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carol@inkwellcoaching.com

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January 14, 2021

The Surprising Truth about Eggplant, and a Recipe

A large eggplant. That is the vegetable size of a baby at week #28. Oh, but wait just a minute. An eggplant is actually a FRUIT because it grows from

January 7, 2021

My Least Favorite Vegetable and a Challenge

At week #27 baby is the size of… …a head of cauliflower. Most of you know that I do not care for this vegetable. I’ve tried. Truth is that cauli

December 31, 2020

Cheers to Scallions and a New Year

At week #26, baby is the size of a scallion. The first question that popped into my head is: What’s the difference between a scallion and a green on

December 24, 2020

The Hope and Excitement of a Baby

A bit of background for my new readers: I’m taking the produce journey along with my good friend who is expecting. As we track the progression, we l

December 17, 2020

Create Your Own Cookbook and Mr. Non-Compliant’s Favorite Vegetable

Those of us who attended the Zoom “Amazing Cookie Bake” had a delicious time baking our cookies. My cookie press was missing its piston—a critic

December 10, 2020

We’re Baking Cookies Together… Sort of

I’m baking cookies this coming Saturday morning, and I’d love for you to join me! Through the magic of ZOOM, we are all gathering to bake and soci

December 2, 2020

So, the Marshmallows Caught Fire…

Thanksgiving Day is but a faint memory, as we fast forward into Advent and the season of Christmas. It was quiet around the Slager home, until the mar

November 25, 2020

Cookies, Carrots, and Giving Thanks

Here it is November, and everything is still pretty weird. I find it hard to believe that we’ve almost blown through another year, even though it se

November 19, 2020

Are Bananas Good for You?

Bananas sometimes get a bad rap. The truth is, they have lots of redemptive qualities. They are among the most important food crops on the planet. Alt

November 12, 2020

What to Make for Dinner When the Power Goes Out

As I was writing this, my power went out. It wasn’t just a flicker. It was a full OUTAGE in our local area. Concerned that this could linger into th

It’s Party Time!

Graduations, Confirmations, Communions…the parties are in full force, and Memorial Day weekend is just around the corner. All these celebrations are filled with delectable foods and cupcakes with gobs of colorful frosting, not to mention bowls of assorted chips.

What is a fit person to do? Do not let your stomach (or your heart) be troubled. There are times when it is fine to break our normal ways of eating, with the very clear understanding that we are making a choice to enjoy the party.

It is a healthy indulgence.

Decide ahead of picnic time how you are going to eat. Start by thinking about how really good you feel when you are doing your workouts and eating clean:

  • energy is good
  • sleep is more restful
  • digestion is better
  • your mood is lighter (and perhaps, so are you!)

This is the lifestyle you are practicing and it suits you well. There is no reason to feel like you are blowing it all to bits with one little barbecue.

Start with some protein. For those of you who love fried chicken, it is preferable to remove the fried and simply eat the chicken. Enjoying the burger or sausage without the bun is a good trade-off for a helping of pasta salad, or maybe a few chips.

Salads, green and otherwise, are typically prevalent. Enjoy those that do not have a creamy dressing, which may not be so good in the heat anyway. A handful of nuts is a good option if they are around. Vegetables are like a “get of jail free” card.

I love baked beans and am the only one in my family who does, so this is my big opportunity to enjoy. Choose water or unsweetened ice tea instead of soda– diet or otherwise.

Remember the 80/20 rule. The weekend party is probably part of the 20; I’m going out on a limb here.

As for dessert, those cute cupcakes with little checkered flags flying in the frosting often look better than they taste. If I’m wrong about that and they are amazing, enjoy every bite. If not, go for the fresh fruit salad or have extra greens.

If you’re going to splurge, it had better be worth it!     

You are eating to live your best. Feel great and don’t carry the burden of starting over after the long weekend. Remember, it’s not about being perfect; it’s about doing just a little bit better. Cheers!

“A party without cake is just a meeting.”—Julia Child

Lemon Lovelies

These delightful lemon lovelies are dairy free and a childhood favorite of my boys.

  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • ½ cup (1 stick) softened Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Sticks
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together the flour, Earth Balance, and powdered sugar in a bowl. Press the dough into an ungreased 8-inch square pan. Press the dough onto the sides of the pan as well. (Flour your hands if the dough is sticky.) Bake for about 20 minutes. Mix the remaining ingredients together until frothy. Pour over the hot crust. Bake an additional 25 minutes, or until light golden brown. Allow to cool before cutting. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.

Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut…and it’s Okay

I think nuts sometimes get a bad rap, and it’s not fair. Nuts of all varieties (almonds, pecans, walnuts, etc.) and seeds (pumpkin, sesame, flax, sunflower) contain protein and therefore provide us with energy. Peanuts are technically not a nut, but a legume.

Nuts and seeds contain mono- and polyunsaturated fats, fiber, folate (a B vitamin), vitamin E, magnesium and potassium. They also contain phytosterols—plant-derived compounds that are similar in structure and function to cholesterol.

Phytosterols actually compete for absorption with cholesterol in the digestive tract, thereby inhibiting the intestinal absorption of cholesterol.

How does all this translate to health? If we are snacking on nuts, we are not snacking on foods that may cause more harm than good, such as candy and fried chips.

A daily intake of nuts/seeds of 1.5 ounces, which is equal to about 3 Tablespoons or a handful, may reduce the risk of heart disease, improve cholesterol levels, and lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Since different nuts provide different benefits, it is good to vary the kind of nuts we consume. Raw, unsalted nuts are the preferred choice. Store in the refrigerator to maintain freshness and keep them from becoming rancid.

And remember, too much of a good thing is not so good. A handful of nuts each day is plenty, especially when trying to lose weight.

Snack idea: mix several varieties of nuts and seeds with a bit of dried fruit and/or dark chocolate chips (the idea here is to keep the sugar content low) as your customized trail mix. Portion it out into small bags or containers that you can take on the go.

 “One secret of life is that the reason life works at all is that not everyone in your tribe is nuts on the same day. Another secret is that laughter is carbonated holiness.” –Anne Lamott

Penne Pasta with Fr. Leo

I recently attended the inaugural Northwest Indiana Catholic Women’s Conference. It was an energizing day spent with over 600 women from the Diocese of Gary, sharing friendship, faith, fun and FOOD!

We enjoyed listening to several speakers, including Bishop Donald J. Hying and Father Leo Patalinghug. What was a bit different, at least from my past retreat experiences, was that part of Father Leo’s presentation occurred while he was cooking.

One of the perks of the retreat was that 10 of us would be chosen at random to enjoy lunch with Bishop Hying, Father Leo, and Father Kevin Huber. How fun! My hope for the past several weeks was to be chosen to enjoy that lunch.

Since I love everything about food–I write about it, eat it, cook it, coach on it, buy it, study it, etc., I really wanted to meet a priest who had competed in a Throwdown with Bobby Flay and WON!

As Father Leo shared words of inspiration and faith, he chopped, sautéed, simmered and stirred. He made penne pasta with vodka sauce.

When it came time to draw the names, I expressed to my friends how much I REALLY wanted to be chosen. As Father Leo called the names and I heard mine, it was as if I’d won the lottery. As far as I was concerned, I had.

The penne pasta was fabulous! It was accompanied with a green salad, boneless chicken breast, bread, butter, sparkling water and red wine. Lunch with my new friends was so much fun, I had to share the story with you.

Father Leo is the driving force behind a movement known as Plating Grace, founded on the belief that shared meals strengthen family relationships and marriages. He travels widely as an inspirational speaker, is an award-winning cook, and has a TV show, all while being a priest.

I left the retreat with nourished body and soul, and two cookbooks written by Father Leo: Grace Before Meals and Spicing Up Married Life. He personalized them for me, and took a selfie of us.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, he beat Bobby with his “Fusion Fajitas” back in June 2009. The recipe is in Grace Before Meals, along with many others that sound delicious and are quick to put together.

This week, I challenge you to throwdown a simple meal and share it with family and/or friends. And remember, it’s about much more than the food.

Bon Appetit!

“In my experience, nothing creates a better environment for a great
conversation than time shared in the kitchen.” –
Fr. Leo