Saint Agnes

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow. On Thursday, eat the meals that will be posted on Wednesday.  Eat sensibly the other days of the week.  That’s it.  Simple way to lose weight and be healthier.

Agnes was a child who, after being murdered in a Roman persecution, became a saint. Her innocence attracted a cult of followers and her feast day, January 21, has been celebrated since the 4th century. One aspect of her veneration involves young women traditionally following a ritual of fasting on January 20 in the hopes of dreaming of their future husband.  John Keats incorporated this in his Romantic poem The Eve of St Agnes. It tells the tale of star-crossed lovers, Madeline and Porphyro.  She fasts and falls asleep.  Porphyro sneaks into the castle and gains admittance to her chamber with the help of Angela, the old Nurse [further shades of Romeo and Juliet]. While Madeline sleeps, her would-be lover sets a fantastic feast of expensive delicacies in her room.  She wakes, sees the object of her dreams [the guy not the goodies], and they escape to his castle to get married.  All rather racy for a poem related to 13-year-old Agnes. The name ‘Agnes’ is Greek, meaning ‘chaste’ but it is similar to the latin word for ‘lamb.’  Therefore the innocence of Agnes and of little lambs is forever linked.                                                                   In honor of Agnes, we will enjoy a breakfast based on Porphyro’s fantastic feast and a dinner of lamb stew.  Also, we are Fasting — not because we want to see visions of a ‘dream-boat’ but because we want to be healthy.

Porphyro’s Picnic:   252 calories  5.7 g fat   6 g fiber   6.5 g protein   53 g carbs [43 g Complex] 128 mg Calcium   PB GF V  This is based on the foods described by Keats in his romantic poem  The Eve of St Agnes.  The meal is rather sweet despite its low calorie count – perhaps it needs some other taste to cut it. A cup of black coffee? Full of fiber, this meal is sure to kick-start your tally of fruits/vegetables for the day.porphyro's picnic

2 Tbsp low-fat French Vanilla yogurt + 2 Tbsp almond meal                                                                      2 oz apple, diced                                                                                                                                                         2 oz melon, cubed ¼ cup pitted plums [I used canned plums in light syrup, drained and rinsed], use fresh if in season                                                                                                                              2 tsp cider syrup [or use 2 tsp syrup from the plums] + ¼ tsp ground cinnamon                            ¼ oz Medjool date, cut in 4 pieces.  [in the photo you see more dates, but there should be fewer]                                                                                                                                                                                     NO smoothie                                                                                                                                                    black coffee or black tea or lemon in hot water

Stir the yogurt and almond meal together and spoon onto the center of the plate. Chop the apple, cube the melon, and arrange them around the almond cream, along with the plums. Place the pieces of date at random. Combine the cider syrup with the cinnamon and drizzle it over the apple and melon. All set to eat and you still have 48 calories left over. Not responsible for what happens if you eat this by moonlight on January 20.

Lamb Stew with Glazed Vegetables:  317 calories**    8 g fat**   5.8 g fiber   24 g protein  31 g carbs    62 mg Calcium  GFif using GF flour   The recipe is from Salute to Healthy Cooking, so you know it is good. We have enjoyed this often. If you double the recipe, then you’ll have some to freeze for another meal. Yes, the calorie count is a bit high, but it is worth it. NB: One serving = ¾ cupLambstew

½ pound lamb shoulder, boneless and cut in cubes                                                                                    ½ cup onions, chopped                                                                                                                                         ¾ tsp white whole wheat flour OR GF flour                                                                                                  1 oz dry red wine                                                                                                                                                    ½ Tbsp tomato paste                                                                                                                                                  1 tsp thyme + 1 bay leaf                                                                                                                                               ¾ cup carrots, cut in 2” batons                                                                                                                         ½ cup cubed potatoes                                                                                                                                            6 pearl onions                                                                                                                                                                  1 cup [5 oz] turnips, cut in 2” batons                                                                                                                        ½ tsp sugar** 1 tsp butter**                                                                                                                                 cold water                                                                                                                                                           optional:  1/4 cup green peas, cooked and added after plating

Sear the cubed lamb on all sides [about 3 minutes] in a heavy pan which has been sprayed with non-stick spray or oil. Cook the meat in batches so the pan doesn’t cool down. Remove the cooked meat to a Dutch oven and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put the onions in the same cooking pan and sauté them with enough water to make them sizzle. When the onions are transparent, add the wine to deglaze the pan, stirring the brown bits up from the bottom. Heat the oven to 350 F. Sprinkle with the flour and stir to mix. Add to the Dutch oven. Pour in enough cold water to go to the top of the lamb but not cover it. Stir in the thyme and bay leaf. Heat to a simmer on top of the stove on medium heat. Then cover and put the casserole in the oven. Bake 1 hour, checking once in a while to adjust the temperature to make sure the stew is not boiling. After 1 hour, add the carrots, put the cover back on and bake for 15 minutes. Add the potatoes, put the cover back on and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. While the potatoes are baking, put the pearl onions and turnips in a small non-stick pan with the sugar and butter** and enough water to rise half-way up the onions. Simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered and shaking the pan ocaisionaly. Add salt and pepper. Reserve, off the heat until the lamb is cooked. Plate the stew with the vegetables, adding the optional peas if you wish.  [add ___ calories and ___ g fiber]

** If you were to cook the onions and turnips without the butter and sugar, you would reduce the calories to 297 and the fat to 6.3 g.

Slow Days: Pissaladiere

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’   This feature will appear sporadically.

Now for the answers.  Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day?  Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight.  There are many questions asked on the FastDiet Forum which attest to that.  Once in a while you can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday.  For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet.  As for how we eat, an example follows.

Pissaladière is a classic Provinçal food that looks like a pizza [hence its alias: Pizza Niçoise].  More accurately, it could be described as a flatbread topped with fish-accented caramelized onions.  Perhaps in the cafes of the Midi it has become a cliché, but it was new to us when we tried it at home. And we loved it. I used Joanne Harris’ recipe from her My French Kitchen cookbook.

The ingredients are simple: pizza dough [8″ rounds, one per person], tinned anchovies, black olives, Herbes de Province, and caramelized onions. One late summer day, I had a surfeit of onions, so I caramelized and then froze them. [NB: it takes about an hour to cook 3.5 pounds of onions to the point where they are ‘soft and slightly caramelized but not brown’ as Joanne Harris says.] Out they came for this meal, making the preparation very easy.

pissaladiere, mise  èThe pizza dough is shaped and brushed with olive oil. Distribute the onions on top then arrange the anchovies in a lattice pattern. Sprinkle with the Herbes de Province.  Garnish the pattern further by placing olives in the squares created by the anchovy lattice. pissaladiere, plated with brandol      To complete the picture, a simple salad was topped with a lattice of Parmesan curls.  Perfect served with a Bandol wine. The portion shown here is for Dear Husband.  I usually make a meal of 3 slices of pizza + side salad and a glass of wine.  Summer in southern France or Winter in New England, this is a fine meal.

Slow Days: Sister’s Pasta Sauce

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions:  “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?”   To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’   This feature will appear sporadically.                                                                                                                              Now for the answers.  Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight.  There are many questions asked on the FastDiet Forum which show that is true.  But once in a while your can splurge, as long as it isn’t every day.  For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet.  As for how we eat,  an example follows.

When our parents were alive and still hosting Christmas at their house, my sister would prepare her special pasta for Christmas Eve.  It is the tradition in many cultures to eat a meatless dinner on December 24, and this recipe from Bon Appétit magazine fills the bill.  It is a lot easier if you start several days before to prepare the sauce. I like to make it much earlier in December and freeze it.Sukey Pasta, mise 1

The sauce involves sautéing 1.5 cups onion and 1 clove garlic in 2 Tbsp olive oil for 5 minutes, then adding basil, red pepper flakes, and 3 cans [28-oz cans] of whole or crushed tomatoes in their juice.  Cook uncovered on low for 2 hours, then add 2 cups chicken stock. Continue to simmer for another 2 hours until the amount of sauce is reduced to 6-8 cups. The resultant rich, flavorful sauce is mostly used in the Christmas Pasta, but it will grace a more humble dish as well.

To complete the pasta dish for four people, cook 12 oz of penne pasta until it is just under-done. [NB: Ordinarily I use 2 oz pasta per serving so this should serve 6 people.  The remainders from this meal can be served as lunch.]  Gently heat 20 fl oz Sister’s Pasta Sauce, adding 1/3 cup of quartered wrinkly black olives or Kalamata olives and 2 cups grated Havarti cheese. Combine with the drained pasta and put in a lightly-oiled casserole dish.  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top and bake at 350° F for 20-30 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese begins to brown slightly. Sprinkle with fresh basil and serve with Italian Green Beans or Green Salad and a crusty loafSister's Pasta, plated.

I’m always sure to save out enough sauce to prepare the pasta again before Easter, to give a culinary link to the two holidays.

Very Grimm

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow. On Monday, eat the meals that will be posted on Sunday.  Eat sensibly the other days of the week.  That’s it.  Simple way to lose weight and be healthier.

Children’s and Household Tales were first published on December 20, 1812.  Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm did not intend their work as happy bed-time stories for children. Their intent was to collect German folktales before they disappeared in an increasingly industrial society. The stories were to re-educate the German public about their cultural past and to earn money for their impoverished brothers and sister. [Food or a lack thereof is a constant theme in their stories.]  The book was a best-seller, partly due to the fact that it fit well with the Romanticism of the era: stories set in the wild forest; tales that harked back to a simpler if not a kinder time. Popular in our own time, ‘fairy tales’ show us the darker sides of human nature, but in the end things usually work out. That’s reassuring.

In the theme of Grimm’s tales, we will eat porridge for breakfast — but not cook it to excess as in the story Sweet Porridge.  We will know when to stop. Many of the stories take a truly gruesome turn as in The Juniper Tree [a film Disney will never make!], so we will have organ meats in the form of haggis spring rolls for dinner. Re-read some of the works of the Brothers Grimm today.

10-Grain Porridge:   300 calories  1.5 g fat   5.1 g fiber  16 g protein   50 g carbs [39 g Complex]   215 mg Calcium   PB   Delicious hot cereal for any day of the week.10-Grain Porridge

1/4 cup uncooked Bob’s Red Mill 10-Grain Cereal                                                                                                                                                        2 Tbsp cottage cheese                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 tsp maple syrup                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               1.5 Tbsp applesauce, unsweetened                                                                                                                                                                                                                        pinch of nutmeg + pinch of cinnamon                                                                                                                                                                                 blackish coffee or blackish tea or lemon in hot water                                                                             3 oz fruit smoothie, green smoothie or natural apple cider

Put the cereal in 3/4 of a cup of boiling water, turn down to a simmer and cook, covered, for 8 minutes. HINT: Do this the night before. Cool the cereal, then mix in the cottage cheese, maple syrup, applesauce, and spices until well-combined.  Put into a microwave-save bowl and cook in the microwave for 45 to 60 seconds [if cold from last night] OR for 30 seconds until hot through. Pour the beverages and you will have a warm, filling start to your day.

Haggis Spring Rolls:  262 calories  12.8 g fat  2.8 g fiber  23 g protein  26 g carbs  41 mg Calcium The first time I enjoyed these was at the Whiski Rooms in Edinburgh, along with a wee dram of single malt. Today, the whisky is in the dipping sauce to complete the fusion of Asian-Scottish flavors. This meal has my husband’s approval.Haggis Spring Rolls

4 six-inch rice spring roll wrappers/skins                                                                                                                                                                          8 Tbsp haggis filling see Spicy  12-September-2018                                                                                          1 cup lettuce leaves sliced into <1/2” strips +  1/2 oz carrot, grated  + cherry tomatoes                                                                                     1 tsp flavored olive oil +  1 tsp red wine vinegar finishing salt                                                                                                             1.5 tsp Thai hot chili sauce + ½ tsp single malt Scotch whisky                                                              

Put water into a wide, shallow dish such as a pie plate. Lay a tea towel on the counter. Place onespring roll wrapper in the water. Initially, the wrapper will look like a piece of thin, stiff, whitish plastic. Soon it will become more transparent, colorless, and pliable. Remove it from the water while still a little stiff [do NOT let it become limp] and lay it on the tea towel. Place 2 Tbsp haggis filling on the lower 1/3 of the wrapper, arranged as a little log. Roll it up, folding the sides in after the 1stturn. Move finished roll to the side as you repeat the steps. Heat a 10” cast-iron skillet over medium flame and spray with non-stick spray. Place the spring rolls in the pan with room between them. Cook slowly on one side, then roll onto another side. Continue until all the rolls are browned on each side. Prepare the salad and plate it. Combine the chili sauce and the whisky in a dipping cup. Plate the haggis, and try not to read Grimm’s Fairy Tales while you dine.

Ingredients for next week:

Breakfast, single portion

1 two-oz egg 1 two-oz egg, hard-boiled
avocado baby spinach
whole-grain bread chèvre cheese [goat cheese]
fig, dried or fresh
Whatever you need for your smoothie Whatever you need for your smoothie
Whatever you need for your hot beverage Whatever you need for your hot beverage

Dinner, single portion:

pork tenderloin, roasted or raw + sesame oil + pickle juice whole-wheat tortillas, 170 calories each
ground ginger + soy sauce + ground garlic crushed tomatoes   + onion
cucumber + carrot + red bell pepper mozzarella cheese
baguette + Asian sweet chili sauce mushrooms  +  prosciutto
Sparkling water Sparkling water

Saint Lucy’s Day

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow. On Monday, eat the meals that will be posted on Sunday.  Eat sensibly the other days of the week.  That’s it.  Simple way to lose weight and be healthier.

December 13 is one of our favorite days. I read the Swedish legend of Saint Lucy when I was in 6th grade and was charmed by the idea of a daughter taking breakfast in bed to her parents while wearing a wreath of candles in her hair. So I made a white robe [my mother never asked where that sheet went], and a pine-cone wreath, and wrote some new words to the tune of “Santa Lucia” — and the rest was history.  Saint Lucy visited our house annually when our sons were little [a new song was written then], and she will make an appearance this year too.  We devote the evening to decorating the Christmas Tree while enjoying an easy-to-eat dinner. It is possible to have a family celebration and still remain on the Fast Diet — try these menus.  Or, change your Fast Day to the day before the festival day or the day after.                                                                                                                     Since the original Lucy/Lucia was born in Sicily, we’ll prepare eggs with the flavors of that island.  For dinner we move to the Baltic region with a meal that followers of her northern version would recognize.

Sicilian ScrOmelette:  298 calories  11 g fat  2.4 g fiber  19 g protein  31 g carbs 290 mg Calcium PB GF  A protein-packed salad meets eggs for breakfast.Sicilian ScrOmelette

1-½ two-oz eggs HINT: If you are serving one person, crack three 2-oz eggs into a small bowl or glass measuring cup. Whip up those eggs and pour half of their volume into a jar with a lid and put it in the ‘fridge for next week.                                                                              ¼ oz salami sausage                                                                                                                                             ¼ oz mozzerella                                                                                                                                                         2 Tbsp chopped wild greens [ex: dandelion] or arugula                                                                          blackish coffee or blackish tea or lemon in hot water                                                                               5-6 oz green smoothie or fruit smoothie or unpasturized apple cider

Chop the sausage, the cheese, and the greens, and combine them gently. Heat a well-seasoned cast iron or non-stick pan and spritz it with oil or cooking spray. Whisk the eggs with salt and pepper, then pour into the heated pan. As the eggs set, sprinkle the sausage mixture over the eggs. Scramble or fold as an omelette and enjoy with the beverages of choice.

Herring Salad:   278 calories    6 g fat   6.8 g fiber  16 g protein   24 g carbs   103 mg Calcium PB GF     Luchöw’s Restaurant will live in memory as long as a certain generation still breathes. And there was a lot to remember about it: the decor, the old-world service, the menu. Not a hokey tourist trap – it was the genuine article. This is one of their fine Old World recipes. NB: if you take a MOIA anti-depressent, be aware that herring has high amounts of tyramine. 0-41 -1/2 oz herring marinated in wine, drained                                                                                                                   1/4 cup beets, cooked, cooled and diced                                                                                                            1 -1/2 oz apple, peeled and diced                                                                                                                       1/4 cup white beans, drained and rinsed                                                                                                       1/2 hard-boiled egg, sliced                                                                                                                                     2 Tbsp onion, minced                                                                                                                                          1/2 oz dill pickle, chopped                                                                                                                                    pinch sugar   +  2 tsp vinegar, or more                                                                                                                1 cup lettuce, shredded

Whisk the vinegar and sugar in a bowl until the sugar dissolves. Add remaining ingredients and toss gently until everything is well-incorporated. Taste to see if it needs more sugar or more vinegar. A herring-lover’s delight.

Ingredients for next week:

Breakfast, single portion

Search the Archives for a new Bob’s Red Mill 10-Grain Cereal
     favorite breakfast. cottage cheese   +   nutmeg
maple syrup    +  cinnamon
blueberries or raspberries
Whatever you need for your smoothie Whatever you need for your smoothie
Whatever you need for your hot beverage Whatever you need for your hot beverage

Dinner, single portion:

Search the Archives for a new Haggis filling [Spicy II, 12-Sept-2018]
           favorite dinner. rice spring-roll wrappers
lettuce  +  carrot +  cherry tomatoes
flavorful oil  + good vinegar
Sparkling water Sparkling water

Emily Dickinson

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow. On Thursday, eat the meals that will be posted on Wednesday.  Eat sensibly the other days of the week.  That’s it.  Simple way to lose weight and be healthier.                                                                                      Welcome to FoodStories who is now Following.

If you were to list New England poets, Emily Dickinson would be right up there. And yet, no one heard of her work until after she was dead.  The Belle of Amherst Massachusetts was born on 10 December, 1830, smack-dab in the middle of a cultural revolution. In religion there was the Second Great Awakening. In politics, there was the growing abolitionist movement. In literature, there was Emily Dickinson penning poems in obscurity as she baked [one poem written on a chocolate wrapper] or cleaned [one poem written on the label for silver polish]. She kept house for her lawyer father and brothers and, according to legend, hardly ever went further afield than the garden of the family home. Her correspondence took her far away as she wrote to distant friends. After her death, her sister had her poems published, leaving readers bemused and/or excited by her verse.  In 1955, her collected works and her letters were printed and Emily Dickinson were rediscovered by an enthusiastic audience.  The poem that haunts me the most is The Bustle in a House, one of her most approachable poems about death. Dickinson wrote that she thought in a ‘New-England-y’ way. So true.                                                                                                                        Emily Dickinson did the cooking in the household, and I approve of good food made from scratch.  When she wrote to her ‘mentor’ H.W. Higginson describing her cooking for the household, she said, “People must have puddings.” In that spirit, breakfast is based on a French pudding, the flameuse which Emily would have liked.  And dinner is an old New England favorite.

Cherry Flamusse:   291 calories     5.3 g fat    2.2 g fiber   15.4 g protein   46.7 g carbs [34 g Complex]  316 mg Calcium   GF – if using GF flour   This breakfast custard is borrowed from the dessert section of the cookbook, and it works very well either way! It is similar to a clafouti, but simpler. Served with cherries or any fresh fruit, it is sure to be a hit. HINT:This makes enough for 2 [two] servings: share with a a friend or save the rest for a future breakfast or dessert. [Without the morning beverages, the dessert has 177 calories.]Cherry Flamusse

2 two-oz eggs                                                                                                                                                                     6 oz milk                                                                                                                                                                   4 tsp flour OR tapioca flour                                                                                                                                    1.5 Tbsp sugar                                                                                                                                                         10 sweet cherries, pitted                                                                                                                                      ½ clementine                                                                                                                                                                                                              blackish coffee or blackish tea or lemon in hot water                                                                                  3 oz  green smoothie or fruit smoothie

Spritz 2 ramekins [or an oven-proof dish with 1.5 cup capacity] with non-stick spray. Cut the cherries in half and arrange on the bottom of the dish. Whisk eggs until foamy, then add flour and sugar, whisking until there are no lumps. Stir in the milk and pour the batter over the cherries. Bake at 375 F. for 20 minutes. Turn the flamusse out of the dish so that the cherries are on top. Plate with the clementine sections, serve with the beverages. You won’t believe this is a ‘diet.’

Red Flannel Hash:  249 calories   9.2 g fat   1.9 g fiber  12.6 g protein  17.8 g carbs [16 g Complex]  43 mg Calcium  PB GF   This is a venerable New England farm meal, with the recipe coming from Hayden Pearson’s Country Flavors Cookbook.Red Flannel Hash

1 cup cooked diced beets (1/3” dice)                                                                                                                 1/3 cup diced potatoes (1/3” dice)                                                                                                                        ¼ cup diced onions                                                                                                                                                      2 slices Canadian Bacon/back bacon, diced                                                                                                                                                                                              one 2-oz egg lots of salt and pepper to taste

Cook, peel, and dice the beets and set aside to cool. [HINT: do this the day before]  Peel and dice the potatoes. Put potatoes into a pan of tap water and put the pan on the burner. Turn on the heat and let the pan sit, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until the water starts to boil around the edges. Take off the heat and leave potatoes to cool in the water. Then drain and set aside. Dice the onions and bacon. Spray a saute pan with non-stick spray and add the Canadian bacon. Cook it as crisp as you wish, or not so crisp. Remove the bacon and set aside. Add the onions with 2-3 Tbsp water, and cook until the onions are transluscent and the water is mostly gone. Now put the potatoes in the pan with the onions, add salt and pepper to taste. Stir until the potatoes are cooked. Add the beets and bacon to the pan and continue to cook until heated through. Meanwhile, fry the egg: sunnyside-up or over easy as you prefer. Plate the hash and top with the egg. Country dining.

Slow Days: Apple-Chicken Crepes

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions:  “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?”   To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’   This feature will appear sporadically.                                                                                                                              Now for the answers.  Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight.  There are many questions asked on the FastDiet Forum which tell the tale.  But once in a while your can splurge, as long as it isn’t every day.  For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet.  As for how we eat,  an example follows.

Remember those crêpes we made last month?  [November 10, 2018]  Here’s a delicious way to use some of them. The recipe is from Brittany Gastronomique by Kate Whiteman.Apple-Chicken Crepe recipe

Having had on hand some chicken meat, some apples, and some crêpes — we couldn’t resist having a go at this recipe.  It was our 2nd time of cooking it.Apple-Chicken Crepes, miseAs you can see, the chicken was already cooked, so this was extra easy to prepare.  The chicken/apple/cream/honey/cidre were combined as per the recipe.  The crêpes, previously prepared and thawed, were gently heated before using.  Fill the crêpes and serve!Apple-Chicken Crepes, platedêServed with a simple salad, the meal is excellent.  Add a honeyed cidre called Chouchenn from the Iles de la Madelaine and it is ambrosial.

St Nick

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow. On Monday, eat the meals that will be posted on Sunday.  Eat sensibly the other days of the week.  That’s it.  Simple way to lose weight and be healthier.

In art, Jolly Old Saint Nicholas has evolved physically over the many years since he was born in the 3rd century in what was then Greece but is now Turkey.  As early as the 4th century, he was shown as a normally-sized, generic bishop.  And it was the same in the 1600s in England, where celebrating Christmas was frowned upon. When we get to the 1800s the Good Saint, as depicted by Thomas Nast in 1881, looks like a man who should try the Fast Diet.  So does the Coke-swilling Santa of the ads beginning in the 1930s. “Miracle on 34th Street” in 1947 had him slimmer.  Have you seen the ‘picture’ of Saint Nicholas, as determined by a forensic pathologist? He looks a little healthier. Santa today is still depicted as chubby, if not fat.  If you don’t want to look like the ‘Nast Santa’ or the ‘Coca-Cola Santa’, with all the health problems that come with that physique, then it might be time to start Fasting.  Just saying…                                                                                                                                              Our breakfast reflects the Asia Minor origins of the real Nicholas.  And for dinner we have the classic beef stew of Hungary where the saint distributes gifts to children on December 6. In our household, we enjoy the gulyàs every Saint Nicholas Day.

Mediterranean Bake:  288 calories  8 g fat  2.4 g fiber   14.6 g protein   38.5 g carbs   234 mg Calcium  PB GF   Oh! Those sunny flavors!Mediterranean Bake

one 2-oz egg                                                                                                                                                              3 Tbsp Mediterranean Vegetables, see Sidekicks II posted on 4 October, 2017 for the recipe                                                                                                                          1 Tbsp chèvre cheese                                                                                                                                                         salt + pepper + large pinch of Herbes de Province                                                                                         2 oz applesauce     or melon                                                                                                                                   6 oz green smoothie or fruit smoothie or unpasteurized apple cider                                                  blackish coffee or blackish tea or lemon in hot water

Set the toaster oven at at 350° F. Spritz a ramekin with oil or non-stick spray and spoon in the Med. Veg. Pop the ramekin in the warming toaster oven for 30 seconds to warm the vegetables. Whisk the egg with the cheese and seasonings. Pour in the egg mixture over the vegetables and bake in the toaster oven for 12-15 minutes, depending on how you like your eggs. Brew your warm beverage; shake and pour the smoothie; plate the fruit. A fine way to anticipate the joys of Summer.

Gulyàs:  283 calories   9.5 g fat   2.9 g fiber   40.4 g protein   8 g carbs [7.6 g Complex]   42.6 mg Calcium   GF  This version of the famous Hungarian stew is from Craig Claiborne’s International CookbookHINT: The recipe makes 8 servings, so make it once and freeze in serving sizes.Gulyas w: green beans

2 pounds beef chuck [shoulder], cut in 1” cubes                                                                                                    1 Tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika                                                                                                                              1 tsp salt + 1 tsp pepper                                                                                                                                                   1 tsp olive oil                                                                                                                                                               2 onions, chopped                                                                                                                                                   2 Tbsp tomato paste                                                                                                                                             1.5 cups beef stock                                                                                                                                                    per serving: 1 oz green beans                                                                                                                    optional per serving: ¼ oz egg noodles which add 27 calories 1 g fiber 2 g carbs [simple]

Heat the oven to 300 F. Toss the beef chunks with the paprika, salt, and pepper. On the cook-top, heat the oil in a Dutch oven [large, heavy, heat-proof, covered pot] and brown the beef in batches. Move the beef around in the pan to prevent it from sticking. Add non-stick spray or a little water if necessary. Remove the beef to a plate. Add some water to the pan and saute the onions until they are transluscent. Return the beef to the pan and pour in 1.5 cups beef stock. Stir thoroughly, scraping brown bits off the bottom. Cover the pot and cook in the oven for 2-3 hours. Every hour, check the pot and stir, adding more water as needed. Taste for salt at the end. Divide into 8 portions, reserving the remainder for future meals. TIP: Freezes very well. Plate with the green beans and optional noodles. A real Winter treat.

Ingredients for next week:

Breakfast, single portion

2 two-oz egg 1.5 two-oz eggs
fat-free milk      +  10 sweet cherries salami sausage
flour mozzarella cheese
sugar   +  clementine wild greens or arugula
Whatever you need for your smoothie Whatever you need for your smoothie
Whatever you need for your hot beverage Whatever you need for your hot beverage

Dinner, single portion:

beets Herring marinated in wine   + vinegar
potato beets, canned or fresh cooked
Canadian or back bacon Apple   + lettuce   +   onion
onion  + one 2-oz egg white beans  + hard-boiled egg + pickle
Sparkling water Sparkling water

Gertrude Jekyll

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow. On Monday, eat the meals that will be posted on Sunday.  Eat sensibly the other days of the week.  That’s it.  Simple way to lose weight and be healthier.

Tomorrow will be the birthday of Gertrude Jekyll, the English gardener who was born in 1843. The Jekylls [pronounced ‘GEE-kal’] were a talented and well-connected family. She chose gardening as her life’s work [how many Victorian ladies had a ‘life’s work’?] and became hugely influential in the design of garden landscapes. Her training at art school taught her to view the land with an Impressionist’s eye, to understand perspective, and to have a strong knowledge of color theory — of great importance in garden design.  400 gardens on 2 continents, 1000 articles, and 4 books have helped us to remember Jekyll to this day. Her well-crafted gardens have been restored at Munstead Wood [be sure to click this link to see the garden].   “The best purpose of a garden,” wrote Jekyll, “is to give delight and to give refreshment of mind, to soothe, to refine, and to life up the heart in a spirit of praise and thankfulness.” Jekyll’s concept of the ‘perennial border‘ is a joy to behold and set the standard for all time, whether or not you recognize her hand at work.                                                                                                                         For Gertrude Jekyll’s love of all things grown in gardens, our meals are heavy on the herbs and plants.  Herbs flavor the eggs at breakfast and the dinner contains 5 vegetables [!] plus the pepper sauce. Be sure to plant herbs, even on a window sill, and to include herbs in your foods for flavor.  I plant rosemary all over the garden, so pleasant is it to know that at every few steps one may draw the kindly branchlets through one’s hand, and have the enjoyment of their incomparable incense; and I grow it against walls, so that the sun may draw out its inexhaustible sweetness to greet me as I pass, said G. J.

Ricotta-Herb ScrOmelette: 294 calories  7.8 g fat  2.6 g fiber  17.6 g protein  35 g carbs  234.5 mg Calcium  PB GF  Easily prepared with ingredients on hand.Ricotta-Herb Scromlette w: applesauce

1 ½ two-oz eggs HINT: If you are serving one person, crack three 2-oz eggs into a small bowl or glass measuring cup. Whip up those eggs and pour half of their volume into a jar with a lid and put it in the ‘fridge for next week.                                                                               1 Tbsp low-fat ricotta cheese, drained in a sieve overnight                                                                        1 ½ Tbsp fresh herbs – any ones you have – chopped                                                                                  salt & pepper                                                                                                                                                            1.5 oz applesauce                                                                                                                                               blackish coffee or blackish tea or lemon in hot water                                                                                      5-6 oz green smoothie or fruit smoothie or unpasturized apple cider

Whisk the cheese and herbs into the eggs and scramble or cook as a folded omelette. Enjoy with the hot beverage, smoothie, and applesauce.

Fish Kabobs:  236 calories  8 g fat  4.3 g fiber  27 g protein  22 g carbs [all Complex]  77 mg Calcium  PB GF  Any firm fish will work for this simple meal. The Fresh Polenta is from Jacques Pepin and it is a keeper.Fish Kabobs w: fresh Polenta

3.6 g firm fish [swordfish, tuna, halibut], cut in 1-2” cubes                                                                             1 oz eggplant cut in 1” chunks, skin left on                                                                                                       1 oz cherry tomatoes                                                                                                                                               3/4 oz red or yellow bell pepper, cut in 1” squares                                                                                        2 tsp Pimenta do Queilo or other red pepper sauce                                                                                     ½ cup fresh polenta***                                                                                                                                                ½ cup side salad

Combine the pepper sauce with 2 tsp water in a small, microwave-safe bowl. Toss the eggplant and bell pepper in the pepper sauce and microwave for 30 seconds. Remove the bell peppers and microwave the eggplant 45 seconds longer. Cool the vegetables and save the marinade. Prepare the polenta.*** Assemble the kabobs on skewers and brush with remaining marinade. Sprinkle with a little dalt and pepper. Broil 4 minutes, then turn the kabobs, brush with marinade, and broil for 4 minutes more. Prepare the side salad and plate to applause.                                                                                                                                                 

***Fresh Polenta: 1 serving = 1/3 cup = 80 calories                                                                                                    1.25 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen                       1 tsp unsalted butter                                       freshly-ground pepper + salt                                                                                                                          Puree the corn in a blender until smooth                                                                                                       [it won’t be like whipped cream, but you shouldn’t see whole kernels].                                             Put butter in a warm pan, then add the corn, pepper and salt.                                                            Cook about 30 seconds or until it becomes thicker.

Ingredients for next week:

Breakfast, single portion

1 two-oz egg    + crab meat 1 two-oz egg
soy sauce  +  ginger  + scallions Mediterranean Vegetables [see Sidekicks II, posted 4 october, 2017]
semolina flour   + sprouts chèvre [goat] cheese
garlic powder   +   clementine herbes de Province   +  melon
Whatever you need for your smoothie Whatever you need for your smoothie
Whatever you need for your hot beverage Whatever you need for your hot beverage

Dinner, single portion:

Chicken breast   +  chicken stock 2# beef chuck/shoulder
2 momos [25-Feb-’18]  + satay sauce beef stock  + onions
2 wontons [18-Feb-’18] + peanut butter  sweet paprika + tomato paste
1 oz Chinese BBQ Pork  + tomato green beans + egg noodles [optional]
Sparkling water Sparkling water

Rick’s Cafe

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow. On Thursday, eat the meals that will be posted on Wednesday.  Eat sensibly the other days of the week.  That’s it.  Simple way to lose weight and be healthier.

In the dark days of WW2, Churchill and FDR needed a place to meet. News blackouts forbade revealing the location, but one clever radio reporter  began his story by saying, “I was over at Rick’s Cafe the other night…”  And everyone knew that he was in Casablanca. Such was the power of the popular movie of that name which was released November 26, 1942.  Bogie, as cynical night-club owner Rick Blaine, and Ingrid Bergman, as resistance-fighter Ilsa Lund, were the star-crossed lovers of the tale, with Dooley Wilson singing “As Time Goes By” in the background. The plot follows several memorable characters and a classic love triangle.  Who is not stirred by the scene where they sing the Marseillaise to counter the Nazis? Who is not in tears during the airport scene?                                                                                                                                                       Our menu today will echo the plot of the movie.  We’ll have a breakfast right out of a Parisian charcuterie, because Rick and Ilsa fell in love there and because “We’ll always have Paris.” And since the entire movie revolves around people trying to evacuate to Lisbon, our dinner will feature Portuguese Fish & Chips in honor of Ilsa and Victor’s escape.

Charcuterie Bake:   278 calories  10 g fat  3.2 g fiber  17 g protein  37 g carbs  198 mg Calcium GF  One Sunday, we invited friends over for what we call a “French Lunch” – bread, sausage, cheese, fruit, wine, and good fellowship. My Dear Husband thought, “I know what breakfast will be.” And he was correct: left-overs reborn as breakfast.Charcuterie Bake w: pears

One 2-oz egg                                                                                                                                                            1/2 oz chorizo sausage                                                                                                                                          ½ Tbsp chèvre cheese, the creamy type                                                                                                             ¼ tsp Dijon mustard                                                                                                                                                large pinch Herbes de Province                                                                                                                         1-1/2 oz pear                                                                                                                                                       blackish coffee or blackish tea or lemon juice & hot water                                                                                                       5-6 oz fruit smoothie or green smoothie or natural apple cider

Set the toaster oven at 350 degrees F. Cut the sausage into a small dice. Cream together with the goat cheese, mustard, and herbes. Spritz an oven-proof ramekin/dish with olive oil or non-stick spray. Whisk the egg with the sausage mixture and pour into the dish. Bake for 12-15 minutes while you pour the beverages and slice the pear. As simple as the meal which preceeded it.

Portuguese Fish & Chips:  260 calories  6.3 g fat  4.7 g fiber  24 g protein  28 g carbs [27 g Complex]  60 mg Calcium   PB GF – if using GF flour  From our favorite dinner place in Souris, PEI, 21 Breakwater comes this house specialty from the chef’s native cuisine. The batter is so light that it lets the lime-infused fish shine through. The recipe takes little time to accomplish. I have described it in detail so you can be successful.Portugese Fish &amp; Chips

3 oz tilapia or hake                                                                                                                                                    1 fl. oz lime juice or lemon juice                                                                                                                               1 egg white + 1 egg yolk                                                                                                                                                    2 Tbsp white whole wheat flour                                                                                                                        3 oz sweet potato, peeled                                                                                                                                                      ½ tsp canola oil                                                                                                                                                                                  ½ tsp granulated garlic                                                                                                                                           ¼ tsp paprika black pepper                                                                                                                                  2 oz asparagus

Marinate the fish in the lime juice with a pinch of salt and pepper for up to 30 minutes. Set the oven to 425 F. Peel the sweet potato and cut lengthwise into 1/4” slices. Cut each slice into 1/4” sticks. Put the oil in the non-stick pan that you will use to cook the fish. Add the potato sticks to the pan and toss about to coat with oil. Combine the granulated garlic, paprika, and pepper, and sprinkle on the potato sticks. Toss to distribute the seasonings. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil with the dull side up. Spray liberally with non-stick spray. HINT: You could do this 1-2 hours in advance.Distribute the potatoes on the pan so they do not touch. Put in oven for 10-12 minutes. Meanwhile, put the asparagus on to cook. Take the fish from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Dredge lightly with flour. Whip the egg white into soft peaks. Fold in the egg yolk and remaining flour from dredging the fish. Heat the non-stick pan and spray with non-stick spray. Remove the fries from the oven and turn them over. Return to oven for 10 minutes more. Dip the fish in the egg batter so that it is coated on all sides. Cook the fish on one side over medium heat for 6 minutes, then on the other side for 6 minutes or until fork tender. When fries are done, turn off oven, open the door, and leave the fries in there for up to 5 more minutes. Plate all that good food and live it up.