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SOMETHING TO CONSIDER OVER THE HOLIDAYS

DON’T BUY INTO THE NEW YEAR’S DIET HYPE

Eat What You Want and Stop Feeling Guilty!

Every year we are bombarded with ads on television and radio chiding us about our eating habits and making us generally feel badly about the fun we had over the holidays. I used to buy into all of it, starting a new diet every January 1st and hoping I’d be in shape by summer.

Well, no more. I found out a few years ago that by simply cutting out processed and “fast” foods I could lose the bit of weight I’d gained over the holidays. I stopped watching what I was eating and counting every calorie. No longer do I eat 2 pounds of eggs and bacon for breakfast (Atkins) or fruit and egg whites (Weight Watchers).

Why does this work? Fast foods and processed foods (like frozen dinners) contain large amounts of salt that can make us retain water. They also normally have about 25-30 ingredients (or more) that also include chemical, non-food type things. Over time, it’s hard for our bodies to keep processing and metabolizing all this “stuff” and we tend to gain some weight. Just recently, New York City banned the use of trans fats outright in restaurants and schools because the damage they were doing could no longer be ignored.

I buy and prepare what simply can be described as “whole foods”. Whole foods are foods as close to their natural state as possible. As one orange juice commercial puts it, “it’s un-fooled around with”. I don’t watch the amount of fat I eat and I don’t count calories. In fact, I would guess that I eat 60 to 100 grams of fat every day, well over the FDA recommended amount. I use as much salt as I wish on my food (keep in mind, my food is not pre-salted before I get it).

It is a bit time consuming cooking your own food. On the plus side, it tastes better and it gets the whole family involved. My five year old loves whisking the eggs for breakfast and he mixed all the pie fillings for Thanksgiving one year. He cuts out the shapes for our Christmas cookies, as well.

On a typical night, we’ll eat something like this, which takes about 30 minutes (60 minutes with dessert) to make:

These are all ingredients you can pick up at the local grocery store except for the brandy, possibly.

Pasta with Wild Caught Smoked Salmon and Capers

2 TB olive oil

2 TB butter

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 packets (not cans) 3 oz. Chicken of the Sea Wild Caught Smoked Salmon, drained and finely diced

1 small jar capers, drained and chopped (about 1/3 cup)

1/2 tsp. dried dill or 1 TB fresh

pepper, to taste

1/2 cup brandy

1 1/2 cups whipping cream

1 cup tomato sauce (prepared sauce that you made or in the jar)

1 lb. Linguini, spaghetti or penne (I like Barilla Gold)

salt, to taste

Put the butter and olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the salmon, capers and the dill. Add pepper to taste. Add the brandy and light with a match. Burn off the alcohol. After the liquid evaporates, add the cream. Simmer until reduced in half. Add the tomato sauce and simmer while you drop the pasta in boiling water (see below).

In a large pot of salted water (briny, like the ocean) cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and put back in the pot. Add the contents of the skillet to the pot.  Use tongs to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot on a warmed platter.

Quick Apple Upside Down Tart

Heat oven to 425 degrees

4 granny smith apples (about) cut in 4-6 wedges each, depending on size

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

4 TB butter

1 ten inch pie crust (not the kind that comes in the pie pan) either homemade or store-bought

1 egg (for egg wash)

vanilla ice cream (optional)

In a ten inch skillet (I use cast iron) add sugar and water. Cook for a few minutes on medium heat until the sugar starts to carmelize. Add the apples and the butter. Gently stir apples in the carmel for about five minutes, being careful not to break them. Remove from heat and place a cold but pliable pie dough round on top, tucking in the edges on the inside of the skillet. Brush with egg wash and make a small slit in the middle for steam to escape. Bake until top is medium golden brown, about 30 – 40 minutes. (You might want to put this in the oven when you are sitting down to eat dinner.) Remove from oven and let sit for about five minutes. Turn a platter (at least 12 inches around) upside down onto the top of the skillet and being very careful not to burn yourself, flip the platter and skillet over so the skillet is now upside down and the platter is right side up. Lift skillet up and you should have a beautiful tart on your platter. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

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