Practical, healthful eating and living.

Cool Breezes July 28, 2011

Hot, humid, shut the door, turn on the AC sweet July.  Here’s a bit of what I’m dipping into to stay cool!

Frozen Granitas

Pour juice, sweetened tea, or nearly any kind of beverage into a freezer-friendly container. I use Ziploc containers because I know they’ll keep me from spilling on the way in and out of the freezer.

After about an hour, take your granita out of the freezer and scrape the frozen sides down and stir into the middle.  Repeat after another 30 minutes to an hour a couple of times until there are flakes of ice throughout and you’re ready for cool, sweet refreshment.  Depending on the size of the container, allow 2-5 hours for freezing.

Alternatively, create a simply syrup of 1 cup sugar to 1 cup water by heating until the sugar is dissolved.  Add to taste to freshly squeezed lemon juice or other fruit juices. Freeze as above.

Home-made Popsicles   

Take the same as above and freeze in popsicle holders.  If you don’t have popsicle holders, freeze in paper cups covered with aluminum foil with a popsicle stick inserted through the middle.

Experiment with adding simply syrup to your juice, blended fruit, whole berries, kiwi slices, or your tea of choice to get the flavoring you like.  I don’t particularly like highly sweetened juices.  Lately, I’ve been going with 8 ounces of unsweetened coconut juice, mixed with the juice of one freshly-squeezed lime and chopped fresh mint, with but a tablespoon or so of simple syrup.  Restorative on a hot day after a bike ride.


Buy a big seedless watermelon. Chop into bite-sized pieces. Store what you can in a refrigerator-friendly container. Freeze the rest on a flat tray lined with saran wrap and covered with saran wrap. Once frozen, store in a Ziploc bag, then blend, frozen, to create an instant watermelon slushie.

Cucumber slices in water    

Peel and slice fresh cucumber. Drop slices into a pitcher. Fill with fresh, cold water. Refrigerate.

Get creative: sometimes I add slices of lime or sprigs of mint. Go with what calls you.


I don’t know why. Something about the saltiness, the coolness of the refrigerated jar, makes me crave pickles in summer.  I keep a jar in the fridge all throughout the summer.



Cannellini all’Insalata July 4, 2010

After a bike ride in the sun, all I want is citrus, but I’m usually famished, too.  It’s easy to skip protein in summer when fresh fruit is abundant, and lemonade is flowing.  That’s why I love this white bean salad.  It’s so refreshing straight from the fridge, and it’s not anything like the Midwestern bean salads you may have had in the past. Be sure to have it with a slice of toast or a baguette to make a complete protein with the beans.  Not only will you feel refreshed, but you’ll have energy, too.


1 pound (about 2 cups) dried cannellini beans

4 garlic cloves (1 whole, 3 sliced)

1 sprig fresh sage

3 celery stalks ( 1 whole, 2 chopped)

1/2 red onion, julienned

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2-3 large lemons

salt and pepper to taste

Leaves from 1 bunch parsley

Combine the beans, one whole garlic clove and the sage in a large bowl.  Cover with cold water and let soak overnight.

The next day, discard the garlic and sage, drain and rinse the beans.  Place the beans in a large pot, cover with fresh water and add the whole celery stalk.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the beans are al dente, from 30-40 minutes.  (Don’t let them turn mushy.)  Drain the beans, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking liquid.  Discard the celery.  Let the beans cool to room temperature.

Combine the sliced garlic, the onion and olive oil in a medium-sized bowl.  Squeeze the juice from 1 1/2 of the lemons over the top and season with salt and pepper.  Whisk lightly until emulsified.  Add the beans, chopped celery, parsley and reserved cooking liquid.  Cover and set aside for at least 1 hour to allow flavors to blend.  (Be sure to refrigerate if you plan to let it sit longer than an hour.) Season with more freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste.

Serve cold or at room temperature, garnished with lemon wedges from the remaining lemon half.  Remember that beans absorb salt, causing the flavor to disappear after a day.  Be sure to taste and re-salt leftovers as needed to brighten the taste.  You may want to add a little more lemon juice after day, but I find that the flavors of this salad just get better with time.

Based on Cannellini all’Insalata from “The San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook.”


Picnic Friendly Fare – Lemon Chicken Salad July 6, 2009

Barefoot Contessa Lemon Chicken Salad 7_09This was a hit at my 4th of July picnic.  As there are many more opportunities for picnics to come, I’d thought I’d share it.  This is from The Barefoot Contessa cookbook by Ina Garten.

Note: Give yourself an extra day so that the chicken breasts can marinate overnight before grilling.

There are two parts to this recipe: the grilled chicken, then the assembling of the salad.


3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons) (Yes! Fresh makes a difference!)

3/4 cup good olive oil

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)

2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, halved and skin removed.

Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme.  Pour over the chicken breasts in a nonreactive bowl.  Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight.

Grill for about ten minutes on each side.  Allow to chill in refrigerator.  Slice into 3/8-inch-thick slices when ready to assemble salad.


1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 large lemon) (Yes!  Use fresh!)

1/4 cup good olive oil

1 cup raw sugar snap peas, stems and strings removed

1/2 red bell pepper, julienned

1/2 yellow bell pepper, julienned

1 lemon, thinly sliced

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Toss all the ingredients into a bowl, including the chilled, sliced grilled chicken.  Taste for seasonings and serve cold or at room temperature.