A Wonderful Life

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow, for a calorie total of less than 600. On another day this week, eat the meals from a different post, another day of eating 600 calories or less. Eat sensibly the other days of the week. That’s it. Simple way to lose weight and be healthier.

After the end of World War II, the Hollywood people who had gone to war came home. One was Jimmy Stewart who was looking to revive his stalled acting career. He had entered the war as a Private who had an amateur pilot’s license, and was demobbed as a full Colonel with 20 combat missions over Germany to his credit. Another was Frank Capra, who had left off directing for major films to make ‘propaganda’ films for the US Signal Corps during the war. With 5 Academy Awards for prior films, it should have been easy for him to fit back into the industry. Capra hired Stewart to star in Its a Wonderful Life, released in 1946, on December 20. Like Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, also starring Stewart, this movie is about the virtues of small town life; the necessity for people to work together for the common good; the hard-working refugee families moving to America; and the importance of faith in higher ideals. As Roger Ebert said, the film is “a celebration of the lives and dreams of America’s ordinary citizens, who tried the best they could to do the right thing by themselves and their neighbors.” It was not a success. Maybe 1946 was not the time for a sentimental film. The movie was ‘rediscovered’ in the 1970s when the copywrite expired. Aired on TV, the film quickly became a seasonal Christmas favorite. It is sweet, and corny, and makes you feel good about doing the right thing. Watch it and celebrate the film’s 75th anniversary.

Frank Capra was a fierce defender of the American Dream. Our hash ‘n’ eggs breakfast is typical of the small-town diner menu. Since Capra was the son of immigrants, our dinner features Mediterranean flavors well known to the other travelers in steerage when his family came to America in 1903.

Sweet Potato-Black Bean Hash 212 calories 4.5 g fat 9 g fiber  31 g carbs 96.5 mg Calcium  NB: The food values given above are for the egg and hash only, not the optional hot beverage. PB GF Long-time friend and fellow bell ringer Jane Winslow inspired this recipe. She’s right: it is very good.

½ c. diced sweet potatoes [You could substitute ½ cup of diced winter squash, which lowers the calories, protein, and carbs] 2 Tbsp yellow onion, diced 1.5 oz = ¼ red pepper, sliced salt + pepper to taste ¾ tsp paprika ¼ tsp cumin ½ cup spinach, roughly chopped 3 oz black beans = 1/3 c. one 1.8-oz egg  Optional: blackish coffee [53 calories] or blackish tea or mocha cafe au lait [65 calories] or lemon in hot water   NB: no smoothie — too many calories for this recipe

Spritz olive oil in a small cast iron pan on medium heat. Add sweet potatoes, onion, red pepper, seasonings, and a little water. Cook on medium-low for 10 minutes, occasionally stirring. ALTERNATELY, you could roast these vegetables in a 400 F. oven for 10 minutes. Add spinach and 2 more Tbsp water, and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Lastly, add the black beans and stir until ingredients are well-blended. HINT: prep this far the night before. NEXT MORNINGHeat the vegetable hash in the pan before topping with a poached or fried egg. Serve in the skillet or scoop onto a plate.

Feta Nicoise Salad:  243 calories 6 g fat 2 g fiber 16 g protein 25 g carbs 244 mg Calcium  PB GF  There is a lot of food on this plate – bring your appetite.

1½ romaine leaves OR 1-1/2 cup lettuce, sliced cross-ways ¼ cup green beans 1 scant cup cucumber OR zucchini, diced 1/4 c feta cheese, crumbled or diced 2 black olives, quartered 2 Tbsp canned chick peas, rinsed 1/2 oz sourdough bread 1 tsp flavorful olive oil + 1 tsp white wine vinegar

Steam the green beans, cool and set aside. Slice the romaine crosswise into 1” strips. Prepare the other ingredients as described. Pour the oil and vinegar into a wide, shallow bowl and whisk briskly. Put all the other ingredients in the bowl and toss gently to coat with dressing. Welcome to southern France for fine dining.

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