Glowing, radiant health is the new black. Our Green Table is serving it up, for the whole body! Healthy recipes and tips, the latest on eco-friendly food and "skin food"products and a head's up on ingredient safety are all woven into family-centered stories and discoveries. Bring informed, aware and empowered looks good on everyone!

Abrazos! xox Penny

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Salute to March!

March is ending today and so I thought I would share this beverage from The New York Times. Given that my birthday month is also ending, and my mom's, too, it just seems so appropriate! Have a great Thirsty Thursday!

Fountain of Youth (from The New York Times)

3 cucumber slices
1 1/2 ounces gin
2 1/2 ounces white cranberry juice
1 teaspoon Pimm’s No. 1
1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice

Muddle two of the cucumber slices in the bottom of a shaker. Add the remaining ingredients and two big handfuls of ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with the remaining cucumber slice. Makes one drink for a long and happy life!

Here are some pictures of the final days in March...

March snows

A few brave flowers

Osprey nest looks busy...can it be?

Surf birds

For the love of skirts...a hiking trail with my name on it!

For some, it's the robin or the hummingbird that signals spring as a sure thing. It's spring here when the osprey return to their nest and here is a mom and dad...just moving in!

For all seasons, what could be a better combo than sunsets and sea?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

About Face

My mom just turned 88 and today she is getting one of her birthday gifts. She is getting a special treat: a facial...her first ever. I am so excited!! She is in pain 24 hours a day but today, she gets an hour of comfort and joy! Pure bliss. We leave in about an hour. Soooo excited!

It was tempting to do a DIY for her at home but what do I know about giving a facial? Nothing. People go to school for weeks, months to learn how to do them safely and effectively and I wanted her to have the best with a professional in charge.

Check out the cool picture here:
and then another one on this link:

Your face has so many muscles, such delicate and varied tissue and I wanted all hers in the hands of a professional estetitian. We will be gone all was a little challenging finding a place with handicapped access for her. It would be nice if more salons and spas considered that level of comfort for their guests who need it and let it be known. Lots of spas have stairs and no elevator which is impossible for us. I found a great one, though, with ground level treatment rooms and so we are off!

For this Women and Wednesdays, consider putting your face in the hands of a real pro!

P.S. There is a cable channel that airs The Doctors in my home viewing market. Here's the scoop from Carla (thanks!)..."channel 42 (it may be 38, I'm not sure) on weekday mornings at 8.a.m" and today's show is on toxins!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

TV worth it's salt

It is always fun to travel and especially to a market that carries the fabulous show, The Doctors. It is on daily, on CBS, but unfortunately, does not show on our local CBS affiliate in my hometown. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why.

The Doctors is full of "no holds barred" information backed by a "fresh foods/nutrition first" approach. Four doctors covering specialties ranging from ER to OB/GYN to pediatrics and cosmetic surgery tackle every and any health issue with the mantra...information/education can empower you! Is the information always easy to hear and to talk about? No and they put it out there anyway.

We are at the point in our personal and national health crisis that silence is the silent killer and just talking about some of these things could change one person's life. Then, another's.

Here is a link to a show I watched last week that addressed one of my pet peeves: salt and processed foods. Anyone who has attended one of my cooking classes knows that, in addition to "Where's the beef?", "Where is the salt?" is a popular question! Both are noticeably absent.

Anyway, this episode launched a campaign I hope you all will embrace...Halt the Salt. Check out this link: . It also had a moving appearance by Magic Johnson and a candid discussion of his journey with HIV. You can watch the show online, too, and there is also a book available with tons of advice.

This The Red, White and Food post is for The Doctors! Thanks for keeping things fresh and out in the open!

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Puppers' Supper

I never thought I would write about what the pups ate but something happened last week to change all that and it is a perfect thing to share on Meatless Monday. Please, though, consult with your vet before doing what we did and a warning...what follows is not a very appetizing topic!

Our dogs have trouble with their anal sacs clogging up and becoming painful and sometimes infected. It is miserable for those sweet babies and was becoming very upsetting all around. To keep infections at bay, I had to take them in to be checked very six weeks or so and the trip to the vet alone wore them and me out emotionally and physically. 

In December, they started eating the food pictured above, an all vegetarian blend. For snacks, I still give them "cookies", usually Paul Newman's little treats and for special occasions, whip up a batch of almost famous "pupcakes". I took one of our pups in last week, just to check up on things because I realized we hadn't been there all winter...since our last visit in early December. Guess what?! No troubles at all after three full months and everything in the sacs looked great. My vet and I are thrilled they are so much more comfortable and that something is definitely working.

If you have this problem with your sweet pups, consider talking it over with your vet and trying out an all veg food.  Here is some more information on our pups' choice:

For regular little treats, I also give them this mix...

Pups' Snack Mix

Mix equal parts of frozen green and yellow beans (sliced into 1/4 inch slices for small pups), frozen peas and small cubes of frozen, baked sweet potatoes or winter squash. Give them little bits of this mix as a special treat. Ours gobble this up!

I also use frozen green beans as pill holders...they are the perfect shape to stuff a little pill in and in one gobble, even the most bitter pill to swallow is down the hatch!
Anyone else out there have a pup snack?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Who you calling Primavera?

"Primavera" is a lovely romantic word meaning "Spring". There are all kinds of Primavera's: towns in Chile, Colombia and Peru, paintings, operas, even a song by Santana and tons of "Primavera" dishes from alfredos to zucchini. A Google search pulled up a whopping 750,000 items for "primavera recipes" in the internet world alone. Imagine how many there are in home recipe files! I thought it was appropriate for this first weekend in spring, a doubly special weekend at that, to share a favorite and welcome "Spring" and Mom's Happy New Year to the dinner plate. 

My Mom...lovely on her birthday and every day!

Mom's Birthday Snow

Mom's Birthday Sky and Signs of Spring

Mom's Birthday Beach

My mom loves Giada De Laurentiis and pasta. I love veggies and my mom. We thought this was the perfect dish to have during her birthday celebration. The bowtie pasta makes it festive; the veggies make it del-ish..."spring" on a fork!

Giada's Pasta Primavera* (combo from The Food Network and Mom's bulging recipe file!)

3 carrots, peeled and cut into thin strips
2 medium zucchini or 1 large zucchini, cut into thin strips
2 yellow squash, cut into thin strips
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs or herbes de Provence
1 pound farfalle (bowtie pasta)
15 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

On a large heavy baking sheet, toss all of the vegetables with the oil, salt, pepper, and dried herbs to coat. Transfer half of the vegetable mixture to another heavy large baking sheet and arrange evenly over the baking sheets. Bake until the carrots are tender and the vegetables begin to brown, stirring after the first 10 minutes, about 20 minutes total.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Toss the pasta with the vegetable mixtures in a large bowl to combine. Toss with the cherry tomatoes and enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Season the pasta with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve immediately.

*Note: Mom adds in some tender spring asparagus, lightly of the belles of the spring ball!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Silent Spring could be brewing

Despite the post I did a couple of weeks ago on my backyard birds annoying me as they awakened at 5:00 a.m., it was really more about the pups getting up then too, and yes, dragging me out of bed. I am a morning person but 5:00 a.m. is pushing it. Seriously.

I do love songbirds. Their sweet little tunes are so happy, so emotional and so sweetly earnest. However, those chirpy little voices could become fewer and far between. If you are drinking a random cup of java as you wake up and listen to their morning songs, you could be contributing to a more silent spring. 

Please consider switching to organic coffee. Here is why. Coffee is grown where birds go to winter and where many growers coat their crops in pesticides. These beautiful migratory birds  fly to escape danger and instead find it. They breathe, eat and drink up some of the pesticides used by the coffee growers. Some don't make it back home to us in spring. While waiting for them to come back and serenade us with their tunes, we can brew up a safer world for them if we drink an organic joe. Here is a brand I like:

And while still on a wee bit of an Irish jag, here is a delicious recipe for...

Irish Coffee
1 (1.5 fluid ounce) jigger Irish cream liqueur
1 (1.5 fluid ounce) jigger Irish whiskey
1 cup hot brewed coffee
1 tablespoon whipped cream
1 dash ground nutmeg

In a coffee mug, combine Irish cream and Irish whiskey. Fill mug with coffee. Top with a dab of whipped cream and a dash of nutmeg.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

All is not well at "L"

You know I have a distinct promise on Our Green Table, right? To always offer you information that leads to healthier, safer choices, should you care to choose them. Every "food" I dish up is without harmful chemicals or I let you know about the risks. Then, you decide if you want some.

Some Wednesdays for the "Women and Wednesdays" post I do on personal care, I just don't have to write a thing. This post says it all better than I could. As always, the link to what I use and can safely offer you is here. Spring specials abound...just email me for the ones i can offer you!

This should start a rumble in some make-up bags and medicine cabinets. This excellent piece by Valerie Tukey begins with this "Gift with Purchase"...
"I used to work for Lancome. And then I went to school and became a licensed, board certified skin care professional who actually knows a thing or two about skin and skin care. 

Let's take a look at what's really in one of the best selling products at Lancome.

At the whopping price of $80 for a 1.7 oz cream and $95 for a 2 oz, you'd expect this stuff to not only make your skin younger, but for it to cook you dinner and do your laundry!

The truth is, while this cream smells delightful fragrant and oh-so-French, while it feels like butter going onto your skin, while it often comes with a groovy free gift, it's a very VERY overpriced face grease.

Not only does it NOT contain any cutting edge, modern and proven age-fighting ingredients, it DOES contain TONS OF PRESERVATIVES. Holy canolies, half way down the ingredient list is a potent anti-microbial, and then they added another 5 paraben preservatives.

Seriously, Lancome? Really?! Why is that? Oh wait, I remember...It's because often we'd have product sitting on the shelves for up to 12 months before it was sold. Gotta make sure there's no mold in that year-old cream that Mrs. Jane Q. Public might want to buy so she can get her lousy free gift.

Newsflash: the free gift ain't free. Part of the cost of your $95 pays for that gift. Comprende, amiga? I mean, really, what are you thinking? How do you expect poor Lancome to pay for that big expensive counter and all the staff? And their uniforms, their salaries, their 4 times a year allowance for makeup? Oh, don't forget the multiple full-page advertisements in Allure and Cosmo, and the commercials, and wait! You gotta pay Gweneth Paltrow and the supermodel for being spokespeople! Don't forget the pretty packaging; the expensive glass jars and metallic lids that you'll toss in the trash.

You're paying $95 for silicone, some basic emollients, emulsifiers, vaseline, corn oil, vitamin E, a ton of preservatives, fragrance, and dyes. WOW, what a deal! :(

See for yourself:

WATER/AQUA - self explanatory
HYDROGENATED POLYISOBUTENE - synthetic polymer skin conditioner
CYCLOPENTASILOXANE - a form of silicone, used for slip
PETROLATUM - also known as Vaseline
CETYL ALCOHOL - fatty alcohol used as an emollient
GLYCERIN - a humectant, attracts water to the skin
GLYCERYL STEARATE SE - emulsifier, helps product ingredients blend together
PEG-40 STEARATE waxy solid emollient
MYRISTYL MYRISTATE - skin conditioner
HYDROXYPROLINE - used to bind water in the skin
SODIUM HYDROXIDE - regulates pH level
STEARIC ACID - emulsifier
CAFFEINE - used to enhance skin's appearance by reducing flaking and enhancing suppleness
ETHYLHEXYL METHOXYCINNAMATE - protects the product from UV degradation
CHLORHEXIDINE DIGLUCONATE - powerful antimicrobial
DISODIUM EDTA- a form of preservative, a chelator
RUSCUS ACULEATUS ROOT EXTRACT/RUSCUS ACULEATUS - butcher's broom extract, an anti inflammatory
PALMITIC ACID - emulsifier


BLUE 1/CI 42090, YELLOW 5/CI 19140, RED 4/CI 14700, B5949/2 - colorants"

End of story.

Wow. This reminds me of an event I did recently on healthy hair. I looked up the ingredient deck of a popular shampoo and got 72 pages of chemicals used in the formula, many of them in the "high hazard" range. Yikes. For fewer wrinkles and safer suds, go here

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lemons to Lemon-Aid

Spring arrived in the midst of darkness and heavy hearts world-wide. It is hard to get a handle on the duality of life. At the same time, it can be lovely and ugly, light and dark. The same Mother Nature that created so much misery last weekend, gave us a moon this weekend that was 14% bigger and brighter than it had been in 20 years. Was it to awaken us from winter's shortages to spring's abundance? Did the moon rise to the occasion by filling the skies with more light so we could think more clearly on how we could rise too?

One group didn't wait for the Supermoon to light their way. They were already rising...lemons in hand.

I saw this story on the news and it brought tears to my eyes. I love kids. I love people. I love being continually amazed by the capacity we have to help each other at every age. Read about what this group is doing here: 

Here is another lovely story about the Japanese rising:

What can you do to turn someone else's lemons into lemon aid? To rise to the occasion? If you need a few options, go to  for a list of relief agencies that could use your help. This Red. White and Food post is for all who find and share sweetness in the light of the moon and rise to the occasion with lemons in hand. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Turning over a New Leaf

Spring arrived on a moonbeam.

                                 Moon on Saturday Night

Favorite 'moon' song, "South China Moon" by my favorite band, Bishop Allen                                           

Winter is over. The "Frosty" dishes are back in the cupboard, gently put away 'til next year. My mittens and ice skates are under wraps. I am moving on, somewhat reluctantly, because I dearly love winter and am grateful that I saw so much of it this year. My snow angels were beauties. But, I am sure, many of you have awaited this day eagerly and are saying, "It's about time!" So be it.

Given that a new season starts us off with some fresh thoughts, I thought I would freshen things up around here, too, and turn over a new leaf. All winter, I have been happily munching on green my shakes (seriously, you cannot taste it!), tossed into pasta dishes, soups and salads. Like being on auto-pilot, I pass by gorgeous, plump bouquets of green kale at the store and just have to get one or two beautiful bunches. Why they almost leap unassisted into my cart!

This week, for a spring fling, I found a new tender green, lacinato kale, also called Dinosaur or Tuscan kale. It is lovely... a blue-green color as deep as the sea I love so. Dreamy. Here is a fab recipe... bright as a spring garden. Such a nice, pretty, flavorful way to turn over a new leaf and welcome this first Meatless Monday of spring. Happy, healthy spring to you!

Rainbow Kale Salad (from Whole Foods)

1 bunch lacinato kale, thinly sliced (remove thick stems from leaves)
4 cups shredded red cabbage (maybe you have some leftover from Friday's recipe!)
2 navel oranges or tangerines, peeled and segmented
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced (cored and seeds removed)
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

In a large bowl, combine kale, cabbage, oranges, onion, bell pepper and sunflower seeds. In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, orange juice, vinegar and pepper. Pour over kale salad and toss to coat. Serve right away or save in fridge for up to two days. Serves 4.

Friday, March 18, 2011

TGIF...take 2

I hear that more than several of you are watching hoops on TV...March Madness playing out on the basketball court. This recipe is weekend three pointer, perfect for Our Green Table's TGIF mantra...Thank God It's Fresh! Easy to make and soooo much healthier than those pre-mixed "dips". This will give your health a high!

Hoop it up and have a great weekend!!

Creamy Spinach Dip

This creamy, high-fiber dip is great for a family or sports fan gathering or as an appetizer dish at a dinner party. Serve with raw vegetable pieces or chunks of crusty, whole grain bread.

1 1/2 cups cooked or canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained or 12 ounces nondairy sour cream
1/4 cup filtered water
3-4 cups fresh spinach
1/2 cup fresh salsa
1 tablespoon all-purpose seasoning (such as MSG-free Mrs. Dash) or vegetable dip mix without MSG and other additives
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, add in grated zest if you like
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Mash beans and water together using a potato masher, food processor, or blender until smooth. Stir in the remaining ingredients and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. 
Spoon the remaining dip into a dish. Cover and keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.
To serve, scoop out into a pretty dish, bread bowl or hollowed out red or green cabbage.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Greener Pours

Want a greener pour on St. Paddy's day? No, I don't mean adding a shot of green food coloring to your brew. There are lots of organic beers available. Click on this link to see which greener choice is in your neighborhood.

And for something that will give your Irish jig an extra kick, here is a recipe that would be de-lish even added to your oatmeal.  Get your shot glasses ready! Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Irish Cream

1 can of coconut milk
2 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoon chocolate syrup
2 teaspoon vanilla essence
3/4 cup of whiskey

Mix thoroughly, and do not froth. Keep refrigerated in a dark bottle. Add it to coffee or any creamy cocktail, and enjoy with your favorite leprechaun.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Counting (Irish) Sheep

There are a lot of sheep and redheads in Ireland. Natural red hair is the rarest of human hair colors, only 1-2% of the world-wide population. Scotland and Ireland have a much higher percentage than the rest of the world which may account for all the sheep. I don't know how Irish I am but a good many redheads are and so for you, this is a head's up that you may want to share during St. Paddy's week, either that or have a stash of Irish Whiskey, your own flock of sheep and a stick on hand.

I had surgery in November and freaked the anesthesiology team out. They could not put me to sleep. Here is the gist of our OR conversation:

"John", the anesthesiology team captain,  "Girl, aren't you asleep yet?"
Me, "Uh. No."
"John", "Do you feel that?"
Me, "Ouch. Yes!"

Really. It was weird and everyone was becoming rather unsettled. When they got to a level of drugs above which most patients require, we had to go to other measures...just short of biting a stick. And, had this been elective surgery, I probably would have unstrapped myself from all those tubes and walked out. I am being a little flip here but not overly so. I was awake for most of the surgery and just barely comfortable. After I got home, I sent my doctor one of the studies on redheads and pain so she could forward it to the surgery cocktail mixologists.

When I went back for my four month check up last week, my doctor was grateful beyond words. I had surgery at a teaching hospital and she says in her classes, she is now teaching a segment on this redhead phenomenon which many in medicine had written off as urban legend. Looks like next time I go "in and under", I will have a better snooze! Not much of a whiskey drinker, I still might carry my own stick, though, and take along a pix of sheep to count.

And, fast forward to the dentist office where I will be going tomorrow. When we first met,  I made sure to tell my dentist, "Please know I really am a natural redhead and I will require more painkiller. Have you seen the studies? Get ready to pump it in there!" which she does and we both have a grand old time.

Because most women handle the medical info for their families...better check your bloodline as well as your hairline before you go under the knife or drill! Here is a story about the studies...

(The Lancome piece will be next was a little "French" for today's Women and Wednesdays post!)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Today is my sixtieth birthday. Gosh. It came so quickly. I don't know what I am supposed to feel like. I don't feel 60, but then again, maybe I do. Never been here before. Just about 2 years ago I started this blog as an outlet for my grief over losing my dad and for expressing the feelings of complete overwhelm as my mom and brother got sick, too, and it felt like the whole family collapsed on my shoulders, long-distance to boot. It has evolved a lot since then and so have I.

Like "they" say, everything happens for a reason and boiled down even further...things happen. You either roll with them and spin out when you can or they can crush you...that's my theory. After dusting myself off, tending to a few bruises and dents, I began to get a handle on my new role and it gave me a lot of insight into what makes me tick. I hadn't even thought about those personal fundamentals in a long time.

Peace Rocks

No matter how crazy life would get, I decided that the march towards 60 would be my "journey to peace". Because I felt dealt the hand of chaos for so many years and that hand didn't seem to be likely to change any time soon, I looked at "peace" as the goal. It sounded perfect...luscious. Almost as decadent as chocolate cake. I planned to arrive at my sixtieth birthday with both cake and a completely peaceful state of mind in hand.

Did I? No. And, that's a good thing.

Had I arrived and awakened today having "done it"...what would I do next? Instead, I am grateful that I am still hungry and "on it"...still on a trail that is fluid and still in the process of discovery. It gives me great peace to learn what excites, creates and defines me and what will give me the ooompf to hit 70-80-90, maybe even 100 still curious, still believing that the glass is half full instead of half empty, still in love with the "human race" matter what.

Peacekeeper Roses

When I started this I wasn't really sure what "peace" meant to me. Yes, it means the love of family and friends, great health for us and the environment, compassionate eating, cruelty-free food and personal care goodies, cuddles from pets and kindness "just because"...all the things I love to share here on this blog.

Morning awakens over my Favorite Bay

When a new day dawns and Mother Earth sees me, I would love to think she says, "Oh, great. You are up!"

But, peace for me is not all softness, light and harmony. It has depth, even a little bit of darkness. My peace in its heart has a wild side, a movement, a march. Hey...maybe that is why I was born a water sign, in the wild month of March...and in mid-month to boot. Maybe, I am only halfway there. Hope so. Hey, I am only 60. Yippee!

And now, I am going to go dig into the new year and into that piece of cake...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Green on Green

This is a week where our thoughts turn green (as well as some beverages and a river or two!) and a lot of us have either Spring Fever or a wee bit o'Irish or both. It is a big week...daylight savings time is baaaack, St. Paddy's Day on Thursday and the first day of Spring next week. I got this recipe from The Cancer Project and it looks like a perfect dish to serve up as this bright green week's opening meal. Here's to ya!

Green on Green: Green Pea and Spinach Soup

This brilliant green soup is as nutritious as it is delicious and satisfying. With the rainbow of colors evident in the carrots, leek, spinach, and peas that go into this soup, you can be certain it’s packed with health-promoting ingredients. It is also a lovely, fresh change from my other favorite pea soup that uses dried peas.

5 1/2 cups water
1 medium onion, sliced
4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
1 large leek
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 large bunch fresh spinach, stems removed
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1 sea salt
1 black pepper
2-3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

In a large soup pot, combine water, onion, carrots, leek, and basil and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 25-30 minutes. Stir in spinach and peas and cook a few minutes until spinach wilts. Remove from heat.

Puree soup in batches in a blender until smooth and return to the pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add enough lemon juice to heighten flavor. Serve hot. Makes 6 cups. I have some leftover fresh mint from Friday's recipe and I will have that handy!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Bright and Earthy with a Touch of Green

That is exactly how I would describe this gorgeous day and this delicious dish I am about to share. I love it when the winter earth goes from chilled (or where some of you are...frozen solid!)  to just beginning to warm up. The smell of that first-of-spring earth is fantastic.

Lentils are a food made for spring. They have a wonderful earthy flavor and come in all kinds of colors. For the today's recipe, I used green ones. Rich in lots of vitamins and minerals including molybdenum which helps metabolize fats and carbs and packed with protein and fiber, lentils can also awaken your winter body to a lighter, brighter state of well-being. This is a perfect dish to serve up as our clocks and bodies spring forward. (And, if any of the "guys" I met yesterday are reading this, oh, your whole spring meal was fabulous...I would love those recipes!)

Spring Lentils with Minty Carrots from The New York Times

This is an adaptation of a Turkish recipe, a sweet and savory combination of lentils, onions and carrots that can be served hot or at room temperature, as a main dish or a side.

1 cup brown, green or black lentils, rinsed (not red lentils...they are too soft)
3 cups water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, halved lengthwise, then sliced thin across the grain
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
4 garlic cloves, minced (essential...don't omit)
1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced thin (about 4 cups sliced)
1 tablespoon tomato paste dissolved in 1 cup water
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Sea salt to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint (essential...don't omit)

Combine the lentils with 3 cups water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Set a strainer over a bowl, and drain. 

Heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy casserole or skillet. Add the onion and coriander seeds. Cook, stirring, until the onion is tender, about five minutes. Add the garlic and carrots and salt to taste. Cook, stirring, for two to three minutes until the carrots begin to soften. Stir in the dissolved tomato paste, sugar and lentils. Add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the cooking water from the lentils (enough to cover the lentils), salt to taste and half the mint. Bring to a simmer, and simmer uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes until the lentils are tender and much of the liquid has evaporated. Taste and adjust salt. Remove from the heat, sprinkle on the remaining mint and serve, or allow to cool and serve at room temperature with cooked whole grains, like bulgur or quinoa. Serves four to six.

This will keep for three to four days in the refrigerator. The dish is delicious served at room temperature. Here is how I first served mine... with a lovely, plump artichoke, sauteed spinach and polenta. Yum!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Take a Whiff...Smell the Fat?

In honor of International Women's Day, which was yesterday, you have a right to know this. Especially if you live in the U.S. which bans only 9 chemicals from our personal care products. While most of us will not make headlines and go down in the history books as "remarkable" women, we are and we have a remarkable opportunity. We have the right to write our own history of creating a safer, healthier "present" to live in and an opportunity to make choices that can make a difference.

We need to do more than march. We need to become a community of "builders, planters and refusers" (Huffington Post)...refusing to buy into the hog-wash, pink-wash and green-wash that shellac our products and instead, building and planting healthier choices.

If you fed yourself yesterday according to the tradition, Fat Tuesday was a lard-fest...full of creamy, butter-y, full-out animal fat foods. Today is a new day and traditionally one that starts a period of leaner cuisine with lots of beans, fruits and veggies. And so, if you are a traditionalist,  you have cleaned out the "larder" for the next several weeks and have significantly reduced the fat your body is absorbing, exposed to and creating.

Your kitchen is good to go.  But, hold on a minute... 

Did you also do a bathroom check? That's right. Better check those bottles and jars in your cabinet and around your tub. They are also making you "fat".

People are sloshing around with 5-7 pounds of chemicals they have absorbed from their cookware, foods and personal care products. Yes, that's right. Your shampoo, face cream, body lotion, shower gel and hand soap at the sink could be making you fat. They probably contain chemicals now known in the scientific community as "obesogens".

Makes me mad enough to use the "F" word..."Fragrance" that is. In the United States, manufacturers can legally hide 600 potentially harmful chemicals in the word "Fragrance". Who knows what they are, right? The formulators can keep their secrets and their sludge sequestered in one word and in a word that most women swoon over. It makes me sad when people want products that fill their nose and their bodies with synthetic perfumes and dyes, many of which are added to mask the smell of petroleum and animal by-product waste. Another almost "F" word, pthalates, are fat producers as well and the list contains many others with every letter of the alphabet present. I have already shared the story on PEG's and propylene glycol.

"New research suggests that chemicals found in our environment and in everyday products may play a significant role in packing on the pounds"  is an excerpt from this must-read article

And again, I am so glad that I have the privilege of sharing products with you that the Environmental Working Group agrees, are totally without harmful chemicals... for real, the only complete line in the U.S. Unlike the companies in the article, our alarm clock is not on snooze. We are up and at 'em and can offer you personal care that cares about our present and our future.

If you are ready to refuse the fat, DBA as hidden chemicals... and build and plant better health, raise your hand and send me a comment. From now until Friday evening, I will collect them and 1 lucky reader will receive a FREE hand and body lotion...totally without harmful chemicals and not an "obesogen" in sight!!

There is a link to the products I love, click here 

Next week, I will share a brave post from a Lancome salesperson.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Maybe not Totally Fat Tuesday

Just in case y'all are partying it up today with butter, eggs, meats, gumbo, jambalaya, King's cake and gosh only knows what kind of alcohol, I thought a few greens would be in order! This salad dishes out some "skinny" on Fat Tuesday and is an authentic, down-home recipe from The New Orleans Cookbook. Our Red, White and Food shout out today is to Mardi Gras! For what Wiki has to say about the lore of the festivities, go here

Old Fashioned "Soaked" Salad

2 heads of lettuce (or combo of greens)
2 large tomatoes


6 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried basil or 1 teaspoon minced fresh basil

Wash and dry lettuce. Wash tomatoes and cut into chunks. Put in large stainless steel or porcelain bowl. Combine dressing in a jar and pour over salad. Toss thoroughly and gently bruise tomatoes a bit so they release some of their juice. Cover bowl and refrigerate 3 hours.
To serve, scoop into dessert dishes and spoon about 2 tablespoons of dressing from the bottom of the bowl over each portion. Serves 4-6.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Pantry Perk

Normally, I am all about food shopping. I love it. Except this weekend. Just couldn''t get myself out there. And so, I scrounged around to see what I had and what I could make that was exotic. A lot of my snow-weary Facebook pals are posting about tropical get-aways and so I decided to have one too and give my tastes buds a trip.

Here is where we went...

Pantry Pad Thai

8 ounces dried brown rice noodles (Lundberg Farms make great ones...Any noodle will do, I just happened to have these)
4 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus wedges for serving
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
3 scallions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bunch broccoli, steamed and florets cut
½ cup fresh cilantro
¼ cup chopped roasted, lightly salted peanuts per serving

Cook noodles according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Whisk together brown sugar, lime juice, and soy sauce. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add scallions and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant.

Add broccoli, noodles, and soy sauce mixture to skillet, toss constantly until noodles and broccoli are coated with sauce. Serve noodles with lime wedges and top with cilantro and peanuts. Serves 3-4.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Happy Hour or Nightcap?

Everything is in bloom...the daffodils, crocuses, johnny-jump-ups, flowering quince, forsythia and a whole bunch of fruit trees. It is nice. Also, the birds (and some bugs) are back. That is nice, too. However, the birds in my yard have a 5:00 a.m. wake-up call which, you guessed it, wakes up me and the pups....not so nice. Fourth day in a row.

And so, when I picked out today's beverage, I was a little sleep-deprived. Thinking spring, but wondering, is there such a thing as a "happy hour" cocktail for birds...or better yet...a little spring nightcap I could mix up, just to get them through 'til 6 a.m.? Anyone know? My dark circles and pups would thank you!!

Spring Green Apple-tini

2 parts vodka
1 part Sour Apple Schnapps or Sour Apple Pucker*
1-2 parts real ginger ale
Dash of cayenne
Splash of lime juice, optional

In a iced shaker, add vodka, mixer and lime juice.
Shake vigorously and strain into a martini glass. Add a dash of cayenne and maybe a few dried cranberries. You can also rim the glass with a mixture of salt, sugar and cayenne. Serve 1.

*NOTE: If you don't have the sour apple mixer, try mixing apple juice or cider with more lime juice to get it zingy. This will change the taste and alcohol content some, but may save you a few steps, some money, gas and a trip to the store!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Regal Food for Thought

With all the buzz about the Oscars this year, one movie has created a jewel of an opportunity...a regal feast for thought, my fave movie,The Kings Speech. I loved it on so many levels, but especially for the big screen, out-in-the-open struggle with stuttering. I have already talked about that a little in a previous post because I was someone who "bloody well stammers!"...actually as badly if not worse than "Bertie".

While not as savvy as Lionel Logue, the speech therapist in the movie, but one who practically got sick to my stomach whenever I even thought about speaking out loud, I have thought about that stage of my life a lot recently and here are just a few thoughts of my own that may help you or anyone you love who has struggled with stuttering. To keep it in "foodie" terms, here are a baker's dozen worth of thoughts from my own experience that I am inspired to openly share because of The King's Speech, our Women and Wednesdays shout-out.

Baker's Dozen Thoughts about Stuttering

1. Please understand that the core problem is not a reflection of intelligence. I was always in the top of my class all the way through college because my remarkable 4th and 5th grade teachers told me I belonged there. You do, too. 
2. The embarrassment and shame are hard to push through, but keep pushing. Find people who accept you as you are and recognize your longing to communicate.
3. Forbid mocking or repeating back the stutter, even in "jest". Twist the tongue of anyone who is cruel enough to do that. People like that are toxic.
4. If it is your child who stutters, make sure they are surrounded by people who understand 1, 2, and 3.
5. If you are a "free" of a small group of people that a stutterer can actually speak freely to and pretty normally around, talk together often...whenever, about anything and everything. Your gift of gab is a life-saveur.
6. Trying to help by finishing words makes everything much worse and the embarrassment greater. The seconds spent suspended in a stutter seem like an eternity but that's the way it is. You cannot shorten or speed things up and encouraging a stutterer with "out with it" is futile.
7. Tongue twisters are fun! I love Sally's shiny seashells sold by the sandy seashore! Plentiful praise poured on popular pal Peter Piper, too!
8. Learn a foreign language...oddly enough those words are often stutter-free. C'est si bon!
9. Sing...even if you are off-key. I joined my school's choir and the music director knew to put me in the back row. My singing voice is flatter than flat but I let it rip anyway and he made sure I was not ever mic'd or even near one.
10. Try "acting" which is often a stutter-free place. You'd be amazed how many popular entertainers stutter. I got many lead roles in my school plays and was almost a live character on the beloved TV series Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.
11. The butterflies and knots in the stomach remain for a long, long time and guess what, other people have them, too! Public speaking is a fear ranked in almost everyone's top three fears whether they stutter or not. You are not alone.
12. You will survive this. 
13. Even kings do it.

Many thanks to all involved with The Kings Speech for this touching and inspirational movie. And for a look into the soul of a remarkable man and the scoundrel of another. Who knew Edward was such a total jerk?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Just March right in there

You know you want to. Shout it out. Think I will! Hello-o-o-o March!!!

The news stands are flooded with magazines shouting out to the gardener in all of us. For some, our garden is a pot on the windowsill. For others, it is a raised bed or a small speck of land. For many now, a garden equals a shared community plot that grows food, even flowers, for lots of families and may even sprout into a C.S.A. food shares program.

Well, I am here to tell you, garden-wise...size does not matter! March's magazines are full of great ideas for every type of gardener to have a bit of homegrown freshness right at their fingertips.

I love that one of these maggies even has a feature on shade vegetable growing. Oh my gosh...I no longer have any excuses, aside from a black-thumb. My confidence is high and the pictures encouraging.

For nudging us back to our spot of earth to grow some of our own food and for shining a light on the growing days ahead...this Red, White and Food shout-out is for the magazine stand! Extra, all about it! What will be in your garden this year?