Superfoods, slow food, nutritionally dense….buzz words that convey the latest direction from the medical community. Eat more fruits and vegetables, eat variety, as in more types of fruit and vegetables. A couple of months ago, I attended a women’s health expo presented by Mercy Hospitals of Sacramento with my friend Anne. Anne is a breast cancer survivor. When Anne got sick, it was that event that really solidified how important our circle of friends really was in our lives. For the last 20 years we have raised our children side by side, joined together for every celebration, every sorrow, every achievement and every disappointment.
At the expo, Anne and I listened to a family practitioner and a dietitian talk about “superfoods” and there was a handout detailing what they considered to be the top 15. There was also a theme at this event about how women take care of everyone around them first, but often forget to take care of themselves. So I got inspired. I decided to prepare a meal to truly take care of my friends. The goal was to include as many of the top 15 as possible, to use healthy ingredients such as the “good fats” and fresh herbs to make it delicious. I even rode my bike to do the shopping just to get into the true spirit of health (I should mention this was really the “slow way” to shop as well!). Beware! Two bottles of red wine (while loaded with resveratrol) in your backpack really messes with your center of gravity!
So to the menu: They snacked on edamame, roasted almonds and red grapes, sipping the aforementioned red wine (and iced green tea for those who don’t drink) while I cooked and listened to them kibbutz and laugh. It was sometimes hard to concentrate on my job as these girls crack me up. Another age old adage, laughter is the best medicine, came to mind. No need to research the health benefits of this. Just look at your friends’ faces. The dinner began with a spinach, red chard and Italian parsley salad with pomegranate balsamic vinaigrette. Our main course consisted of almond crusted chicken breast with raspberry sauce, roasted Brussel sprouts with red pears and shallots flavored with fresh thyme and a warm sweet potato salad with black beans and jalapenos. I should mention that a true “superfood” menu would have featured wild salmon but my friend Christy doesn’t eat fish. We love Christy so accommodations must be made! We finished the meal with a delicious Apple Cherry Crisp with a Twist. The topping was made from crumbled phyllo dough, honey and cinnamon served with a dollop of Greek yogurt.
This meal was three hours of eating, talking and laughing – the true hallmark of slow food. When we got up from the table and entered the kitchen it looked like a bomb went off. Every dish I own was dirty and every surface was covered with remnants of the cooking process. All five of my dinner guests jumped into the clean up effort and in minutes the dishwasher was on and my kitchen was restored to order. You gotta love your girlfriends.