SUMMER TIME

SUMMER TIME


There is this old saying, “ April showers bring may flowers” and although we had an abundance of showers, it sure was difficult to find many flowers in May. Oh , there were a few tulips that popped up during the few warm Spring days that we had, but as soon as the temperatures dropped, so did the tulips. Although the first week of June we were teased with a few days of scorching 90 plus temperatures and yes, I was in that limited group of folks who complain about those scorching hot days of summer. Gosh, don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy sitting on my sun porch having breakfast or relaxing on my deck in the Summer catching a few rays.  But you noticed that I said a few rays, because the health professionals emphasis that long periods of ultra rays from the sun  can cause serious damage to the skin and it only takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes of the sun’s rays for the body to produce the well needed vitamin D, but unfortunately,  as a know it all teenager many, many moons ago, I slathered myself with baby oil mixed with a few drops of iodine and sunbathed at the beach until I sizzled and I have payed for my mistakes over the years. So please heed the sage advice of the health professionals.


While on the subject of skin protection, I feel compelled to mention a few foods that may help to ward off some problems that you may encounter during the summer and add credence to the adage “Eat in season” and those foods which are readily available this time of year are cucumbers, strawberries and watermelon.  


Cucumbers-I am sure many of us have used the phrase  “cool as a cucumber” many times to describe someone who is fun to be with.  I really do not know who is responsible for the comparison, but they certainly “ hit the nail on the head”-another old saying assuming someone is right. Actually it has been documented that the inside of a cucumber can be 20 degrees cooler than the outside air, and people have been known to use them in place of ice by slicing them and placing them on their forehead to cool off.  Personally, I prefer to use cucumbers as a food.  Not only are cucumbers cooling in a salad, or with a mixture of cold yogurt and sour cream and a sprinkle of your favorite herb mix, but  the cucumber helps to keep you hydrated because cucumbers are 95% water.


Strawberries-The consumption of strawberries which  contain both vitamin A and vitamin C, both vitamins that  are both beneficial for your skin, and coupled with regular use of sunscreen with a SPF 50 or higher can dramatically reduce the damage to the skin from the sun’s rays.  I wish someone told me that when I was sixteen!


Strawberries are a good source of manganese, fiber, iodine and folate, as well as copper potassium, biotin.  Researchers found that women that consumed 1 to 2 servings of strawberries a week showed reduced cognitive loss.  This discovery is very encouraging, due to the minimum amount of strawberries consumed in the study.  


Watermelon-The delicious sweet, cooling, juicy fruit has always  been synonymous with summer picnics and cookouts and I cannot remember being to a summer outing without seeing  a watermelon, have you?  Watermelon is wonderful for promoting healthy skin because of high levels of vitamin A and vitamin C which continuously helps in the replacement of new skin cells-don’t forget to exfoliate at least once a month, to remove the old dead cells. Also certainly worth mentioning watermelon is 90% water, which keeps you hydrated.


Not exactly summer foods, but the following three foods also have been noted by dermatologist and researchers to be great contributors to skin care. Again, readily available and probably already in your diet, are dried apricots, turkey and walnuts.


Dried apricots supply a healthy dose of vitamin A which promotes the growth of healthy skin cells.  So, summer or winter when your skin begins to look dull allow yourself a good handful of dried apricots, which helps with your body’s natural exfoliation process.


Turkey a hearty low fat meat, which I love and eat often. I also use ground turkey in my meatballs, meat sauces, tacos and meatloafs and very seldom use ground beef and I never once heard anyone complain.  Turkey supplies your body with zinc a mineral that also helps your body to make healthy skin cells, but it also protects your skin against UV rays and pollution. Also, according to some of the latest research, zinc may help in reducing acne in some. So why not try some of your favorite ground beef dishes with ground turkey instead and if they don’t ask, don’t tell.


Walnuts contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid that is needed for your body to produce soft smooth skin.  The omega-3 fatty acids limit the loss of water and nutrients from your skin cells.  If you are a calorie counter- I'm Not-you probably are aware that walnuts are high in calories, but the good news is that you only need a ¼ cup serving-for you calorie watchers, that is about 196 calories, and that amount gives you twice your minimum recommended daily amount of ALA.


I Know that I am very tardy with this new update, but both May and June were such busy months for me.  Not complaining, because it was a fun and relaxing time for me and although some of our scheduled plans and work get to be put on hold for awhile, a little diversion can be a good thing.  What can I say, life just happens,


It began with a mini reunion with some off my high school friends, something I always look forward to , because it is so much fun talking and laughing about the Good Old Days.”  Actually, I believe we outstayed our welcome, because long after we took care of our check, the smiling bubbly server who had greeted us returned to our table and sternly asked if she could get us anything else. Time to break up the party, but for all fairness to the server, there was a line forming for tables, so we left. Next was a great evening with my  youngest daughter and family at one of my favorite restaurants and as always, it was a wonderful evening.  Next, two family birthday parties that are always filled with fun and laughter and the frosting on the cake for me was the mini get-away Mother’s day gift with my oldest daughter.


So that we would have more time to relax and have fun, she chose The Old Saybrook Point Inn in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, which is a little over an hours drive and because we left after the morning work traffic it was a very pleasant leisurely drive.  We did get off the highway before we reached our destination to browse and shop at the hugh outlet malls. There are 2 the Clinton Outlets and the Tanger Outlets. We spent a good deal of time visiting the many shops and did make a few purchases, but unfortunately I wore a new pair of summer wedge heels and my feet were killing me and I realized that  the woman sitting next to me when I purchased them lied when she told me “You will love those shoes, wedge heels are so comfortable, you will feel like you are walking on air.”


We arrived in Old Saybrook in early afternoon, so we took our time going to the Inn and instead

we drove along the water and admired all the beautiful elegant so called “Summer Cottages” which are actually beautiful estates. Next we drove down the main street and again admired all the quaint little Shops and followed the directions to the Inn which is situated on the road facing the huge pier with a panoramic view of all the beautiful waterfront homes. Breathtaking, and although I am familiar with Connecticut's shoreline small towns, as my husband and  I spent many years in our Timeshare at Water’s Edge in Westbrook, I am always in awe, when I visit the area again.


Our room was stunning with beautiful antique furniture and paintings and elegant decor and the restaurant was superior and the food unbelievably delicious, and although it was difficult to choose an entree, I settled for the catch of the day “Seared scallops over risotto with shredded crabmeat and a special seafood vinaigrette.  I asked the waitress what was in the vinaigrette and she said  I will ask the chef.  She never mentioned it again.  Oh well, I tried!




The next day we strolled through the Old Saybrook Barn, a huge complex featuring traditional and country furniture and decor, which took hours. Everything was beautiful and expensive and really didn’t fit into my budget.  Anyway, I love my antiques, tag sale items that I refinished and furniture that was my late mothers  and the pieces my two talented boys designed and made when they were teenagers.  I could never put a price tag on any of it because there is a story for every piece and still at my age, I enjoy visiting antique shops and browsing at tag sales and occasionally find an item that I just have to have and add it to my ever ending collection.

This dry sink has adorned our living room for many, many years as well as the plants in it.  Unfortunately it was time for their monthly haircut an I got a little carried away.

I really do not know what I would have done if I did not have this little hutch, with the minimum cabinet space I have.  Unlike today, older homes do not have the massive kitchens that newer homes have today.


June continued to be a busy month as well, celebrating a few more parties  and catching up on my scheduled doctor’s appointments and test, which by the way, were all on a positive note and very encouraging, especially the reaction from my new primary doctor who ordered the blood  test.  Noting the date of my birthday, she asked “What is your secret?” Just a little bit shocked and surprised I shared my schedule and regimen with her and because this is what this site is all about, I am going to share it with you, and if it helps to motivate one person, the time and effort it takes to put this site together, will be well worth it.


  1. I awake at 6:00 AM

  2. I thank the Lord for keeping me through the night and giving me the privilege of starting another day.

  3. I make my one and only cup of full octane (caffeine) coffee and do my yoga exercise and 800 step aerobic exercise on my Wii Fit and a set of strength exercises 3 times a week, using my 10 pound weights and bands.

  4. I eat my breakfast that contains protein, whole grains and fruit  and calcium and once a week, usually on a Sunday, I will have two eggs and 2 pieces of bacon and toast, and if needed a cup of decaf coffee or reheat my unfinished morning coffee. I relax and read the paper until it is time to go to 12:00 mass. My Sundays are always a day of rest-kind of a”Do Nothing Day.” Sunday is also my 20% day-I eat 80% of the time following the Mediterranean Diet and eat 20% eating whatever I desire. Strangely enough, I never seem to over indulge, although now that there has been a rebirth of our towns favorite hot dog stand that closed several years ago, I am excited to check it out.  OK, I confess, my son and daughter-in-law invited me to join them and yes I had their famous long dog with the works.

  5. I then go about doing anything that needs my attention in the house, that is between phone calls from kids and friends-until about 2 o’clock- unless I am going out for the day- when I take a break for a light snack as I never was a big lunch person.  

  6. I usually am working in my garden or in the kitchen experimenting or in my office catching up on my research and computer work until dinner time-my favorite time of day and as my dear friend once said “i never knew anyone who loves food so much” and yes I guess that does describe me as I love reading about, I love cooking it and yes I really love eating it.

  7. My dinner includes 4 ounces of fish, poultry or once a week or every other week a meat such as pork tenderloin, lean bone in  pork chop or other lean cuts, as I do not eat beef because I do not digest it well. My dish will include a starchy vegetable-that is if I do not eat a potato, rice’ or bread and two additional vegetables or a small salad with multible vegetables. I usually have fruit salad or a healthy dessert that contains fruit.  I try to have a small palm full of nuts each day, and a few times a week, I have a glass of red wine with dinner.

  8. I retire between 11 and 12, but not before I thank the Lord for taking care of me during the day and to watch over me during the night.


THAT’s ALL FOLKS-so what ever it is that is keeping me healthy. I am very thankful and I will continue to follow my schedule.


Now, I am going to do something that I have never have done in the 9 years -that I have had my site HealthyCookingForToday.com. Instead of sharing my CREATIVE CORNER I am going to use the space to post a very special photo of me. The photo was posted by my grandson’s wife Caitlin on Facebook and shared multiple times, so why not!



Although, as of this moment, the caption will have to be changed and 3 more spaces will have to be made available with the birth of three more great grandchildren.  The first due in a few weeks, the next in October and the third in January. That will make 9, I am blessed!  This photo was taken at my great grand daughter Sophia’s-she is on my lap-first birthday party.  

I was hopeful , barring complications that this  update would reach you by the 4th of July, as I feel remiss for not honoring Memorial Day and I certainly wanted to acknowledge the 4th of July, but family comes first and it was a very busy day. But  hopefully you took a few minutes, as did I, to bow your head to thank all the young men and women who gave up their lives for our freedom.  


Also I do hope that you enjoyed the day with your family and loved ones, a day that wouldn’t exist if not for all the patriotic men and women who honored our country's symbol fighting for it in the wars and all the people on the homefront working long hours supplying the necessities they needed.  Yes, proudly fly OLD GLORY TODAY AND EVERY DAY!  


If I recall, in my last update I reviewed some aspects of the Mediterranean diet, which I love, as well as many health professional and researchers do, as my monthly reports always include an exciting discovery pertaining to it. Of course by now you should be familiar with the fact that an important component of the diet is the consumption of more fruits and vegetables and the question that is always asked is “How do I get my family to eat more fruit and vegetables?”


Yes, I know that can be difficult, especially if your children were not brought up in the beginning experiencing the taste of fresh vegetables or a husband whose family, for convenience sake only ate heated canned vegetables. Don’t despair, there is a solution to this problem. and new moms, my suggestion to you is to start your baby as soon as they are able to eat hand food and instead of pieces of crackers or cookies, cut up cooked carrots  or cook a package of frozen peas al dente  and keep in your refrigerator, bring to room temperature and put then on the highchair tray.  I have witnessed my little darlings gobble up those veggies.  For the adults and older children, experiment with some of the tasty vegetable recipes in my column or others and in the many cookbooks and magazines,  You will be pleasantly surprised!.  


Moving right along here, because this is turning into a book, but in my defense, it really is a 3 in 1 update. I will be offering some vegetable and fruit recipes that I call fake out recipes, by that I mean that to the eye-remember the saying “You eat with your eyes first”, well they look like familiar recipes, but there is a little camouflaging going on.  I know that kids are very smart today, but if you make one of their favorite foods like baked macaroni and cheese or Chocolate Chip Cake, they may be tempted to try it.  When my siblings and I were kids we always requested mom’s Chocolate Coconut Cake, but in reality it was Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake. I will share that at another date.

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     BAKED MACARONI AND CHEESE WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH      

                                      

1 small butternut squash

8 ounces Penne Rigate Macaroni-I use Dreamfields Healthy Carb

¼ cup butter or Smart Balance, melted

¼ cup all-purpose flour or white whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon salt

⅛ teaspoon pepper

2 cups milk

2 cups cheddar cheese, grated

1 cup breadcrumbs, homemade or prepared

1 tablespoon of additional butter or Smart Balance, melted


Wash butternut squash and pierce in several places with a fork.  Place on a microwave safe dish and microwave for approximately 15 minutes or until soft enough to mash. Reserve. Place crumbs in a small bowl  and place the one tablespoon of butter or Smart Balance in a microwave safe measuring cup and place in the microwave for 30 seconds to melt.  Watch carefully!


Preheat  oven to 375F. Spray a 1 ½  quart casserole with cooking spray and set aside. Cook macaroni as package label directs; drain. Check squash and if soft, remove from microwave and when cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds and discard.  Remove pulp to bowl and mash  and whip until smooth.


Meanwhile, melt the ¼ cup of butter in medium size saucepan  Remove from heat. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until smooth.  Gradually stir in milk.  Bring to boiling, stirring .  Reduce heat, and simmer mixture 1 minute.  Remove from heat.  Stir in cheese and blend.  Add whipped squash and mix well. Pour mixture over macaroni in pot and blend well.  Pour into a 1 ½ -quart casserole.


Melt remaining butter or Smart Balance in microwave and pour over crumbs in bowl and blend well. Sprinkle over casserole and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until top is golden brown.  This may be prepared the night before and refrigerated until baked.


Be creative and try with other vegetables.

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 MOM'S CHOCOLATE CHIP ZUCCHINI CAKE                                                                


1 ½ cups sugar-may use less*

½ cup butter or Smart Balance

1/2 cup oil

1  teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs or 1 egg and 2 egg whites

1 ½ cups all purpose flour

1 cup white whole wheat flour

½ cup unsweetened cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ cup buttermilk-you may substitute ½ cup of skim milk and 1 teaspoons vinegar or lemon juice

2 cups zucchini, shredded

1 cup of Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips

½ cup nuts, chopped, optional


Heat oven to 350 degrees F and spray a 13 x 9 baking pan with cooking spray.  In a large bowl , combine sugar, margarine, oil, vanilla and egg, beat well with electric mixer, combine flour, cocoa, and baking soda.  Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk to egg mixture and blend well.  Fold in zucchini, chocolate chips and nuts and spread into prepared pan.


Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool completely.  This cake is so delicious, it needs no frosting, but is amazing topped with frozen yogurt or ice cream.


Note:  I had a friend for lunch today and I served this cake for desert, just as it appears in the photo and she commented saying how delicious it was, an asked for the recipe.  When I told her what was in it, she was shocked.  So mom, just serve the cake for dessert and keep it a secret.

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The following are a few simple ideas that could add extra fruit and vegetables to your diet without much effort.


What could be more delectable and healthy for breakfast or anytime than a serving of white whole wheat blue blueberry pancakes topped with fresh strawberries with a special syrup made with ½ strawberry spreadable fruit and ½ natural maple syrup.  I am never without this product, as it comes in many flavors and I use it to make many delicious sauces, my favorite being pineapple or peach with pineapple or orange juice-to make the consistency thicker I use ½ cup of spreadable fruit and ¼ liquid. I usually serve this sauce over brown rice, topped with coconut shrimp. Of course you would increase the amounts when needed.  The brands that I find in my market are Polaner, Smuckers and Sorrell.  



A great refreshing breakfast or light lunch consisting of a hollowed out cantaloupe bowl filled with the reserved melon, cubed and fresh strawberries and other fresh fruit and topped with cottage cheese or Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of chopped nuts and cinnamon with  whole wheat toast points and a glass of orange juice with sparkling water-always available with my Soda Stream.



One of my favorite lunches or dinners is a cold salad. It can be a tossed salad, a chop chop salad a combo salad with protein or like this tuna salad with diced raw vegetables and shredded carrots or an egg salad with green pimento stuffed olives, diced and served in lettuce cups.  Both use ½ Greek yogurt and ½ light mayonnaise and seasoned to taste and with a light sprinkling of paprika on the egg salad.


Remember, if you would like to share one of your creative endeavors to appear in my CREATIVE CORNER send a photo and any information that you would like to share to my e-mail MAY@HealthyCookingForToday.com


DISCLAIMER-HealthyCookingForToday.com is intended to supply readers with timely medical information and suggestions for healthier food choices and recipes and is not intended to give personal medical advice, which should be obtained by your personal physician.