Cook. Nourish. Heal. Celebrate.

May 2007 Archives

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Posted by Stephanie Meyer on May 31, 2007 at 9:00pm

As many of you know, I’ve worked hard since last September to pare things down and return to my normal weight, which I’ve for the most part achieved. The key for me has been focusing even more than I already was on staying away from processed foods and really, really basing my diet on a balanced mix of whole, simply prepared foods (a la the recipes I post here), heavy on fresh vegetables and fruits, thank you very much. (And oh, serious portion control, only eating when I’m truly hungry and stopping before I’m full, eating mostly at home and much less often in restaurants, limiting wine or beer to once/week or less, drinking lots of water, and exercising my butt off, ha.) The moderation part! But I do think it’s easier and more satisfying to get by on less calories if they’re comprised of the freshest, closest to whole foods as possible, I’ve proven it to myself over and over again.

Given that, there are a few technically processed foods, however, that I think are terrific, and nutritious, relatively low calorie (if eaten in moderation), and definitely worth incorporating into a healthy eating plan. Here they are:

Food for Life’s Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Bread (available in the freezer section): especially the cinnamon raisin, toasted for breakfast and topped with cottage cheese and sliced strawberries – yum. Low-glycemic load, good fiber, good protein, and delicious.

Morningstar Farms Black Bean and Mushroom Lovers Burgers: again, both are low-glycemic, have good fiber, good protein, and are delicious, especially loaded up with tomatoes, avocado, pickles, mustard. I eat mine in 1/2 of a whole grain pita; you’d think I’d died and gone to heaven. Available in the freezer section.

French Meadow Bakery’s 100% Flourless Live Grain Sprouted Fat Flush Tortillas: the Fat Flush part of the name (and the packaging photo) is dumb and off-putting, but the tortillas RAWK. They’re not low-carb sandpaper tortillas, they’re real food – chewy and delicious. Toast one with some cheese for breakfast and you’ll be glad. Available in the dairy section with other refrigerated tortillas.

Kashi Go Lean Cereal: not the Go Lean Crunch, which is loaded with cane sugar, but the original Go Lean. Very high fiber and high protein, plus tasty with fresh fruit and skim milk.

Wasabi Peas: I love these little buggers. At about 1 calorie each, they pack a whollop of flavor which curbs my appetite and appeases the need to crunch on something salty. I buy them in the Asian section at the grocery store.

Barilla Plus Pasta: a multi-grain-but-you-wouldn’t-know-it winner, this pasta tastes just like “regular” pasta – I swear! – but packs fiber, protein, and whole-grain goodness into each serving. Absolutely delicious.

Helios Raspberry Kefir: a yogurt-like cultured drink, kefir is loaded with pro-biotics and this strawberry version is creamy and delicious, like a decadent strawberry smoothie. I cut it with skim milk (half kefir, half skim) to lighten it up (it is sweetened) and enjoy it in small amounts as a treat. Nathan loves this product, and so does Cooper! Available in the organic dairy section.

Hey, don’t worry, I’m not going off into processed food hell – I’m still all about whole, fresh foods. But sometimes a bowl of cereal or a piece of toast is nice with breakfast, and finding interesting ways to get calcium – like kefir – mixes things up a bit. In moderation, of course. Hope you enjoy!

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Posted by Stephanie Meyer on May 29, 2007 at 9:11pm

A confused (clouds-sunshine-rain…decide already!) and muggy day turned into a lovely evening, which I spent on our screened porch under the twinkling white lights and paper lanterns I strung up today. I am on quite the house project bender these days, sort of late-spring cleaning, I guess. Happens to me every year, as soon as I start planting flowers and pots of herbs. The satisfaction in the beautifying of my external space apparently inspires me to polish off all sorts of projects.

We’re lucky to have a screened porch, but with bits and pieces of hand-me-down furniture it’s never been as comfortable and inviting as it should be. I finally invested in a comfy sofa, and some new cushions, and strung up the lights, and it’s all coming together nicely. It’s a lovely spot for a warm night’s cozy, romantic (bug-free!) dinner, perhaps a creamy-zesty cold soup, such as Potage Aurore, from my new-old (c. 1979) Perla Meyers’ cookbook, From Market to Kitchen (recipe posted in comments, below), with crusty bread, cold white wine to sip, and ripe peaches or berries for dessert.

No soup, but a nice salad tonight – I chopped up the leftover grilled shrimp, stirred in lemon juice, pickle relish, a bit of mayo, and salt and pepper and piled it on top of greens and chopped red bell pepper tossed with lots of fresh dill (yum, I’m having a dill thing right now, can’t get enough of it) and a drizzle of mustard vinaigrette. Light yet satisfying on a warm night.

And now, at 9:15 p.m., it is time for a shower. I am literally filthy from planting flowers today, sweaty from hanging those lights, and slightly sunburned from not taking the sun peaking through the cloud-rain-cloud-sun combo seriously enough. Time for a rinse with Agraria lavender bath gel, clean jammies, and a good night’s sleep. G’night!

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Posted by Stephanie Meyer on May 28, 2007 at 6:24pm

Well, we ended up with an absolutely lovely Memorial Day. I hope you did too! It threatened to be rainy/stormy this morning, but then cleared up nicely. Humid bugger out there, but that’s OK, that’s what the pool is for, and we opened with a big swim. In fact, we opened with late morning swimming with Dan and Ethan Hatzung from across the street. Ethan, age 3, so adorable in the pool, the little kicks are the sweetest. Then Stace, Coop, Dad, Susanna, and their dog Jake (check out his amazing leaps into the pool, below) arrived and Coop changed into his birthday-present (from us!) rash guard and shark trunks, ready for action. He LOVES swimming, and just like Nathan – and Jake! – once he was in he wasn’t much for getting out. But eventually everyone had to climb out…for food.

Oh, hey, I just realized we forgot to make s’mores! Ah, well, we had plenty of other treats. I’m sorry, but nothing beats tortilla chips with guacamole and a cold beer on a hot, sunny day. Damn, friends, that is good stuff. The rest is all just background noise as far as I’m concerned. Tasty background noise, granted. Shrimp tacos with grilled tomatoes, onions, and peppers + guacamole + crumbled feta + chopped cabbage + spicy salsa-mayo alongside spicy roasted potatoes + sour cream = I’ll admit, tasty background noise. Black coffee, coconut macaroons (from Byerly’s, deadly little mothers), chocolate rugelach (from Crossroads Deli, ditto the deadly little mothers’ rave), and fresh strawberries made for a nice ending. To the eating…

After lunch it was time for a digestif game of croquet. Who won? Let’s just say her (my) name starts with an S and ends with an E…hmmm… Then back in the pool for Nathan and Cooper, and finally, an end to all the fun, darn. You get tired pretty quickly when you’re 1 (or 40), and as the sun sets, it’s time to mosey on home for a warm bath, clean jammies, and a good, long dark nap.

Have a good night!

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Posted by Stephanie Meyer on May 27, 2007 at 9:11am

Yay, it’s sunny! Yes, we have actual sun on Memorial Day weekend, we Minnesotans are thrilled. We are so by the pool today, first with Andrew, Rishia, and Noah for brunch, then just us, and then later still John and I plan to take (drag) the kids to a county park reserve for a family bike ride. Then back home for turkey/ciabatta sandwiches on the deck. At least that’s the plan, who knows how it will actually play out…

Tomorrow, Stace, Coop, Dad, and Susanna are coming over, hopefully to play some croquet and get Cooper Cuteness in the water – and more important, into a teeny tiny swimsuit! – for the first time in ’07. I was mighty challenged in trying to come up with something to grill that 1) everyone likes, 2) is relatively healthful, and 3) tastes damn good! I settled on…shrimp tacos. I’ll thaw/brine the shrimp first (water seasoned with plenty of salt, crushed garlic, cayenne pepper, and oregano) for a couple of hours. Then skewer them and either brush them with olive oil or give them a spritz of olive oil nonstick spray (good product, use it often for grilling). I’ll also do my usual veggie skewers of cherry tomatoes, peppers, and sweet onion (ditto the brush of oil or spritz of nonstick spray) sprinkled with a bit of coarse salt. Soft tortillas wrapped in foil and warmed on the grill. Big, BIG bowl of guacamole. Chopped cabbage. Side of spicy roasted potatoes. So there – not your typical Memorial Day barbecue, but it’ll work. Fresh berries with whipped cream, coconut macaroons, and of course s’mores for dessert – rinse the marshmallow off your face by diving into the pool. Ahhh…

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Posted by Stephanie Meyer on May 25, 2007 at 8:56am

Dinner in the bar at La Belle Vie? Va va voooooom, my friends, sensual delights galore. Whew, I’m still recovering. We sat right at the elegant, candle-lit bar, watching the bartender do her thing. Beautiful drinks, one after the other, with fresh fruit purees, freshly squeezed juices, and clever combinations. I, who rarely order an actual “drink,” fell for a Cuban – muddled mint, sugar, and rum a la a mojito, but with a splash of bitters and topped off with champagne instead of club soda. Tobacco-hued, complex, and refreshing – gorgeous to look at and sip. Off to a very good start.

And oh yes, we did order food! Lots of food. They graciously let us open with the soft-shell crab offered on the tasting menu (in the bar you can order off the restaurant’s tasting and a la carte menus, as well as the bar menu), perfectly crispy-fried and resting in a spicy-cool pool of curried yogurt, garnished with shaved fennel. Giggling like schoolgirls, tee hee, we next devoured a salad and goat cheese tart - yes, could be the overplayed version at every restaurant these days, but no, ‘cuz this is La Belle Vie.Perfect greens, perfectly dressed, with creamy-whipped goat cheese between layers of crisp pastry. And then, a bowl of three handmade (but of course!) pea tortellis in a truffle broth. Bright green and creamy, I damn-near licked the truffly bowl, that broth was so fragrant and salty and delicious. And there’s more! (Each of these courses is small, thankfully, plus we shared each…). Skewered crackling jumbo shrimps, smokin’ hot and served atop a dollop of zingy mustard-caper-mayo. And last, the creme de la creme, my friends….lamb burgers. Appetizer-sized, on fresh, soft, homemade buns, toasted crispy in butter. Juicy, lamby, tender, decadent. Ohhh so decadent. Served alongside a pile of spicy olives, you can achieve taste-sensation-perfection by savoring one of those olives between each bite of lamb burger. Rich. Spicy. Rich. Spicy. I can’t stop thinking about those damn burgers, I could even eat one right now, at 9:15 in the morning. Rarrrr…

And so. Date Night was a big, BIG success, we basically had a blast. Back to moderate (ahem) reality for the weekend, and that’s OK. A little dose of fantastic can take me a looong way – I’ll ride that La Belle Vie wave for at least, like, two weeks. Ha.

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Posted by Stephanie Meyer on May 24, 2007 at 1:26pm

Date Night! John and I are goin’ out, just the two of us, and it’s about time! OK, OK, yes we’ve snuck in a couple of fabulously romantic La La Lucia’s lunches – but dinner, alone, not in a long while. So tonight’s the night, baby, time to pin up my hair (this rain, oy, I have no choice but to pin it up) and throw on heels, a little bling, a smudge of black eyeliner, lots of gloss, and head out on the town (sort of, ha). Couple of options, but the most likely to win is the bar at La Belle Vie. Elegant, little funky, downtown, and the food is to die for. Yeah, sounds like a plan. For a full report, stay tuned…

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Posted by Stephanie Meyer on May 23, 2007 at 8:29pm

Cooper Time! I had a visit from my nephew today…still The Cutest! He said “ca-ca” (cracker) for the first time today – completely magical to witness him saying a new word! He took a few steps, crawled a few miles, banged a few measuring cups, was completely enthralled with my Bucky Badger Bobblehead, checked out the rain, had a nice nap, then joined us all for a dinner of grilled steak, rice (he gets the uber-butteryversion, lucky boy. Just like his auntie, Coop’s all about the butter; someday I’ll initiate him into the world of Hope Creamery over a pan of hot popovers…), roasted broccoli, a big salad with plenty of fresh dill (compliments of John’s assistant, Kris), and the said ca-cas.

Being his usual chill self, he hung out with us while we all watched a little post-din TV, taking turns snuggling with each of us while snacking on a few Cheerios. And then it was time for him to head home, to his own cozy crib, and a good night’s sleep (Stacey hopes, ha). There’s alot to do tomorrow when you’re the world’s coolest, tool-lovin’, Vans-wearin’ one-year old…

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Posted by Stephanie Meyer on May 22, 2007 at 9:19pm

Friday Morning Coffee with Suz! On Tuesday! We’re not hitting many Fridays lately, nor much coffee for that matter, dang. Hate when life gets in the way of my good times! But hey, we slid in a round of coffee and chat this morning and it was great, as always.

Baseball tonight so I grilled early (really early!) burgers. Hard to keep a hamburger relatively light, but I did my best by 1) buying extra-lean ground beef, 2) making myself a damn small burger, 3) eating it on only half a bun, and 4) topping it off with loads of yummy veggies – pickles, little avocado, tomato, sweet onion, and arugula. Killer, I must say. Filling too! Hey, a Salad Burger! Oooh, I like that name! Salad Burgers RAWK!

I started the long process of planting pots of annuals and herbs today. Takes me several trips to the nursery, but that’s OK. I love it, love picking out the plants, love digging around in the dirt, love how it looks when I’m done. And with herbs, lettuces, and tomatoes, love to eat the harvest! Soon enough, soon enough…

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Posted by Stephanie Meyer on May 21, 2007 at 7:06pm

You’re going to think this is so stupid, but I just tonight used a fish-grilling basket for the first time. Duuuuh… I’ve had it for years, I’m not sure why I never bothered to use it before. Or why I suddenly decided to today. Anyhoo, it’s fabulous! I bought an early piece of Copper River king salmon at the store today, rubbed it with a bit of olive oil, gave it a sprinkle of coarse salt, and set it on a smokin’ hot grill – no sticking! In no time (well, more like 15 minutes) I had crusty-on-the-outside, buttery-on-the-inside, melt-in-your-mouth grilled salmon. Lawdy that is good stuff, dang. I also grilled skewers of tomatoes, onion, and green pepper, and roasted a big ol’ pan of skinny asparagus spears and had myself a feast, people. A healthy feast, antioxidant-packed, colorful, delicious – lovely in every way. After eating out for almost every meal last week, I’m ready for some home-cooked (grilled) healthy meals. And ’tis the season for eating as many colors as you canred berries, yellow peaches, purple eggplants, orange salmon, dark green arugula, pale green artichokes, black beans…as many as you can think of and pack into a day. Mmmm… As my old boss used to say (he was referring to beer, usually after a belch, but no matter), Good & Good for Ya. That’s the goal, friends – Good & Good for Ya. (Excuse me.)

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Posted by Stephanie Meyer on May 20, 2007 at 9:46am

Welcome to our Bat Mitzvah-Birthday-Baseball Weekend!! Yesterday and last night, Avery’s Bat Mitzvah – Avery is the daughter of our friends Steve & Jen. Held at the lovely Temple Israel, it was a gorgeous and fun ceremony, just the right balance of religious imagery, calls to our better instincts, and flat-out humor. As Steve so perfectly closed his heartfelt speech to Avery – you can’t always be young, but you can always be immature. Yeah, baby!

Post-ceremony we headed into a festive brunch reception, catered by D’Amico, always a good move. (D’Amico catered our wedding, it was fabulous. And if you’re in the market for other great catering, Silver Service can’t be beat either. There are my vendor recommendations for the day – you’re welcome, ha.) Fun to catch up with John’s former Parsinen, Kaplan, Rosberg & Gotlieb partners. Fun to listen to Steve and his dad play a little jazz for the group (Steve’s dad is a sometimes jazz pianist, Steve a sometimes bass player; both are fantastic, especially together). Fun to completely indulge in champagne, pastries, salads, smoked salmon with all the accoutrements, and naughty, naughty tortes, mousses, and cakes. Uff.

Then home for a long, long walk. Long walk, whew. Had to prep myself for the next party, the evening soiree. If you’ve never been to a Bat/Bar Mitzvah (and I hadn’t until I met John), it’s quite the event. Akin to a wedding celebration, really, but 13-year old style. Religious ceremony/brunch during the day, followed by a full-on par-tay in the evening. Avery’s party was at the Wirth Chalet, in Theodore Wirth Park, a terrific party spot. Especially on such a gorgeous evening. Mexican was the theme (there’s always a theme), so I was one happy camper, drinking beer and eating tortilla chips…ole, baby! Yum. The core of the evening party is the DJ, aka Master of Ceremonies. There are DJs who specialize in Bar/Bat Mitzvah’s and for good reason – there is definitely an art to herding and entertaining 13-year olds and man, are they good at it. Marty the One Man Party is The Guy, but he lives in NYC now and it costs big moolah to have him personally at your event. However, he employs a team of other guys, who are just as good, and so one of his protegees had the music a-pounding before we even arrived. As one parent pointed out, the resulting sound is a nightmarish (to adult ears only, of course) combination of screaming teenage girls over power-bass. But hey, it’s all in good fun, and the kids have a BLAST. Total blast. Adults too! We danced, and chatted, and popped in the photo booth for pics, and had ourselves a grand old time. Congratulations to Avery! And thanks to Steve and Jen for two (!) great parties!

Today, another party, John’s former law partner (it’s Parsinen old home weekend!) Jeff Robbins’ 50th birthday open house, followed by a Nathan baseball game. And a very light dinner, whew, not sure what, cuz I know there’ll be more treats at Jeff’s party. Treats Be Gone! Ohhh, but they’re sooo gooood…