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Eat Well

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Happy Hour, Part 1: MangoRita


My Mango Margaritas…and my idea of a perfect stay-cation!

Happy birthday, America!

We had a glorious long week together as a family to celebrate America’s birthday with a trendy stay-cation. We stayed put at home to enjoy the sun, the pool, eachother company and some yummy concotions. First up…a mango margarita.

I have an obsession with mangos. I love the flavor. I love mango gelato especially. I love mango netcar and fresh mango salsa and mango smoothies and mango popsicles. I spent an entire summer studying abroad searching from near and far of each town I visited for mango gelato (also delicious paired with coconut gelato…makes my mouth water just thinking about it). LOVE it.

So, it seems obvious that I should create my own mango margarita for our stay-cation (in the hottest, humid-est place on the planet). MangoRita as I like to call her. So, when making up my own recipes I usually scour the internet for other peoples recipes first to get an idea of options out there. I visited Pinterest (check out my write up on how to use this God-send), my archive of recipes in Evernote, then to FoodTv and a general Google search.

Here is what I came up with:

1 bag of frozen mango
1 cup+ of orange juice (if you have triple sec or cointrou, I would use these instead of OJ)
vest of 1 lime
juice of 2 limes
1 cup of tequila
splash of coconut water (optional)

Blend thouroughly to make her smooth.

Quater a lime and rub the rim of a pre-frozen glass and then dip rim in a mixture of sugar and salt. This is a game changer! Much to the disrespect of my Southwestern roots, I do not prefer a traditional salted rim for a traditional margarita and I also do not love a sugar rim for a sweet cocktail, either. But a mixture of salt and sugar is magical and a perfect mouth watering balance!

Pour your mango margarita in the pre-frozen salt and sugar rimmed glass, squeeze a bit of fresh lime over the whole thing, put your feet up and eeeeennnnnjoy!

…for a second and then chase your toddler away from whatever disaster she is about to partake or get her hand out of your MangoRita or fend yourself off from the soaking wet long haired dog trying to get you to play fetch in the pool. That’s my life, anyway.

Try it and let me know what you think?

Salad…it’s what’s for dinner.

I love salads!

We eat them a lot. In our old house with a brilliant garden we mostly inherited from the previous owners, we grew lettuce and would often dazzle our guests and ourselves by picking fresh greens right as we were about to serve the main meal to add a little simple salad on the side. What is more impressive than that?! I mean, really. (Disclaimer: okay, I get that not everyone is as in love with gardening, or organic living, or food like I am. But to me, there is nothing better or more dazzling.)

This is not my garden, although its lovely, no?

The funny thing though is that sometimes I forget about salads and take an unintentional hiatus from preparing salads. Then I see a great salad recipe or a picture of one on a magazine or see a fabulous salad at a restaurant and it reignites my love and obsession with salads. A simple or complex food. Add what you want. Its different every time. Fresh. Healthful. Interesting and colorful. A blank canvas to create what you will depending on what’s in season, what you have on hand, what your mood inspires, who and how many you are looking to feed. Main dish or side. Sweet or savory. Its a perfectly permeable concept food.

In Phoenix, my hometown and a general fabulous desert dwelling, has many delicious restaurants, albeit many chains. One of the more fantastic ones’ is a newer addition to the Biltmore Fashion Park outdoor mall, True Food Kitchen, by the amazing Dr. Weil. This restaurant is amazing for a numer of reason, least of which is that its an open concept kitchen where you are looking at the ingredients in your fresh meal and watching them being prepared. Brilliantly stimulating of all the senses! Anyway, the last time we were there, my husband and I dined for one of our first and one of few date nights since our Sofie was born. We shared several appetizers-which is one of our favorite ways to dine out as it allows us to taste several things, to share and to minimize costs and overeating (quadruple score!)- and one of them was the Tuscan Kale Salad. Folks, it was divine. I mean, D-IVINE!

True Food Kitchen

Kale is one of those elusive vegetables. Many of us know its a superfood and that we SHOULD eat it more often. But like most “should’s” in our lives, we just end up “shoulding” all over ourselves and doing quite little about it. This salad will help you “should” no more. Its’ light, its fresh, its hearty, and its a whole lot of super, as in super food.

While indulging in some Pinterest time (click here for a guide to Pinterest that I wrote, “Pinterest Explained: 5 Step Guide), I saw someone post another recipe from Dr. Weil and I remembered this salad and decided to go cyber hunting to see if I could find the recipe to make my own Tuscan Kale Salad. (Also, check out my “Devour” board on Pinterest for other yummy recipes I have tried or that I want to try!)

Tuscan Kale Salad

Zoo-ta-looo! I have found it! (Said in the voice of the cook from The Little Mermaid (at 1:03 seconds). While, as an adult passionate about Social Justice, I am appalled by this movie’s messaging for our children about gender roles and “voice”, I still have that little girl in me that watched it so many times I broke the VHS tape and I still quote it and remember every word to every song. Please forgive both of us!)

So, here goes, the recipe from the good Doctor:

True Food Kitchen restaurant exclusive! This traditional Tuscan salad is made with strips of Italian black kale, fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, crushed garlic, red pepper flakes, grated pecorino Tuscano cheese and bread crumbs. These bright, refreshing flavors combine to bring the sunny taste of Italy to your table.Watch a video of Dr. Weil and chef Michael Stebner preparing this delicious salad: How to Make Tuscan Kale SaladFood as Medicine
Kale is among the most nutrient-dense commonly eaten vegetables. One cup provides 1,327 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin K, 192 percent of DV for vitamin A, and 88 percent for vitamin C.
4-6 cups kale, loosely packed, sliced leaves of Italian black (Lacinato, “dinosaur,” cavolo nero) midribs removed
juice of 1 lemon
3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, mashed
salt & pepper, to taste
hot red pepper flakes, to taste
2/3 cup grated Pecorino Toscano cheese (Rosselino variety if you can find it) or other flavorful grating cheese such as Asiago or Parmesan
1/2 cup freshly made bread crumbs from lightly toasted bread
    1. Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and a generous pinch (or more to taste) of hot red pepper flakes.
    2. Pour over kale in serving bowl and toss well.
    3. Add 2/3 of the cheese and toss again.
    4. Let kale sit for at least 5 minutes. Add bread crumbs, toss again, and top with remaining cheese.

Please make this salad and dazzle yourself with its simplicity, freshness and superfood-ness! And then let me know what you think…

Brian’s Essential Winter Oatmeal Recipe

I’ve written previously about my essential smoothie recipe, which is a great heathy staple for the the warmer months. And while winter is a bit relative down here in New Orleans, I always like to start my day with a wholesome meal that sustains me throughout the morning and gets me going on the right foot.

The thought of a cold smoothie is tough to stomach this time of year, so Mia and I turn to this trusted oatmeal recipe. There are many variations on oatmeal and I encourage you to explore and find what works for you. You’ll find like my smoothie recipe that you can toss in quite a few ingredients and it won’t compromise the taste. As we love to say, this recipe will stick to your bones and keep you satisfied for much of the morning.

We prefer steel cut oats because they’re a great source of whole grains and packs more nutritional benefits than regular rolled or quick oats. If time is an issue for you, rolled oats will decrease on prep time but you’ll lose out on many of the great nutritional benefits of steel cut oats. At first you’ll be surprised by the texture, but I’ve grown to love the crunchiness.

Cook Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 2 servings


  • 1 cup of steel cut oats (available in bulk aisle at local grocery)
  • 6 cups of water
  • Pinch of salt
  • Dried fruits (cranberries, raisins)
  • 4 tablespoons of wheat germ
  • 4 teaspoons of flax seed oil (I prefer unfiltered)
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • Chopped nuts (if desired)
  • 1/4 cup of milk

Place water and oats in pot and set on medium heat for 20 minutes, occasionally stirring to prevent overflow. When there is a little liquid left in the pot, turn heat down to prevent overcooking and begin placing dry ingredients in. Stir together and add chopped nuts, sliced banana, and milk to taste.

As you can see, it’s rather simple. I encourage you to have fun with the ingredients and customize to your taste. I will often soak the steel cut oats overnight to cut down on cook time in the morning. Rolled oats will not take as long as are a nice alternative if time is an issue in the morning.

I’d love to hear your variations on this recipe and learn what some of your favorite morning staples are, so hit up the comments and let us know!

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

Pregnancy has been such an adventure, a process of self discovery, body image issues, fear, joy-you name it, its been a ride. One of the greatest moments has been the realization that I am not only pregnant, but being prepared to become a mother. Moving from self to other; from me to baby; from me to we and all within my own body. (Not to mention the transformation within my marriage with my best friend-that’s another post!) In this process, one of the most revealing joys, however, has been my memories of my own childhood-remembering and connecting with how I was raised and all the mothering I received.

I hear my mother’s loving and all-knowing voice in my head as I walk through this process. Things that used to eventually annoy me by matter of the shear number of times I heard her repeat her lessons, I can start to recognize as the most important life lessons that she was teaching me. My mother was and is a natural teacher. A guide, a principle in so many arenas. I didn’t recognize this as pure genius as a child, definitely not as a teenager, more so as a young adult and now, as I enter into becoming a parent…I know for a fact, she is pure genius.

The lessons from my mother are vast, ones that I don’t realize are there, that I would be hard pressed to recount if you asked me on the spot. Not until I need them. And when I need them, there they are, there she is-her voice fills me and I find myself being mothered at the exact moment I need it…that I need her. Today’s post title, “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme” is an example of that.

When Brian or I start to feel crummy with headaches, sore throats and other accompanied cold symptoms or if its a chilly day or we are feeling worn down, before I think through remedies I hear myself sing-song these words: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. I scrounge through the fridge to see what ingredients we have to make a chicken soup. The perfect remedy. Whether at the grocery store or in the fridge or garden, I sing these four words as she used to in her humming tone as I gather the chicken (a carcass that I usually keep in the freezer, remnants after we have baked a chicken for dinner-”never throw out a carcass”, another one of my mother’s lessons), carrots, celery, potato, egg noodles, and lots and lots of garlic-an entire head of garlic (another one of my mother’s lessons: “load up on garlic”). And then, of coarse, Parsley, Sage Rosemary and Thyme. Perfection.

Before you know it, I am eating soup, snuggled up and feeling loved and mothered…at the exact moment I need it.

I intend to share more of my mothers lessons as I continue to connect and appreciate them. There are so many.

What are your most cherished lessons from your mother?

Brian’s Essential Pregnancy Smoothie Recipe

Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper”

Starting the morning off on the right foot is important for anyone, including moms to be. For our family this means a high protein breakfast featuring lots of fresh fruits and whole grains. One essential staple of our mornings is a fruit smoothie. This recipe is adapted from a few that I’ve read and is one that we’ve been doing on and off for years. As always, please consult your healthcare practitioner before adding anything new to your diet.


  • 3 tablespoons whey protein powder (we use the Whole Foods 365 Everyday Whey Protein; make sure to avoid ones with artificial sweeteners)
  • 1 teaspoon of organic psyllium husk powder (high in fiber)
  • 1 teaspoon of wheat germ
  • 2 teaspoons of flax seed oil (I prefer unfiltered and organic)
  • 1 cup of yogurt
  • 2 fish oil pills (cut and empty oil into blender)
  • 3 cups of fresh frozen fruit (this is where you can have fun; I regularly keep peaches, blueberries, bananas, mangos, blackberries, and strawberries on hand)
  • 1 cup of juice

Place dry ingredients in blender first so they blend more smoothly. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on high for 30 seconds. Pour into 16 oz. glasses and enjoy!

A Few Last Recommendations

  • Make sure mix your fruits to keep it fresh. Having the same smoothie every day gets kind of boring after a while. Some of my favorite combinations are mango, strawberry, and banana; peach and banana; and blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry.
  • You can vary the recipe all sorts of ways. Sometimes I’ll substitute apple juice for orange juice. Pineapple juice can also add some great flavor.
  • If you’re looking to save on calories you can omit the yogurt since they whey gives you the same dairy creaminess.
  • Milk can be substituted for orange juice if you’re looking to get extra dairy into your diet.
  • Ice can be added to increase the thickness of the blend or can help if your fruits aren’t frozen.

Ina’s Chicken Salad…with a twist!

Today, I made Ina’s Chicken Salad for our lunches for the next few days. Her recipe is easy with simple ingredients and one of my favorites! Her method of roasting chicken for flavor and tender-ness is unbeatable in my experience: bone in breasts, olive oil, salt and pepper at 350 degrees for 40 minutes = perfect chicken. Perfectly flavorful, perfectly moist, perfectly chicken-y.

Although one thing you have to know about me is that I rarely do a recipe as it calls. I love to add a variation. I often love to mix a few recipes together or find some way to make it uniquely mine. Today, I added organic black grapes to this mix, not that its the most novel idea for chicken salad, but I wanted to add some sweetness and color. My mother taught me to eat my colors.  I planned to add walnuts too, but found that the celery was plenty crunch for my taste.

And as far as ingredients, I always or almost always buy all organic as well as cruelty free meats. (Food, Inc. the documentary along with everything Michael Pollan wrote has changed me forever!) And the tarragon is compliments of Jeanne and David’s divine garden. A truly wonderful and unsung hero in the herb world. (Note to self: find more ways to eat tarragon.)

Thanks to Foodtv.com and for or your viewing pleasure, especially all you interactive and visual learners:

Do you think about lunch the next day? Or plan your meals ahead?