Healthy People Don’t Diet – and Other Secrets, Part 1

Diet Today, Feast Tomorow.  Don't Diet. Change the way you Eat. photo:

Diet Today, Feast Tomorow. Don’t Diet. Change the way you Eat. photo:

Isn’t it interesting what catches our eye and we find ourselves taking the time to read something we usually don’t make time for?  That happened to me the other day while reading a magazine trailer to order a year’s subscription. The Martha Stewart Living magazine offer highlighted a blog, recipes and decorating ideas as well as an article about health.  I flipped to the recipe section and opened to an article on “The Secrets of Healthy People.”  Lisa Haney wrote this wonderful article. I glanced at the first step and stopped flipping forward.

The first secret of healthy people is that they don’t diet.  Suddenly this article had my attention.  I get so amused at fad diets.  It takes more time to describe the diet and learn what’s allowed and what isn’t, that I could just grab a bunch of nuts for a snack and keep going till dinner. By doing this, I get ride of the hunger grumble, and stop thinking about food.  Diets that cause me to think about the subject of food for days and hours within the day are mind absorbing.  I can’t concentrate on anything else.  That’s ridiculous.  It’s all about finding other things to concentrate on and focus on and move forward with the day.

Sincere dieting friends of mine tried a diet that cut everything white out of their diet.  Really?  That’s a diet?  By eliminating a color?  It lasted several weeks and I think they did lose some weight.  Then they went back to their standard eating schedule, and they looked like the same friends I dearly love.

So healthy people don’t diet.  I believe this.  The article quotes, “Out of 10 people who have deliberately lost weight, five years later one of them will be thinner than when they started, four of them will be heavier, and five will be back to the same weight.”  This describes my observations.  It has to be more about a lifestyle shift.  And I believe that people who listen to their bodies have a better chance for success with dieting.  My body trended toward not wanting ice cream as a snack.  I enjoy a scoop now and then.  But I stopped buying ice cream to take home because the unfinished containers started getting freezer burn and I consistently threw them out.  My body just stopped craving it. I opted for other treats, most of which are healthier with time.


See Part Two of Healthy People Don’t Diet and Other Secrets

Discover Watermelon Radishes

Watermelon Radishes are beautiful and delicious! Photo from

Watermelon Radishes are beautiful and delicious! Photo from

How have I lived this long and not ever known what a watermelon radish is?

I discovered them this week.  I had to ask a grocer to show me a watermelon radish at my local fresh produce market The Milk Pail.  He pointed out something whitish/green and round about the size of a small baseball (and almost as hard.)  I brought it home for a recipe and cut it open.  A vibrant pinkish-red color stood out on the cutting board.  Watermelon radishes are absolutely beautiful!  The flavor isn’t as pungent as the traditional smaller red radish with the white center cousin. Watermelon radishes are ready and safe to eat raw.

I continued to make the oriental dish.  I substituted buckwheat noodles for soba noodles, since it was the only noodle I had on hand.  The bok choy and scallions added a lovely green complimentary color and taste to the dish.  The sauce pulled together the flavors of soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar and sesame oil.  Including the chopping, the dish came together quickly.  It didn’t require any cooking of the radishes so they were “crunchy.”

At the end of the any new dish, my family asks the question, “Would you make this again?” I probably would.  But I would equally be interested in trying other recipes.  The beauty of this vegetable needs to be displayed for appetizer.  So I am hunting for an appetizer recipes.  Watermelon radishes and a white cheese spread might work. They could work on open faces sandwiches.

What a fun find to kick off the New Year with this new discovery.


Persimmon Pudding can be served with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

Persimmon Pudding can be served with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

Every autumn, my neighbors bring me a bag of persimmons from their tree.  I love to try new recipes as well as pull out some of the favorites.  Inevitably, I include this recipe for Persimmon Pudding.  The batter is light orange when it goes in the oven and it comes out dark and yummy.  Most people can’t figure out the main ingredient at first when I bring it to a potluck.  This recipe creates a very moist pudding.  People will ask for the recipe.




2 cups sugar

2 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking soda

2 cups Hachiya persimmon pulp

2 cups golden raisins

2 cups coarsely chopped nuts

1 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 tablespoons melted butter


Preheat over to 350 degrees.

Sift together sugar, flour and baking soda.  Set aside.  Beat together persimmon pulp, milk, vanilla and butter.  Slowly add in 2 cups at a time of the flour mixture, mixing thoroughly.  Stir in raisins and nuts.

Pour into a large casserole dish and bake for one hour or until pudding pulls away from the sides of the dish and center is still gooey.


Cannellini and Grren Bean Salad.   Recipe and Photo from Food and Wine

Cannellini and Grren Bean Salad.
Recipe and Photo from Food and Wine


This simple and bright-tasting salad, with lots of salty kalamata olives and cilantro is an appealing way to showcase fresh beans.  The salad can be made with dried cannellini beans or, in a pinch, canned white beans.

1 ½ cups dried cannelloni beans (3 ounces), soaked overnight in cold water and drained

1 bay leaf

1 thyme sprig

½ small onion

¾ pound green beans

¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp olive oil

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

¼ cup chopped cilantro

½ cup pitted kalamata olives (2 ½ oz.) chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lime wedges, for serving

1.         In a medium saucepan cover the soaked and drained cannellini beans with 2 inches of water.  Add the bay leaf, thyme spring and onion half and bring toa  simmer.  Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally and adding more water to cover as necessary, until the beans are tender, about 2 hours.  Drain and let cool completely.  Discard the bay leaf, thyme sprig and onion half.

2.         Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the green beans until they are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.  Drain the green beans well and spread them out on a large rimmed baking sheet and let cool.  Pat the beans dry with paper towels.  Cut the green beans on the diagonal into 1 inch lengths.

3.         In a large bowl. Combine the olive, oil, fresh lemon juice, chopped cilantro and kalamata olives and season with salt and black pepper.  Fold in the cooked, cooled cannelloni and green beans and season with salt and black pepper.  Serve the Cannellini and Green Bean Salad with the lime wedges.

Make Ahead:  The cooked and cooled cannelloni and green beans can be refrigerated separately, overnight.  Bring the beans back to room temperature before tossing them with the dressing.


Watermelon Salad with Mint and Feta is a Family Favorite During Summer

Watermelon Salad with Mint and Feta is a Family Favorite During Summer

This is a strange sounding mixture of ingredients at first glance.  Go ahead and try it.  It has become a family favorite.  People will ask you to bring this to potlucks and then ask for the recipe.




1 (5 pound) seedless watermelon

1 Vidalia or other sweet onion

¼ cup red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint

4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

6 whole mint sprigs


Cut the flesh from the melon and cut into bite size pieces, removing and discarding any seeds, and set aside.  Peel and slice the onion into rings.  In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, salt, pepper, and whisk until salt is dissolved.  Slowly whisk in the olive oil, a few drops at a time.  Add in the chopped mint, taste, and adjust seasonings.

In a large owl, combine the melon, onion, and feta.  Pour the dressing over the melon mixture and toss gently until everything is coated and evenly mixed.  Garnish with mint sprigs.





Olives with Fennel Seeds and Orange Peel Make A Very Tasty Appetizer for Dinner Parties

Olives with Fennel Seeds and Orange Peel Make A Very Tasty Appetizer for Dinner Parties

Once again, I’m reaching for this recipe from Linda Neff as I get ready for a dinner party. These olives are a great appetizer and they can be made ahead of time.  They are very tasty.  People often comment on these and try to sit near them as they converse and nibble.


6 cups black and green olives, imported
Kalamata, Scilian, garlic stuffed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 c. fresh orange juice
2 T. minced orange peel
1 T. fennel sees crushed
1/2 t. dried red pepper crush

Combine all ingredients in large bowl.
Cover and chill overnight, stirring occasionally
(can be prepared 5 days ahead)
Bring olives to room temperature before serving


Steph’s Recipes: TABBOULEH

Delicious Tabbouleh with Fresh Ingredients from the Garden

Delicious Tabbouleh with Fresh Ingredients from the Garden

We grow fresh mint year and lemons year round, so this is a delicious recipe to use these ingredients.  In the summer we also have fresh tomatoes for this recipe.  It has become a stable in our house.   This recipe follows the Lebanese tabbouleh tradition.


½ cup fine bulgur wheat

3 Tbsp olive oil, divided

1 cup boiling water

2 cups finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (2-3 bunches)

½ cup finely chopped fresh mint

2 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/4 –inch pieces

½ seedless cucumber, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼ -inch pieces

3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

3/4 tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

Stir together the bulgur and 1 Tbsp oil in a heatproof bowl.  Pour boiling water over, then cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand 15 minutes.  Drain in a sieve, pressing on bulgur to remove any excess liquid.

While the bulgur is cooking, chop the flat-leaf parsley, the fresh mint, tomatoes, cucumber and add to the bulgur after draining.  Mix lemon juice,  remaining two Tbsp oil, salt and pepper together. Then add to the  parsley mixture.


Steph’s Recipes: CLASSIC RUM CAKE

Classic Rum Cake is delicious in Spring or Autumn

Classic Rum Cake is delicious in Spring or Autumn


1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1 pkg yellow cake mix

1  3 ¾  oz pkg Jello-O Vanilla Instant Pudding and Pie Filling

4 eggs

½ cup cold water

½ cup vegetable oil

½ cup Bacardi dark rum (80 proof)


¼ lb butter

½ cup water

1 cup sugar

½ cup Bacardi dark rum (80 proof)

Preheat oven to 325 F.  Grease and flour 10” tube or 12 cup Bundt pan.  Sprinkle nuts over bottom of pan.  Mix all remaining cake ingredients together  Pour batter over nuts.  Bake 1 hour.  Cool.  Invert on serving plate.

Make glaze by melting butter in saucepan.  Stir in water and sugar.  Boil 5 minutes stirring constantly .  Remove from heat.  Stir in rum.

Prick top of cake.  Drizzle and smooth glaze evenly over top and sides of cake.  Allow cake to absorb glaze.  Repeat till glaze is used up.

Optional:  Decorate with whipped cream.

Cherishing Hand Written Recipes – Part 1

Hand Written Recipes carry cherished memories of Loved Ones

Hand Written Recipes carry cherished memories of Loved Ones

There’s something priceless about a hand written recipe.  Usually hand written recipes on recipe cards arrive because of a request.  We ask for a favorite recipe and someone takes the time to write it down.  The request comes after something delectable catches our gastric attention.

Often the memory of a first taste gets linked to the recipe card like a photo.  Nana’s Christmas pudding recipe brings back memories of the Santa Anita Avenue house on Christmas when the woman who didn’t drink tried to light the brandy sauce on fire—usually with help, as it arrived on the table.  The original recipe is in her handwriting and makes me teary eyed as I pull it out each year.

I just went to a memorial service for Francie’s Mom.  I carried azaleas as I talked about the cheese soufflé recipe she wrote out for me when I got married.  It has a permanent place in my recipe box.

I still have Linda Beattie’s recipe for shortbread.  She lived with us in California for a year when I was 7-8 and I loved her British shortbread from North Ireland. The secret was mixing rice flour in with her regular flour.  Her 30-something son just visited us in California and he confirmed his Mum’s handwriting on the card written over 40 years ago.

Even the rice pudding recipe that gets passed by, stays in the box because Aunt Helen wrote it.  Not really known for being a cook, she taught me how to stretch peanut butter at the bottom of a jar into a sandwich.  She survived the depression and taught me the value of leftovers.

I still have a recipe that my freshman dorm RA wrote out that she made with melted ice cream.  We did this on hot nights when we couldn’t leave campus and craved something sweet.  We used mint chocolate chip ice cream with a graham cracker crust.




Slow Cooked Pot Roast is perfect for a cold wintry day meal

Slow Cooked Pot Roast is perfect for a cold wintry day meal

I pull this recipe out and make it in the winter.  I keep the ingredients on hand for one of those cold wintry days that demand a hot stew with meat that melts in the mouth smothered in gravy.


3.5 – 4 pound pot roast with bone in

10.75 oz. can cream of mushroom soup

1 envelope dry onion soup mix

4 large carrots, cut into slices

2-3 potatoes or 4-5 red potatoes or 2 lg sweet potatoes, cut up

2 Tbsp Herbs de Provence

¾ tsp salt

Fresh ground pepper to taste


Put meat on the bottom to fit slow cooker.  Add potatoes and carrots. Then pour soup with 1 to 2 cans of additional water (makes great gravy!) and dry soup mix and Herbs de Provence on top.  Salt and pepper to taste over all.  Set on high for 5-6 hours.  Or set on low for 6-8 hours.  The meat should pull apart with a fork when done.

This is a very flexible recipe, so one can add other vegetables or additional potatoes for all the good gravy. A spring of rosemary is also popular for taste and garnish.