Sunday, June 19, 2016

My new favorite go-to dish--just in time for summer!

Yeah, so what if my favorite dish my whole life has been fried chicken (and I've been known to fry and eat a WHOLE chicken).  People can change.  Right?

Of course we can change. Isn't that the whole reason I'm writing and you are reading this blog? Because we believe it is possible.  And it is.

But that doesn't mean it's not a lot of hard work.

I'm 54 years old, and I think what I've learned is that I just have to figure out how to: (1) outsmart myself; and (2) make what I want to do easy and pleasant and what I don't want to do difficult and unpleasant.

Now, now, we're going to get to that go-to dish above.  If you just want the recipe, scroll to the bottom of this post. If, on the other hand, you are trying to figure out how to lose weight and restore your health, keep reading. The picture doesn't do it justice, by the way...the flavor is better than eating a cheeseburger. And I love cheeseburgers. You just have to trust me on this. Back to my story. 

When my children were young and would come home from school and smell fried chicken cooking, their first question was:  "Omigod, Mom, what's wrong?" You see, I always fried chicken when I was upset and something was wrong. I don't know why and Freud himself probably couldn't figure it out.

How to fix this? I have to make frying chicken difficult, and make eating something healthy easy and just as pleasant. So I ask myself, what would that look like:

(1) Maybe I shouldn't keep oils for frying in the house. Hard to fry chicken with no oil. Oh, but that's hard. No frying? None at all? That's right. No frying oils in the house. It's a decision. Frying is never ever not-at-all good for me. It's like quitting smoking or drinking soda. You have to stop and not look back. And you may have to stop over and over again before you stop for good. You might get in the car and go buy that oil, but that's a lot of trouble. I quit smoking 50 times before I quit for good. But thank God I didn't give up just because I kept failing. The reason I didn't give up is because a dear friend of mine quit smoking 100 times before she finally quit for good, and she kept reminding me of that. Every time I quit and failed, she said I was one step closer to quitting for good. I have to take that approach with the foods that are killing me. Make it difficult and above all, keep trying.

(2) I am trying to prepare healthy foods I like in advance and freeze portions for easy access. That takes a lot of forethought and planning and discipline, and I don't rate real high on any of those. However, it's crucial to have healthy go-to meals when you can't cook or don't trust yourself to cook. These meals should be the really, really healthy superfood meals you've perfected where even if you eat too much, it's good for you. I'm getting better at this. See my post entitled FREEZING HEALTHY PORTIONS for more on this. Doing this means coming up with recipes that you can prepare in large amounts and that will freeze and reheat well. This go-to recipe is one of those.

This go-to recipe is one of my superfood meals that I could eat a gallon of and probably still be okay...actually might be profoundly healthier.  I eat huge bowls of this and feel a bit stuffed, but it digests quickly and easily and there is no weight gain or dire impact on my health.

What makes it a superfood meal? Well, it has lots of things in it that are superfoods and nothing that is not. What do we know we need to eat more of? Veggies maybe? Nuts? Vinegar? High-antioxidant herbs? One of my tricks I've learned is that if I have a hard time incorporating vegetables into my meals, then I need to make a good many of my meals with nothing BUT veggies. Let's say I grill chicken with my favorite Cajun dirty rice dish on the side...hmmm, I may never get to those green beans on the side-side. It's not that I don't like green beans, but knowing me, I'm probably going to TEAR UP on that dirty rice and I'll be too full for the green beans and miserable when I'm done.  So these days, I'm trying to leave out the starch completely. Just fix grilled chicken and green beans. Or better yet, make a huge pot of green beans and just eat that.

Now it might be hard to just eat green beans, though I've done it (you should taste my green beans). But this go-to nothing-but-veggie meal actually eats like a meal and will satisfy you.

This dish the way I make it incorporates roasted summer squash with red bell pepper, garlic, fresh thyme and basil, toasted pine nuts and balsamic vinegar. You can eat it by the bowl full, and it's summertime, so all the ingredients are cheap (except the pine nuts but don't leave them out). Did you know that one of the most profoundly healthy veggies is summer squash? Superfood extraordinaire. Low in carbs and cals, high in everything good. Fights cancer, diabetes and probably warts too.

It's rare to find a dish that is cheap, delicious and just plain old good for you--in every way--that actually rivals cheeseburgers (and fried chicken) in your list of favorite foods. In this blog, I will share dishes I've discovered that you can make a meal of--and your body will thank you for it. I'm getting this down to a science as I journey to restore my health. As Aristotle is famous for saying: "It is hard to be good." But these dishes I'm finding make it a little bit easier.

Below is the link to a lovely version of this recipe (and others) from Eventides, purveyors of gourmet oils and vinegars in Maine. One of my goals is to link my readers with sources for good food choices, so consider this an introduction.

A few distinctions between my recipe and theirs. I use yellow squash and zucchini, as they do, but I also use chunks of red bell pepper (and sometimes green and yellow and orange too). You know the old adage: make your food colorful. When they drizzle olive oil and season the squash cubes prior to roasting, that's when I add crushed garlic to the olive oil that will coat the squash as it roasts. And when they stir in thyme, I stir in fresh thyme and basil. In a future post, we'll explore how critical fine oils and vinegars are in making healthy foods taste even better than cheeseburgers. Eventides is a fine source for those. Click the link below, page down a bit (it's the second recipe on their veggie page) and enjoy!

SUMMER SQUASH from Eventides (click here because this is the link)


  1. Sooo . . . you gonna share the recipe?

  2. Just click on the link. The link probably hadn't gone live yet when you tried it. Sorry about that, Anne. I hope you make it and enjoy it. Please let me know.