie bags are going to make it pass the screening machine.  So you are left to try and hunt down something healthy, as you run between flights and if you are not technology savvy you are unable to pull a list off the internet of the food vendors available along your route between gates, even if you did have time to stop and buy something it is all more fattening than the horrible stuff they used to serve on the airplane back in the good ‘ole days.

Thai Slaw with Chicken and Peanuts

This is a really crunchy, satisfying summer salad.  I like to add the dressing right before serving so it does not get soggy.


6 cups of shredded Napa cabbage

2 cups of shredded red cabbage

10 green onions chopped – white and green parts

1 cup of shredded carrots

1 red pepper diced

½ cup red onion diced

½ cup chopped cilantro

1 pint cherry tomatoes halved


1/3-cup fish sauce

1/3 rice wine vinegar

8 packets of Splenda

2 T. limejuice

1 T. Sesame oil

1 T. water

2 cloves of garlic – minced

2 T. fresh ginger – minced

2 dried red chilies – crushed or ½ t. red pepper flakes

3 half chicken breasts- grilled and shredded

6T. Chopped peanuts

Mix all the veggies together.

Put all the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake up.

Add the chicken to the veggies and toss together with the dressing.  Only pour about half the dressing on at once and see if you need more after tossing.

Put in individual bowls and sprinkle with a tablespoon of peanut on each bowl.

You can get at least 6 dinner size servings out of this.

You can use other vegetables, like diced cucumber, avocado, hot peppers, zucchini, green cabbage, Savoy cabbage, whatever you like.

Blackberry Mint Lime Cooler

All my life I have always equated blackberries with summer in North Carolina.  Growing up in Connecticut we did not have indigenous blackberries.  But when we went to visit my paternal Grandparents at Hom-a-gen Farm, in Providence NC we had an over abundance of the sweet berries that grew wild in a huge thicket down the hill from a cow barn.


My grandmother, Granettes, loved blackberries and my Granddad loved anything free so I was often conscripted into climbing between the prickly brambles to pick the juicy ripe berries.


Granettes was a very good cook from whom I learned many tricks in the kitchen.  She was not great at giving me recipes, but would describe at length how biscuit dough should feel between your fingers or how to tell that caramel icing for the 1-2-3-5 cake had been cooked the right amount without ever using a thermometer.


Blackberry cobbler was a huge favorite, especially with the Yankee Grandchildren because first it was a dessert, something we did not get often and second the blackberries were so fresh, those few we brought back in the bucket and not in our stomachs.


I will never forget the earful Granettes gave Granddad when a farm worker accidentally wiped out the whole blackberry patch with a bush hog.  It was a sad summer without blackberries.


Yesterday, when I was writing about Friendly’s, a drink I used to get there in the summer came back to mind.  It was a watermelon cooler.  I think that at Friendly’s it was merely watermelon sherbet and soda water run together in the milkshake machine.


Since cobbler is not on my approved list of helpful weight-loss foods and I was thinking about that watermelon cooler I made up a yummy black berry drink.


½ cup fresh blackberries

2 T. fresh limejuice

2 packets of Splenda

4 mint leaves

1 cup of ice

10 oz. club soda


Put everything in a container that you can put a stick blender in, or in a blender and add about 1/3 of the club soda.  Whirl up until the ice is crushed and the black berries are gone.  Pour in a big glass and add the rest of the club soda.  Tastes like summer to me.



Blueberry Basil Greek Yogurt Dessert

Growing up in Wilton, Connecticut we lived in what was considered the boonies.  The closest grocery store was at least fifteen minutes away and there were no restaurants except for a Friendly’s ice cream shop.    Actually, we lived equal distance between the Wilton Friendly’s and the Ridgefield Friendly’s, but we rarely got to visit them.  My skinny mother did not believe in desserts.   Except on Sunday nights after two of the three daughters had gone to bed.  Well, actually she never believed in desserts, but my father had a way of breaking her down.  After a weekend of hard 1970’s partying he would crave something sweet and she would succumb to his temptations.

So usually sometime around 9:30, while I was watching TV in the family room I would hear my father’s bright yellow VW Scirocco tear down our long gravel driveway like a rocket headed for Friendly’s.  I would have to go to bed before he made the 45 minute round trip, arriving home with two half gallons of hand packed ice cream, one always Butter Pecan, my mother’s favorite and some chocolate concoction like Jamocha Almond Fudge for my father.  My father, never one to live small, always gilded the lily with a pint of hot fudge sauce.

My sisters and I always found the evidence of the forbidden dessert on Monday morning when we opened the freezer to get a can of Minute Maid tangerine juice out of the freezer, but amazingly by the time we returned home from school the contraband dessert was AWOL.  My mother’s guilt over having ice cream caused her to throw away the devil’s due.

Having spent the day at school hoping to get ice cream for our afternoon snack my sisters and I got good at making desserts from things people don’t usually consider dessert.  Grapes, sour cream and brown sugar was a favorite, but cinnamon toast with a huge amount of butter soaked cinnamon sugar on top was practically on par with birthday cake.

Today’s recipe is something along the lines of a Carter girl dessert concoction.  It’s simple, and actually quite good in the best of summer ways.

1 cup of fresh blueberries

4 Basil leaves –chiffonade

3 heaping tablespoons Greek Yogurt

½ t. honey

Sprinkle of crystallized Ginger

Mix it all together; eat pretending it is ice cream with hot fudge sauce.

What’s Left to Give up?

I love watching weight loss stories on the news.  First, people who are terrifically skinny, even in the camera-adds-ten-pounds world of TV are the ones doing the reporting.  I am not sure that Robin Roberts or Diane Sawyer have ever had an issue with their weight.


Obviously, dieting stories are good for ratings, because they are constantly running them, but somehow more and more people are getting fat.  If the stories were even somewhat helpful some part of the population would be getting thinner; perhaps the group who watched the news.   But that does not seem to be the case.


My favorite reporting about weight control is when the anchor reports on the outright dangers of consuming one food or drink, such as sugar-laden sodas or 600 calorie Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino.   No S**t.  I have not had a drink with real sugar in it in at least 30 years.  Oh, maybe I had a sip of real lemonade, but once I realize that liquid sugar had just gurgled down my throat, I throw down that cup and run.  I would always rather eat my calories, than drink them any day.


Another liquid culprit often blamed for weight gain is alcohol.  I have a friend, who shall remain nameless, announced to a group of women on a church retreat that she was not drinking wine that weekend, but instead was having vodka because she was on a diet.


Since I gave up drinking in 1984, not for dietary reasons, but because I drank too much one night in Miami and lost my underpants.  When I woke-up with the worst hangover on earth without those panties I swore I would never drink again until I found them.  Suffice it to say I no longer have alcohol to give up to help lose weight.


Gluten is the new darling of foods-that-should-never-pass-your-lips, as is the anti-white-food group, white food being made up of white flour and sugar.  So I too have given up sugar and most flour, except a little of that magic Wondra that makes pan-sautéed fish so good.  But is that the answer?  Probably not.


The latest report on the news that I actually think might be a winner is giving up your big plates.  They say that if you use a smaller plate and fill it up, your brain thinks you actually ate more than if you used a big plate and put a smaller amount of food on it.  So small plates it is.  And thank god, because I am running out of things to give up.


Note to readers:

If you have been missing recipes, I have been away in NYC and taking Carter to Camp Cheerio so I have not been home to cook.  Please send me messages of what you are craving so I can make up some new recipes for things you want to eat.

Foodie Torture?

When a Foodie dreams of nirvana, that dream is set in New York City.  Every type of cuisine is available there, sometimes better than the original version.  Italian, French, Afghan, Szechuan, New American, Old American, Raw Food, Jewish, Indian, both Southern and Northern, etc, etc, etc.

So what happens when a Foodie goes to New York, but has to ignore the cup cake shops on every corner, the baskets of croissants left casually under her nose at breakfast, the platters of artisanal cheeses offered at dessert or the pistachio gelato gleaming green in the window of the shop she was waiting in front of?  What happens, what happens?  Salads, tuna tartar and omelets happen.  And thanks to the diversity that is New York, even eating the same foods multiple times  never feels, or tastes repetitive.

The fabulous meals at the Modern and Atlantic grill were mirror images of each other in name only.  Their own renditions were so different from each other that I felt as if my diet was as varied as the clothes on an Upper East Side socialite and a meat packing district drag queen.

The best find was the salad bar in Macy’s flagship store basement.  There amongst the fresh made manicotti and the hot pastrami sandwiches was a huge bowl of peppery arugula.  Thank god, a Foodie was so satisfied.

Teeny bopper diet


I think that I might have stumbled upon a new diet while in NYC with Carter, my 13 year old daughter.

Its basis is in the overwhelming love a teenage girl can have for a young, barely discovered teen idle with all of two songs to his name. Say, someone named Austin Mahone perhaps.

If you and that daughter have to go stand in a line wrapping two blocks from the front of the line along with 2,000 other star struck girls with one bored parent in tow, there is no thought of food.

If, while standing in that non-moving line for an hour, lightening and thunder happening, followed by, you guessed it, torrential downpours — there is no thought of food while you huddle under a cheep street-vendor umbrella.

Once inside the mostly standing room only venue, the crowd of young girls, all equally in love with this teenaged
-boy chartreuse, begin to pulsate with excitement. Raising arms high in the air to fist pump to the music, bouncing in unison; clearly the best workout on earth.

At the end of the concert, the overwhelming excitement of having been so close to the next Elvis, creates such a rush of endorphins that the young teen does not even realize she had not eaten anything for the last seven hours.

Now, that is a diet. If only there was a middle-age woman version of this diet I would write the book and make a killing.

What to eat in NYC?


My ipad won’t let me post because the hotel server is worried I might be pretending to be me. Really? Why would anyone be pretending to be me?

So writing a post on my phone is slow and it is almost 100 degrees here so I will make this short.

Carter and I are in the city for a little shopping and a concert of some kid I’ve never heard of. Finding restaurant compromises I think I can find something healthy and light and something a 13 year old wants is no easy feat. Especially when it is so hot I can’t convince her to walk more than 8 blocks.

So after finding some joy at century 21 Carter and I had some real Chinese in China town. I was thankful for green beans as the mainstay of my meal but I am sure the spicy garlic sauce they were bathed in had way more calories than I needed. How do I know? They were yummy delicious, the way only some kind of fat will do.

For dinner I won out with a trip to the bar at the modern. Before those of you who know I have up drinking 28 years ago fall off your bar stool, the Modern serves great food in the bar and you don’t have to have four courses.

When I looked at the menu I was in heaven. Food skinny, rich NewYork women would not just push around their plates. I had the upside down tuna tartare and an arugula and watercress salad.

The tuna, though good, was not as good as mine but very skinny because they put it on cucumber instead of avocado. The salad was delish. Mostly because it was made up of hundreds of tiny chopped vegetables that I did not have to cut up.

I’ll post the pictures as soon as this hotel realizes no one is trying to overtake this blog or I get back to NC, which ever comes first

What to eat in NYC?


Watermelon Salad


It’s watermelon season so If you missed the June issue of Durham Magazine, here is my recipe from that issue.

6 cups of cubed watermelon

1/3 c. sliced Vidalia onion

3 oz. feta cheese cubed

25 mint leaves – sliced

1 T. olive oil

3 T. red wine vinegar

¼ t. red chili flakes



Mix together gently and enjoy!



Ratatouille – Not Like The Movie – but served in an omlette

When I was in college I lived off campus for two years with three roommates.  We each had responsibility to cook dinner for the house Monday through Thursday whether you were going to be eating there or not.  One of our roommates, Annie, was a vegetarian, so I was always searching for good ideas of what to make that we all would like as well as something that was inexpensive.


Ratatouille was a go to dish, but back then I made it with a ton of olive oil and served it covered in cheese.  It was vegetarian, but certainly was not healthy.  Since then I have discovered that both the oil and cheese were unnecessary to make a great dish.


Here is my much lighter version, which I used as the filling for an omelet.


1 large yellow onion diced

3 cloves of garlic minced


3 cups of diced eggplant

2 zucchini – diced

2 yellow squash – diced

1 red pepper – diced

1 15 oz. can chopped tomatoes (I have mentioned in previous recipes that fresh tomatoes are wasted on these cooked dishes, but if you are overwhelmed with fresh tomatoes go ahead and use them.)

30 fresh basil leaves chiffonade (That means finely cut)


Spray a big stockpot with Pam and place over Medium High heat.  Add the onions and the garlic and cook, stirring every 30 seconds, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Spray more Pam and add the eggplant.  Cook the same way for another 5 minutes.  Add all the other vegetables except the basil and cook another 5 minutes.  Add basil and salt and pepper.  Cook another five minutes.

Chicken Cutlets with Artichoke Hearts, Capers and Lemon

I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs because they just have more flavor than chicken breasts, but feel free to use either.  I place the chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap on a cutting board and using a meat mallet I pounded the chicken to about half an inch thick.

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs – pounded

3 T. Wondra – or all purpose flour

Salt and pepper


1 15 oz. can artichoke hearts- cut in half

1 lemon’s worth of juice and zest

2 T. capers

After pounding the chicken, sprinkle both sides with Wondra, or flour and salt and pepper.

Heat a non-stick fry pan on high heat and spray with Pam; turn the heat down just a little.  Place only as much chicken in at a time so that the cutlets don’t touch each other.  Cook on one side until golden brown, about 3 minutes.  Flip over and brown the next side.

Put the chicken in a shallow pan in a 300º oven to finish the cooking for about 15 minutes.

Once you have cooked all the chicken.  Put the artichoke hearts, capers, lemons and lemon zest in the same fry pan without cleaning it out of any browned bits left from cooking the chicken.

Heat the artichoke hearts on medium high heat for about 5 minutes and pour over the chicken.


Variation to make a more brothy version:


Cook the chicken in a Dutch oven.  After browning the chicken deglaze the pan with a cup of white wine.  Add chicken back to the pan and add the artichoke hearts, lemon juice, zest capers and 1 cup of chicken broth.  Bring pot to a boil and reduce to simmer cooking for 15 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

Tuna Tartare

This is a great spicy appetizer; if you can afford the calories serve it with good seeded crackers.  I just eat if straight for dinner.

¾ pound of sashimi grade tuna steaks or medallions – cut into ¼ inch cubes

1 avocado – cubed

1 minced shallot

2 green onions chopped

2 T. soy sauce

1 t. wasabi

2 T. Siracha sauce (red chili garlic sauce)

1 t. sesame oil

12 t. lime juice

Mix soy sauce, wasabi, Siracha, sesame oil and lime juice together.  Add all the other ingredients gently folding, not to mash the avocados.

Chill for at least a half an hour.

Sweet Corn and Cherry Tomato Salad

I love to grill corn in the husk.  It keeps it moist and develops the sugars when it caramelizes a little.  It is easy.  Pull back the husks leaving them attached and clean out the silks.  Pull the husk back up and soak the ear with water.  Grill on a medium high fire about 15 minutes turning it so all sides get the heat.

You can choose to cook the corn any way you like.


6 ears of corn- cooked and kernels cut off the cob

1 pint of cherry tomatoes- halved

1 shallot minced

25 basil leaved cut in thin strips (Chiffonade)

5 T. white wine vinegar

1T. Olive oil

5 Splenda packets

Salt and Pepper


Whisk together the vinegar, oil, Splenda salt and pepper in a bowl.  Add everything else.

Have You Looked In The Mirror?

The Bible has many lessons, but as adults we have learned that plenty of the verses can be used to contradict each other.

The great book says, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” (Mathew 7:1) But it also says a lot about judging, like “Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:9) So this is not a judgment, but more an overall observation.

This refection, from the Book of Dana, the third chapter entitled “What were they thinking?” comes today’s lesson:  “Just because you can zip it up, does not mean you should be wearing it.”


The other day I went shopping in my closet looking for pants that I had not worn in a while.  I found a pair of black cropped pants that had descended far down the pile, meaning I had not been able to wear them in quite some time, yet they were still in my main closet and not the closet of hope where I keep good clothes that are MUCH too small.

I looked at the tag, two sizes smaller than the pair of khakis I was wearing.  I let the current pair fall to the ground without even unzipping them and shimmied into the black crops.  I zipped them up, no problem.  Feeling triumphant I practically skipped to the full-length mirror and was thankful that it was close by.  These pants were in no way appropriate for public viewing with me in them.  And thus came the lesson, “Just because you can zip it up, does not mean you should be wearing it.”

As I went about my day, in a skirt that actually fit, I began to notice people or all sizes who apparently did not own a full length mirror or had assumed that the zipping of the clothes was all that was required to tell if they were appropriately dressed.

The first person I saw was a rather large woman in a sleeveless shirt that did not have arm holes big enough to allow her arms to fit out without looking like they were being squeezed out of a sausage casing.  It was a hot day and I am sure her clothing choices were limited, but there was no way that enough blood was getting to her hands and fingers due to the constriction of the arm hole.

The next person I encountered was a teenage girl at the Harris Teeter Grocery who could not have been more than a size 6 in actual body, but she, in perhaps some denial, was wearing a pair of skinny jeans so small that were disabling.  I say this with first hand knowledge because she dropped a lemon on the ground and was physically unable to bend over and pick it up.  I watched as she leaned sideways against the display and tried to get the fruit before I actually bent over and picked it up for her and she sighed with great relief.

Even watching TV that night I thought that Divia, the statuesque Physicians Assistant on Royal Pains needed to discuss with wardrobe the size of her lime and white cropped pants that did her no favors when she turned around.

So the lesson of the day is an easy one.  “Look in the mirror before you leave the house.”  The best-dressed person is not wearing the most expensive clothes, but the ones that fit their body the best, no matter its size.


Green Onion-Ginger Sauce on Chicken

My friend Dottie showed me her favorite recipe for a green onion and ginger sauce served with noodles.  Since I have basically given up noodles I decided it might be good on chicken.  I modified it by removing most of the oil since it was not needed for flavor.

10 green onions – both white and green parts chopped into ½ inch pieces

½ cup minced fresh ginger root

1 T. white wine vinegar

2 t. low sodium soy sauce

1 t. canola oil

Pinch of sea salt

Boneless, skinless Chicken cut up

Mix all the ingredients except the chicken and put them in a container in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Spray Pam in non-stick fry pan and cook the on medium high heat for a few minutes on each side.  Spoon some sauce on chicken while still hot and eat!!

The sauce can be kept in refrigerator for a couple of days.

Peach Chutney

Chutney tends to be very high in calories because it uses a ton of sugar to balance out the tangy vinegar and hot from peppers.  I tried making peach chutney with Splenda and it worked perfectly.  No one could even tell the difference.


I served it on grilled pork tenderloin, which was a great match.


1/3-cup cider vinegar

10 packets of Splenda

½ medium Vidalia onion – diced

½ sweet red pepper- diced

1 jalapeno- seeded and diced finely

2 cloves of garlic grated

2 T. grated fresh ginger

Handful of raisins

Pinch of salt

3 large peaches- peeled and cut into small wedges


Put the vinegar and Splenda in a pot and Bring to boil.  Add everything except the peaches and reduce to simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the peaches and continue cooking for ten minutes.


Can be served warm or cold.

Green Bean, Cherry Tomato and Fennel Salad

1 lb green beans – stem end cut off and cut in thirds

1 pt. cherry tomatoes – halved

I large fennel bulb – shaved thinly

4 oz. feta cheese – crumbled


1 shallot – minced

2 T. Dijon mustard

4 T. white balsamic vinegar

5 Splenda packets

1 t. olive oil

salt and pepper

Blanch the green beans for 3 mins. and then remove them quickly and put them in a bowl of ice water t stop the cooking.  Add the tomatoes and fennel.

Put all the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake up to mix.  Pour over the vegetables right before serving.  Sprinkle the feta on top.

Don’t put the dressing on too early because it will make the beans an ugly olive green rather than the bright green, but if you have leftovers it will keep fine, just not be as pretty.

Blackberry Lemon Frozen Chiffon

Chiffon’s are something Betty Draper might have made if she cooked.  It is a little like a dairy-less ice cream. But when I served this dessert last night Carter thought it looked like something out of Dr. Seuss beacuse of its strong purple color.  I have cut out sugar from my diet, but still imbibe in man-made sweetness.  If you have a moral opposition to Splenda throw caution to the wind and use sugar.  The Splenda version has only about 25 calories per serving.

Makes 8 servings

Four cups Blackberries – you can use other berries, but I am unsure how blueberries will do

¼ cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice

4 egg whites

Pinch of salt

6 T. water

1 Cup Splenda for cooking –measures the same way as sugar.

Put the Black Berries in the Cuisineart and pulse until obliterated.  Put a wire mesh sieve over a bowl and pour the blackberries into the sieve.  Using the back of a big spoon push as mush liquid through the sieve as you can.  It will take a little work.  Throw away the skin and seeds left in the sieve.

Add the lemon juice to the berry juice.

Put the egg whites and the salt in a stand mixer and beat them on high just until they are frothy.

In a small saucepan put the water and the Splenda.  Bring to a boil and while hot turn the stand mixer on high and pour the hot liquid in a thin stream into the egg whites.  Beat until they are stiff.

Remove the mixing bowl from the stand and fold in the blackberry-lemon liquid.

Spoon into ramekins.  Place them in the freezer for at least 6 hours.

Note:  If you use sugar bring it to a boil with the water and boil it for 3 minutes without stirring

How Old Is That Meat In Your Freezer?

Have you ever seen the TV show Hoarders on A & E TV?  It basically takes people with a fairly serious mental illness and trades them help from professionals if they allow cameras to film how crazy they are.  It is a somewhat disgusting show, but I watch it.  The best thing I get from watching the show is the feeling that I must get up and clean something out of my house right away and I always have some area in my house that could use some serious purging.


There are a couple of traits I have noticed over the years that many of the hoarders have in common besides the obvious trouble with throwing much of anything away.  One is that often have too many pets to remember and so when a cat goes missing amidst the piles of magazines and cabbage patch doll collections they don’t really miss it because one of the other 23 cats will keep the hoarder’s attention.


Another common trait is hoarders often have things in their freezers that have been there for decades.  Each Hoarder considers the freezer some magic box that can arrest all decay from any food put inside.  (I am not even going to discuss the contents of their refrigerators.)


If you have never worked in a commercial kitchen or taken a food safety course let me be the first to tell you that even food in the freezer has a “shelf life.”  So get up right now and go open the freezer and throw at least three things away.  Good items to start with are ice cream that is over two months old (if you have been able to keep ice cream that long, congratulations on your will power), bread or ground meet that is more than 3 months old, or here is one I hate, but bacon that is more than a month in the freezer needs to be disposed of.


I am guilty of filling my freezer full of food I have cooked too much of and then never gotten around to eating it.  It does not help that I have a child who hates leftovers; I tell her she was born in the wrong family.  I also have a freezer in the garage that tends to fill up with ice so I have to do a giant defrost and throw everything away all at once.


The TLC TV channel has a show called Extreme Couponing that practically celebrates hoarding just because these people have been able to get stuff for pennies on the dollar.  There is no way that a family will ever be able to eat 700 boxes of hamburger helper before they die of a coronary.


So I am committing to be more mindful of what I already have and try and use it before I purchase something new.  And if I find things that no one in my house is going to eat I am going to give it away while it is still good.


I’m going to the freezer now, and am thankful the garbage will be picked up in 36 hours.  What about you?

Lemon Zucchini Latkes

My garden is spitting out squash like the Duggers do children, but nothing else is producing yet, so I am sorry for yet another Zucchini recipe.  But you won’t be sorry if you make this one.

I was making Russ a loaf of Zucchini bread, but I grated too much zucchini and had to think of something to do with it.  While looking at the shreds in the Cuisineart I thought it looked a lot like grated potato for Latkes.  So here is the out come.

These can be used as a side dish or tomorrow I am going to re-warm them and put a dollop of Greek yogurt and a sliver of smoked salmon on them and serve them as an appetizer to my Cousin and his wife who are coming for dinner.

Makes 24 – 2-inch latkes

4 medium zucchini – grated

1 t. salt

Juice of one lemon and zest of half the lemon

1 shallot minced

3 T. Parmesan cheese

3 T. flour

1 egg and one egg white, beaten

Black pepper


Grate the Zucchini in the food processor and put into a colander and sprinkle with all the salt.  Mix it together.  Place colander over a bowl to catch the liquid that is going to drain out of the zucchini and let it sit for half an hour.

After draining hold colander under the running water in the sink for just a moment to rinse off a little salt.  Put a paper towel on top of zucchini in the colander and press it down pushing as much water out of it as possible, turning the squash a couple of time.

In a large mixing bowl beat the egg and egg white together and add all of the ingredients except the pam.

Heat a non-stick fry pan on medium high.  When it gets hot spray Pam in the pan.  Drop spoonfuls of the zucchini mixture into small rounds and press them down a little.  Cook for about one minute on the first side and then flip them and press down again and cook the second side about a minute.

I only do about 5 at a time so they are not crowded in the pan.  You can keep them warm on a cooling rack set on a cookie sheet in a 250º oven if you want to serve them right away.

Or you can wrap them up and refrigerate them and reheat them on a cooling rack set on a cookie sheet in a 325º oven until they are warm – probably about 10 mins.


I used the Latkes as the base of an hors d’oeuvre.  I put a dollop of Grreek yogurt and a sliver of smoked salmon on top they were great.  Russ then ate the leftovers for breakfast and added capers making them even better

Dieting Is All In Your Brain

Some people eat to live, all 6 of them and then there are the rest of us.  One of the things about doing this challenge is I have become the “diet whisper” to so many.  Now I certainly don’t mind sharing my 40 plus years of dieting knowledge, since I have lost multiple hundreds of pounds over my lifetime.  What most people and I really need is a “weight maintenance whisperer.”

Losing weight is exciting and maintaining that loss is dull boring and really a life’s work.  It is certainly not something I have mastered and am clearly a long way off from worrying about right now.  First, lose the weight.

So if you are looking for the real secret about losing weight, here it is…your brain has decide to do it and then your body will follow.  So if you are struggling with trying to lose weight stop trying.  Ask yourself if you really want to do it.  Once your brain says it’s in then your body will join.  Why?  Because changing your habits takes every bit of strength your brain has.

I heard an interesting bit of information the other day.  You don’t just make a couple of decisions about what to eat everyday, but more like two thousand decisions.  Do I have the turkey?  If I do, should I have cheese with it?  What kind of cheese? How much cheese?  I probably should not have the cheese, but now that the idea of cheese has entered my brain I really want the cheese.  I could just forget the turkey and eat the cheese.  But one little piece of cheese won’t fill me up and I will still be hungry.  Making the right decision 2000 times a day is practically impossible.


The exhaustive fight to do the right thing begins to take up all your brains computing power.  No wonder most of us give up the fight because we actually have to do something else, like go to work, the laundry or remember to pick your kid up at school.  The headmaster does not accept the excuse, “sorry I was late, my brain was fighting over the apple versus cookie decision.”

So find a way to get your mind in the game first and then do everything possible so your brain can’t get you out of it.  My way is publicly announcing I am doing this, but I know that way is more than a little crazy.  It is my crazy brain I have to work with.

Baked Stuffed Zucchini

The Garden is in full squash production.  Here is a great way to use the zucchini you should have picked two days ago, but you did not see them under that giant leaf until they got just so big.


4 large zucchini – or six smaller ones

2 15 Oz. cans stewed tomatoes

1 large sweet onion chopped

2 T. Pesto – or 20 basil leaves chopped, and 2 cloves of garlic minced

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and Pepper

Pam  (of course)


Preheat the oven to 425º


In a saucepan put the tomatoes and the onion and bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer and cook until the onion is translucent, about 20 minutes.


Cut the ends of the Zucchini and slice them down the center lengthwise.  Scoop the seeded middle out of the squash digging it out as an American Indian would have dug out a wooded canoe.


When the tomatoes are done remove the pan from the heat and add the pesto and the Parmesan cheese and mix well.


Spray an oblong pan with Pam.  Fill each zucchini canoe with the tomato mixture and place in oblong pan.  After you have filled all the zucchini sprinkle salt and pepper on each one.


Add a cup of water to the pan without pouring on the zucchini canoes.  Cover the pan with foil, sealing it as best you can.


Carefully place in the oven so as not to make the canoes float around and turn upside down.


Cook for 45 minutes.  Then remove the foil and continue cooking for another 15 minutes.  The zucchini should be fork tender.


4 servings as a main dish or 8 as a side dish

Pan Sautéed Flounder

Today you get a whole dinner’s worth of recipes.

No one should be afraid to cook fish, there is hardly anything easier than pan sautéing and this is a very healthy version.  You can substitute any flat white fish or you can leave the skin on the flounder.

Skinless flounder filet



Salt and Pepper

Lemon juice

If you don’t know what Wondra is it is time to learn because it is the best flour to dredge protein in for pan sautéing.  You find it in the flour section of the grocery store.

Lay your fish our on a flat surface sprinkle it with Wondra.  You don’t need to coat it thickly, just evenly dust about a teaspoon for side of flounder.  Salt and pepper that side and then flip the fish over and repeat.

Heat a non-stick fry pan on medium high heat and spray the pan with Pam.  Lay the fish in the pan.  Don’t crowd the fish, each side needs to cook for only about 2 minutes and then flip it over and cook the other side.  Squeeze lemon juice on the fish while it is cooking on the second side.

Remove from the frying pan.  If you still have more fish to cook before you enjoy it, put the cooked fish in a 250º oven for holding, not more than 10 minutes.

The Problem With Underpants

When I go to Belk’s and look at the women’s underpants the majority come in an incredibly small range of sizes.  I’m not talking about just small panties, just a small range of numbers.  If you are a woman the size numbers 5, 6 and 7 might sound familiar.


Now, I have a close association with the other range of 8, 9, and10 all of which I have worn or might be wearing right now, it’s your guess.  But for the regular sized people who wear what Belk’s calls “Misses” sized clothing, the underpants are 5, 6 or 7.  Three numbers to cover butts from size 4-16 seems to be just too few numbers.


I understand that 5, 6 and 7 might just be another way of saying small, medium and large, so why 5, 6 and 7? I digress.


Here is the real problem as I not only see it, but also have experienced it.  Having three numbers that span 7 sizes of clothing means that they can expand.  For example, a small woman who wears a size 4 dress may buy size 5 panties just as a woman who wears a 6 or an 8 buys.


It is all well and good that they all could fit into a 5, but the problem comes when that size 4 person wearing her size 5 underpants gains a little weight.  She may no longer fit into her size four dress, but magically her size 5 panties still fit.


Not many people are crying about that poor size 4 people, but what about those of us in the double-digit range.  There is nothing happy about going from a 12 to a 16 dress except that you still could wear your same size 7 underwear.


If my panties got tight as soon as I crept up one dress size I might be better at nipping it in the bud, so to speak, right then.  But no, my panties, made of that forgiving elastic, and fine-spun knitted material just happily accommodates my increasing bum.


You might think the mirror or jeans would snap me into reality, but I can always stand at a more flattering angle or not machine dry my jeans.  It isn’t until my oh-so-forgiving panties actually get too tight that I say, “I’ve really got to lose weight.”  By then it’s at least two or three sizes too late.


So my answer to this problem is to beg lingerie manufacturers for less forgiving panties.  They have already done it with Bras.  The word on the street is for every ten pounds you lose or gain you need a different Bra size.  That has got to have helped sales.  So do for panties what has been done to bras.  Something that is really a pain-in-my-ass is the reminder I need to walk away from the kitchen.

Summer Rolls

These are one of Carter’s favorite things to eat.  It is the best way to get veggies into a kid.  The traditional summer rolls put noodles inside, but I replaced the noodles with romaine lettuce.  The dipping sauce also makes a great dressing for a green salad.

Dipping Sauce

1/3-cup soy sauce

¼ cup water

10 Splenda packets

Juice of 1 lime

2 t. grated ginger

3 cloves garlic grated

1 t. Siracha (garlic chili sauce)

Handful of fresh cilantro leaves chopped


Rice Paper rounds –

2 cups of shredded Chicken – can be poached or pulled from a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store  (You can use any kind of protein, grilled beef, cooked shrimp, or roast pork.  Be Creative)

Head of romaine lettuce washed and torn into pieces

1 cucumber- peeled and seeded and cut into strips

3 carrots – peeled and cut into strips

24 fresh basil leaves

24 fresh mint leaves

¼ cup Hoisin sauce

Wet one rice paper round and lay it on a plate.  Schmear a one-inch stripe of Hoisin sauce in the middle of the rice paper.  If the round was a clock, schmear one inch in from 12 o’clock to one inch in from 6 o’clock.  The Hoisin sauce is the only really calorie-laden thing in this recipe so go easy on it.  Lay two basil leaves and two mints leaves on the Hoisin.  Top with a couple of lettuce leaves, a few strips of cucumber and carrots and then a few pieces of chicken. This all should be done in a line in the middle of the rice paper.  Fold the short edges at 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock in and then pull the three o’clock flap over and roll the whole thing to 9 o’clock.  It will look like a somewhat translucent big egg roll.

Repeat.  This is a fun thing to let people make themselves.

Serve the dipping sauce in a little ramekin on the side.

Zucchini Chips

OK, these are nothing like chips except for the shape, but they are yummy, somewhat snack like, incredibly easy to make and a good use of garden abundance.


Zucchini evenly sliced into ¼ inch rounds

Ground Cumin

Sea salt



Preheat convection oven to 450º if you don’t have convection they will just take a little longer to cook.


Cover cookie sheet with foil and spray with Pam.  (By now you know I love Pam.)

Lay out zucchini in single layer and spray the top of the zucchini with Pam.  Sprinkle Cumin over the zucchini evenly.  Then sprinkle just a bit of sea salt.


Place in oven and cook for 20-30 minutes.  The actual time depends on how close to ¼ inch you made your slices.  When they just start to get brown they are done.  They will shrink up about 25%.

They are good hot or cold.

Mindfulness — or more often than not, Mindlessness

This morning while looking out our bedroom window that overlooks my precious vegetable garden Russ calmly says, “There are three deer outside.”

I jump from bed and flew open the sash and scream at these unknowing thieves at the top of my lungs, which most of you know is quite an unholy sound.  The two does and one buck lazily look up at me, some 100 feet in the air from them and feel no fear what so ever.

It took Russ running outside, clapping loudly to run off the pepper-plant-eating-vermin.  Now I don’t want to hear from all you Bambie lovers until you have had a few hundred plants that you tended lovingly from seedling into just-about-to-bear-beautiful-fruit-full-grown-plants mindlessly gnawed on by deer who decide half-way through destruction that maybe this was not what they were craving.

Mindlessness is something we all can be accused of.  Just last weekend I received an invitation from a relative I refuse to name for a family reunion on May 4.  This being May 30 I consulted another relative who had received the same card and we quickly figured out she meant August 4.

Later that day I went to visit a different relative, whom I also refuse to name, who had ruined a pair of $6,700 hearing aids because she had put them in the microwave.  Apparently she was supposed to put just one small part in the microwave to clean it, but in a moment of distraction she just put the whole thing in the cleaning tube and sparked it all up.

Those mindless eating deer drove me to such perturbation that while making my standard breakfast of high protein Special K with some beautiful sweet blackberries I poured iced tea on it rather than milk.  As soon as I saw that brown liquid rise to flake level I came too and quickly dumped the liquid out of the bowl while holding all the solids in place.

Since the tea was in just a moment the flakes were still crisp, thanks to that industrialization process Kelloggs perfected to help keep cereal from turning to mush within seconds of liquid touching it.  I went to the fridge and pulled out the bottle of Maple View Farms skim milk, which had only about one cereals’ worth still in it.  I tipped the bottle up and poured the remaining milk into the bowl only to be met by a yogurt like substance covering my delicate blackberries and doomed flakes.

Cursing the deer for diverting my attention away from my regular routine of always smelling the milk before pouring (there is no excuse for the tea) I realized how easy it is to get distracted from doing the simplest things.

So is the case with heathly eating.  I know that I can go mindlessly about eating something I shouldn’t and never really realize, appreciate or register that I have eaten it.

With this wake up call I am dedicating myself to mindfulness.  Not just about eating, but about living, and a little about finding those deer and scaring them so badly that they vow to never come near my garden again.

Nam Prik Ong- the non Prik Chicken way

Prik means Pork, not your brother-in-law


This is a Thai dish that is normally made with fresh ground pork (Not sausage), but to make it much lighter I have made it with ground chicken breast.  The calorie difference is 200 for pork and only 120 for chicken.  If you don’t care about calories use the pork, it is better.


1 inch of ginger root –peeled

½ cup of cilantro stems

4 dried red chilies – they are small about 1 inch each

1 shallot

4 cloves garlic

1 lb. of ground chicken or pork

2t. Soy sauce

1 pint of cherry tomatoes -halved

4 green onions chopped- both green and white parts

Green cabbage leaves


Put the ginger, cilantro stems, chilies, shallot and garlic in a food processor and run it until everything is mashed up but not quite a pulp.  Add the meat and mix well.


Heat a skillet on medium high and if you are using chicken, spray with Pam, pork has enough fat not to need Pam.  Dump the meet mixture in the skillet and add soy sauce.  Cook, for about 6 minutes, stirring often.  Add the cherry tomatoes and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes, mashing them into the meat.  Remove from heat.


Cut the head of cabbage in half and separate the leaves carefully into cups.  Wash and dry.  Sprinkle with sea salt and spoon meat mixture into cup.  Top with a little green onion.



The Numbers

“How much?”  Is the question I keep getting.


“How much what?” I ask.  The answers have been all over the place.


“How much weight have you lost?”


“How many people are pledging?”


“How close to $1,000 per pound lost are you?”


“How many green beans are in the green bean recipe?”


“How many people have you e-mailed this stuff to?”


To satisfy all these seekers of information I will be publishing all the numbers on the first of every month.  And this being June 1, oh no, it’s already June 1, I am reporting.


Weight lost:  12 pounds.  Now don’t get excited you skinny people who never had to go on a diet before.  12 pounds in three weeks is not my run rate, and if you know me, you know I rarely use the word run in any sentence that has to do with me.  If I remain diligent I might be able to lose 6-7 pounds a month.  Remember I am old, I take thyroid medicine and my life-long love affair with food has not changed.  I just have to keep coming up with more healthy recipes.


How many people have pledged?  146 pledging units, (a unit is an individual, couple or family.)  Pledges are coming not just from North Carolinians, but also from boarding school and college friends who live in places like Ohio, Rhode Island, New York and Pennsylvania.  One touching pledge came from a thirteen year old friend who is donating part of her Bat Mitzvah money.  Now that’s a good deed.


How close to $1,000:  Right now I am at $461.73 – easy math – That is 46% to dollar goal.  I am overwhelmed with the generosity of you pledgers.  If you do the math the average pledge is $3.16.  The highest pledge is $25 per pound, but every pledge, big or small is important.  I love the  enthusiasm of one friend who liked the blog so much she upped her pledge from $2-$5.  I hope you feel like you are getting value for money.


How many Green beans?  As many as you have.  Remember they are addictive and you will be sorry if you don’t make a bunch.


How many people have I e-mailed?  Too many to count.  It has got to be obnoxious when people see my name in their in-box.  So if you are reading this maybe you could e-mail it to a few people you know.  Once I get to $1,000 I will stop asking you to do anything except maybe work out with me, still not so good at running.


It is not too late to pledge.  In fact it is never too late to pledge.  So if you or your unit has not received a thank you note from me click on the pledge tab now!!  I need you and you know I will love you and your unit more for it!