Longer Days, Lighter Meals and a Little Anniversary!

Kicked back watching the fisherman on Lake Winfield Scott.

Kicked back watching the fisherman on Lake Winfield Scott.

The longer and hotter days of Spring and Summer always make me feel that it’s time to start lightening up a bit! While I like fall and winter produce and the dishes inspired by those seasons, I do so look forward to this sunny time of year and all the juicy fruits, berries and summer vegetables that come with it. I get very excited anticipating the delicious and more veggie-and-fruit-centric dishes I can make and eat for the next 3 or 4 months.

Recently, my husband and I decided that eating more fruit and veggies during the day, and adding meat and dairy to that with our evening meal, is a great way to help us stay healthy. Mark Bittman*, a respected American food writer, one of my favorite cookbook authors and a columnist with the New York Times, has just published a book to that effect called VB6 (Eat Vegan Before 6). In the book, he proposes that eating a mostly plant-based diet can have massive health benefits for people and the planet, and his sustainable approach for achieving this goal is to eat no animal products or by-products before 6 p.m., then eat whatever you want after that. Of course there’s a bit more to it, but that’s the concept, plain and simple. If you find this idea as intriguing as I did, you can read more about his strategy in his book or on his website. We all know that eating plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grains is good for our bodies and may aid in maintaining our weight or even losing some, so spending two-thirds of my eating day focused on that idea as a habit, then getting my cheese and/or meat fix at dinner—possibly with a dessert or an adult beverage—sounds like a win-win situation to me!

If left to my own devices, I will end up looking just like this!

Getting enough sleep is important, too, as is rolling around on ones’ back.

Perhaps what I like best about Mr. Bittman’s sensible approach is that he recognizes the fact that we all know we will stray sometimes…like when you’re on vacation or have circumstances where you just can’t eat this way for a day, or a week. Or you may find that you stray all the time because you just can’t live without dairy in your coffee and nut milk doesn’t do it for you. And that’s okay, it’s a personal choice and part of enjoying your life and food, in general. My take away from all of this is that it’s something I can easily enjoy doing, something I think I can live with and hopefully enjoy some health benefits in the process.

All this to say that you may, or may not, notice a slight sea-change to the recipes featured on this blog. In fact I think that mostly you won’t notice much change, other than perhaps a higher fruit and veggie-to-meat ratio within certain dishes as time goes on.

Unless, of course, we are on vacation, in which case all bets are off!

So vibrantly colored...and vibrantly flavored, too!

So vibrantly colored…and vibrantly flavored, too!

Today I’m sharing a version of the universally beloved Tabbouleh salad, for which everyone has their own variation. This one is slightly adapted from a Mark Bittman recipe and it’s terrific for lunch or dinner, has lots of flavor, texture and crunch. We took this on our annual June mountain trip for my husband’s birthday this past weekend—along with some cheese and sausages of course—and enjoyed it picnic-style while lounging near Lake Winfield Scott in North Georgia. Add some fish or meat to this dish if you like, but I generally prefer my Tabbouleh either straight up as a salad, as a component of a mezze platter or as a side to a meat, chicken or fish entree. Regardless of how you choose to eat this, I hope you enjoy.

*Please Note: I am not promoting Mark Bittman, his book VB6, or being compensated to mention either one! I’m just sharing because I want to do so.

Tabbouleh (Slightly adapted from Mark Bittman’s recipe)
Makes 4 generous servings

3/4 cup medium-grind bulgur
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of two juicy lemons
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or more to taste
1 dry pint grape tomatoes, quartered lengthwise
1 large English cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
3 large celery stalks, trimmed and chopped
6 scallions, thinly sliced white and pale green parts, plus 2 tablespoons of green
10 pitted green Greek olives or other, chopped
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint

Bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan with a cover. Remove the water from the heat, stir in the bulgur and cover. Allow it to sit until the grain is tender, about 15 minutes. If any water remains in the pot, strain it, pressing on the bulgur to remove as much water as possible. Place the bulgur in a large mixing bowl and toss with the olive oil and lemon juice. Add the salt and pepper and toss again. Add the remaining ingredients and toss well to combine and coat. Taste for seasoning and add a bit more salt and pepper and lemon juice if desired. Serve at room temp. Keeps in the fridge for 3 days.

Thumbelina and Cinderella say "Happy Anniversary, Mom" and "Keep the dairy coming!."

Thumbelina and Cinderella say Happy Anniversary, Mom, and keep the dairy coming!

And on another important note, this week marks my 2-year blogging Anniversary!

Wow, how the time does fly. I do hope that you all have enjoyed the first two years of this blog, and that you will stay with me for another two and see where the trail leads us next. Here’s a look back at some of my favorite dishes from this past year with links to the recipes, just in case you missed a few. Cheers!

Did I mention this is great for breakfast, too?

Did I mention this is great for breakfast, too?

Blackberry, Lemon and Almond Snackin’ Cake!

Lentils

French Lentilicious Salad.

Now THIS is a southern plate of food that makes me grin like a Cheshire Cat!

Now THIS is a southern plate of food that makes me grin like a Cheshire Cat!

Firecracker Slaw and Corn with Chipotle butter…perfect for the 4th of July!

With such a fiesta of color, this dish just has to be good!

With such a fiesta of color, this dish just has to be good!

The now infamous Betsy’s Famous Black Bean Mango Salad…a pot luck special.

Fresh from the oven, Clafouti is puffed and bubbly!

Fresh from the oven, Clafouti is puffed and bubbly!

Julia Child’s classic Clafouti with cherries was a perfect way to celebrate what would have been her 100th birthday.

I look at this and all I can think about is making the next one!

I look at this and all I can think about is making the next one!

This Summer Squash and Tomato Galette features some of my favorite veggies and an olive oil crust to boot.

wholeplate

Betsy’s Retro Cheese Olive Bites and Martha Stewart’s Bacon Wrapped Dates, the MOST pinned recipes from this past year!

Tarragon Pecan Chicken Salad on Brioche Crostini...need I say more? But I will!

Tarragon Pecan Chicken Salad on Brioche Crostini…need I say more? But I will!

Probably my second most pinned recipe from this past year, Tarragon Pecan Chicken Salad on Brioche Crostini.

The color change of the layers in the Kir Royale are so subtle, they are hard to photograph, but you can see whatever it is, it's a pretty color in candlelight!

The color change of the layers in the Kir Royale are so subtle, they are hard to photograph, but you can see whatever it is, it’s a pretty color in candlelight!

Kir Royale…a very celebratory cocktail.

Almost ready!

Almost ready!

Kitchen Sink Sloppy Joes…great for camping!

chili1

Spooktacular Beef and Italian Sausage Chili is a great dish for Fall…and a little bit scary, too…it’s so delicious.

Home-styled comfort from the cold...or a cold!

Home-styled comfort from the cold…or a cold!

My homemade Chicken Noodle Soup, for whatever ails you.

These are a classic!

These are a classic!

My mom’s fantastic Drop Sugar Cookies are a traditional holiday fave.

Is there anything more inviting than a freshly baked pie? No, perhaps not.

Is there anything more inviting than a freshly baked pie? No, perhaps not.

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie…well, there you go!

*****

 

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45 thoughts on “Longer Days, Lighter Meals and a Little Anniversary!

  1. Congratulations on your second anniversary! Well done to you. That picnic spot looks beautiful and relaxing. And how gorgeous to have photos of your cats – they look like they don’t need any encouragement when it comes to relaxing xx

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    • Those cats know how to live and sleep well, that’s for sure! We are fortunate to have some pretty mountainous areas quite close to the city…perfect for a little weekend getaway or a picnic. 🙂 xo

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  2. Happy 2nd Anniversary, Betsy! The celebratory round-up you gathered is a good one. So many tasty dishes to re-discover. The tebbouleh you shared looks perfect for the hot days ahead. So very fresh looking. I saw Bittman on a show yesterday and he talked about his book and plan. It really does make sense. It seems to me to be so much easier than counting calories or points or carbs or whatever. Whether I go vegan or vegetarian before 6, I think it a great idea to be really conscious of what is eaten before the evening meal. I think he’s on to something.

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    • Thank you so much, John, and thanks for following me, too! I could eat this tabbouleh every day, especially since our days are up into the 90’s this week. I agree, Bittman’s plan makes a lot of sense…a lot of common sense, too. I loved Food Matters and the thought behind it, and I’ve seen some of his interviews on line about this book. His laid back approach really appeals to me. I’ve tried the calorie and point counting, and I give up on it eventually. This seems like an easy thing to do, and a delicious lifestyle change as well. 🙂

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  3. Congratulations Betsy! Wow 2 years really went fast and I am even luckier as I remember almost all of your past posts. Eating healthier and lighter has a great jump start with your delicious salad. Of course love your little kitties and your blue little toes too. I am glad you can have a little fun too while going leaner. Take care, BAM

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    • Thank you, Bobbi, for following me and for your lovely compliments. I just realized that somehow I’d stopped getting your Facebook feeds, which I used to get, and I see you have two pages. I think I re-liked the correct one! 🙂 I’m glad you like that blue nail polish, it’s my favorite color this summer..it reminds me of the sky on a clear blue sky day. Those kitties live the life of luxury, I’m telling you! They are sisters and so funny…great company and our babies. So far, the leaner approach has been quite fun and tasty. Soon I will be experimenting more with my own dishes along these lines. Hope you have a great day!

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      • Hi Betsy, I actually have a facebook Bam’s Kitchen “person” and Facebook Bam’s Kitchen “page” as I wanted to keep my personal stuff separate. You can link up to both but my facebook page is where I have all of my recipe links. Here is the link to my Facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bams-Kitchen/129787413780721?ref=hl. I just made sure I was following you too. Let me know if your not seeing the little green mitten when you see my page? Have a super day and I need to find that color nail polish too to remind me of the blue skies in Michigan. Take care, BAM

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        • Hey Bam, that was the page I liked and I do see the green mitten. I think it was your other page that I had liked and then stopped getting feeds because I remember the picture of you on it! 🙂 The nail polish is ESSIE Bikini So Teeny…if the carry ESSIE in Hong Kong!

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  4. Happy Anniversary! 🙂 I’ve never been a big veggie eater, however like you recently I try o eat more of it, definitely a good idea. Also, seeing your cats’ photographs confirm my desire to be a cat in my next life ( a house cat, that is, one that rolls around on the sofa :p ).
    Have a lovely day!

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  5. Happy 2nd blogging anniversary. I have enjoyed your posts and am looking forward to many, many more. I too love Mark Bitman. Used to read him in the NYT and watch him on TV. Anxiously awaiting for my garden to start producing tomatoes, cucumber, etc.

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    • Thank you so much, Norma! I really appreciate your kind words and enjoy your posts as well. Mark Bittman is great, isn’t he? We’ve really enjoyed the tastes and renewed appreciation of veggies via this VB6 approach to eating. It’s fun and we feel better already! And eat very well, too, so far. I can see more stir fries and tofu in my future! 🙂 Lucky you with tomatoes and cucumbers on the way. I’m afraid my veggie garden is not happening this year. Although I may break down and buy a couple of plants and put in since I didn’t get my seeding done on time.

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  6. Congrats on the anniversary! Wow, has it been 2 years already? Looking forward to the next 2 and thanks for all the wonderful recipes you’ve shared with us 🙂 Love your nail polish by the way!

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  7. What a great way to enjoy the Spring and Summer. I agree, I try to incorporate more fruit and vegetables in my family’s diet too. That Tabbouleh looks awesome and colorful. 🙂 I love easy and healthful meal like this. Happy 2nd anniversary to your blog! What a wonderful milestone to celebrate. 🙂 Wish you a beautiful weekend ahead.

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    • Hi Amy, and thank you so much for your lovely comments and good wishes. 🙂 So far this lifestyle change hasn’t been difficult at all and in fact it’s been eye-opening and quite enjoyable. Plus I’m losing a little weight, which is needed, too. I hope you have a great weekend as well. The weather is beautiful here today!

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  8. Happy happy happy anniversary Betsy, I have certainly enjoyed reading your blog and getting to know you, I just can’t believe it’s been two years! Congratulations.
    Happy belated birthday to your hubby too.
    It’s funny that we’re all evaluating our eating habits these days; I’m doing the opposite to you though, choosing to eat my higher calories during the daytime when I’m more active, and a salad without carbs or protein for dinner Monday through Thursday; it’s helped me lose weight too (although rather slowly).
    I adore tabbouleh, we usually make it with Quinoa to reduce the carbs. I love how colourful yours is, just beautiful.
    We’re not at ‘normal’ June weather – it’s still rather chilly particularly in the mornings and evenings. Yesterday it took over an hour for my hands to warm up from riding my bicycle to work!

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    • Thank you so much, Eva…I can’t believe it’s been two years either…the time has flown! And thanks also for your kind wishes for my husband. He had a very rough health year last year and we are so very happy that he’s doing well and is here to enjoy his birthday this year. 🙂 The principle of this VB6 approach is to be able to enjoy your evening meal, since that is when most of us go out, meet friends, have a cocktail, etc., and therefore be able to stick to this every single day. Also in theory you do burn calories while you sleep, too. But of course if you eat from 6 to midnight continuously and eat all cheese and ice cream…that doesn’t work under any circumstances! It’s just a way I can live with, and so far I’ve lost a little weight, too. We’ve only been doing this in earnest for two weeks now. Good for you riding your bike to work! Cannot imagine having your hands get cold this time of year…we’re enjoying a cold front here today, only getting into the upper 80’s!

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  9. Happy second anniversary Betsy! I applaud your “lifestyle changes” too. I think it would be a little drastic for me – I don’t eat a lot of meat in any case… maybe only 3 times a week, but I do like my dairy and eggs, and I couldn’t skip out on those before 6pm. I hope it makes you feel good though, that’s what’s important!

    Here’s to another successful two years more!

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    • Hi Charles and thanks! Actually this approach is more of a general thing, and not an absolute. Today I had some cheese on a sandwich out at lunch, but in general I’m trying to avoid dairy and eggs before six. There will be some weekends when we may have eggs for brunch, or when we go out of town…to a friend’s house and so on. So far it hasn’t been hard at all and I do feel better, so we shall see how it goes! 🙂

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  10. Congratulations on hitting the two year milestone! I’m toasting you as we speak with a fine glass of red wine:) There are quite a few dishes on this page that would go nicely with my glass of red.. I’m glad you did a recap for us! I would have such a difficult time with that plan, I’m a dairy addict (among other things) and couldn’t go without yogurt or milk before supper. (Much like your kitties!) However.. I have begun to add in a lot of veggies to my meals, so I’m all over your Tabbouleh recipe!

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    • It’s really not as hard as it seems, Barb, and you can always cheat a little bit if you must. We rode bikes for 12 miles today, and I did have a fudgecicle to reward myself. Have also had some cheese and/or dairy when we haven’t been home. It’s just a guideline, and it seems to work so far. 🙂 Thanks for you good thoughts and the toast…back at you!

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  11. Keeping a healthy balanced life with my gluttony can be tricky, but I try to eat only fruit or veggies during the day then a balanced veggie heavy meal with meat or fish for dinner. This program with my workout schedule compensates for the really gluttonous dishes we come up with. So I guess I’m already living the Bittman life?

    And congrats on your 2 year Anniversary!! I remember so many of these recipes you’ve shared again and am looking forward to enjoying all the ones to come!

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  12. Pingback: Fall Frolic and a Warming Ham, Potato and Cabbage “Chowder” | bits and breadcrumbs

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