Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tastes of York a Success & July's Advisory Group Meeting Info

Healthy World Cafe joined dozens of local farm markets, restaurants, agencies, and foodies at the first annual "Tastes of York" held recently at Spoutwood Farms.  We had an opportunity to meet tons of interesting and interested people, who had a chance to hear about HWC and taste some of our delicious food.  We served Pea Hummus, made from fresh, local peas, and spread the word about our community cafe.

Healthy World's next Advisory Group meeting will be on Tuesday, July 5, due to the Independence Day Holiday.  We will meet at 6:30 p.m. at the Friends Meeting House.  Please join us and bring a friend!

 Even kids loved our Pea Hummus!

Thanks to all who came out, and thanks to Spoutwood Farms!  What a great event.

4th of July Blogger Giveaway! and a Chocomole Recipe

I spent a fun night last night with a friend visiting from LA. She organized a girls' night dinner party hosted by her sister. I met a lot of very accomplished and interesting women I had never met before. Ironically, the dinner was almost vegan (there was a bit of feta cheese in a Greek salad and some butter in a tart, but that's about it) and this wasn't a group of Vegans. Isn't that weird? Good? Even great?

My contribution was something that I have been wanting to test out for a while now. A spicy, chocolaty, rich dessert concoction called Chocomole. I'm really not sure who can claim ownership of this concept, because I have seen it before in a variety of media. I even made a version of this last summer, but this way, with the addition of red chili pepper and cinnamon . . . now this is something to talk about!


2 large ripe avocados
12 Medjool dates, pits removed and soaked if necessary
8 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder or raw cacao
2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp Cayenne pepper
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup non dairy milk

Place all ingredients in a high powered blender or food processor and blend until smooth, scraping down sides as necessary.

Serve as a mousse or as a dipping sauce for fresh fruit.

And now for the giveaway!

Win a DVD copy of the brand spanking new documentary "Got the Facts on Milk" by Shira Lane. I just received two copies in the mail yesterday and I cannot wait to watch this film! But, I also couldn't wait to give one copy away . . . so here are the rules:

(1) leave a comment here about any Plant-strong plans you have for this 4th of July weekend.

(2) make sure to be an e-mail subscriber OR RSS feed subscriber OR Twitter follower of Healthy Girl's Kitchen.

(3) "Like" Healthy Girl's Kitchen on Facebook if you haven't already (although I suspect you have!)

I will pick one lucky recipient on July 4th at noon (EST). Please leave one comment per participant. No need to answer all three questions in seperate comments. Thanks!

So, what are your Plant-strong plans this weekend?

Kitchen Pix-The Job is Done, The Pantry is Restocked

With much joy and gratitude, I present you with the final kitchen renovation photographs. Thank you to the HGK readers who have been asking for these, it is very kind of you.

A few words on my pantry: I was lucky enough to inherit a great pantry from the previous owners of my home. So during the renovation, the pantry received a new coat of paint (a deep yellow green, my absolutely favorite color) and a new floor to match the rest of the kitchen.
As you can probably tell from this photo, I like organization. Especially in a work space where doing tasks efficiently is my goal. I can't afford the time to be hunting around for ingredients, so I spent the time to deck out this pantry. It always gets ooohs and aaaaahs from visitors to our home.
The baskets were recycled from my kid's changing table, which we finally retired this month! Phew, what a relief that is. No more diapers. It's been 11 1/2 years. But back to the baskets--they do a great job containing things that otherwise would be a mess in the pantry: chips and pretzels, wraps and baggies, potatoes and onions, and miscellaneous small dry ingredients.

The vertical rod dividers are spring loaded curtain rods. I saw this idea online looking at other people's pantries and closets (yes, you can do this very easily with an image search on google!). This idea was a major find for me. I am able to keep all of my muffin tins, baking trays, cooling racks, etc. very neat and tidy and within easy reach for all of the baking that I do (not!. . . wish I could, but you guys all know what the outcome of that would be for me). But I do use those baking trays for a heck of a lot of veggie roasting, and an occasional muffin!
The strip of hooks was from the previous owners. It's uber functional for holding hanging items, including a small vacuum that we use every day on the kitchen floor. Boy do 3 little people and and all of my cooking create a mess on the kitchen floor.

Thanks for taking the HGK tour! If you want, I'll show you my spices . . .

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Eggplant Bacon?!?

I'm going to be honest here, bacon has never been a big deal in my life, so giving it up for my health wasn't even a sacrifice I had to make. But when I saw Julie Ann over at The Reduction Project blogging about Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Eggplant Bacon from her cookbook Appetite for Reduction, I can't lie, I was intrigued. And I happen to have a lot of leftover eggplant from my Baked Eggplant Fries test. Plus I already own a bottle of Liquid Smoke, which I was sure was the secret ingredient!
I was right. This preparation is very simple and involves only eggplant, low sodium soy sauce or tamari, and liquid smoke.

Lucky for us, someone was kind enough to submit the Eggplant Bacon recipe to Spark People. I'm not sure if Isa would be too happy about that, but there it is. Because I had one pound of eggplant strips already cut up for the eggplant fries, I didn't follow Isa's eggplant cutting method, but all was good and it worked just fine. 
With leftover Sweet Potato Enchiladas, leftover Cabbage, Jicama and Cucumber Slaw served over romaine lettuce and topped with avocado, the Eggplant Bacon was perfect. Thanks for bringing this deliciousness to our attention Julie Ann!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

3in6: Back to Twists

See "3in6 Challenge" details here.

The box braids were a success!! I wore them for 5 weeks and spent a few hours taking them down. The removal process was not bad at all; I think it helped that I made the braids big. As I anticipated, the braids did not age or shrink as much as twists.  So, I am a new convert to box braids? Somewhat. I'm still in love with twists but will incorporate box braids from time to time.

How are you all doing this month?

Reader's Question: My Hair Routine

Reader's Question:
"Hey! I just had to say that I love your blog .... I cut off the rest of my relaxed ends after a 23 month transition! My hair is type 4. I recently tried twisting my hair with a shea butter mix and it was awesome! My hair dried so soft! Thnks for such an informative blog! What is your hair routine for washing, styling, and heat usage?"

My Answer:
Thank you for your message! A few pieces of my regimen have remained constant over the years.  These pieces include: wear twists as protective style, redo twists every 2-4 weeks, condition after each wash, and detangle monthly.  Other parts of my regimen have varied every several months or so.  Here's what I currently do:

Wash weekly/biweekly (Desert Essence Lemon Tea Tree)
Condition after each wash (V05 or homemade avocado DC)
Prepoo with coconut oil for 20 min
Detangle monthly (fall/winter/spring) or biweekly (summer)
Moisturize weekly (water then shea butter mix or Pura Naturals)

Wear twists/box braids ~3-4 weeks (fall/winter/spring) or ~1-2 weeks (summer)
Pin up twists/braids for updo 99% of the time
Wear twistouts or flat-ironed buns on rare occasions
*For more on my twisting routine, check this series

In 2010: Flat iron ~3x (during the fall/winter)
In 2011: May or may not keep the same usage (more on that later)

Mexican Slaw, Times Two

Lately I've been really intrigued by the idea of slaws. Crunchy, light and full of flavor, I always love a light (read, non-mayonaisey) slaw. At my favorite local (almost) Vegan eatery, Organic Energy, creative slaws are almost always served up alongside Vegan delicacies like lentil burgers and buckwheat cakes. And as a Nutritarian, I am always looking for ways to get more salad into my belly.

That's why I whipped up this slaw for my guests this past Friday evening:
Cabbage and Jicama Slaw with Smoky Avocado and Cumin Dressing

This delicious recipe was posted by Gena on Choosing Raw and it couldn't have appeared at a more perfect moment. I was actually going to her blog to do a search for "slaw" to go alongside the sweet potato enchiladas that I was making and there is was, that day, just posted. A Mexican slaw. If you'd like the recipe, you can catch it here, but be warned, there will be a lot of leftover dressing. You can easily half the dressing component and have enough for the slaw, or make all of the dressing and use it on green salads later in the week.

I also ended up with extra jicama and cabbage, which was the basis of a second slaw I decided to test. This one was inspired by a recipe I had cut out of Clean Eating Magazine many years ago. I have to say, it would be the perfect compliment to some heavier Vegan fare. A little bit sweet a little bit hot . . . a lot refreshing.

Cabbage, Jicama and Cucumber Slaw
serves 6 as a side dish

For the dressing, whisk together:
Zest of 1 lime
juice of 2 limes (1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp)
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/8 tsp Cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp ground pepper

For the salad:
2 1/2 cups shredded cabbage
1 1/2 cups grated seedless cucumber
2 cups julienned jicama
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced

Toss all salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss to coat. Let marinate for 30 minutes before serving.

Got a slaw story? Share it here!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Papaya and Basil Salad

Continuing with the theme of what we had for dinner on Friday night, here is the recipe for Papaya and Basil Salad. Sounds weird right? Well, I probably never would have given this recipe a second look if I had found it myself, but luckily for me, it was served to me two years ago by a friend and I immediately fell in love. Beth found the recipe in this cool New York Times article written by Mark Bittman called "Recipes for 101 Simple Salads for the Season" published in 2009. Check it out here if you want to see all of the recipes.

I have made it many, many times since. While it does have a lot of sugar, the vast majority of the dressing/marinade gets poured off before you serve the salad. What is left is a sweet and sour concoction that works well as a side dish or even on top of a green salad.

I happen to love papaya, so that may have something to do with my feelings for this salad. If you are not a papaya aficionado, I highly recommend asking your grocer to show you what a ripe papaya looks like (it's not pretty). Any papaya will ripen at home on your counter, which is a good thing and is more than can be said for many fruits that you get these days.

The papaya on the right is ripe, but my experience is that a ripe papaya can have lesions all over the skin that look very unappetizing. Don't be dismayed! The fruit on the inside is delicious!

Ripe papayas don't always look pretty.

You will want to cut the papaya in half length wise and scoop out all of the little black seeds.

Papaya and Basil Salad
inspired by a recipe by Mark Bittman
Serves 4-6 as a side dish

Printable Recipe

1 really ripe papaya, seeds and skin removed and cut into 1 1/2" chunks
1 or 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup (a handful) fresh basil, sliced
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar (I used organic sucanat, which is dried cane juice and is much less processed than white sugar)
1 tsp salt

Combine vinegar, sugar and salt in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Stir and remove from heat when sugar is dissolved. Let cool.

In a bowl, put papaya chunks, carrots and basil. Toss with vinegar marinade. Allow to marinate for 10 to 20 minutes and then strain off excess liquid before serving. Serve immediately.

If you would like to prep the marinade and the papaya, carrot, basil mixture ahead of time and keep them separate in the refrigerator, then toss right before serving, that would work well.

What is your experience with papaya? Love it or never had it?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Night of Firsts, Baked Eggplant Fries

Thank you for your comments and suggestions on my last post. I have a feeling that I am going to be referencing Helga (???) a lot here on HGK, so I've got to give her a name that really fits.

I think I was on our New Jersey road trip when I first laid eyes on Baked Eggplant Fries with Lemon Dill Dipping Sauce. It was one of those moments when I was like, "Oh My Gaaaaaaaaaa, I must remember to make these when I get the opportunity to and I really hope that this recipe doesn't fall into the deep recesses of my brain!" Luckily for everyone involved, the Baked Eggplant Fry image stuck with me, and Jennifer from Virtually Vegan Mama's creation was reborn in my kitchen (Lucy?).

My mother and father-in-law, Judy and Marv Solganik (and sis-in-law Janet on the left). It was Marv who just recently, at age 81, got in the wrong line at the Cleveland Marathon and ran the half-marathon instead of the 5K that he had signed up for. What an inspiration!
It was at my first Friday Night dinner with the new kitchen (Rosie?) that the Baked Eggplant Fries made an appearance, and boy did they create a food memory. They are lemony, crunchy and simply outstanding!

Here is the complete menu for the dinner:
Attias Family Baking Co. Whole Wheat Challah and Apple Cinnamon Challah
Chaya's Carrot Soup recipe here
Baked Eggplant Fries recipe here
Sweet Potato Enchiladas with Black Beans, Kale and Salsa Verde recipe here
Mexican Slaw? recipe here
Papaya and Basil Salad recipe here
Raw vegan Key Lime Pie from Organic Energy
Mama's Peas Vanilla Bean Mini Scones recipe here
Vanilla Soy Creamy Iced "Cream"

Here are my experiences and suggestions: I needed to double the amount of the herbed soy yogurt marinade and also increase the amount of whole wheat breadcrumbs by 50%  in order to make all of the eggplant into fries. Maybe my eggplants were larger than Jennifers?

I'm also not a huge fan of dill, and I used a variety of fresh herbs from my herb garden, which I am proud to say is doing wonderfully, given it's new location in my yard and all of the rain we have been having.

They are best eaten straight out of the oven, which is not so practical when you are serving a crowd at a sit down dinner. Perhaps they are best left to occasions when you are not having company or when you are serving guests in a really casual way, because you need to be "working" the fries and serving them as they come out of the oven in batches. But don't let that scare you, these are a must try!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I'm "Cookin' with Gas!" and a Recipe

Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Kale Enchiladas with Green Tomatillo Salsa
"They're not good, they're GREAT!"
-Marv Solganik
?My kitchen renovation is finished (well, almost, but it's nothing that's stopping me from cooking like mad and having parties). Thank you to all of the wonderful HGK readers who stuck with me through my recipe dry spell. You won't be disappointed! I am on the warpath.
I love the sound of  gas igniting a burner. That's probably because I have been cooking with electric for the past 4 years. And most of the 7 years before that. So it's been mostly electric for over a decade. Why? Control. With electric, you have little control over the heat. With gas, you have a lot. Plus, a roasted marshmallow every now and then couldn't hurt anyone, could it?

I have been spending every spare minute I have in my kitchen. I almost feel like I have to give it a nickname. It's definitely a "she." She is very feminine, really. Classic. Retro. Large. With an industrial element. So I need a name that reflects all of those qualities. Got any ideas?

I'm loving it that I can spread out and still have my kids and neighbors hanging out with me and having dinner. What an incredible luxury! I feel very blessed.

So what was the first thing that I whipped up in Bessie (if that's what we are going to call her . . . I'm not sure)? A recipe inspired by Gena Hamshaw at Choosing Raw, of course! As many of you know, it is rare that I create an original recipe. What I am really good at is tweaking recipes to fit within the Nutritarian framework, or at least be as Nutritarian as I can get them to be. I love the brilliance of adding Blackstrap Mollasses to vegan enchiladas in Gena's recipe. It's a great source of iron and as all of us Nutritarian's know, iron is something we should keep an eye on. And vegan enchiladas are hearty, crowd pleasing dishes. You really can't go wrong with that.

Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Kale Enchiladas with Green Tomatillo Salsa
Inspired by this recipe by Gena Hamshaw
Serves 8-16, depending on how much other food you are serving!

Printable Recipe

2 jars green tomatillo salsa (at least 20 oz. total)
5 large sweet potatoes (or 8 regular ones), peeled and cut into large cubes
1 large yellow onion
2 8 oz. packages sliced mushrooms
4 packed cups chopped kale (you could even use more)
2 cans black beans, or 4 cups freshly cooked
6 tbsp blackstrap molasses
2 tbsp tahini or almond butter (optional, but makes the filling nice and creamy)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
4 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp salt (to taste)
2 tsp cumin
4 tsp chili powder
Black pepper to taste
8 large whole grain tortillas (with sides trimmed off) or 12 small corn tortillas
1 cup or so Daiya pepperjack or cheddar cheese (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Boil a large pot of salted water, and add the sweet potatoes. Cook till they�re fork tender, and drain. Transfer to a very large bowl.

Saute onion with a few tablespoons of vegetable broth. Add broth as needed during saute process. When they�re tender and light brown, add the mushrooms and kale and stir. Cook, stirring frequently, until kale is tender.

Mash sweet potatoes, but leave them a little chunky.  Add cilantro, black beans, molasses, tahini or almond butter (if using), lime juice, salt, cumin, chili powder, and black pepper, and stir.

Coat the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish with tomatillo salsa.

Assemble your enchiladas by rolling about 1/8 of the filling into each of your large tortillas (adjust proportions if using small corn tortillas) and laying them side by side into the baking dish. Cover them with the rest of the the tomatillo salsa (they�s supposed to be smothered).

Bake for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese. Return to oven and bake until cheese has melted and enchiladas are hot (if you make the enchiladas ahead and refrigerate them before baking, you�ll need to bake them for at least 45-60 minutes before the cheese step).

So what do you think would be a good name for my kitchen?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Post on Heat Training?

UPDATE: Post coming in mid August!
The topic of "heat training" natural hair is a very controversial one.  I've debated whether to do a post on the possible benefits (yes, I said it ... lol) of heat training natural hair for length retention.  Let me know your thoughts in the "Comments" or "Reactions" section below. :o)

REVIEW #10: Karma Organic Nail Polish Remover - Unscented

NOTE:  I am not paid to review this product.  This product was purchased via my own pocket and curiosity.

Purpose: To remove nail polish from nails.

Ingredients: propylene carbonate, soybean oil methyl ester, tocopheryl acetate (i.e, vitamin E oil). 

Number of trials: 3 to 4

How I used it:
� Apply to cotton ball
� Then wipe polish off nails


It's official!  I really like this nail polish remover.  There is no strong, chemical smell like most nail polish removers you find on the store shelves.  In all honesty, I do not recall smelling much of anything while using this remover.

This nail polish remover is also very moisturizing.  Most commercial removers that I've used leave my nails feeling extremely dry.  In contrast, this remover leaves behind a light oily film which hydrates the nails.

Lastly, I like that this remover works on both organic and non-organic (e.g., Revlon) nail polishes.   It wiped away both sets of polishes more so effectively than commercial removers do.  A little remover goes a long way.

PROS: moisturizing, no strong smell, may be used to remove non-organic polishes as well, a little goes a long way, more effective than commercial nail polish removers I've tried, the quality fits the price

CONS: none

RATING: Overall, I give the Karma Unscented Organic Nail Polish Remover 5 out of 5 stars.  

May be purchased at Karma Organic.

A Brilliant and Consise Eat to Live Summary

As a result of having my story featured last week on Choosing Raw, I was contacted by Susan V, the brilliant and dedicated mind behind the Fat Free Vegan Empire. Susan clued me into the fact that there is a very active Yahoo Group of people discussing Dr. Fuhrman's Eat to Live. Just go to and do a search for Eat-2-Live if you are interested in joining an online support group. Remember, surrounding yourself with like minded people is key to Plant-strong success, in my opinion, and this type of group absolutely fits the bill.

It was in the Eat-2-Live group that I came upon the following summary of Dr. Fuhrman's "diet". It was posted by Michelle Golden, one of the members, and I asked her if it was okay to repost on HGK. Michelle said that credit really goes to Eat to Live Chapter 8, so I know that I have read this information at least a few times before.

But guess what? I NEEDED this reminder. In fact, I can see now that I need this reminder every few weeks, not months, because I go pretty off track as time goes by. This time, I am going to print these guidelines and hang them in my kitchen where I can refer to them more often!

Dietary Guidelines from "Eat to Live", by Dr. Joel Fuhrman

Unlimited Foods (Strive for 1 pound raw and 1 pound cooked vegetables daily):
(1) Raw vegetables, especially leafy greens.
(2) Cooked vegetables, especially leafy greens and other green vegetables.
(3) Beans, bean sprouts, and tofu. 1 cup daily, or more.
(4) Fresh fruits. 4 per day, or more.

Limited Foods: The starchy vegetables or whole grains can be eliminated, if you want, but it is very important to eat your healthy fats every day.
(1) 0-2 servings of starchy vegetables or whole grains. (1 serving is one cup.) Have 0 or 1 serving if you are trying to lose weight. If you are at your ideal weight, you can eat more than one daily serving of starchy vegetables, as long as you don't start gaining weight! Starchy vegetables or whole grains include: white potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut and acorn squash, corn, whole grain bread, pasta and cereal, and whole grains such as brown rice, bulgur, barley, etc.
(2) 1-2 ounces of raw nuts and seeds daily. 1 oz. is best if trying to lose weight.
(3) 1 tablespoon ground flax seed daily.
(4) 1-2 ounces of avocado daily. 1 oz. is best if trying to lose weight.

Off-Limits (totally eliminate these foods if you want to lose weight):
(1) Animal foods, including dairy. You can eat them if you are at your ideal weight, but no more than 12 ounces per week. Dairy products should be low-fat.
(2) Dried fruit and fruit juices. Might use a tiny amount for flavoring.
(3) Added fats and oils.
(4) Avoid between-meal snacks.
(5) Avoid processed foods and high sodium foods.

Only eat when you are hungry. Only eat until satiation.

Your aim is to have your diet be at least 90% unrefined plant food daily.

Salad is the main dish! Have 2 big salads a day. Salad is defined as any raw vegetables.

The goal of one pound each, raw and cooked vegetables, is just that: a goal. More important is to strive for that goal but only eat until satisfied, not until stuffed.

Eat a variety of fruits, greens, and vegetables for a variety of nutrients.

Leafy greens are KING! They have 10 times the nutrition of other foods.

Soups are filling and nourishing, especially with greens in them.

Avoid caffeinated beverages.

Exercise daily.

What are your strategies for staying on track with your food?

Do you ever find yourself unintentionally going off track for long periods of time only to be brought back by some reminder?

Have you established a reminder system for yourself?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Creative Party Idea: Fresh Juice Bar

I just wanted to share the coolest thing that I experienced yesterday at a catered brunch. The hosts of the party (along with the creative mind behind the catering company, I imagine) decided that it would be fun to set up a fresh juice station with all of the fixins for amazing juices--beets, carrots, apples, celery, kale, spinach, you name it. I was such a hog! Went back multiple times.
So if you are ever in the market for hiring a caterer and want to give your guests something healthy that they can talk about, I highly suggest this. Heck, if you have the gumption to man the machine yourself, you could even do it without a staff. But I don't suggest this, because the party wouldn't be much fun for you!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Plant-Strong Success Tip #2: Participate in Exercise that is Fun and Enjoyable for YOU

I've been an on again off again exerciser for my entire life. At various points in my younger years I would go through phases when I would delude myself that if I only exercised more (like 5-6 days/week) than that would be the answer to my overweight problem. This insanity was reinforced by many influences, including my husband, whom every time I would bring up weight loss would say. "Well, we should start exercising!"

Ha ha.

What about our diet?

A few short years ago there was a very interesting article in Time Magazine about the role of exercise in weight loss. I'm going to sum it up for you: exercising is not the determining factor in achieving a healthy weight. The food that you put in your mouth is. You simply cannot burn enough calories in exercise to offset bad food decisions, so stop deluding yourself. Get your food in check and get your weight in check. If you'd like to read the whole article, and I highly recommend that you do, you can do that here.

So why then I am dedicating one of my precious Top 10 Tips to Plant Strong Success to the subject of exercise?

Because exercise is so darned important!


And if feeling good makes it easier to treat your body to nourishing food than I am all for that. Exercise really and truly relieves stress. I for one know that when I am stressed out, I make horrible food choices (that's the emotional eater in me) so anything that relieves my stress level improves my relationship with food.

But here is the kicker: If it's not fun FOR YOU than you are not going to do it on a consistent basis.

If running on a treadmill makes you want to blow your brains out, do you think that forcing yourself to wake up at 5 in the morning to go to a gym is going to be a long term thing for you? I didn't think so.

It wasn't until I found the exercises that were fun FOR ME that exercise finally became a no brainer in my mind. And what a relief that was, because even without the weight loss piece, I certainly can appreciate all of the wonderfulness that regular exercise provides. Strength, flexibility, peacefulness, youthfulness, healthy circulation. I could go on.

My exercises of choice? Power Vinyasa Yoga, Pilates on a Reformer and walking with a friend (the exercise buddy system really works, I cannot impress that upon you enough). That's it. Case closed.

What are your thoughts on the importance of exercise?

Are you struggling with exercise?

Have you found a sport or two that you adore? Do you exercise with a friend?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Surround Yourself With People (and Food) That You Love

Happy Father's Day to my dad and all of the daddy's out there! That's my daddy at his 85th Birthday party, which we celebrated last weekend in New Jersey. That was the reason for my family's road trip from Ohio. We had a wonderful time and I absolutely love the instant connection that all of the cousins have with each other.
The main event of the weekend was a Sunday Brunch. Bagels, cream cheese, lox, whitefish salad, herring. 'Nuf said.
The day before the party I had an unbelievable opportunity to cook for my parents, brothers, sister-in-laws, nieces and nephews and other extended family. I wanted to give them a delicious Plant-strong meal and I believe I delivered. Thanks to my SIL Lori who let me use her gorgeous kitchen, co-hosted the dinner and was my sous chef . . . and then had to miss the dinner in order to take her son to a soccer game. What a mom!
Lori made her (well, Ina Garten's) fresh Guacamole. Yum!
I, of course, had to make my Red Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Corn, Tomatoes and Cilantro. It's such a guaranteed crowd pleaser, if you haven't made it yet I highly suggest you fit it into your summer line-up!
I made a catering sized platter's worth.
Okay, I had to throw this one in. There's Lori in the back and me with CRAZY hair in the front. Don't make fun. My hair is really frizzy.
Another crowd pleaser is Roasted Brussels Sprouts. I found this technique in a Martha Stewart cookbook and have prepared Brussels Sprouts this way ever since. I think Roasted Brussels Sprouts are like candy.
Another favorite of mine is Toby's Refreshing Salad. Made with fresh grated beets, carrots, and apples and then dressed with fresh squeezed orange juice, it doesn't get simpler than this. So colorful, light and, well, refreshing!
I also served a Hugh Jass Green Salad (sorry, I can't stop saying that). Crudities with two kinds of hummus, chips and two kinds of fresh salsa rounded out the incredibly alive spread of deliciousness.
I've gotta give props to this chick, my sister-in-law Ruth. The night before this dinner, she singlehandedly cooked up her own Plant-strong dinner for the family. It was way beyond the call of duty, but so, so appreciated!
That's my mom on the left and her dear friend Ann Monka on the right. Ann survived the Holocaust by hiding out in the forest in Poland for years. She is truly an inspiration. It's so nice to be surrounded by the people you love!
And last but not least, the main event party food. Luckily for me, there were leftovers from the Plant-strong dinner the night before! I didn't have to eat any of this. But I couldn't control myself when it came to this:

My total weakness, my Achilles heel, my crack cocaine: birthday cake.

I ate two big pieces that day and believe me when I tell you I am still paying for it. It overwhelmed my system with sugar, resulting in a condition that only females suffer from, if you know what I mean . . . why can't I stop myself?

Do you have any Plant-strong Father's Day plans?

How many of your loved ones have adopted a Plant-strong diet?

Do you wish, like I do, that your entire family was Plant-strong?