For someone who loves summer, Labor Day has arrived too early. Sadly, this day is the symbolic end of the summer. I will miss summer. I will miss the long sunny days. Sunshine is a real mood booster for me! I will miss summer’s casual and comfortable style. I don’t want to put away my jean skirt and tank tops. I will miss cooking outside while we still have daylight. Sometimes meals get late. And I will miss having an abundance of fresh local produce to prepare. I will always buy plenty of fruits and veggies, but local seasonal produce is hands down the best! From a gal who adores summer, here’s one last recipe from the summer of 2012: Tabouli Salad.
This is the perfect dish for an end-to-summer weekend. You can make it ahead of time, adding to your flexibility to be spontaneous with your plans. It makes a great side for a barbeque, but also totes well for a picnic and can be stored in a cooler for a day at the beach. Enjoy your holiday and go with the flow!
As you glance at the photos and read through the recipe, please share my melancholy mood by listening to one of my favorite end-of-summer songs The Boys of Summer (Don Henley).
What song takes you back to your best summer memories?
by Diane Boyd
1-1/2 cups dry Bulgar wheat
1-1/2 cups boiling water
1-1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 green pepper, chopped
4 kirby cucumbers, chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 bunch organic parsley, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh mint, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Combine bulgar wheat with boiling water. Cover and let sit at least 2 hours. Drain any excess water. Add vegetables to bulgar. Mix ingredients for dressing and pour over salad. Refrigerate 2-3 hours. This dish keeps well in the refrigerator.
Do playful memories of a past vacation ever enter your mind by simply reminiscing about a special meal you enjoyed? Can food prompt your memory about an entire vacation you once experienced? On more than one occasion, my kids and I have tried unsuccessfully to recollect the specifics of a trip until we recall (would you believe) where we ate! Food is tied to so many memories. It’s almost silly how we can forget the details of a journey even though the memories of where we ate, what we ate, and who we ate it with can be wonderfully vivid. A memorable vacation meal is priceless and is this month’s Recipe Redux theme! At the bottom of this post I will try to recreate a healthier version of a portion of this scrumptious meal I am about to describe. Make sure to check out the other links at the bottom of this post for more unforgettable meals!
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Would you believe me if I told you it’s also my most memorable vacation meal? It’s true. But if you have ever eaten the breakfast buffet at the Carolina Hotel in Pinehurst, North Carolina you can certainly understand why. Fresh food, outstanding variety, superb service and background piano music in a relaxing atmosphere all make this meal an indelible memory. Adding to it’s memorability is the size; bigger than my usual a.m. fare to fuel a day on the golf course.
Although I vary what I eat day to day for breakfast, there are two things I count on desperately desire every morning: a good cup of java and fresh fruit. The Carolina exceeded my expectations on both necessities. They serve a bottomless cup of hot, brewed gourmet coffee and the widest selection of fresh fruit I have ever seen in one place. Fruit selections included: fresh bananas, apples, cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew, mango, pineapple, strawberries, oranges, grapefruit, grapes, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. I love the kind of decisions I have to make on vacation!
To be honest, it’s tempting to fill up on just fruit. But I know better. I always include some protein with my breakfast. The great thing about a buffet is you don’t have to chose between two items, you can have a little of both. That’s what I did. I had some of the smoked salmon and a made to order egg white omelet stuffed with sauteed vegetables and grated cheese. Just tell the chef what you want and they’ll serve it your way.
Vacation is a time to indulge a little bit. What was so enticing I wanted to indulge already at breakfast? It makes me salivate just thinking about the made to order Belgium waffles. As if the waffles weren’t good enough by themselves, there were an abundance of toppings to make this fare lip smacking good! Below is my recipe for a healthier version of this irresistible breakfast food.
I hated that the meal had to end. I looked around and my kids were gone. I stayed. The opportunity to sit and sip hot coffee, while a musician played piano music, in a quiet atmosphere is not familiar territory for a mom; but I certainly could get used to it!
What’s your most memorable vacation meal?
Classic Belgian Waffles topped with Fresh Fruit and Balsamic Vinegar
Preheat waffle iron. In medium bowl sift together dry ingredients. Set aside. In second bowl, beat together the egg yolks and sugar until sugar is dissolved and eggs are pale yellow. Add the vanilla extract, melted butter,and skim milk to the eggs and whisk to combine. Add the egg-milk mixture to the flour mixture and whisk until blended. DO NOT OVER MIX. In third bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Gently fold the egg whites into the waffle batter. DO NOT OVER MIX! Spray the waffle iron with non-stick spray and pour enough batter in iron to just cover waffle grill. Close and cook until golden brown. Time will vary with waffle irons. About 2 to 3 minutes.
Slice peaches and add blueberries. Mix sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle on fruit. Add balsamic vinegar to fruit mixture. Spoon on top of waffles and top with walnut halves.
It’s all about lifestyle! Yep, if you want to be fit and healthy you’ll have to adopt a healthy lifestyle that’s permanent. Sporadic dieting and occasional exercise don’t work. You must commit to a lifetime of good eating habits and routine exercise. In my experience, individuals fail to sustain good eating habits when they don’t enjoy their food! If you’re not satisfied, you won’t be successful; food is meant to be enjoyed. As a matter of fact, consumer attitudes toward Food, Safety, Nutrition and Health, commissioned by the International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC) show that taste (not health) is the most important factor when it comes to purchasing food. Yet, I believe you can have both: nourishing food and great taste! Much of what I do is help individuals find healthy alternatives to the not so healthy foods they love. Aside from enjoying healthy food, here are 8 more steps to a healthier lifestyle.
Pay attention to portion sizes. Control your caloric intake by controlling your portion sizes. Today many portions are simply distorted. Over the past 2 decades, portion sizes of all foods and beverages have dramatically increased. Twenty years ago a bagel measured 3 inches in diameter and contained 140 calories. Today, they are double in size and calories. When you are served more food, you will eat more food. One strategy is to use smaller sized plates; you will eat 15-25% more off of larger plates.
Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals will eventually catch up with you leaving you irritable, unable to concentrate and more likely to binge. Control your appetite and enjoy the most nutrient dense foods by having three meals a day with several small snacks in between. Make sure to carry healthy snacks with you to avoid vending machine food.
Eat more fruits and vegetables. Because fruits and vegetables are low in calories they are helpful in weight control. On top of that, they are naturally low in fat, contain vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals (substances that are associated with disease prevention). A good rule of thumb: one half of your plate should be vegetables. This is visually represented in USDA’s graphic for a healthy diet- My Plate.
Eat more high fiber foods including whole grains. Research has shown fiber, once only touted as the substance necessary for regularity, to be associated with a decreased incidence of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Fiber is also helpful in weight control, by increasing satiety (it fills you up). Not sure how to boost fiber? In addition to fruits, veggies, beans and legumes, include whole grains in your diet. Start the day with a bowl of oatmeal or whole wheat cereal flakes, snack on popcorn, use brown rice instead of white rice and swap buckwheat noodles (soba) for white pasta. If you don’t like large servings of whole grains, simply add a couple tablespoons of wheat germ to smoothies, hot cereal or baked goods. Likewise, cooked grains such as bulgur and barley can be added to soups, salads and stews.
Enjoy more seafood and include a variety of protein foods. Protein will keep you full longer than carbs, and when restricting calories protein will aid in maintaining lean muscle. Research has linked large portions of red meat and processed meat over extended periods of time to an increase in some cancers. Try to vary your protein sources to include less red meat and more poultry, fish, eggs, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds and soy products. Substituting plant proteins for animal proteins one day per week can reduce saturated fat intakes by 15%. Here is one of my favorite Meatless Monday Meals.
Limit meals away from home. Research shows when we eat out we consume more calories, saturated fat, added sugar and alcohol. We also consume less fruits and veggies whole grains, and low fat dairy. By preparing meals in the home, you have complete control over what you’re eating! Click here for ideas to make “eating in” fun and easy!
Exercise regularly. Good nutrition and exercise go hand-in-hand. Aim for one hour of moderate to intense exercise daily. If you don’t have an hour, try breaking exercise bouts into 10 or 15 minutes increments. Consider functional fitness to focus on individual goals while keeping training applicable to the everyday stresses of life.
Practice moderation not deprivation. There are no “bad” or “forbidden” foods. The USDA categories fats, sugars and alcohol as discretionary calories and advises Americans to consume these foods in moderation. A good rule of thumb; limit calories from added fats sugar, and alcohol to 10% of your total caloric intake. If there is a food you can’t live without, chances are it can be worked into your meal plan. Consult a registered dietitian for help. Occasional indulgences can help keep you on track with good eating habits. The key is to plan for them, don’t just let them happen!