butterscotchblastoff

Kick start your day with a good breakfast

Don’t Blame the Eggs!

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In honor of this Wall Street Journal article on the incorrect science that drove us away from eggs and animal fats to carbs, I made a frittata with hot sausage, onion, zucchini, and a sprinkling of grated Pecorino Romano cheese. Delicious!

“Too much whole-grain oatmeal for breakfast and whole-grain pasta for dinner, with fruit snacks in between, add up to a less healthy diet than one of eggs and bacon, followed by fish. The reality is that fat doesn’t make you fat or diabetic. Scientific investigations going back to the 1950s suggest that actually, carbs do.”

Too much of anything is a mistake. Enjoy a whole variety of foods, in moderate portions, and all should be well.

 

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Early Birds

The chicken’s  not the only early bird who improves breakfast.

kiwi bird

The New Zealand kiwi lends its name to a small, brown, fuzzy berry with loads of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber, among other nutrients.  Eat as much as you like since there’s almost no fat and very few calories.  My neighbor gave me a half-dozen last night and I couldn’t wait to slice into one this morning to release that delicious scent and see that glistening green flesh.

And it’s so easy. If you’re not eating it with a spoon straight out of its natural “bowl,” the berry’s rough protective skin, you can slice it for a fresh fruit tart. Its unique flavor keeps the tart from being too sweet.

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Since I really don’t like my breakfasts sweet, I combined kiwi with celery, cucumber, and yellow pepper for a refreshing breakfast salad was as much crunch as granola. Sprinkled with lemon juice and a small handful of chopped walnuts, this was as refreshing as a dip in Mission Bay outside of Auckland. Cheers!

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What Can You Do With a Crumpet?

Well, we Americans call them English muffins (I know, I know…purists will have a long list of the differences, but I’m just looking at them as a simple bread not a clash of cultures).

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One of my lifelong loves, the English muffin can be doctored up in every way imaginable. This morning, I bought six whole-grain muffins, so let’s embark on a kitchen experiment: “What Can You Do With a Crumpet?”

This morning, I created “The William Tell.”

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Toast the muffins. Fry half a dozen apple slices in butter until soft. Spread the muffins with grainy mustard, place the apple slices on top, drape with Swiss cheese and broil until the cheese is bubbly. If you’re looking for a healthy, quick, savory breakfast sandwich, you’ve hit the bull’s-eye!

 

 

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Good Moo-rning!

Grass-fed beef, G&T Farms, Ridgefield Springs, NY

Grass-fed beef, G&T Farms, Richfield Springs, NY

This week, the breakfast serving sizes will be modest (well, for today anyway). A tall glass of cold milk and a piece of fruit should do it. Because…

I’m still thinking about Sunday morning’s mind-bogglingly delicious plate of steak and eggs. The steak was from Black and Red Angus cows raised on the same clover, timothy, and other grasses upstate that the bees buzz over on their way to Leigh and Sandy Goehring’s hives.

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I’ve told you how their honey is pure sweetness. I can also say that their beef is pure tender meatiness, umami to the max. Not to mention healthy; leaner and less caloric than feed-lot beef, it’s also packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, according to americangrassfedbeef.com (perhaps not a totally impartial source, I admit).

So perhaps this week’s breakfasts don’t have to be as Spartan!

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Let the Sun Shine–Please!

God. Six more weeks of winter. That damn groundhog is a wuss!

To ameliorate the situation, I’ll dedicate this week to citrus.

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Today’s breakfast is a piece of Lemon Tea Bread, the rest of which I’ll bring to work to brighten the mood of our first day without my oldest and best loved colleague, Sharon.

We can thank Christopher Columbus for introducing the lemon to the Caribbean. It made its way from Asia to Jerusalem to Ancient Rome to Genoa.

Today, I can’t open a cookbook–Mediterranean, North African, or any book on reviving the “lost skills” of preserving, etc.–without finding a recipe for preserved lemons and lemon curd. I’m eyeing a wealth of tempting recipes for lemon, pasta, and shrimp. Chuck loves his lemons “zesty,” in limoncello.

I’m sure everyone knows that lemons are a terrific source of vitamin C which works to neutralize free radicals and work against infections like colds. A glass of warm lemon water in the morning is recommended to get your bowels working. Honey and lemon, with or without hot tea, will soothe an irritated throat.

Six more weeks of winter? Makes the days of BBQ and lemonade all the sweeter.

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Beware the Empty Diet Claims

jane e. brody

Jane E. Brody must be doing something right; she’s been vigorously advocating smart eating and exercise for The New York Times since dinosaurs roamed the earth (hired by the Times in 1965, she started her “Pesonal Health” column in 1976). In this week’s Science section, her piece, “The Empty Diet-Claim Season” validates Butterscotch Blastoff when she says, “Small changes can end up making a big difference. One is to avoid skipping meals. Eat a nutritious breakfast every day….”

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This easy shirred egg in ham with whole wheat toast is probably not Jane’s ideal breakfast, but it keeps me from being hungry ’til well past noon and it’s a reasonable portion size. “If…you think a meal is not a meal without potatoes, rice, bread or…dessert, by all means include them–but in controlled amounts.”

Thank you, Jane!

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Orange is the New Green

carrots

Yesterday’s leftover vegetable spread was so yummy, I thought I’d try another, this time with carrots. According to Care2.com,  “Vitamin A assists the liver in flushing out the toxins from the body.” After the holidays I had, that can’t hurt.

I whizzed boiled carrots up with a little bit of the water, a little olive oil, celery leaves,  s/p, and tarragon. It was pretty flat until I remembered, “The lemon juice!” Woke it right up. Still I don’t love the tarragon.

What carrot purée needs is a pinch of Dill.

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Immunity Boosting

I was going to add “breakfast” to that headline above, but of course, immunity boosting is an all-day affair. I’m really unlikely to want cooked greens first thing in the morning or nuts or a bowl of veggie-bean soup, but give me a few more hours and I’ll gladly take them.

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Why this new interest in building a bulwark against colds, flu, and worse? We just moved into a new office and, as is the way of all business nowadays, it’s an open plan. I’m really lucky to have an office; the majority of my colleagues are sharing long tables, cheek-by-jowl with each other. The young woman who once told me to send my assistant home for her constant coughing is now the worst offender. “Why, thank you for sharing that cornucopia of germs!” She can keep ’em.

I’m trying to wrap my tiny brain around vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, free radicals, and phytochemicals (plant-sourced compounds that strengthen and support normal immune function, according to Dr. Joel Fuhrman in Super Immunity, an excerpt of which on-line here includes a really helpful glossary of all these terms). From a practical standpoint, Dr. Fuhrman lays it out concisely: “Within two weeks, you could accomplish these basics: a salad every day, a bowl of veggie-bean soup with mushrooms and onions most days, and cooked greens every day.” OK, got it!

I’m also reading nutritionist Tonia Reinhard’s new edition of Superfoods which is a really informative, photo-filled, and valuable encyclopedia of 200 foods, organized by category. She offers very quick sidebars called “Making the Most of…” which include easy recipes and simple tips for incorporating more of that superfood into your diet (sneaky ways that fake out your taste buds). Here is a salad that I am more likely to enjoy first thing in the morning. I got the taste for herring first thing from our Super-Teutonic Tour years ago to Iceland, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden.

“Making the Most of Herring

To make a hearty salad loaded with nutrients, combine 9 ounces of drained canned herring, two large potatoes, cooked and cubed, a diced cucumber, a large apple sliced, 2 tablespoons of light mayonnaise, and 6 tables of low-fat yogurt.”

I’ve got my eye on a pumpkin corn bisque for lunch today at a restaurant called Spreads  (reasonably priced at $4.50/$5.50 for small and large cups). Reinhard says, “In 2012, researchers reported in Research in Pharmaceutical Sciences that their study which involved pumpkin extracts enhanced immune function in mice.”Gezundheit, Mary…the mice and I are protected.”

441 Park Avenue South at 30th Street

441 Park Avenue South at 30th Street

 

 

 

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The Gift That Keeps on Giving

As I get older, I appreciate the healthy food gifts from friends and family the most. They don’t clutter up the closets forever (since I can never remember from whom I’ve received things, I’m terrified of re-gifting to the one who gave something to me in the first place!), I don’t have to return them to get the right size, and they don’t make me feel like a Scrooge for thinking as I open them, “Gosh…thanks.”

Nancy’s pears are a delicious “flash in the pan,” or in the case of this morning, “whirl in the blender.” The last pear and a half were languishing in the fridge, getting mealy brown spots that, when presented raw, turn me into a fussy, jaw-clenching three-year-old.

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“Smoothie,” I thought. A cup of apple juice, a cup and a quarter of peeled, chopped fresh pear, two heaping tablespoons of vanilla yogurt, and a good shake of cinnamon and I have two servings. A delicious antidote to holiday excess.

While I’m on the subject of pears, I have to recommend “Saving Mr. Banks.” I want it to win Best Picture. Every actor, every location, every line of dialogue is aligned to deliver the most moving experience I’ve had in the movies in ages! Paul Giamatti is such a humble actor: he’s not too big for a small part that, by virtue of his total commitment and talent, becomes one of the highlights of the whole film. Emma Thompson is perhaps too nice, even while she’s bullying everyone around here, to really portray P.L. Travers at her worst, but she keeps unveiling more and more of the story by gesture and the way a little bit of Australian slips into her prim British accent. Tom Hanks is magnificent; there’s no other way to describe it.

 

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And the whole Goff family from the past–Colin Farrell, Rachel Griffiths, Ruth Wilson (a beautiful, haunting actress unfamiliar to me who plays Ginty’s mother), and Ginty herself–had me weeping through the whole two hours.

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And what do pears have to do with it? I won’t spoil the movie for you, but they play a recurring role as central to this story as P.L. Travers, Walt Disney, the Sherman Brothers, and Don DaGradi. Do not miss this!

 

 

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TGIF Treat–Banana-Honey-Cinnamon Smoothie

After too much indulgence in sausage stuffing, cheddar-sage biscuits, buttermilk pancakes, and apple crumb crostada, Wallis Simpson’s quote comes to mind.

"You can never be too rich or too thin."

“You can never be too rich or too thin.”

 Not! Today’s the day to eschew the rich in order to allow the dream of being healthy again to re-awaken–before the dance of the sugar plum fairies begins.

DSC01895Simple, fresh, delicious! About half-a-cup of orange juice, a couple of tablespoons of vanilla yogurt, a sliced banana, a squeeze of honey, a good shake of cinnamon and you’ve got the rich taste without the leaden feeling.

Let me leave you with this quote, my personal philosophy (often repeated, often ignored): “Everything in moderation!”

 

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