California Eatin'

Canner Lady: Dilly Beans and Dill Pickles

Summer | June 13, 2016 | By

Ball Jars 1
I am so sorry for the long absence, but I was busy riding out my first trimester of pregnancy.  I am going to be a mom in October!!  Never in my life have I disliked food or the subject of food more than during this time.  I could barely get through the grocery store-so unlike me.  I subsisted on mostly bland white foods; cold cereal, potatoes-all ways, and noodles.  I am so happy to be on the other side of that now and with more energy and food love.  Just in time for all the great foods of summer!
Pickle in CollanderLike many of you, I have been hitting the farmers market pretty much weekly.  I look forward to what is new and in season.  Lately, I have been crazy for apricots-just cant get enough and I know that one Saturday I am going to show up and they will be gone.  Gone the way of the cherries.  I gave up on cherries a few weeks ago one bland bag later and I knew it was time to say good bye.

I am thrilled to let you all know that I like to think of myself as a canner lady.  What this really means is that once or twice a year I haul out that big black calderon and my jars and pickle or put up some of the best of summer.

Today was one of those days!   Well before the Saturday market I had decided that if there were good looking green beans I would pickle some this weekend.  I not only found amazingly plump, firm and fresh green beans, but also pickling cukes or cucumbers and fresh dill.  It was a canner weekend home run.  So I decided to put up a little of both.  It really is important with canning to use the best and freshest ingredients and at the Saturday farmer’s market that was an easy order to fill.  I always hand pick every single bean.



Market Pickles

The recipe I use for green beans is the classic Dilly Beans.  The beans are trimmed and cold packed into hot jars, topped with a hot apple cider vinegar solution and processed.  For those of you who are also canners or long to be, I highly suggest a visit to the canning blog with an awesome recipe list.  She lists a dilly bean recipe but you can also find one in most other canning books. 
The pickle recipe is very similar to the bean recipe and this time I used the recipe for Garlic Dill Pickles for the proportions of the apple cider vinegar solution.



SpicesSo there are rules to canning and sanitation is very important.  It is advised to follow the processing rules for clean canning as far as sanitizing jars before you use them and processing foods long enough to be shelf stable. Canning is not quite like cooking especially for beginners or every now and then canner ladies like myself.  So I don’t mess with the vinegar/water/salt solution, however, I do play with the spices!  The fun in these recipes for me is the spice combinations.

My favorite thing to add to dilly beans is lemon zest and a really good pinch of red pepper flakes.   My beans come out with tang and a kick!  They are great alongside a sandwich or in a Bloody Mary!  I also really like to use fresh dill heads in my pickles and fresh dill weed in my dilly beans.  Other fun items to add to pickles include mustard seeds, dill seed, peppercorns, bay leaves, cinnamon stick pieces, whole allspice and peeled whole garlic. 
Pickle jars
Bean jars 1

Note:  Vinegar based pickling is safe to use on vegetables and there is little risk of bacterial contamination due to the high acid preparation (4-6pH) and when recipes are followed.  If you want to put up veggies sans vinegar, that is a different story and should involve a pressure cooker.  It is something that many people do but I have not explored that yet. 

This Canner Lady’s must have supplies:
The Cauldron:  Large porcelain enameled canning pot with rack
Magnetic lid lifterA hygienic helper for catching lids and rings in the hot water.
Wide mouth funnel:  I appreciate the help keeping my jar rims clean and ready to make good seals.
Wooden chopstick:  Or a plastic spatula for removing air bubbles.
Fun Labels:  Ok so this may not be a necessity, but I it makes everything more fun and beautiful!
Jars:  You will collect a variety but I love the 1 1/2 pint wide mouth jars.  They are super tall and perfect for beans or asparagus. 

Stay tuned for some summer stone fruit canning as I love to pull out a good jar of peach preservers and serve them over waffles on a cold winter morning.

Crazy Day Spring Salad

Spring | April 7, 2016 | By

Easy dinner salad with amazing spring greens from the farmers market.  Today this is my sanity!  Head out to your local farmers market the spring greens are ready.   Don’t forget to grab some snap peas-their sweet goodness saved my lunch today!
Feed yourselves well friends some days that’s all we’ve got!

Crazy busy days…crazy life..crazy life…love my crazy life!! 


How healthy are you really eating? A quick check in.

Breakfast | March 5, 2016 | By

Do you-like me-have Room for improvement?… A Quick Check List

Are you eating out more than 2-3 times a week?
Eating out is health sabotage and with very few exceptions I don’t care where you do it or how good you think you are at ordering, it is near impossible to maintain your health eating out. Check out the sodium for starters-you may not have to look much farther to see that you are getting way too much (2000mg a day and even less if you a have high blood pressure). Just an example: 1320 mg sodium in a Southwest Grilled Chicken salad with low-fat balsamic dressing –McDonalds. Doesn’t matter if you are paying more for it-trust me the salt is in there.

Are you really eating enough vegetables? Could you do better?
If you are eating 5-7 servings a day of fruit and vegetables you are amazing and keep going. If you like me are closer to 3 a day then there is room for improvement. Mix them into your eggs at breakfast, add them in at snacks with your cheese stick or hummus, and make sure two servings are showing up at dinner. Pre chop those veggies and pack them into servings sizes if it make it easy for you. Having bagged spinach makes me use it more and a fat pinch on top of an egg sandwich as I run out the door becomes extra veggies that are very doable.  Many people enjoy a weekend breakfast casserole and this is a great place to add extra vegetables-see pic.  This one has green and yellow zucchini mushrooms and onions!

zuchinin breakfast (1 of 1)Are you replacing high fat proteins with lean proteins choices like fish, chicken, turkey and beans?
Lean proteins are a healthful alternative to high fat meats. We are all still dying of cardiovascular disease and need to reduce saturated fats in our diet. Is anyone cooking fish? Eating beans? Try to add in fish once a week and some beans twice a week-I like beans they are cheaper. Fish not only is lean but also has heart healthy fats-all of them-some more than others. Beans are a true super food not only are they a lean protein, they are fiber rich and filled with antioxidants! Beans don’t have to be served up as chili in a steaming hot bowl, you can add them to salads and pasta dishes-delicious!

Are you drinking soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweet tea, juice, lemonade, blended coffees, iced coffees*…liquids with Sugar!!
These are the sweet things we love to drink that come in pretty large container- these days, usually greater than 16oz and with a straw. This is a ton of calories and a load of sugar and our bodies are not made to handle it-Period end of story.   Just cut them out-they are a treat if anything and should be consumed 1x weekly to monthly. Try replacing them with plain iced tea, plain iced coffee, sparkling water, water with real fruit added to it-think lemons, oranges, limes or just plain water. As long as you are consuming these items every day you are sabotaging your health and paving the way to obesity and possibly to type 2 diabetes.
* This is of course assuming that you are not taking your iced tea or coffee plain-meaning without sugar!

Ok so the nutritionist snuck out full force on this one but with the love of food sometimes you just have to give a hard look at what your doing and tweak things here and there. 

RD Internship Orientation and Beyond…Getting Started.

Travel | February 20, 2016 | By

I have some exciting news to share; starting March 1st I am entering into my dietetic internship and beginning a year immersed in nutrition with new people, places, skills, services, deadlines, and assignments.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this process…In order to become a Registered Dietitian or RD or RDN (a licensed expert in the field of nutrition) you must first complete an approved educational program in dietetics. Secondly you must also compete for and earn and spend the next 6 months to a year in an unpaid (often you pay) residency like internship. Internships can be full-time or part-time and are designed to provide hands on experience in community, clinical and food service nutrition rotations.  

My internship is part time so I can continue to work and participate in my internship. I must say that this sounded like a good idea, but I may need to be reminded of that later-when I am crazy busy over the next year! I will have rotations in government nutrition programs, community nutrition programs, school food service, hospital food service, skilled nursing facilities, sub-acute care/rehab in hospital, acute care in hospital, research and dialysis clinic. Additionally, I will have some community choice hours, where I can gain exposure in environments that I am interested in…Perhaps food, local food, restaurant nutrition, employee wellness…just some thoughts for now.  In addition to my rotations I will have ongoing coursework and case studies to complete and will be attending professional meetings and conferences. Needless to say it is going to be a busy, exciting and productive year and I will log 1260 hours for my rotations alone. I am just preparing to start and have developed a really unnatural relationship with my calendar and email!!

At the end of the year I will study for my RD exam and when I pass it I will earn my little letters…RD to go with my other little letters MS (Not Ms-although I am single-I also have my master’s in nutrition)…

Don’t worry you can call me Sydney MS RD;)

Here is a shout out to my best girlfriend Lisa who accompanied me down to San Diego for my internship orientation.  There I met the fabulous group of women who are my internship family, had my first experience with large scale food production in a prison- which was amazing and happen to fit in a little fun as well.  Thank you Lisa you are the best!!

SD Lisa Beach


Lisa and I in Del Mar enjoying some amazing weather…in the 80’s!! It was shocking we had to borrow tank tops.







SD Sunset

There are amazing sunsets in San Diego and Taco Tuesday!!!


SD Lisa and SydSD PotterySD Chips






A visit to SD is not complete without a visit to old town…oh yes with chips, salsa, guac and cold beverages!!



SD airplane


Ok we are so ready to be back home now.







Good Eats SD:
North end:
Pacifica Breeze Café-Del Mar-Great view and  fish tacos!
Agave Del Mar-Taco Tuesday and an amazing view.
Davanti Enoteca-Tasty little pizzas, great girls nigh location with small shareable dishes-delicious! 
Old Town:
Casa de Reyes:  For the right in the middle of everything tropical outdoor atmosphere, live music, tasty margaritas and guacamole.



Thanks friends for pardoning the dirty little iPhone pics!

Look around-Spring is on its way!

Spring | February 13, 2016 | By

Now it really is time to dig in the dirt!

I just returned home from a big trip to San Diego, CA full of new adventures-way more about that soon.  As I drove back to the sanctuary that is the country and into the tip of the central valley that is home, all of a sudden, there they were.  Rows and rows of  almond trees in bloom.  Before I left the trees had tight buds and the weather was cool, but a few warm days later they were in full bloom.  For those of you with similar reminders of spring-through nature; the trees or the bulbs-enjoy and take notice.  Bring some into your home or sit near and be awed.  Even if the nature part doesn’t come easy in your area, look for the blooms at your markets and treat yourself to some early signs of spring.


Winter Swiss Chard & A Single gals Pasta

Savory, Winter | February 6, 2016 | By

So the sun finally came out over the weekend and even though it was not warm I was getting outside. Besides the usual stacking wood…stacking wood…and stacking wood. We worked on the fruit trees and I ventured into the vegetable garden.  I must admit I have not paid the garden much attention this winter.  I usually plant some greens in fall and then quickly lose interest.

I did not expect to find much, but to my surprise there was a bounty of Swiss chard!  Rainbow chard actually it was just beautiful.  I was going to have to plan a dish and it was perfect timing for my favorite Single gal Pasta.

Garden Chard

I have to admit that in my house Swiss chard is a bit of a hard sell as far as the greens go.  I’ve tried it in; sauces, an amazing quiche, eggs and other dishes-but they always seem to notice it.  I however love it and this week with the house to myself-that is all that matters.

This dish is full of my guys not so loved ingredients; onions, goat cheese and of course the chard.  Does anyone else out there sneak in their faves when they have the house to themselves?  Feels pretty right on to me!

Chard Pasta 1

I hope you give this simple pasta a try and I like it with a glass of red wine, alone and parked in front of a new episode of rehab addict.  Get out into the garden or pick up some winter greens and enjoy!

Chard Pasta

Single gals Pasta
  1. 1 teaspoon olive oil
  2. 1/2 red onion, thin sliced
  3. 1/2 box pasta, cooked according to package directions (suggest: capanella, rigatoni or bow tie)
  4. 1 bunch Swiss Chard (trim large pieces of stem and chop leaves)
  5. 1/4 cup Chicken broth
  6. 6 tablespoons goat cheese
  7. salt & pepper
  1. In a large frying pan add olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add red onion slices, salt and pepper and sauté for 1 minute on medium and turn heat to low. Continue to sauté until soft and cooked through. Turn heat to medium and add chopped Swiss chard, broth and pepper. Sauté until wilted 3-5 minutes. Add in cooked and drained pasta. Toss to coat and add in goat cheese a teaspoon hunk at a time. Stir in cheese to coat the noodles.
  1. The goat cheese and caramelized onion combination with the Swiss chard really is amazing. The goat cheese acts likes a sauce and coats every noodle. Use a noodle that you love that is hearty and will catch all the good bits.
California Eatin'

A Winter Weekend Cleanse

Winter | January 16, 2016 | By

I don’t know about you , but after a month of what feels like to many desserts, chocolates, cheese and aged meats-I was not feeling like my best self.  A cleanse can be a good way to bring you back to food awareness and to good eating habits that make you feel good.

Let me be clear-I did not fast!  I am advocating a weekend of laying low eating healthfully and drinking water frequently while removing heavy foods, stimulants and intoxicants from your diet.  Ideally this would be a weekend of rest and relaxation.  If you cant lay low than you can just do a few of these things mindfully.  Otherwise embrace it and enjoy a weekend that is just about you.

Our cleanse story:
Our cleanse started out great on a Saturday morning with glasses of water with a good squeeze of lemon.  Surprisingly my guy who-I have to say was not to excited about the idea of cleansing and really thought I was finally going all “nutritionist” on him- was on board. 

Lemon water 2

There was no coffee and no yummy usual Saturday morning breakfast with bacon and sausage.  Instead there was oatmeal for him and kale eggs and whole grain toast for me. 

Kale eggs

We did relax a bit for the morning- but we were couch shopping this weekend and super excited to do so-so we were off to town.  Sitting in couches seemed like an ok activity for this weekend.  During our errands we did pick up a couple iced green teas without sweetener from Starbucks-delicious detox!  We only went to two stores and the last errand was to the grocery store for healthy salad and soup fixings.  I found myself alone at the cart which isn’t new but soon turned the corner by the deli to discover my guy snacking on three chicken fingers.  I reminded him that fried…greasy…meats…were not cleansing!  Of course he explained that he was near death and was not going to make it to our salads, apparently.  So-there was that.  This is a good reminder that healthy snacks should also be included in your cleanse in order to keep the energy/calories up-and avoid grabbing inappropriate foods.  We returned home and did make those healthy salads.  My favorite salad from the weekend was the fennel, orange, butter lettuce and parsley salad-it was so refreshing with the soup. 

Fennel Salad

We had a very relaxing afternoon.  Later that afternoon I made up our HerbPharm Liver Support milk thistle blend extract in water in shot glasses and we toasted to our health.  My guy said it was the worse thing he has ever had in a shot glass.  We made a white bean kale soup for dinner and another big salad and it was delicious.  We really embraced the relaxing vibe for the evening.  There was soaking in the bath, lounging by the fire and ended the evening with a movie without devices. 
White bean kale soup

Sunday started out well with more lemon water, another oatmeal for him and a poached egg with kale on baked sweet and red potatoes for me.  I did some light yoga and my guy went to play golf. 
Poached egg

Lunch was leftover soup and another great salad with raw kale, Brussels sprouts and carrots . 
White bean lunch

Things were going great But then…we got an invitation from friends to a new food place in town that we could not turn down.  So we-mostly me-made a healthy eating plan.  It is a wine and small plates kind of place so I got on line and checked their menu.  Roasted Brussels sprouts and rice paper veggie rolls-check.  If we could go and order those and only have one glass of red wine I would still be feeling great.  So we toasted with a round of milk thistle shots and headed out to enjoy some good company.  I ended up ordering a salad with my brussls sprouts which were delicious and had a single rice paper veggie roll half.  I did stick with my one glass of cabernet.  I will not mention the pot pie my partner had…oops. 

So I may have adjusted this plan to fit my life but I was inspired and spent the entire next work week starting my day with the lemon water before my workouts, packing healthy complex beautiful salads with lunches, including healthful fruit and nuts for snacks, keeping my portions smaller, avoiding sweets, candy and chocolate and even tossing some from the holiday, taking my milk thistle shot and drinking my warm zen green teas at work.  And I feel great and my body feels more balanced and regular again. 

If you want to try this for yourself I wish you the best of luck and advise you to take on only what feels right for you and what you can achieve.  I hope you feel as great as I did!

Tips for your Winter Cleanse

  1. Have a glass of water with lemon first thing every morning.
  2. Include a salad with lunch and dinner with powerful detoxifying ingredients: 
    • Fennel
    • Dark green leafy vegetables
    • Sweet Potatoes
    • Garlic & Onion
    • Avocado
    • Apples
    • Beets
    • Carrots
    • Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts
  3. Enjoy Soups full of vegetables, greens, beans/lentils, herbs and spices.
  4. Eliminate caffeine and alcohol.  You can take this as far as comfortable full caffeine detox is very achievable, but will take some support.  So if your a 3 cup a day person maybe try 1-2 cups and a green tea and make sure and not put to many demands on yourself over the weekend.
  5. Take a break from meat and use beans, peas and lentils instead.
  6. Avoid greasy, cheesy, fried, preserved, and salty foods.
  7. Try some detox herbs in teas or extract form to support your liver:  Milk thistle or Dandelion Root.  (Note:  Those of  you allergic to ragweed and plants like it should avoid Milk thistle & Dandelion.  Additionally if taking pharmaceuticals or if you are in a disease state please check with your pharmaisist or doctor before adding anything to your routines to avoid drug interactions.  If pregnant or breastfeeding-don’t cleanse without the help of a practitioner.)
  8. Use detox spices in your cooking and cut back on the salt:
    • Cinnamon
    • Ginger
    • Turmeric
    • Cayenne
  9. Soak in warm baths or even better sauna if available.  Remember to hydrate well, cool down gradually and follow all health precautions at your sauna.
  10. Drink 7-8 glasses of pure delicious water a day.  
  11. Drink a couple of mugs of green tea or iced green tea (no sweetener)-a powerful antioxidant!
  12. Rest and stay warm.  Sit by the fire or under a blanket, read and relax.  Take a media fast=no bad news, no ipad, no over stimulation.
  13. Include light movement, walk or stretch, try some light gentle yoga poses.
  14. If you are spiritual sit, pray, meditate.
  15. Shock your system with short burst of cold=Hydrotherapy!  Hydrotherapy is healing it basically increases circulation.  My favorite way to do this is to walk outside with bare feet for a few minutes then right back in to warm up.  You can get a more effective and more thrilling effect by changing the shower water to cold and let it hit your core for 10 seconds then back to warm.  You can do this two or three times during your shower, but end on warm.   The most important thing to remember is that you quickly come back to a warm and cozy temperature. 

DONT CLEANSE if your sick, working, pregnant, post-partum, competing in sports or training-these are all special nutrition needs situations so just take care of yourself first.

Note: When I use the word Detox I am referring to processes already occurring in your body.  The foods herbs and lifestyle tips above help support those ongoing attempts by your body to create health.

I do not advocate juice cleanses or fasting or any other extreme calorie restricted cleansing for the average person.  I do like juices and smoothies but winter is not the best time for these foods.  Cleansing in today’s busy world should not involve fasting.  I recommended fasting only in special circumstances and always working with a practitioner.  We need calories and energy for all that we do and we do a lot.  A better approach is to fuel yourself through your cleanse and be really pure about your food and beverage choices and activities. 





Post Holiday Road Trip Getaway: Lagunitas Petaluma Tap Room to Fort Bragg

Travel | January 8, 2016 | By

Tap Room

I have survived the holidays with the help of our annual tradition of a post holiday road trip getaway.  We always start this adventure leaving out of the north bay area and headed north in some way.  New to our adventures is a December 26th stop at Lagunitas Brewing Company Tap Room in Petaluma. 

Beer Board 2

If you haven’t been-Go!  I so appreciate the laid back vibe, the beer and sitting outside in the warm sun.  It is the perfect place to decompress from the errands, the gifting, the parties the gatherings, all busyness of the holidays.  I have not had a bad thing to eat here and the combinations are tasty and sometimes surprising.  I was starving by the time I got there on this particular afternoon so a starter of wings would of course be in order.  These things are not your usual wings.  For starters they are not fried and they are not small.  They are whole chicken wings that are brined and smoked to perfection.  They are covered in a sticky spicy and delicious chili sauce.   They are served with my favorite accompaniment crunchy cool jicama sticks with a cilantro lime dipping sauce…YUM!! 

Chicken Wings La

I am a big fan of Lagunitas IPA and have been for years but my current favorite is the Born Yesterday pale ale and no you cant find it in a bottle anymore…so sad.  So in my beautiful Lagunitas mason jar was the cool crisp and perfectly hoppy born yesterday cooling my hot chicken wing lips.

Beer image

And the eating went on…nothing like a nutritionist on a bender.

Up next was a cheese burger- cambezola cheese-carmalized onions-medium rare burger and it was of course out of this world delicious as well.  There burgers come with salads which is delicious with all that rich burger and somehow makes it all feel right.  Other dishes on our table included a smoked brisket sandwich, soft pretzels and more burgers and for those of you who appreciate beer Lagunitas should not be a new name for you. 

Blue Burger

Lagunitas Brewing Company Petaluma, CA
Tours daily-start with samplers-bring your dog-sit outside-don’t forget to hit the gift shop for your Lagunitas schwag on the way out!

Our next stop on our adventure was Healdsburg CA-ok so we did not make it s0 far and that was on purpose.  We junked our way through old town Petaluma (don’t miss the Seed Bank 199 Petaluma Blvd N-cant eat it have to grow it first) and moved on up to the cute little town of Healdsburg.  Our plan of attack was to hit the downtown shops (including my favorite tea shop Dragonfly Tea Co), grab a cocktail and roll into dinner.  It is really difficult to pass up food or drink at Willi’s Seafood and Raw Bar.  This place is a smash up of  east coast US  meets spicy Latin/South America and it is fabulous.  First off the bar has attention to detail down, bottles of Blanton’s bourbon,  and brandied cherries…hello whose up for whiskey sour done right!  Our evening was rich with friends and fresh oysters-a tradition on this trip.  I cannot say enough about the little sweet briny oysters you can find nearby the northern California coast.  We shared dozens on that day from Hog Island Oyster Company over in Tomales Bay, CA.  Loved the starbirds and walker creek oysters.  The evening rolled on into many small plates including grilled fish tacos, and amazing lobster roll, carmalized Brussels sprouts with linguica and blue cheese, almond crusted sole, beet salad with goat cheese mouse and basil, calamari with organge chili gremolata.  There plates are served small or sectioned into smaller servings and intended to share-I love that.  Everything was delicious-I already want another lobster roll.  We had a long wonderful evening of eats here and also want to shout out to their bloody Mary’s and Hamachi Ceviche from another adventure here.  This place is a pleasant surprise.

Willi’s Seafood and Raw Bar Healdsburg, CA
Order the oysters, lobster roll, flat iron steak, fish tacos,

Hog Island Oyster Company Tomales Bay, CA
Available here, the Ferry Building in San Francisco, Napa and more

On the road again…

Up the coast we roamed stopping at cute shops and jukin along the way!

It was rainy and cold on the coast but we made the best of it with brunch and shopping in Mendocino-I love Mendocino!

Flow Restaurant Mendocino, CA
Great view.  As for the food no complaints but no raves either biscuits and gravy, juevos rancheros and a bloody mary!

We made our way to fort bragg where the rain continued, but that was fine with us.  We had no agenda and no place to be.  We had a view of the ocean and soon wandered downtown to grab a hot beverage.  The town was a little sleepy on this Sunday but we found ourselves stopping in to the north coast brewery and grabbing a few bottles of their Rasputin (for family) and IPA to go.  We wanted a quite scene so opted for Italian take out at Cucina Verona downtown.  They were more than accommodating and friendly and if we were coming back I would sit at the bar.  We took our stuff back to the fireplace and relaxed over delicious minestrone soup and garlic bread and eventually dug into creamy pesto linguini with prawns and petrale sole picatta.  Everything was good and was washed down with a lovely 2014 Assemblage Blanc from Concannon Vineyard in Livermore, CA (thank you cousin Spencer! and I want a case of this for summer!). 

Cucina Verona  Fort Bragg, CA
I am coming back to try the butternut squash lasagna and a pizza!

That was the end of our adventure as we headed to the new year.  It is amazing what a couple days downtime will do for you.  You should try it sometime.

Note:  Sorry for the lack of pics-post Petaluma …in Willi’s the atmosphere is for eating and hanging out but not so much for picture taking.  And the other images are trapped on my apple device and I am so upset that all loaded images to my PC are opening in Word that I better just post this before all devices end up in the driveway:)  Deep breath!

The 100 Calorie Holiday Beverage

Beverage | December 19, 2015 | By

santa mug

The 100 calorie beverage is not a secret number for success it’s more about bringing awareness to your intake.  Many of us can add 400 calories or more to our day… in a night out for holiday cocktails or on a chilly day going through the Starbucks drive through.  We know we’re going to have adult beverages AND were going to want a hot cup of something.  So be prepared and make good choices…at least most of the time.

Celebrate: Champagne sparkling wine 4oz, 100 calories.  Watch your pour! Choose bruts they are less sweet =less sugars= less calories!

Watch the alcohol content-more alcohol= more calories
White wine (Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Albarino, Gruner) 5oz, 9-12% alcohol, 100-140 calories
Red wine (Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Syrah) 5oz, 11-13.5% alcohol, 120-160 calories  
**Note:  Longing for more wine info check out Wine Folly

Make it last: Wine spritzer 1/2 wine 1/2 club soda with a twist!

Get Spirited:
1 oz = 100 calories
Vodka martini 120
Whiskey sour 160

Go skinny: Vodka or tequila without sweeteners, but with lime juice and sparkling water.  Be creative don’t forget to add mashed fruit (berries-apples-pomegranates) vegetables (mashed cucumbers) or herbs (basil-thyme-mint) these add a lot of flavor and antioxidants with not many calories.

Beer belly:
Oh beer how I love thee.  Preferably a closer to 7% alcohol content, complex, junipery and delicious IPA.  However, if you are watching your waistline these things can derail you.  More alcohol content =more body more flavor AND more calories.  So our local Sierra Nevada IPA Hop Hunter at 12oz 6.2% alcohol is going to have 186 calories and some days this will work for me.  Celebration ale 12oz 6.8% 214 calories. Don’t be fooled dark beers do not always mean more alcohol and more calories Deschutes Porter 12oz 5.2% 185 calories.

A skinny beer option:  Session IPA’s, they are light but have lower alcohol with an IPA flavor try Ballast point Even Keel 12 oz 3.8% 114 calories.

Light beers have 100 calories or less and may be a good second or last drink option.
**Note:  Craving more beer info check out realbeer:  What part of beer don’t you understand?

Baby it’s Cold Outside:
Size matters!  Cut the # of pumps of flavored sweetener or eliminate!  Go no whip!

Short non-fat chai tea latte 103 calories
Tall Cappuccino 2% 90 calories
Trader joes hot chocolate made with water 100 calories
Starbucks short non-fat no whip mocha 110 calories
Hot tea 2 calories
**Note:   Explore Starbucks drinks under 200 calories: 

Above all Enjoy-drink and be merry and be safe with the people you love!

Merry Christmas!



Wonderful Winter Dessert: Pear Apple-Cranberry Crisp

Fall, Sweet, Winter | December 12, 2015 | By

apples pears orange zest

Winter weather is setting in here in northern California and warm cozy desserts to share with friends are on the menu.  My latest creation was a pear, apple cranberry crisp that was simple to make and my friends were just plain crazy about. 

Pear apple cran

A crisp is not a difficult dessert to create-and that is why I love them.  The truth is I had a bunch of Bartlett pears getting really ripe so I took advantage of them along with a big bowl of apples from the farmers market.  Combined with a little leftover thanksgiving hankering for cranberry and some dried cranberries from the pantry we had a dish. 

pan apple pear crisp

For many the ingredients for a crisp are at hand.  Seasonal fruits can be used for the filling and toppings usually include butter, flour and sugar combined with oats, nuts and spices.  I like to lead with the oats and include some wheat flour because nobody misses the white flour.  I also like to add in more nuts (there’s those a-monds again) and spices. 

apple pear crisp

The house will smell amazing and your friends will swoon.  Top with healthful plain or vanilla Greek yogurt or a scoop of REAL vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy!

Pear Apple-Cranberry Crisp
  1. 3 large Bartlett Pears
  2. 3 Granny Smith Apples
  3. 1 cup Dried Cranberries
  4. 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  5. 1 orange, zested and juiced
  6. 1/4 cup flour
  7. 1 teaspoons cinnamon
  8. 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Oatmeal Topping
  1. 2 cups oatmeal
  2. 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  3. 1/2 cup wheat flour
  4. 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  5. 1/4 cup brown sugar
  6. 1/2 cup almonds, toasted and sliced (optional)
  7. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  8. 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  9. 1 stick unsalted butter (cold)
  1. Preheat Oven to 375 deg F
  2. Peel, core and slice apples and pears and place in a large bowl. To the bowl add the cranberries, orange juice and zest, lemon juice and zest, flour and spices. Stir gently to combine.
  3. In a medium bowl combine oatmeal topping ingredients except the butter. Stir to combine.
  4. Cut cold butter into slices and work with a pastry blender to mix into dry ingredients. The goal is to have little pieces of butter distributed throughout the mixture. Pour fruit mixture into 13"x9"x2" glass baking dish top liberally with oatmeal topping.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes over a baking sheet (to catch any bubble overs). Check and rotate and bake up to 15 minutes longer until browned on top and bubbling.
  1. Note: You can substitute honey or maple syrup for the sugars and feel free to use even less sweetener. I have even used tablespoons of maple syrup on a crisp when I was covering super sweet summer stone fruits.
  2. Some may substitute coconut oil for butter and that works well also.
Adapted from Ina Garten
Adapted from Ina Garten
California Eatin'