I just turned 52. In the world of medicine I am two years past due for my colonoscopy. I tried to have it earlier but apparently getting into to have a colonoscopy is a popular thing to do so I have had to wait. I’m sure it is the baby boom that is the reason the wait is so long and not the love of the procedure itself.
I recently read the instructions for my colonoscopy and wish that I had known before, what I was going to have to do in preparation, so I could have picked a month like October when the fresh fruits and vegetables are less plentiful.
For all you youngsters yet to have done this here is a preview of what’s ahead. First, no aspirin of NSAIDS for ten days before, that means no Aleve for my achy knee.
Second, for five days before, this important paper tells me, to maintain my regular diet… except avoid, corn, peas, beans, popcorn, nuts, seeds and ANY RAW FRUITS OR VEGETABLES. The writer of these instructions obviously does not know what my regular diet is. I eat fruit and cereal for breakfast, and a salad for lunch and dinner. Once I remove all the raw fruits and vegetables I will have three quarters of a cup of cereal, half a cup of milk, two skinless chicken thighs and one oz. of blue cheese left in my regular diet.
The instructions go on to say that on the day before I get to cut out all food and have broth and clear liquids with a non-red Jell-O thrown in for fun. That afternoon I am going to power chug as many laxatives as I can dissolve into 32 oz. of Crystal light, the diabetic choice over Gatorade and then get up at four in the morning and do the laxative chug again.
I am so OK with the final day of broth and crystal light laced laxatives, but five days without raw fruits and vegetables seems like a medieval torture. Sure, if I weren’t trying to push past my current plateau to lose twenty pounds being given permission to eat meat and white bread might sound good to some of you, but I don’t need to develop a tooth for that kind of food.
I am giving you all fair warning that I may be a little grouchier that usual this week. I can only imagine how out of whack I am going to be without my “regular diet” of a bushel of raw fruits and veggies a day. I feel the nursing home diet of applesauce and cooked carrots coming on. Getting old stinks.
This is more of a guide than a recipe because you can make a broth based vegetable soup with almost any vegetables. Like Lima beans, add ‘em, hate carrots, leave ‘em out, like oregano, and go for it. You will get the picture. The point is to know how to whip a pot of the best appetite cure there is. I like to have something like this around to eat before I go to parties. It is so much easier to pass by the baked brie if I have eaten a cup of soup.
As I have written in the past onions are the key to the flavor a along with carrots, celery, garlic and tomatoes. Everything else is just what you have on hand or like.
1 large yellow onion – chopped
4 carrots – peeled and chopped
2 stalks of celery – chopped
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 can of diced tomatoes- (I just one with chilies in it)
3 cans of chicken stock – or vegetable stock if you want
1 T. white vinegar
Salt and pepper
Corn cut off 2 ears of corn
1 can white beans drained
Hand full of fresh thyme- tied with a string
1 bay leaf
Other suggested veggies
Peppers, peas, other types of beans, broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, turnips, parsnips, zucchini, yellow squash, spinach …
As usual I spray a soup pot with Pam. If you are opposed to Pam just put a little olive oil in the pan and swirl it all around. Don’t write me to complain about using Pam, just don’t use it and keep that information to yourself.
Put the pot on a medium heat and add the onions and cook for 3 minutes, stirring every once in a while. Add the carrots and the garlic cook another minute. Add the celery, tomatoes, stock, bay leaf, thyme salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer, add the corn and the beans, which are already cooked. Simmer for five minutes add the vinegar and serve if you are hungry right then.
The vegetables should still be a little crunchy. You don’t need to simmer soup forever. That just makes mush. I like to turn the heat off in the pan and put a lid on it and just let it sit there for a few hours with no heat the herbs will give up more flavor. You can add some chopped chicken to make it a meal, or some rice or a few cooked noodles. The rule to follow is if you add raw vegetables try and cut them roughly the same size. Add them to the pot like this; if they are hard ones that take a long time to cook like parsnips add them with the onions, if they are short cooking like peppers or green beans add them with the stock, if they are frozen peas, or canned beans or anything that is already cooked add them at the last minute. The basic soup is a blank canvas awaiting your additions.
The biggest eating holiday of the year is coming this week. I know that it is a day about giving thanks, but for most of us it is about eating and trying to get along with those you are eating with. No one likes Thanksgiving more than my Dad. He loves to cook and he loves to feed people so this is one of the days he really looks forward to.
The yesterday he called me up furious over an article in his local, no-prize-winning paper entitled the “Healthy Thanksgiving Plate.” It was written by the “community dietitian” whose mere existence I fear for if my father ever meets her. She espoused filling half your plate with low carbohydrate vegetables such as green beans, carrots, greens, broccoli, cabbage, you get the picture. Then she allows you 3 ounces of white turkey meat, no gravy, no skin, no flavor. Lastly you get half a cup of either potatoes or stuffing. She wanted you to have some apples or pears for dessert. And forget the wine.
The idea of this being a celebration made my father crazy. He got the wicked idea that I should read this menu to Carter and tell her this is what we were having for Thanksgiving, but include the good news we were not having oyster dressing at her request. With a maniacal laugh he said, “The idea of this being our meal will make Carter almost as furious as I am.”
For me I certainly don’t want to gain an ounce after working so hard to get it off, but even I think this menu is an invitation to the depression zone. Turkey, even the better tasting dark meat is not that bad for you. If you can stay away from the skin go on and eat double what this prisoner of war camp guard dietitian is suggesting.
Yes, eating healthy veggies is your best route, and frankly my stewed tomatoes are almost my favorite part of the meal, but apples or pears for dessert is no celebration. Later this week I will make my crustless pumpkin pie and put the recipe on the blog. You can still have things with the flavors of thanksgiving while not over indulging.
So don’t worry Dad, no one is expecting us to have a spa Thanksgiving, but I am going to have to bypass the Thanksgiving-meal-on-bread late night repast. One leftover-turkey sandwich for the rest of you is fine. That Gestapo dietitian didn’t mention anything about leftovers.
This is not an original idea for a recipe, but it is such a good things to know how to make I am writing my own version of this Spanish classic. It is also very healthy and good for any time of the day.
1 onion chopped (I like lots of onion so I use a big one)
1 ½ cups other chopped veggies – for this one I used Zucchini and green pepper. You can use leftover cooked veggies or raw. Asparagus, artichokes, red or green peppers, squash, cooked potatoes, green beans, spinach, broccoli or any creative combinations you can think of will work.
7 eggs beaten
½ cup of shredded cheese – I used a mixture of Parmesan, Jarlsberg and Gruyere
Salt and Pepper
Preheat the oven to 400º
You need a 12-inch skillet that can be put in the oven (that means it does not have plastic handles). Put skillet over a medium high heat and spray with Pam. Add onions to pan and cook for 3 minutes. If you are using raw peppers add them at the same time. Add any other raw veggies after the onions are partially cooked. Cook until veggies for another 3 minutes. Salt and Pepper the veggies. If you are using pre-cooked veggies add them now and get them warmed up.
Beat the eggs and add salt and pepper to them. Spray a little more Pam in the skillet with the vegetables, making sure the bottom gets lubricated and spreading out the vegetables evenly across the bottom of the pan. Turn heat on medium and pour the eggs into the skillet. Do not stir anything and let the eggs cook for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the still runny eggs and put whole skillet in the hot oven.
Continue cooking in the oven for another 5 minutes. The eggs may puff up a little.
Can be eaten hot or cold.