Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Healthy Reset: How Its Going End of Week One

July 6, 2015

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Fourth of July presented its challenges. I invited a few friends over for dinner, and like a bad take on the old joke about three people walking into a room, we had the vegetarians, the carnivores and me. Miss Paleo Extremo. A menu where vegetarians and carnivores eat blissfully together is one of the easiest to plan. I usually prepare a variety of salads and vegetable side dishes that everyone will love, and make sure there are plant based protiens and some kind of grain or pasta to round out the meal, while making something meaty for the others. This time, everything I tried to make had something in it I couldn’t have. I finally gave up, and prepared the dinner I wanted to serve my guests, and dealt with my own meal separately.

I made a kale and mint salad, and put the non compliant ingredients (chickpeas, edamame and dried cranberries) on the side. A tomato and basil salad had the mozzarella in a separate bowl, and I pulled out a piece of precooked salmon for my protien. Everything else I just simply avoided. It was a casual dinner, and everyone was fine with my dietary restrictions. It was made easier by my being the hostess, and not the guest. I don’t want to be “that person” with all the food issues at someone else’s home or a in restaurant with a group. Its only a few weeks, so I will make it work without inconveniencing others if possible.

I made quinoa patties, which I have never done before. Since I couldn’t taste them, I couldn’t correct the seasonings or the texture. I am eager to make them again, and experiment with the flavors a bit. Recipe to come when I get it right! Note to guests: If I try out an untested recipe on you, consider yourself “family.”

Honestly, I didn’t feel deprived or tempted a bit. I committed to this for a short period of time, and since I was able to plan for it, I was fine. Five adults consumed five bottles of wine and champagne, at a five hour meal so there was a long period of sitting at the table, idle. There was a plate of bar cookies, s’mores and brownies that everyone nibbled at, but there was also a bowl of strawberries to keep me occupied. In the end, no biggie. BUT. I have been convinced that my burning stomach is food related. It always seems to come when I am eating decadently. Like chocolate and red wine type decadently. Last night, around 2 a.m. the burning started. Definately not food related. Hopefully, it was an isolated incident.

Here is what I didn't eat... Info on www.indigojoneseats.com

Here is what I didn’t eat…
Info on http://www.indigojoneseats.com

This weekend had brunch out twice,as usual. I had an egg white omelette with vegetables one day, with a salad on the side.  I did not ask what fat they cooked the omelette in, or for every ingredient in their viniagrette.  It was a decent restaurant, and not a greasy spoon diner, so I am assuming it was house made. Honestly, if they used a tiny bit of butter, or non compliant oil to cook my omelette, I am going to need to live with it. This is supposed to be about a reset, eliminating cravings for less healthy foods, finding out what might be causing inflammation, and developing a healthy relationship with food. Asking a restaurant to cook eggs in a specific type of oil, feels way too obsessive. No going to do it.

Although I am not supposed to get on the scale, I did, and I am down a few pounds. I am pleased with the number, but I still feel like my stomach is a little puffy and bloated. I am hoping that the next week or two resolves that, as I get used to the increased quantities of fruits and vegetables. I am also assuming that the weight loss will stabilize. A couple more pounds would be welcome; five more would be too much for a small person like me.

One week down, one more to go! So far, so good.

Whole 30ers report that they have more energy, and clarity in week two, combined with an overall lighter feeling in general. I look forward to that, as I am coming up on some big project deadlines the following week. Stay tuned…

Related links: Kale Salad recipe.

Photo: Flag: Glasshouse Images

Cookies: Spencer Jones for Glasshouse Images

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Healthy Reset: How Its Going Week One

July 3, 2015

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The new eating plan got off to a rocky start on Monday morning, when I discovered that the only thing to make a smoothie out of was a few freezer burned strawberries and some pineapple chunks. Those mixed with water left me a bit cold, but it was better than a completely empty stomach as I headed to the gym. The lesson was quicky learned; be prepared.

In order to eat fresh, whole foods, one has to have them on hand. On the way back from the gym, I detoured through Chelsea Market and picked up lots of fresh produce and some fish to facilitate easy meal preparation. I am lucky to live in New York where I can walk out the door and have my pick of places to buy healthy food within a block or two. A word to the wise: if you have to drive to get groceries, stock up!

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The rest of the day went off without a hitch. While the program allows snacking if you are hungry, it is preferable to eat three healthy and filling meals instead. Some of the snacking cycle is in our heads. We get bored, or tired and think we need a snack. Sometimes we do, but often times we just need a glass of water or a cup of green tea and a diversion. Yesterday, I needed a snack.

Most Whole30 participants complain of headaches and low energy during the first week. This is a result of our bodies coming off of sugar, caffeine ( although coffee and tea are permitted, without dairy or sweeteners) and much of the excess junk that we previously consumed. My diet is not all that different on a daily basis, with the exception of dairy, mostly in the form of Greek yogurt, so I am hoping to bypass the hangover feeling that many people endure during days 2-7. Afterall, it was that hangover feeling that I got when I ate poorly that prompted me to try this. So far, I made it through a cycling class followed by a pilates class, so I guess I am doing fine.

Although the plan strongly urges you not to count calories or weigh yourself for 30 days, I recorded my food and exericise in my journal anyways, and discovered that even though I ate three healthy, balanced meals, my caloric intake was extremely low. Most experts advise eating at least 1200 calories per day, without exercise. Given that my workout burnt over 700 calories today, eating less than 700 calories can’t be good, so I treated myself to a little Monkey Salad. It is a paleo fruit salad, consisting of a sliced banana, a handful of cashews, and a liberal sprinkle of unsweetened coconut flakes. It is considered an acceptable indulgence since it uses approved foods, contains fruit, fat and protein, and doesn’t mimic something we are trying to avoid. It hit the spot, and could become a go-to. It also contained almost 300 calories, so it is important not to go crazy with it under normal circumstances. However, it drives home a good point: although Monkey Salad has as many calories as a cookie (or 2), or a bowl of ice cream or some chips, it is healthy, nutritious and contains no additives. ( Check the labels when buying coconut and cashews to make sure that is all that is listed on the ingredients. Sweetened, salted or preserved coconut is a big no-no.)

Day three brings no news, and if I continue to be home, without travel or social plans, this could be easy to sustain. It requires a lot of shopping, and chopping, but I know that I am not putting anything into my food that is against the rules. I love vegetables, so eating lots of them is fine. I am not longing for anything at this stage, but I am only a few days in. The weekend presents a challenge, when we typically eat out for brunch, and I indulge in a little wine and whatever at night. I am committed to NOT doing that this weekend.

Day 4 brings an ooops into the equation. In repurchasing a few things that I had on hand, I read the labels more carefully and low and behold, I have been using a few non-compliant items.

Srirachia contains sugar, a big no-no on this plan. The rules state that you must start over if you eat non-compliant foods, but there is no way I am going to go nuts over a tiny squirt of hot sauce that probably contained mere grains of sugar. But, speaking of nuts, Trader Joe’s roasts their cashews in rice bran oil. Yep, not on the list. Today I bought raw cashews, and will roast them myself, without any oil at all. While all of this sounds a bit extreme, the lesson here is to read labels carefully, and avoid packaged foods wherever possible. Freshly roasted nuts are delicous, and Tabasco sauce and Chola are both compliant, so I am not really giving up anything else here.

Whole 30’ers report feeling nasty and viscous on day 4, but so far, I don’t feel any malice towards anyone. I didn’t sleep as well as I should last night, so I am a little tired, but otherwise, all is normal. Many of the participants don’t workout, but I am keeping up with my workout schedule as usual. I guess the more detoxing you need to do, and the worse these first few days are. I don’t recommend going cold turkey on this plan, if your normal eating habits are poor. If you decide to do it, it might be best to start weening off the addictive foods on the list a bit before embarking on the full deal.

I am planning to invite a few friends over for Fourth of July dinner. I don’t mind making a dessert for them and not eating it, and I often serve meat to my family or guests that I don’t eat, but I would like to make all the side dishes compliant. With vegetarians in the mix, it will be a challenge to give them enough heft without dairy, beans, soy, grains or flour. Perhaps putting non-compliant ingredients on the side will be the answer. Check back for the verdict on how the holiday weekend went, temptations and all!!!

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Storing Berries

June 30, 2015

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Berries are plentiful and in season right now. Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are delicious and nutritious. They are also very perishable. One little speck of mold seems to sprout out of nowhere, and spreads through the entire box quickly. Most experts advise keeping them unwashed until you are ready to eat them. Not only does that not seem to help, but I find that unwashed fruit becomes uneaten fruit around here.

The folks at Food 52 have a solution, and we think it is a good one.

They advise soaking berries in a mix of three parts water and one part white vinegar, to kill the mold spores and bacteria that causes the fruit to spoil. After a short soak, rinse the fruit well to get rid of the vinegar taste.
Keeping the berries dry is critical to extending their shelf life. They suggest laying paper towels in the basket of a salad spinner to cushion the delicate berries, and give them a good spin to dry them off. Once fully dry, line a container with paper towels to absorb any additional moisture, and partially cover it, so that air can get in. Place the container in the refrigerator, and enjoy your berries for days to come!

Photo:  Glasshouse Images

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Healthy Jumpstart

June 29, 2015

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I am vehemently opposed to fad diets. Over the years, we have been told that lots of fat is good for us, (hello original Atkins) until someone else decided that it was fat that made us fat. Low carb, gluten free, juice fasts and the ultimate extremes of Master Cleanse have all had their moment in the sun. Packaged and portioned meals, ala Jenny Craig, or group diets, like Weight Watchers have become large national chains that could rival McDonalds. At the end of the day, we just need to learn how to eat healthfully, and embrace it as a way of life, not a temporary diet. Easier said than done.

I am usually a healthy eater, but lately, I seem to keep going off track. I become so restricted in my eating that I end up binging afterwards. I keep gaining and losing the same few pounds, which come off slowly and come back quickly. When I am restrictive, my stomach settles down, starts to flatten out and I sleep better. Once I start eating more “normally,” I experience bloat, wake up in the night with a burning belly and have trouble staying asleep. This week, after one stressful day of poor eating and not enough sleep,powering through my workout was more difficult than usual. I am ready to embark upon a change for the better.
Whether it is referred to as an eating detox, Paleo, FODMAP, or Whole 30 plan, many nutritionists recommend a period of eliminating foods that could potentially cause inflammation, leading to gastrointestinal issues, sleep disturbances, skin problems or sluggishness.

This week I am going to give it a try. I am going to eliminate dairy, sugar, alcohol, legumes,        (including beans and soy products,) wheat, and grains, while concentrating on pure, whole foods, such as seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits and healthy fats. Lean cuts of meat are also allowed, but I choose not to eat them.

The premise is resetting our minds to eliminate cravings for foods that aren’t good for us, while allowing all of the things that may be making us unwell to exit our bodies. At the end of the elimination period, which is recommended from anywhere from 2 weeks to 30 days,(or a lifetime if you go Paleo.) depending on the plan, one should add back the things they eliminated and missed, slowly and in moderation, to evaluate how they feel. Many find that dairy, or wheat does not bother them at all, where others react immediately to reintroduced foods. The ultimate goal is to find a way of eating that works best for you on a long term, sustainable basis.

I am going to start out with a seven day goal, and hope that at the end of the week I will want to keep going. Many people have attested that the first week is the hardest, and they don’t start to reap the benefits until they are well into week two, and then its downhill from there.  I don’t think I eat enough sugar, or drink enough alcohol or coffee to experience any withdrawl symptoms that some have recounted, but it won’t be easy to live with others who are not doing this with me. I am ready, and I am going for it. In writing this, I just shared my plan with a whole lot of people, so the pressure is on me not to fail.

I will keep you posted on my progress. Who wants to join me for on a journey for more energy, better skin, better sleep, and a healthier all around relationship with food? Let do this!

Photo:  Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Ice Cream Storage

June 23, 2015

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Storing ice cream can be a challenge. We find it is often too hard to scoop, and needs to sit on the counter to thaw a bit before it can be enjoyed. When time is of the essence, (“gotta have it NOW!”) it can be microwaved for very short spurts until it softens a little.

Once it goes back into the freezer, ice crystals start to form as it refreezes, reducing the quality and taste.

There are a few rememdies, that can keep your ice cream fresh and ready to eat at a moments notice.

Many suggest storing the ice cream container in a zip lock plastic bag, sealed tightly with the excess air let out, as a solution to keeping it as soft as it was when you purchased it. Many also suggest that it doesn’t work.

When we make our own ice cream, we lay a piece of wax paper right on the surface before coverering it with something more air tight. This keeps the ice crystals from forming. If you can get a smooth enough area to lay down the wax paper on your store bought ice cream after scooping, it will help. Just be sure to replace the lid as well.

Dipping the scoop in hot water drying it off will help it glide more easily through the frozen mass.

If your ice cream freezes rock hard, put it in the refrigerator at the beginning of your meal. When dessert time rolls around, it should be scoopable.

Last but not least, buy smaller quantities, and polish it off in one sitting!

Photo:  Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Avocado Salad Dressing

June 22, 2015

Today, I officially got tired of my regular repertoire of vinaigrettes. I have been making them for so long, that I was craving something with a little more texture to pour over my greens. We love avocado, so it was only fitting that I used it to create a creamy, flavorful dressing without any eggs or mayonaise. You can use a blender, food processor, or immersion blender to make this silky smooth avocado dressing in a matter of minutes.

Avocado Dressing:

Scoop the flesh out of a ripe avocado and discard the skin and pit. Add the juice of one lemon, and a small clove of garlic, and puree. Drizzle in olive oil until the dressing smoothes out and becomes thin enough to pour over a salad. Add salt and crushed red pepper to taste, and enjoy on top of the salad of your choice.

To customize this basic dressing, add fresh herbs, such as parsley or cilantro and puree them until they are mixed into the dressing.

Photo:  Glasshouse Images

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A Dose of Healthy Motivation

June 18, 2015

Fitness and nutrition is a big topic around here at Indigo Jones, and we believe that working out, staying strong and eating well are the keys to good health.

I was inspired by the folks at ETB Fit   to share a little bit about my workout regime, how I stay motivated and fueled.

Here a few of my personal tips to get you going:

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Prioritize your workout as you would anything else in your life. You wouldn’t just simply not show up for work, school or a doctor’s appointment just because you weren’t feeling it. Schedule time to exercise and respect the commitment you made to your body and yourself by adhering to it. Unless you are sick, injured or truly unable to make it, get your butt to the gym!

Find something you like to do, and you are more likely to do it. While I don’t love every aspect of my workout while I am doing it, once it is over I feel accomplished and eager to do it again. I like to work hard and sweat. I would opt for a tough, noisy spinning class over yoga any day. I hate overly choreographed, dance type classes, but love the adrenelin rush of bootcamp and circuit training. I also like putting on my headphones and hitting the weight room or running a few miles in solitude to center myself. Find something that you enjoy, and do it!

 

4270900130_compShake it up. While my repertoire of workouts is consistent, I don’t do the same thing two days in a row, and try to make each workout a little different from the last. I take indoor cycling classes 3-4 times per week, lift weights 2-3 times per week, run and take high intensity interval weight training class once a week. I work with two different cycling instructors who push me past my limits each time, and change up their classes frequently. I vary the exercises, the order,the weight and amount of reps when strength training. While running is not my favorite pastime, mixing it in makes a difference in my endurance level and burns more fat. I schedule one full rest day each week, and allow two if my schedule is crazy.

Listen to your body. Sometimes, I feel like I need more cardio, and other times I feel exhausted. Once you start to know your body really well, it will guide you to what you need. Pushing past a little workout soreness often makes me feel better. Pushing through true pain always ends in disaster. If I am feeling really run down, I will schedule a more gentle workout. On a day when my legs are maxed out, I will concentrate on upper body and abs to give them a rest. A stroll on the elliptical is a really low impact way to move without over exerting myself. The foam roller is a good friend, and using it helps massage away all the kinks and tightness. Keeping my appointment with myself is key, but being kind to myself is of equal importance.

 

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Get up and go! I find hitting the gym first thing in the morning is best for me. I get my workout in before the diversions and excuses of the day get a chance to take over. If you can’t bear working out in the morning, pack you gym bag in advance and make sure you go later.

You are the best form of transportation. I am lucky to live in a big city where I can walk everywhere. Just getting where I need to go each day can easily rack up the recommended 10,000 steps or close to 5 miles. Before you hail the cab, jump on the subway or bus, or get into the car to go a short distance, consider walking or biking it instead.

Nutrition is key. Whoever said that good abs are made in the kitchen and not in the weight room was absolutely right. All that exercise can easily be over powered by a bad diet. I joke that I am scrupulous about my nutrition except when I’m not. To me, that means eating an extremely healthy diet most of the time, and allowing a few splurges along the way. Life is too short not to have a little fun!

Coconut Cookies

I often ask myself which I would rather have, a cookie ( slice of pizza, bowl of pasta, etc.) or a 6-pack. Sometimes the cookie (or several of them) wins. When I get too far off track, I start to have digestive issues, and a spare tire. That is when I do a total reset and just rely on lean protien for a few days to get me back to healthy eating. A squirt of sriracha here and there helps lesson the boredom of it.

In the morning, before I go to the gym, I start with something light, but high in protien. That is either plain Greek yogurt, or a smoothie made with a few handfuls of fruit, water and some protein powder. While the tenents of good nutrition are what they are, I have learned to listen to my body about this as well. I do best with a diet high in protein, and very low in carbs and sugar. Although I don’t eat red meat, I do eat a lot of fish, seafood, eggs and a little chicken. I love pasta and bread but frankly, it doesn’t love me. It puffs up my belly and causes almost instant weight gain. I am not a nutritionist, or a doctor, but I do know that avoiding refined carbs makes me look and feel a whole lot better than when I eat them. Figure out what your body likes and doesn’t and feed it appropriately. Just remember, pizzatarian is not a “thing,” and french fries with ketchup are not really good vegetable choices.

When I am eating restrictively, I take a multivitamin each day to make sure I am getting the nutrients my body needs.

 

 

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I avoid eating things that come in packages. Low fat, low carb or low sugar packaged foods almost always use something unhealthy to replace the good stuff. I would rather splurge on the real deal, than eat chemical laden, high calorie versions. I prefer to make my own soups and sauces, and try to steer clear of processed foods. I prepare most meals at home, and take my lunch to the office. That way, I have food when I want it, that is pure and healthy.

I snack on nuts, yogurt or hummus and vegetables. With a high activity level, I need to refuel to keep my blood sugar and energy levels high. I have found it is better to have a snack in the afternoon, than to go home starving and shovel the first thing I can find into my mouth.

I drink water during my workouts to stay hydrated, but I know I don’t drink nearly enough. I sip on green tea throughout the day, starting with matcha, and tapering off to decaffeinated versions by mid afternoon. I never drink soda, or waste calories on fruit juices. I love a glass of wine, and try to limit it to the weekends, or nights out.

I record my activity and food intake in an online journal. That helps me keep track of how much I am eating, and holds me accountable for the good and the not so good choices. It is also is a way for me to make sure I am taking in enough calories when I am eating more restrictively.

Being healthy, fit and looking and feeling great are top priorities for me. You don’t need to spend all day in the gym or only eat lettuce to achieve them. If you find your passion for wellness and embrace it, the rest will follow!

Fitness photos: Glasshouse Images

Cookie photo: Spencer Jones /Glasshouse Images

Protein powder photo: courtesty of ETB Fit

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Nut Butters

June 16, 2015

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Once nut butters, such as peanut butter or almond butter are opened, they should be stored in the refrigerator. This often makes them hard to stir, or scoop out of the jar.

To avoid the “oil on the top, hard as a rock on the bottom” situation, store unopened nut butters upside down in the cupboard before opening. The nut butter will slip away from the jar, making it much easier to stir.

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Unrecipe of the Week: Coconut Ice Cream

June 10, 2015

 

This sweet treat is rich and creamy, with the flavor of coconut. It has very few ingredients, and pairs well with all kinds of fruit. Unlike many icecreams, this does not use eggs and doesn’t require any cooking. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

We served our coconut ice cream with strawberries and mini biscuits for a riff on the traditional strawberry shortcake. It was such a hit that we are sure this one will be in heavy rotation all summer long!

This unrecipe calls for cream of coconut. Don’t mistake this for canned coconut milk. Cream of coconut is thick and syrupy, and very sweet. It is found in the international foods area of most supermarkets, and is what gives this it’s flavor and sweetness.

Coconut Ice Cream:

Mix together 1 cup of milk, 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream and a 15 oz. can of cream of coconut.  Mix well in a blender or food processor until it is combined and smooth in texture. Pour into your icecream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Tranfer the icecream into a container and freeze until ready to eat.

You can add fresh shredded coconut, or mini chocolate chips or diced pineapple to customize the recipe at the end of the freezing / churning process.

We use a special attachement for our Kitchen Aid stand mixer, which must be frozen in advance, so be sure you have placed it in the freezer the day before, if you are using that type.

If you don’t have an icecream maker, or suitable attachment,go ahead and give this a try. Make sure it is mixed really well. Place the mixure into a pan (we think a loaf pan is the perfect size) and freeze for about 30-45 minutes until the edges are starting to freeze. Remove it from the freezer and stir it vigorously to break up any ice crystals. Return it to the freezer and repeat this every 30 minutes or so until the ice cream is fully frozen and creamy, and enjoy!

Photo:  Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Storing Produce

June 9, 2015

 

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Summer time is produce time. Our cravings turn to green market fresh vegetables, and cool juicy fruits which grow at this time of year. What happens when the abundance of the season gets wilted and moldy before we have a chance to enjoy it?

Here are a few tips to keeping produce fresh:

Buy the freshest fruits and vegetables you can find. The farmer’s markets are a great source, since the produce is local and comes to us directly from the farm, rather than traveling for a week before it gets out on the floor of the grocery store. The fresher it is at the time of purchase, the longer it will last.

Keep produce dry. Many experts suggest washing and thouroughly drying fruits and vegetables, and storing them wrapped in paper towels to absorb any additional moisture. Strawberries can be either be washed and hulled before storing in an airtight container, or can be laid on paper towels in a single layer in the refrigerator, for those lucky enough to have the real estate.

Certain foods give off ethanol, which causes food to ripen. Keep those ripe bananas away from other fruits and vegetables, to keep them from over ripening and molding. Avocados are a prime candidate for going from rock hard to mush, missing that window when they are at their peak.

One bad apple, (or tomato, berry etc.) can spoil the whole bunch. Pick through and toss any soft or moldy items and rinse the rest well to keep it from spreading.

When the week is nearing an end, and there are lots of leftover vegetables sitting in the refrigerator ready to “kick the bucket” at any time, try making soup. Saute a diced onion in butter or olive oil. Add diced vegetables, and quickly brown them. Cover with broth ( vegetable or chicken) and simmer until they are soft. Season with salt and pepper, and herbs of your choice. Puree until smooth, and enjoy!

Photo:  Glasshouse Images

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