Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Foods that Make Me Go Mmmmmmm!

I love listening to Dr. Mehmet Oz. He and Dr. Christiane Northrup, Dr. Nicholas Perricone, Dr. Mark Hyman, Jonny Bowden and others are my favorite nutritional/health gurus.

Dr. Mehmet Oz has a great list of foods that have made his Hall of Shame and his Hall of Fame. I have thought about this list and looked it up repeatedly, so I'm going to make a permanent note with a link to each list. They are from a show that Dr. Oz did on Oprah.

Hall of Shame Foods
High fructose corn syrup
Enriched wheat flour (white flour)
Saturated fat (like lard that is solid at room temperature)
Hydrogenated oil

Hall of Fame Foods
Olive oil
Tomatoes (eat with a little olive oil or raw nuts to digest the lycopene better)
Raw nuts

So, eat the foods on the Hall of Fame list and abstain as much as possible from the foods on the Hall of Shame list. That's what I have to remind myself all the time.

I live on the extremes when it comes to food in my life. I'm either eating only foods that are detrimental to my health or I'm eating only foods that support good health. I'm constantly trying to tone down the extremes and meet somewhere in the middle. (And, let's be real here, I err more frequently on the "detrimental" side).

That is where lists like the Hall of Fame list from above come in. When I'm inspired by good food, it is much easier to walk the road of health rather than either extreme.

For example, the other day I ate a Kashi cookie for breakfast. See, somewhere in between. A cookie, but made from whole grains with seeds and nuts and dried fruit. Okay, okay so it's still a cookie. I'm not debating, just sharing that I'm trying. (By the way, they are extremely delicious when coated with Nutella. Mmmmmmm. You see there I go erring again!)

So, I'm adding some other foods that inspire me to eat healthy and yummy dishes.

Who can resist the small explosion of delight that is an organic, fresh blueberry? They taste amazing. I've seen little kids tuck into blueberries with abandon and consume an entire box in short order. I'd love to go blueberry picking sometime in my life. One of my favorite breakfasts is a blueberry smoothie with frozen blueberries, almond milk, and honey.

Ginger just seems to be a part of great food. It smells pretty and tastes better. I especially love it with lime to season chicken.

I may be my Grandmother's favorite when I note this one. She always seemed to like eating a raw, sliced, garden onion on her salads and sandwiches. I don't yet have the love for raw onions, but sweet, carmelized cooked onions? Mmmmmm. They make me feel better just thinking about them.

This spice makes me warm and fuzzy. I like to think of it paired with honey sprinkled over a bowl of hot steel-cut oatmeal with baked apples.

I can't account for my obsession with lemons and limes. All I know is every few weeks I get this hankering for anything lime or lemon. This spring it has been especially bad. I've gotten a lime cherry slush (not as good as it sounds) and coveted Simply Limeade every time I've walked by it in the grocery store. But I know from past experience that drinking juice like this is akin to sending myself into diabetic shock. Headaches and illness ensue. So, I buy limes and lemons every time I'm in the grocery store and I sprinkle the juice with abandon on nearly every veggie I make, any marinade I come up with, and I include them in a variety of concotions in freshly-made vinagrettes or salad dressings. They just ratchet up the yum factor.

I love ruby red grapefruit. It glistens when you cut it open and it combines sweetness and tang in just the right amounts for me. I just feel unaccountably better after I eat one.

This humble little fruit is like manna to me. I probably eat too many of them. (Can you do that?) My favorite is Fuji organic apples (none of that nasty wax or pesticide aftertaste). I pair them with peanut butter, almond butter, nuts, string cheese, or Laughing Cow cheese wedges. I'm shaped like an apple too, so maybe that is why I like them so much? Whatever it is, they do something good to me.

Really, I'm including broccoli in a good-faith attempt. I buy broccoli, I plan on eating it, I contemplate what to pair it with, I think how good I feel after eating it, and then once I've done all of this I go to the fridge only to discover I've spent so much time thinking about broccoli that I've done very little eating of it and now it's gone bad. So, new resolve: eat it within 24 hours of purchase. Or don't purchase it.

There is something sooooooo good about perfect salmon. My taste buds have to be re-inspired every once in a while if I've eaten too much mediocre salmon. The first time I ate baked, wild-caught salmon it was so light and tender that it literally just disintegrated on my tongue. Hmmmmm. Every time I eat great salmon I feel the same way. I ate some a couple of nights ago again when I had seared salmon with pickled ginger beurre blanc and now I'm craving salmon again. I think I will just have to splurge and eat some more.

This is the kind of list that inspires me to new and healthier meals. Now if I can just build a weekly menu that surrounds them.

Mmmmmmmm goooooood.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I Swooned at Dinner

I got to go to a corporate event with my dad the other night and the food was so scrumptious that I had to post the menu. Even the words that describe the menu are yummy! So, drool a bit with me.

Spinach salad with carmelized walnuts, dried pears, gorgonzola cheese and strawberry-balsamic vinagrette
The walnuts and pear really made this salad.

Tomato salad with torn basil leaves and a balsamic reduction with extra virgin olive oil
This doesn't even begin to describe how delicious these tomatoes looked!

Carved marinated shoulder roast with aegean vinaigrette, portabella mushrooms and veal reduction
This was good too, just a little too much on the red side for me.

Seared salmon with scallops and shrimp served with pickled ginger beurre blanc with chive straws
Yummy, yummy, yummy, yummy--I love salmon and shrimp and scallops and to have all THREE, well couldn't get any better for me.

Yukon gold gratin potatoes
This dish had some serious pungent cheese on it that made this old standby into a real star.

Fresh spring vegetable sautee
Okay, this dish to me was the star of the evening. I've very rarely had so many delicious vegetables at once--baby carrots, dark green broccoli, yellow squash, spring onions--I wanted to go back for seconds and thirds and fourths. I've got to learn how to put together a vegetable dish this yummy.

Raspberry lemonade
I almost never drink raspberry lemonade--it gives me a headache because it is so sweet. This drink though almost tasted peach to me. The flavoring was very light and the juice thicker--like they had pureed the raspberries and added them to the drink. It was the best raspberry lemonade I've ever had.

Dark chocolate banana creme brulee
Really the only disappointment of the night. My pudding was mostly banana while my dad's had a lovely layer of dark chocolate on top of the banana pudding. But I still ate all of mine!

The food wasn't the only highlight of the evening, but it sure was a star. Now, if I could only replicate all these dishes in my own kitchen. Wouldn't you want to come for dinner?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Monday, April 14, 2008

I Like Close Ups

This weekend I was around Meg and Meg's camera. Thank yooooooooo, Meg.

And thank you, you beautiful, beautiful camera. I love you. If you were human, I would take you on a date because I've fallen in love.

I think the most addictive part of her camera is that it goes "click, click, click" so quickly that I can take like 20 pictures a minute. My theory on taking photos is very simple: the more you take, the greater likelihood you will end up with a good photo.

So, I took 400 pictures and ended up with a couple that I liked. Then, I played around a little in Photoshop and came away with some that made me smile. Meg was my favorite subject because she was always close at hand when I was using her camera.

And happily, she was very willing to let me snap dozens and dozens of photos of her. The picture above is one of my favorites and it was one of the first photos I took. It just has a certain "Megness" that I love.

Look at her big blue eyes.

Meg enjoying the new trampoline they got for their family. I got her laughing out loud on this one.

This photography thing is addictive. Funny enough, Meg was the first subject who ever got me interested in photography years ago. One afternoon when she was fourteen, I asked her to pose for several photos because there was something about her, something that felt fleeting and tentative and brand-new, that I wanted to capture and I didn't know how to do it except to see if it would translate to film. If I can find some of those photos I will post them.

One thing I've learned between now and then?

It really, really, really makes the whole journey much more enjoyable if you have some excellent tools at your disposal.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Cheeky Chub

Meg took great pictures this last weekend when my family was all gathered at my parents' house for LDS conference. Check out many more photos on Meg's site. One of my favorite moments was several of the little girls were crowded around baby Elle. Elle was loving all the attention and laughing.

That is until Gaby grabbed her cheeks (see photo below). Elle wasn't so sure what was going on.

Gaby was so overcome with love for Elle that she didn't seem to know what to do with it. She just had to squeeze her. So she grabbed Elle's yummy little cheeks and squeezed.

My grandmother used to do something similar to me whenever she was passing out a stick of gum from her purse. The price for that piece of gum was letting Grandmother grab one of my cheeks and squeeze. I'd walk away with a piece of gum and rubbing my cheek to recover from that squeeze. The gum was always worth it to me, so I'd chance the momentary pain it might induce.

I don't believe Gaby's little squeeze hurt Elle, I just think it surprised her. I mean who could resist cheeks like these?

What was the best though is what Gaby said to her. She grabbed her cheeks and squeezed and said:

Her chubby.

Yes. Her is chubby. Gloriously, deliciously, supremely baby-chubby. You simply can't resist how yummy she is.

I just wish the getting-your-cheeks-squeezed stage still applied to me. The chub and the cheeks simply aren't as adorable in the over-thirty crowd.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Chocolate Choices

My sister posted an incredible chocolate cake recipe today and I'm CRAVING the cake. I had it for the first time a few months ago after we got the recipe from our friend Sam. Sam is one of those unfortunate people who has creativity flowing from his very fingertips. He can't control the beautiful, intricate, gorgeous work that he does. It just comes to him.

I hate that.

But I love Sam. Simply, because he introduced me to a chocolate cake that has got to be as CLOSE TO NIRVANA as anything I've ever tasted. Hmmmmm. It is that good.

And really, if I'm truthful, it isn't just the cake. It is the icing. That icing made me coo the first time I tasted it. Yes, like a bird. And yes, I sounded ridiculous. But after my first bite of this cake and this frosting, I knew I had found it. The thing I had been searching for--subconsciously--my entire life:

The Perfect Icing.

You see the people of the world can be divided into two very important categories: Those Who Love Icing and Those Who Hate Icing. And I am a long-time, card-carrying member of the first group. I've always judged a cake by its icing. As a kid, I ate the icing first and tasted the cake after.

I also was wise. I cozied up to the members of the Hate Icing group in my family and benefitted from their dislike by relieving them of the nasty, icky, oh-so-awful icing on their plates so they could enjoy their cake. I was doing them a service. Really. I even would go so far as to trade my cake for their icing.

And this cake, this cake of Sam's? It has the best frosting I have ever tasted in my life. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I might do illegal acts if this frosting were the pay off.

So, look at this recipe and its lovely pictures (thanks, Meg) and dream of this kind of chocolate nirvana in your future.

Just don't touch the icing. It's mine.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Dance, Dance

Noah, my six-year-old nephew has some serious dance moves. He and his mom (my sister) like to dance around the house. I think Noah has picked up some skills from his mother who has loved to dance her entire life. This is a video that I found the other day of Noah dancing. He is a mover and a shaker.

His Uncle Adam (my brother) has some mad skills as a dancer as well. He was playing Usher on his phone on this particular day and Noah was grooving to the music. This was a couple of years ago in spring 2006 and Noah is about 4 years old.

Do you think he can dance?


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