Love Those Larabars!

Cherry Pie Larabar
Cherry Pie Larabar

Saturday was a typical day of running around doing chores that included an early morning WW meeting, a mani/pedi appointment, car wash, grocery shopping for next week’s Whole30 meals, drop off at the cleaners, shop for a birthday gift, go home and change clothes and leave for dinner downtown before heading to see the musical Kinky Boots.

I had breakfast covered (sweet potato hash browns and bacon) and dinner was at a Japanese restaurant where I had Beef marinated in Coconut Milk.  But lunch was something else again as I wouldn’t be home till after 3pm and I clearly needed to avoid running into a fast food place if I was starving.

But thanks to Larabar’s Cherry Pie bar, I was able to stay compliant while on the go.  I was pleasantly surprised at how good these bars actually are, as they are a first for me.  Continue reading

Homemade Mayonnaise – Whole30 Compliant

Homemade mayonnaise
Homemade mayonnaise

I admit I really like mayonnaise, but it HAS to be Best Foods or else.  When I found out I can’t have my mayonnaise as it contains sugar and I needed to make the homemade paleo stuff to be Whole30 compliant, well……hmmm…..not too happy.  But I promised to follow the program as strictly as possible for 30 days so I went online and tried making a few of the Whole30, paleo mayonnaise.  But they didn’t do well.  I tried a recipe that said to use the blender – but all I got was very thin salad dressing and it tasted way to0 strong of olives.  The second recipe I tried using a food processor and that one curdled and was not fixable even though there were instructions on how to salvage it when the mayo turns ugly, (mine was uglier than Frankenstein).

Then this morning I was watching the movie Julie and Julia (the one about Julia Child with Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci).  Towards the middle of the movie there is Julia memorializing the beauty of homemade mayonnaise and I thought why not see how I can adapt Julia Child’s recipe – that ought to be a good one.  To my surprise, Julia’s recipe is the exact same recipe all the Paleo people are promoting. Julia was obviously way ahead of her time and was making Paleo and healthy recipes without even realizing it.  Who knew!

I got out my copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and followed Julia’s recipe precisely, including pouring the olive oil by droplets, and not thin streams of olive oil –  yes you read that correctly, DROPLETS.  Course she also encourages you to make this a hand-beaten sauce, but does allow for the use of the electric mixer if you really have to – and I whipped out my Kitchen Aid mixer so quickly Julia would have been impressed at the speed.  When adding the olive oil I measured out my oil into 3 separate sessions, and scraped and folded the mayonnaise before starting to add droplets of the next 1/2 cup.  Here is a quick clip from the movie when Julia has mastered the art of chopping onions among other things while taking cooking lessons at Le Cordon Bleu.


3 egg yolks

1 Tbl lemon juice

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp dry mustard

1-1/2 cups of olive oil (1 cup was original olive oil, and 1/2 cup extra light olive oil)


Warm your metal mixing bowl under warm water and then dry throughly.  Add the egg yolks and let them sit in the bowl for about 5 minutes before beating them for 1 to 2 minutes until they are thick and lemon colored.

Add the lemon juice (or wine vinegar if you prefer), salt, and dry mustard.  Beat for 30 seconds more.

The egg yolks are ready for you to add the oil, drop by drop, until the sauce has thickened.  I set my mixer at medium speed and measured out 1/2 cup at a time and then poured it in very, very, slowly.  Then I would stop the mixer and scrape the sides and fold the bottom sauce into the top, before starting to pour the next batch of olive oil.  Julia says “After 1/2 cup of oil has been incorporated, the sauce will thicken into a very heavy cream and the crisis is over.”  She was right.


I had created home-made mayonnaise AND it tasted really GOOD.  Ran over to my sister’s house and made her try it, and she said, “Yep it tastes like mayonnaise!”   And here I thought getting healthy would be difficult – just not so!

Really GOOD home-made mayonnaise from Julia Child

Yield: 2 to 2-1/2 cups of mayonnaise

Whole30 – first week


Love my veggies.  Photo from
Love my veggies. Photo from

Today completes my first week on the Whole30 program and I am in love with vegetables.  Here is a summary of my first week.


Sleep:  Sleeping better than prior to Whole30 eating.  Slept very well the first 3 days, and then found myself exhausted upon waking on the 5th day.  Went to bed early that night and slept for 10 hours (very unusual for me!)

Energy Level: Pretty good.  I usually have low energy so can’t say that I am zipping around or feeling especially “high”on energy this week, but then again I am not dragging at all – so feeling positive about this.

Hunger:  Am used to eating 3 meals and 2 snacks daily.  Or on weekends, I just tend to “graze” a lot of the day.  Since I am eating only 3 meals and no snacks, I found I was usually ready to eat my lunch at Noon, and by 6:30 or 7pm when I got home, I was ravenous for dinner.  Since I made some dinners on the weekend, and then had leftovers during the week, I was saved by being able to reheat and serve dinner in less than 10 minutes after I got home.  A lifesaver, or I would have likely eaten anything visible in the refrigerator.

Right now, the only con I can see is that I can’t have sugar or bread.  But then, I am only doing this for 30 days, so I can live without them.


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Going Whole30 for the next 30 days


Time to get really healthy as we move towards the end of the year, and shedding a few pounds while at it wouldn’t disappoint!

I started the Whole30 Program last Friday, which in a nutshell means following a gluten-free, sugar-free, alcohol-free diet.  The good news is that you eat beef, fish, chicken, vegetables, fruits, and nuts.  So after the first two days I can say I am already starting to feel the “fog” disappear, the bloat begin to subside, and lost 5.4 pounds – yes that is correct!  Actually you are told “you are not allowed to weigh yourself for 30 days,” but I needed to weigh this morning to ensure the needle was going down and not up in pounds.  No more peeking till Day 30 for me.  You don’t count calories, carbs, or points; you don’t have to measure your food and you just choose really wise choices.

This program was created by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig in 2009, who also founded their business Whole9 the same year.  According to their website they have nearly 1 million visitors a month to the two websites – so a few people must really think their program is a winner – so far, me too!

It-starts-with-foodThey wrote a book about it and you can buy online or download a copy, but they also offer so much FREE info on the program you don’t really have to buy the book (but I did anyway).  Here is a link to their Whole30 Downloads page that offers program rules, a shopping list, meal planning template, and more.

And according to their website, my only job during the next 30 days is to choose good food choices – I can do this!!

Have you done the Whole30?  Let me know of your successes and/or share ideas and recipes that are Whole30 compliant.






Green Vegetable Medley


Zucchini and Snap Peas
Zucchini and Snap Peas

Fresh zucchini and snap peas become a quick vegetable medley when added with a dozen grape tomatoes.  I had leftover uncooked vegetables, that each alone would not be enough as a side dish for 4 people, but when combined it was just right.   The flavor combo worked well too – it had a slight Italian flair by adding the basil while cooking, and then removing from the dish – it was similar to adding basil oil, only subtler.  This is a great dish to serve during the week as it takes less than 15 minutes from start to finish. Continue reading

Sunday Chicken with Mushroom Vermouth Sauce


Chicken with Mushroom Vermouth Sauce

This chicken dish is great to serve company or just for the family on a beautiful Sunday evening in September, like today. You can serve dinner in under an hour with only 20 minutes of prep and about 35 minutes to finish cooking in the oven.  I happened to only have two pieces of chicken, so this particular recipe is Dinner For Two – just double or triple the recipe based on number of people you are serving.  The chicken cooks up moist and juicy – a simple and comforting dinner that is delish!  Continue reading

Roasted Rack of Lamb for Two with Potato Cakes


Rack of Lamb
Rack of Lamb

I don’t think of myself as a particularly predictable person, but when I am out to dinner with family or friends and there is Rack of Lamb on the menu, it is a safe assumption, that is what I will order – actually you can bet on it, and I believe some people have done so!  There are all kinds of ways to serve rack of lamb from glazed with a Cabernet sauce, covered with a Dijon mustard mask, to heavily encrusted in a shallot and mushroom tapenade.  But I am a purist when is comes to lamb and I want to taste the full-bodied, distinctive flavor of lamb and not have it covered with sauces and stuff that masks the gamey flavor – knowing full well lamb is often considered an acquired taste.  That said, my recipe is a modification from Rack of Lamb Persille by Narsai David.  Narsai David was a leading Bay Area restaurateur (owner of Narsai’s and Narsai’s Market, both of which closed in the mid-1980’s.) I adapted his recipe with some slight changes – hope you like it as much as I do. Continue reading

Grilled stone peaches over mache greens with creamy lime dressing

Grilled Peach Salad
Grilled Peach Salad

I moved from Northern California to the Northwest about 25 years ago, and took with me an established peach tree that had sentimental value.  My gardener dug up the tree for me, but said it wouldn’t live by the time the movers set it on their truck……but it did.  The movers swore up and down that it would not survive the long cold trip to Seattle in late October……but it did.  The tree had to be planted at our rental house and then dug up again the following July and replanted by the landscaper at our new home who said the tree had suffered enough and it was practically dead – and why couldn’t we see that?  I asked him to humor me and plant it anyways, which he did all the while grumbling under his breath “this won’t survive” ……but it did.   That little peach tree did nothing the first two years – not a single peach (barely had leaves much less fruit.)   But in the spring of the third year, it blossomed.  And in the fourth year it actually produced a few peaches.  Now 20 years after that first peach I get tons of peaches each year – too much to keep up with.  I am starting to see less and less peaches as the weeks go by and know that summer is just about over.  Here is a recipe for grilled stone peach salad for Labor Day.  Have a happy and safe holiday weekend! Continue reading

Fresh Gnocchi and Maitake Mushrooms

Fresh Gnocchi and Maitake Mushrooms
Fresh Gnocchi and Maitake Mushrooms

Today I made my 2nd Blue Apron dinner (see here for the first Blue Apron dinner).   Fresh Gnocchi and Maitake Mushrooms.  I have eaten Gnocchi all my life and always had it with a marinara sauce being the nice Italian girl that I am.  So Blue Apron’s recipe was missing the red sauce  – what?  If you are not familiar with Gnocchi, they are little potato dumplings that end up looking and somewhat tasting like pasta – only they are potatoes and not pasta.  I have only once in my life seen a movie showing people preparing Gnocchi and that was in the movie Godfather III. Continue reading

Retro Herb Chicken Revisited


Herb Chicken Revisited
Herb Chicken Revisited

Growing up we always got to choose the dinner menu for our birthday.  My Dad’s favorite birthday dinner was Herbed Chicken, served over white rice with a side of creamed spinach.  While we didn’t count calories much then, I looked it all up and found this meal was 1215 calories – the chicken with sauce was 715 calories on its own and we hadn’t added in bread/butter and the birthday cake!   Now I am eating around 1200 calories in a day, so I changed-out the chicken as this was the biggest offender in terms of fat and calories – made it lighter but still tasty!  The cream of chicken soup had to go, as did the sour cream, and the heavy cream that were all used to create the gravy.    I substituted Greek Yogurt instead so the gravy still stayed creamy.  I still serve cream of spinach with the chicken, but eliminated the white rice totally from this menu.  This chicken dish is still delicious but now it’s also much healthier.

Original Herb Chicken is 715 calories per person.   My 2014 version is 375 calories and much more healthy for you – what’s not to like?




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