Monday, June 29, 2009

5 "Hot" Oil & Vinegar Home Cures

5 Hot Summertime

Oil & Vinegar Home Cures

(For Not So Fun Stuff)

By Cal Orey

Looking for a new, improved way to deal with pesky health ailments this season chock-full of life's ups and downs, hot sunshine, and natural disasters? Mighty vinegar and olive oil comes to the rescue--to all of you who love gourmet food. Remember, you gotta take care of yourself first, whipping up fine fare and digging in is second...

1. Anxiety: Make an anti-anxiety cocktail by putting 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into 1 cup of boiling water and simmering it for a few minutes. For an extra relaxing boost, drop a chamomile tea bag into the cup.
2. Chapped Skin: Mix your best olive oil-based hand cream with vinegar. Apply this combination each time after you wash your hands. (Cooking and baking in the kitchen calls for this cure year-round.)
3. Hot Flashes: When Father Time and Mother Nature meet, summer heat, dry or humid, and stress can trigger hot flashes for women, in their 40s, 50s and 60s, dealing with hormonal woes. Try 1 tablespoon in one 8-ounce glass of spring water with ice cubes. If you sip a cold, refreshing apple cider drink, you will keep those hot flashes at bay. (Ice green or chamomile tea with a splash of ACV can do the trick, too.)
4. Vitamin Tester: Not a big vitamin taker here. Eating nutrient-dense foods seems to do the job for me. Drop your vitamin into ½ cup of vinegar. Stir the solution a few times during the course of 20 minutes. If the vitamin separates into tiny pieces, it’s good. If not, look for a different brand.
5. First-Aid Essential: So far, so good regarding summer and Mother Nature. No wildfires, quakes, floods--yet. Pour apple cider vinegar into a large plastic container (or two), and store it with your emergency supplies for your universal emergency protection for health problems (cuts, bruises, sore throat, etc.) after a hurricane, flood, earthquake hits home.
Excerpt from The Healing Powers of Vinegar by Cal Orey

Strawberry Shortcake Surprise: Vinegar 'n' Chocolate

Strawberry Shortcake: Balsamic Vinegar & Chocolate

by Cal Orey

One must ask children and birds how cherries and strawberries taste.

--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

It's Monday afternoon and while I'm at the computer working hard for the money, I'm in the mood for something sweet, something fun, something healthy... I've had Strawberry Shortcake on my mind for a while. So, yesterday, I decided against making homemade biscuits like mom used to bake (yes, the writer is busy writing) but that didn't stop me from getting the other right ingredients to make up one of my fave and kind of healthful dishes. And this time it's got an European twist to it with a gourmet touch.

This dessert reminds me of several years ago. I traveled to British Columbia with a boyfriend and ordered this at a restaurant. I was smitten by the old-fashioned treat (more my compatible match than my gentleman friend). Once back in the SF Bay Area, again, I lived on Strawberry Shortcake--it was a phase... I also recall visiting an awesome fish aquarium in Canada. It was the highlight of the trip (for me). The Shortcake came in second.

Off topic, sort of and sort of not. Yesterday, at Lake Tahoe I switched swimming spots (no, not the Lake) due to the coming invasion of the tourists. Read: See I Am Legend. The visitors remind me of the spooky Dark Seekers. But to keep sane, rather than going against the flow of strangers, I'm trying to learn how to go easy with it all. Speaking of swimming, my poor fish (yep, another noname one passed and went to fish heaven). So, I cleaned the aquarium, got new fish plants (and fish) and I am sensing all is good. My boys (I'm assuming) are swimming and lovin' it.

And if you swim regularly like I love to do, yes, yes you can savor a surprise dish, like this one (even with the pound cake and whipped cream) on occasion, without packing on unwanted pounds.

Strawberry Shortcake Surprise

2 cups organic strawberries

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon real maple syrup

all butter pound cake

real all-natural French vanilla ice cream and/or real whipped cream

dark chocolate shavings

Wash, slice berries. Put aside. Warm up balsamic vinegar (saute or microwave). Cool and add syrup. Wait till it cools. Cut a few thin slices of pound cake. Top with plenty of vitamin C rich, anti-stress strawberries. Drizzle sweet balsamic mixture on berries. Top with a scoop of ice cream and/or a dollop of whipped cream. Garnish with dark chocolate shavings.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Cool Ways To Fight Fat! Stir-Fry Shrimp & Rice...

Forget Meat! Eat Rice,Veggies & Fish...

Slim Down, Firm Up

by Cal Orey

I woke up this morning and thought to myself: "Why are some of my gal-pals and guy-pals struggling this summer with unwanted body fat and pounds?" It isn't rocket science...I believe part of the extra weight formula is due to three factors: rather than grazing (eating metabolism-boosting mini meals throughout the day) they wolf down three big meals (or one!) per day; making meat a big part of it all; and lack of exercise.

Do as the Europeans and Hawaiians do--when they follow their traditional diet (including veggies, whole grains, fish in moderation) and exercise regimes. You can go from fat to firm at any age!

In my late teens, I rebelled and stopped eating my mom's meat dishes. Also, I became physically active. The result: I was a petite shrimp--lean and fit...Today, in my mid fifties, same deal: size 4, 122 lbs. at 5' 5". So when I hear folks and peers complain about their weight (often at the pool I swim at) I tell them simply to do as I do. Eat more rice, veggies, fish--less meat--and get a move on! Here, is a great jump-start recipe to give you a taste of eating right. It's quick and easy and will help you to slim down.

Stir-Fry Shrimp and Rice

3 green onions, sliced

1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

1/2 cup red beel pepper

1 pound tiny cocktail shrimp

1 quart cooked long-grin rice, cold (I prefer brown rice)

1 (8 ounce) can pineapple chunks in juice

1/3 cup natural rice vinegar

3 tablespoons Oriental sesame oil (I prefer extra virgin olive oil)

a pinch of pepper

1/4 cup fresh cilantro

1/2 cup sliced almonds

In a large nonstick skillet or wok, stir-fry onions with green and red pepper for a few minutes. Stir in shrimp and rice. Add pineapple with juice, vinegar, oil, and pepper. Heat thoroughly. toss in cilantrol. Garnish with almonds. Serve hot, or for salad, divide mixture into 4 small molds and chill 2 hours or overnight. Unmold salads onto lettuce leaves.

(Excerpt from The Healing Powers of Vinegar, by Cal Orey)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Cool Gazpacho with a "Hot" Taste of Oil 'n' Vinegar...

Cool Gazpacho with a Hot Taste of Spain

By Cal Orey

Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
Lewis Carroll

I remember as a young girl growing up in the fifties that red wine vinegar and olive oil were mainstays on the kitchen table. My mom was a wonderful cook who made meals from scratch. And after her trip to Europe, she would often dish up dishes with an Italian and Spanish flair.

Fast forward to my life in San Carlos, California. I was befriended by an elderly cultured harpist (and my landlord) who had a strong love for the European people and lifestyle. She often took me to European restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area. And, it was she who introduced me to Salvatore's Restaurant and Chef Salvatore, a wonderful cook from Sicily who cooked up memorable and hearty European cuisine.

Today, as the temperature rises, I find myself going down memory lane to one of the cold appetizers that both my fine food-loving friend and chef pal insisted I try. And I'm giving you the recipe and urging you to hit the kitchen and prepare this fine, inexpensive and good-for-you summertime soup--gazpacho, popular in Spain.

Gazpacho Cold Fresh Vegetable Soup

1 pound tomato concasse (recipe below)

8 ounces onions, peeled, sliced

8 ounces red bell peppers, seeded, quartered

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

3 ounces red wine vinegar

Juice of 2 lemons

3 ounces olive oil

Juice of 2 limes

1 teaspoon salt

16 ounces tomato juice

Tabasco, habanero to taste

Tomato Concasse
Cut out the stems of 4 tomatoes (1 pound) and cut a small "x" on the bottom of each one. Place tomatoes in boiling water for 15-30 seconds, depending on ripeness. Remove tomatoes with slotted spoon and immediately plunge into ice water ang gently pull away the skin. Cut tomatoes in half and squeeze out the seeds and dice. For added flavor, saute diced tomatoes in 2 ounces of olive oil with a teaspoon of chopped garlic. Set aside to cool.
Puree all ingredients except the tomato juice. Adjust the consistency and flavor with the tomato juice (or consomme). Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and garnish with a very small dice of red and green bell pepper, cucumber, and tomato along with small seasoned croutons. A teaspoon of the diced vegetables and a few crouton are ideal. Makes 1/2 gallon.

(Recipe by Chef Salvatore J Campagna; excerpted from The Healing Powers of Vinegar, Revised and Updated published by Kensington and available on and http://www.barnesandnoble/ .)

Serve with warm whole wheat French bread dipped in extra virgin olive oil, and a spinach salad splashed with red wine vinegar.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Secret(s) to Heart-Healthy Apple Crisp: Olive Oil & Vinegar

Heart-Healthy Apple Crisp You'll Love

By Cal Orey

"Adam was but human-this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple's sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden."

--Mark Twain

I love apples. Apple cider vinegar to fuji apples--both have perks--can help you stay on the healthy heart track... Eighty percent of the fiber found in an apple is soluble fiber--pectin, which may be of help in lowering blood cholesterol levles. Also, apples are a good source of potassium, which helps provide protection against strokes. And like most other fruits, they're also lower in sodium (for better blood pressure), calories (for staying slim), and fat (for lower cholesterol).

Yesterday, I bought a bag of fuji apples. (I can't get enough of these. Their sweet and tart, juicy flavor has got me hooked. It's a delicious love affair and good for the heart.) Ever hear the saying, "An apple a day means fewer doctors to pay?"

Apples are good stuff. Okay, so I created the following recipe that excludes flour and butter but includes heart-healthy oatmeal, nuts, olive oil, apple cider vinegar--and apples. I'm going to whip up this puppy later today but I will bet you a bushel of apples it's going to taste as good as the good-for-your-heart homemade granola I made with olive oil.

The Sweetest Apple Crisp

* * *


7 apples, washed, peeled, cored and sliced (If you want more fiber and nutrients, leave the skins on the apples)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (ACV)

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 -3/4 cup pecans or walnuts

1/2 cup raisins (optional)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. (If you live in high altitude it may be a bit higher.) In a mixing bowl, combine prepared apples, olive oil, ACV, and vanilla. Layer fuji apples in your fave baking dish (I use my mother's from the fifties). Combine light or dark brown sugar, cinnamon, nuts, and uncooked oats in a bowl. Sprinkle sugar mixture over apples. Bake approximately 45 minutes. It will be done when the topping looks brown and crunchy, apples are tender. (Go ahead and toss in raisins once removed from the oven.) Serve with a single scoop of all-natural real French vanilla ice cream.

For more info about heart-healthy apples, ACV, and olive oil, check out my two books--The Healing Powers of Vinegar and The Healing Powers of Olive Oil published by Kensington. (A discount is provided if you purchase 'em as a pair.)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Real Deal: A-Day-In-A-Life With Vinegar(s)

A Real Day-In-A-Life With
(Apple Cider, Red Wine, White)
By Cal Orey
8:30 A.M.: Splash apple cider vinegar on my face to enjoy that healthy glow whether the sun is out or not.
9:00 A.M.: Clean the cat litter box with distilled white vinegar to keep both Kerouac, my sensitive black kitty, and me happy.
10:00 A.M.: Enjoy a hot cup of chamomile tea with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.
1:00 A.M.: After a swim, I nibble on a salad chock-full of vegetables and white albacore tuna, and splash red wine vinegar on top for extra flavor. Not true. I wolfed it down. Swimming makes your appetite soar.
3:00 P.M.: Wash favorite black turtleneck sweater and use distilled white vinegar in the rinse cycle to preserve bold color.
5:00 P.M.: Make a vegetable stir-fry dish and include rice vinegar to enhance flavor. (Nah, it's not just apple cider vinegar solo that can help you dump unwanted body fat and pounds. It's the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle--eating the right foods, such as fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, fish, nuts, and olive oil), and regular exercise that keeps you lean and healthy.
7:00 P.M.: Blot apple cider vinegar on my fingernails before giving myself a manicure and a pedicure.
9:00 P.M.: Savor a hot cup of green tea with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.
10:00 P.M.: Indulge in one (or two) of those Vinegar Man cookies. ( I added nuts and raisins.)
Midnight: Read The Healing Powers of Olive Oil to discover new ways I can use versatile all-natural olive oil and vinegar to make my life easier, happier, and healthier.

On page 145 of The Healing Powers of Vinegar, you can find the recipe The Vinegar Man's Vinegar Cookies.

The Magic of DIY Massage and Olive Oil

The Magic of Massage, Olive Oil & Herbs

By Cal Orey

His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree.


Did you know that using olive oil found in your kitchen cupboard combined with essential oils from aromatic plants can help you to relax the body, mind, and spirit? This isn't news The art of using aromatic essential oil for physical and mental well-being goes way back to the Egyptians.

Ever suffer from a stressed muscle due to working out at the gym or doing too much indoor or outdoor housework? Actually, muscle aches and pains can affect you at any age. After swimming laps at a resort pool, bringing in plenty of wood for a fire at night (it gets chilly at night in the Tahoe mountains), walking the dogs, and vacuuming (whew!), sometimes my upper or lower back throb, especially during the summer when we get that extra boost of oomph to do it all.

I once called a local personal trainer, and he suggested calling a masseuse. Her fee: $120 per hour. During an ongoing recession I decided to be self-reliant and try a budget-smart on the cheap healing oil and my own two hands.

Callie's Reviving Massage Oil

This activating eucalyptus massage oil is effective for sore and aching muscles. Some of the common types of massage include stroking, kneading, percussion, and vibration. Combine the following essential oils:

20 drops eucalyptus
20 drops lavender
20 drops rosewood
5 drops chamomile
5 drops peppermint

Add 36 drops of this blend to 3 ounces olive oil. Shake briefly, and massage a small amount into tired, achy muscles and joints.

P.S. Don't hesitate to treat yourself to some olive-oil based soaps and shampoos for the ultimate at-home DIY spa experience. .

(Excerpt from The Healing Powers of Olive Oil)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Escape to a New, Improved Potato Salad with Olive Oil

Mediterranean Potato Salad with EVOO

You Can Make at Home Without Going to Europe

by Cal Orey

Summer is here...and while I wish I were on a beach in Venice, I survived one hellish week at Lake Tahoe... Copy edits for the big chocolate book; computer server woes; and no swimming for countless days. But now, all is good. No worries. The pool, swimming laps, and hot tub time (it's still off season till the temperature soars and the Fourth of July) are on this Girls Just Want to Have Fun (tune in for a quickie fix of amusement) agenda for Thursday, June 25.

Speaking of hot, I've got cooking up red potatoes, olive oil, and vinegar on the brain. In my book The Healing Powers of Vinegar, this yum recipe stands out loud and clear and I'm going to whip up a batch tomorrow to bring in the good old summertime. Here, take a look...

Mediterranean Red Potato Salad

8 medium-size red potatoes, quartered
1/2 cup Spectrum Naturals
Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup Spectrum Naturals Organic
Itallian Herb Wine Vinegar
2 tablespoons Spectrum World Cuisine
Mediterranean Seasoning Oil
2 shallots, finely minced
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Place potatoes in large saucepan. Cover with cool water. Bring to a boil and simmer until done, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar, seasoning oil, and shallots. When potatoes are done, drain water and transfer to oil and vinegar mixutre. Toss well. Add herbs, season with salt and pepper. Let stand a few minutes, toss again. May be served warm or cold with roasted fish.

Tonight at the grocery store I purchased Alaskan salmon and fresh jumbo shrimp. I wanted to have a choice of fish to celebrate for finishing the big, big, big chocolate book due out at the end of the year. I received the book cover today in the mail. (I also bought a package of Ghirardelli squares 60% cacao, Dark Chocolate with Caramel for getting through a challenging week. Today, one of my longtime goldfish friends, Marley, left me and went to fish heaven. It's a sad event when you name your fish. Too close for comfort.)

Back to this Mediterranean recipe, a heart-healthy dish--unlike the old-fashioned potato salads made with mayo and no olive oil. To me, this is a 21st century delight to team with grilled fish for the warmer weather. Sure, I'd love to hop on a plane and fly to Tuscany or Spain, but this special homemade salad and edible fish with no name will take me there in my imagination and suffice for tomorrow.

(Excerpted and adapted from The Healing Powers of Vinegar, Revised and Updated, Kensington)

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Best Day In A Life With Olive Oil

A Day In A Life With Olive Oil
By Cal Orey
“Good oil, like good wine, is a gift from the gods. ”
George Ellwanger

Whether you live in Italy, New York, San Francisco or Lake Tahoe, olive oil--and its products--can lure you to travel to see what the olive oil world is all about. Take a look at my daily agenda, which revolves around the healing powers of oil.

8:00 A.M.: Spray the frying pan with extra virgin olive oil before I scramble two eggs. Gemma Sciabica taught me this trick, and it works like a charm. No more brown, toasty eggs on my plate. (Tuscan Omelet recipe on page 210-211.)

8:30 A.M.: Shower with olive oil-based soap (rosemary/sage); wash hair with olive oil-based shampoo and creme rinse. (Go to Cali at for plenty of treasures.)

8:45 A.M.: Massage extra virgin olive oil into my feet and hands.

9:00 A.M.: Too busy to shampoo Seth, so I put a drop of extra virgin olive oil on his back and brush him thoroughly. A nice, healthy glean is the result on my 3 year old pup. Simon was bathed yesterday. (He sports a long coat for a Brittany.)

10:00 A.M.: Water houseplants in the dining room and spritz with a mixture of water and olive oil. (Talk to them this week.)

Noon: Warm up French bread in the microwarve along with a small bowl flavored olive oil. Toss together a salad of greens, tuna, tomatoes, olive oil, and red wine vinegar.

1:00 P.M. Use olive oil and lemon to dust the desk and living room table in an attemp to remove teacup rings. (Works, sort of.)

5:00 P.M.: Make a fresh homemade sandwich (forget buying one)...Try the whole wheat French rolls and put together Swiss and cheddar cheese, extra tomatoes and black olives, plenty of green spinach lettuce, red onions, a splash of olive oil and red wine vinegar with a dash of black pepper. Note: It does taste better with TLC; and let's face it DIY sandwiches are cheaper than a sandwich shop's work.

5:30 P.M.: Bring in copy of the gigantic chocolate book. Get ready to proof and proof and proof (again). Just got back from the copy center.

7:00 P.M.: Rub olive oil moisturizing hand lotion on my cuticles and feet for the pampering feel of it all. Turn on a film. Under the Tuscan Sun (take a peek at a few superb scenes) is on. So, like is this my 100th time of watching this film?

7:30 P.M.: Cut a slice of homemade oh-so sweet Sweet Potato Pie made with you guessed it--olive oil. Oh, this is good. (The recipe will be featured in an upcoming post on The Writing Gourmet.) Keep on editing...the big chocolate book.

10:00 P.M.: Take a quick glance at The Healing Powers of Olive Oil and The Healing Powers of Vinegar to find new ways I can use, versatile, all-natural olive oil (and vinegar) to make my life easier and more gourmet-style in the mountains.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Greek Salad 'n' Olive Oil Rescues Workerbee(s)

Greek Salad with Olive Oil is a Miracle

Worker for Workerbees

by Cal Orey

"Let Greeks be Greeks, and women what they are."

--Anne Bradstreet

Here I sit in the living room (with two dogs and a cat) and slaving away on fact-checking and proofing the big, big, big book on chocolate. Yesterday, I was chocolated out. Today, sweets--any kind--are not going to make me feel sweeter. Not a chance. Murphy's Law is hanging all over me, from head to toe, and will not go away. At all.

In a cocoa bean shell, the modem has only crashed two or three times since the computer guy paid me a visit. The visiting dogs next door (yep, two of 'em) are barking nonstop and driving my Brittany duo crazy with a capital "C." And I'm wondering what else can and will distract me. Oh, oh, oh. (I had a ghastly nightmare this A.M.--the world ended--fire, tsunami, quake...Could it be because late last night I watched a history special about the Great SF Earthquake-Fire?)

I'd love to hit the kitchen and shake up something healthy and scrumptious--to soothe my spirit so I can stay on the working track despite life's ups and downs. I just picked up a copy of my book The Healing Powers of Olive Oil--and I found the perfect plate. It's easy, fun, and perfect for workerbees on a deadline. It's got feta cheese--my fave; tomatoes--I just bought fresh ones on the vine. And extra virgin olive oil with red wine vinegar--yes, this will work. This recipe has my name on it.



1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoons minced parsley

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon basil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper




Red onions

Black olives

1/2 cup feta cheese

Mix the dressing and set aside. Chop the veggies, add the crumbled feta, and toss with the dressing. Serve immediately, or refrigerate to marinate several hours overnight.

Source: Spectrums Naturals; Excerpted from The Healing Powers of Olive Oil

More good news: On Friday (before the fun-loving tourists invaded the Lake Tahoe) I picked up a fresh loaf of French bread, black olives, and feta cheese. And my fresh basil and parsley are perfect teammates. How could I have known that these ingredients were exactly what this recipe calls for? It's fate or women's intuition. And this all-natural Greek Salad will feed my soul as it provides an European lift to get me through the rest of the day and into the long, long, long night on a tight deadline.

P.S. I wonder if a soulful rain dance can be converted into a "dog dance" and make the neighbors' canine visitors go back home soon rather than rain on my work parade. No matter. I will find some Greek tunes and blast the stereo. It's poetic justice. Woof!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Chill Out with a Real Strawberry Milkshake


It's Saturday at Lake Tahoe and the tourists are here. I feel it. I am stuck indoors (there is a nip in the air) editing the big, big chocolate book. Read: I am chocolated out. Worse, yesterday morning my modem broke.

The good news is, the cable guy just left. Yes. Yes. Yes. He fixed it. I predicted that was the problem. It wasn't rocket science. The green lights were quirky. And a red light flashed off and on or maybe it was just my imagination because I was craving something strawberry to eat to soothe my frazzled nerves as I was out of touch with the cyberworld and on deadline without a computer.

During the stress of not having a working computer for 24 hours was an eye-opening experience. I resorted to doing many edits in long hand. I couldn't respond to emails. I couldn't see what Mother Nature was doing on the USGS map. And it wasn't fun. I lied. It was kind of like a mini vacation.

All through the ordeal I was craving a real homemade strawberry milkshake. I am clueless to why (probably it's the milk which can and does help to calm our nerves) but I finally got my shake with all the fixings. And no, The Healing Powers of Vinegar didn't come into play this time around.

Callie's Comfort Strawberry Milkshake

Several fresh organic strawberries, sliced

1/2 cup 2% reduced fat organic fat milk

1 cup French vanilla all natural ice cream

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon all natural maple syrup

Real whipped cream

Almonds, sliced

Put ingredients into blender, mix until thick and creamy. Pour into a milkshake glass and top with a dallop of real whipped cream on top. Sprinkle with almonds.

So, I got protein, vitamin A, vitamin D, phosphorus from the milk; more calcium and protein from the ice cream. And the strawberries--rich in the anti-stress, immune-boosting vitamin C and fiber. The best part is, I feel better. It was a healthy treat. Now, if I could only find a sweet, red-headed gourmet ghost copyeditor to help me get through the edits, one by one. I guess my two orange and white Brittanys will have to do.

P.S. My editing stress must be contagious. I just caught Seth, my 3 year old Brit, with an apple in his mouth. Not good. Is there a dogsitter out there? Help. I can't afford The Dog Whisperer.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Forget Olive Oil! Spoon Up "Forbidden" Foods

Dish Up Two Scoops of

French Vanilla Ice Cream & Dark Chocolate

"You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream."-- American Proverb

Today is Thursday and I am overwhelmed with fact-checking my forthcoming book on chocolate--a sequel to The Healing Powers of Olive Oil. I confess that calling some chocolatiers was fun, especially since a few are sending me those incredible packages of gourmet chocolate. It's one of the perks of this particular tome I'm polishing.

But work is work and proofing prose--chocolate or not--takes time and lots of energy--both physical and mental oomph. So, this afternoon I took a break and opened up a brand new carton of French Vanilla real ice cream. Ingredients: milk, cream, egg yolks, natural flavor...Without guilt, I dished up a scoop of cold, creamy ice cream into a bowl and topped the ice cream with Ghirardelli's 60% cacoa bittersweet chocolate chips. It was an experiment to see if it tasted as good as the ready-made stuff already mixed together.

What's more, my good fatty concoction was without a lot of artery-clogging trans fat. I did get some calcium, iron, protein, and vitamin A without a lot of sodium and the serving size didn't go on calorie overload. It felt like going to a posh ice cream parlor in Marin, California (where I recall eating Italian chocolate chip ice cream) and it was almost as good right here at Lake Tahoe. And now it's time to hit the book (again). Yowwwl!

Dump 5+ Lbs. Fast on Secret Oil & Vinegar Diet

Melt Off 5 Lbs.+ Fast on the

Two-Day Secret

Olive Oil & Vinegar Detox

By Cal Orey

Forget three meals per day. Grazing on 5-6 mini meals (teamed with olive oil and vinegar) can help you shed up to five whopping pounds or more of unwanted winter weight and body fat. Or maybe you overindulged in too much rich food and want to detox your body and start over--eating fresh and all-natural food. I promise you this plan works like charm.

This quickie diet plan is easy, filling, cheap, will stoke your fat-burning power, and get your body and mind ready for the summer days ahead.

Lots of people, like me, and maybe even you, may only have a few unwanted pounds to dump or may want a perfect jump-start diet to help motivate you to get back into shape or eating healthy for your health's sake, especially during the season when special events--weddings to birthdays--hit. It's a time when the temperature soars and we wear less and show more in shorts, tank tops, and bathing suits, yes bathing suits... Here's the secret ingredients to the diet that really works. And enjoy, Hot Fun in the Summertime...

Two-Day Olive Oil & Vinegar Detox Diet

Breakfast: Fresh berries (no limit)
Lunch: 4 ounces fresh white-meat turkey
Greens with dressing made of fresh parsley, 1 tablespoon each virgin olive oil and apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar, and spices to taste
Snack: 1 cup fresh berries
Dinner: 6 to 8 ounces fresh flounder, sole, or salmon
Snack: 1 cup fresh berries


• Drink a minimum of six 8-ounce glasses of water (I prefer bottled water) with fresh lemon throughout the day.
• Check with your doctor before starting this or any diet.
• For an extra healthful edge to this diet plan, every day before each meal, drink 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in an 8-ounce glass of water. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of honey, if desired.
(Excerpted from The Healing Powers of Vinegar...a 7 day detox diet plan is included in the book on pages 141-143)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

DIY Fresh Salsa 'n' Tortilla Chips with Oil(s)--It's All Good



(with Olive and Canola Oils)

Thirty years ago, I was living in Santa Cruz mountains...I was super connected to Mother Nature, like now at Lake Tahoe--and I cooked a lot of super food. I remember I made my own tortilla chips because there is nothing more comforting than biting into a warm, crispy chip in the comfort of your own home surround by towering redwood trees. I used fresh whole grain tortillas (cut the big round circles into big restaurant-style strips) and turned to canola oil to cook 'em up.

Fast forward to today... I came across this DIY salsa recipe in my book The Healing Powers of Vinegar. And it looks good to go and more than likely has less sodium and fresh ingredients than store bought brands, especially the bottled or canned stuff. And the "fresh" types? Well, who knows where they come from and the price is pricey. Plus, DIY salsa (click on the link and the salsa tune will put you in the mood to whip up a batch of the real thing) will be fresh, fresh, fresh and all-natural. How good is that? It's all good.

Make-Your-Own Salsa

1/2 cup chopped red onion
3 tablespoons canned jalapeno peppers
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons Nakano Natural Rice Vinegar
1 tablespoon light olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3 cups chopped very ripe fresh tomatoes
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon oregano
pepper as desired

Microwave onion, green pepper, garlic, and oil (I prefer extra virgin olive oil), 1 minute on high, covered. Add tomatoes and oregano; microwave 2 minutes on high. Stir in remaining ingredients. Refrigerate an hour or overnight to blend flavor. Keeps for a week. Makes about 3 cups sauce.

Note: I suggest you make your own chips. It's cool to dip a warm, whole grain toasted tortilla chip into hot salsa made in your very own kitchen. Try it--let me know how this do-it-yourself recipe works for you--wherever you live.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Olive Oil & Vinegar: Feng Shui Masters for Your Home!

Oil & Vinegar are Feng Shui Masters for Pre-Summer House Cleaning

feng shui
The Chinese art or practice of positioning objects, especially graves, buildings, and furniture, based on a belief in patterns of yin and yang and the flow of chi that have positive and negative effects.

-- The Free Dictionary

Surprise. Olive oil and vinegar are not just for cooking. This dynamic duo is used for a variety of household chores--and feng shui. When I was a kid, I remember we had a cleaning lady come into our home twice a month to do the heavy cleaning. She would use strong chemicals to clean the showers and oven. That was back in the 1960s. Today most of us prefer to use more natural stuff rather than subject our bodies, families, pets, and friends to lingering chemicals that have potential side effects.

Here are some things you can do with olive oil and vinegar and other natural things like lemon, water, and essential oils, straight from my book The Healing Powers of Olive Oil. And note, do rearrange objects and furniture for a good for you feng shui lift. To get started, add some things near your kitchen or dining room, such as: a fish aquarium with goldfish, candles, aromatherpy, and a bamboo plant. Not only will it make you feel better, when you cook this summer your dishes will turn out better. Here's to good vibes.


Living Room

• Polish Plants. Houseplants get dull and dusty. Try spraying with a solution of water and olive oil. Not only will you have dust-free leaves, but they will shine. Plus, if you live in a cold, dry climate and mist your plants, it is as good as talking to them.

• Dust It Dust-Free. Don’t like to dust? Try The Vinegar Institutes’s all-natural remedy. Mix olive oil and vinegar in a 1-to1 ratio and polish with a soft cloth. I tried it on my entertainment center (a hand-me down from my dad), and it is without dust, shines, and doesn’t have a chemical odor.

• Wipe Out Table Rings. I have a 30-year-old wooden living room table that I adore for sentimental reasons. I noticed a teacup ring on the lower shelf. I mixed a paste of 2 parts olive oil, 1 part lemon juice and applied it to the area using a circular motion, let it sit briefly, and wiped it off. The ring is now gone.

• Sparkle Up Blinds. If you want your veneer blinds to shine, I recommend olive oil. After you dust them, and wipe them with a wet cloth dipped in gentle, soapy water, rinse and dry. Then, apply a light coat of olive oil and polish for a brief time until they look like new.

• Clean Candleholders. Mix a solution of olive oil and mild dish soap. It takes off old wax and grime, and leaves brass, ceramic, and colored metal candleholders shining brightly.

Dining Room

• Buff Brass. Buff knickknacks with olive oil after cleaning them. I have a hand-me-down collection from my dad, who was also a nature lover. So, preserving his brass birds and reindeer means a lot to me. Olive oil keeps the brass from tarnishing so fast.

• Preserve Antiques. I have a glass dining room table from the fifties with classic wrought iron. Rubbing a bit of extra virgin olive oil onto the iron legs of the table and four chairs using a soft cloth provides a fantastic shine.


• Cutting Board Cleanup. A wooden cutting board in your kitchen is a must-have, and olive oil can help to preserve it. Wash it in soap and water. Dry. Then, once it is squeaky clean, wipe it with olive oil.

• No More Rust. Got a cast-iron frying pan? If so, chances are it’s a hand-me-down. So, you want to take care of it and keep it in tip-top condition. Each time you use it, wash it, and dry it, lightly apply olive oil to keep it rust-free and maintain its natural shine.

• Pamper Kitchen Helpers: Add a vibrant shine to kitchen helpers such as the blender, coffee maker, and stainless steel toaster. After you clean these items, simply spray them with a mist of 3 parts water to 1 part olive oil and buff eachone until they gleam.


• Wooden furniture in your bedroom? You certainly don’t want to smell chemicals from furniture polish with toxins. To keep your personal sanctuary dust-free and smelling fragrant, use a mixture of olive oil and fresh lemon juice for that bed (mine is 30 years old and I still cherish the wood), nightstands, framed mirror, and picture frames.


• Got a natural bathroom floor? After I wash my low-maintenance, neutral-colored slate floor, I mix a few drops of olive oil with fresh lemon juice and wiped the floor once again. Ah, the fragrance and shine was enough to make me vow to never use a floor wax.

• Polish Pretty Bathroom Treasures. To add a nice, lasting shine to ceramic figurines often found in a bathroom, use 3 parts olive oil, 1 part water. Buff until your treasures look bright and clean.

Family Room

• Wow Wood Paneling Scratches. I live in a house that was built in 1931. It has a lot of built-in cupboards, and it’s wood paneled throughout, including in the study/family room. I use a traditional furniture polish first, and then buff surface scratches with olive oil.

• Freshen Wood. To keep it looking its best, mix 1 ounce of olive oil with 2 ounces of white vinegar and 1 quart of warm water. Dampen a soft cloth with the solution and wipe the paneling. Then, wipe with a dry, soft cloth to remove yellowing from the surface.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Veggie Sandwich 'n' Dip Can Help You Lose Lbs...

A Veggie Sandwich 'n' Dip Can Blast Fat &

Help You Chill Out

"Except the vine, there is no plant which bears a fruit as of great importance as the olive."


Ever have one of those days where you just wanna have fun but your schedule screams "work, work, work"? No worries. I have found the secret. First and foremost, go do it. Exercise. Yeah, get a move on, rain or shine. Today, like most days, I went swimming before the Tahoe rains came (again).

While my body got its fix, hunger set in and my mind was boggled with a tsunami of real work waiting for me at home. My remedy? Instead of going home and wondering what to eat or what to fix (remember, work awaits), I hit a local sandwich shop. Yes, you can order quick and simple healthy, fresh food and satisfy your cravings, too. So what did The Writing Gourmet order at a run of the mill fast food outlet? Ah, a custom-tailored lunch made for moi with an European flair, of course...

I said without hesitation, "I'll have a medium veggie sandwich, please. Whole wheat French bread roll. No mayo or mustard. Provolone cheese (a couple of slices). Extra tomatoes, a whole lotta lettuce, olives and more olives, green bell peppers, onions, sprouts, a splash of olive oil and red wine vinegar with a dash of pepper. No soda or chips." And that was that--just like I practice and preach in my books The Healing Powers of Olive Oil and The Healing Powers of Vinegar. Olive oil and vinegar are the perfect condiments to help you maintain your ideal weight. And bottled water (from my own stash due to the lingering rece$$ion, which has made its mark in our resort town) quenched my thirst.

Now, my tummy is full. The cool swim gave me that cool endorphin high like a perfect French kiss (almost as nice). If only I could hire a gourmet ghostwriter to do my copy edits in front of me like a skilled sushi life today would be a bowl of dark chocolate covered cherries. But it doesn't work that way, does it? Back to work. Ciao.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

21st Century Homemade Gourmet Granola with EVOO

Gourmet Granola is Groovy

"You can't go home again."

--Thomas Wolfe

Wow. I took a trip today and went back to the seventies when I used to make my own granola. Yeah, those were the good old days. In my early 20s, I used to bake a lot. Picture this: I was clad in blue jean overalls, sleeveless T-shirt, long curly locks, tanned, and barefoot. My pooch at the time was Stonefox, a beloved black Labrador retriever.

And, we were wanderlusts. I made homemade healthy granola in Eugene, Oregon to Hollywood, California. I took it with me when we hitched and hiked across America--including the Greenwich Village, Florida Keys, Quebec Canada, Wyoming, Idaho, and even south of the border to Mexico. I remember when I was in the Deep South asking for yogurt to go with my granola. It didn't go over well. Grits was the breakfast of choice. I was tagged a wayward West Coast longhaired post sixties "hippie chick." Yep, I was one more free spirit on the road with a dog experiencing life and humming those Simon and Garfunkel lyrics "Feelin' Groovy".

These days, I'm still a tree hugging hippie girl at heart. Today, I was wearing blue jeans, a T-shirt, and barefoot in the kitchen. Two Brittanys stayed underfoot as I concocted a high quality granola complete with olive oil and pricey maple syrup. The best part: The homemade, warm out of the oven and sweet scent of the wholesome granola (without any chemicals, preservatives, salt or long cat tail words I can't pronounce) made me smile today like it did more than 30 years ago.

So, tomorrow morning I'll mix the crunchy granola with healthy all-natural plain yogurt and fresh fruit. Instead of hitching a ride though, I will be in my own private sanctuary surrounded by pine trees, with my two dogs fed all-natural premium food, and eager for their walks (on leashes). Times are a changin' but some things stay the same, they just get better--like gourmet granola. And that's groovy.

Homemade Gourmet Granola

2 cups rolled oats, uncooked
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup almonds, sliced
Dash of ground cinnamon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup raw honey, warm in microwave
1/4 cup pure all-natural maple
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup raisins (add after cooked)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix the mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle the wet ingredients over dry ingredients and mix well. Put mixture into a baking dish. Bake for approximately 40-45 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add dried raisins after you put in container for storage. Cool for an hour. The granola will become chewy, crispy clusters--even more than store bought brands. Store in the refrigerator.

Friday, June 12, 2009

How to Make Gourmet Lasagna in 6 Minutes: CHEAT!

How I Cooked Up Italian Cuisine in a Snap

"You drink vinegar when you have wine at your elbow."

--Thomas Fuller

I'd love to tell you how I spent my afternoon in the kitchen making homemade lasagna. It isn't really difficult to do. I've made lasagna (once for a boyfriend) but it did take some real work. Sure, adding fresh ricotta cheese, vegetables, layering the pasta, piece by piece, and the sauce should be from scratch with TLC. Whew! But today, I just wasn't in the mood to do it for me.

At 11:00 A.M. I was on Psychic Radio CBS, a national radio show, for nearly one hour to dish out how I (and seismic sentries) use intuition--sixth sense--to predict when and where the Earth will shake. (And I chatted about the perks of the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle.)

Then, I was off to walk my two Brittanys--and today was a joy. A fellow Brit was following us! (Three Brittanys walking down the street amid towering pine trees. It was a dream come true.) Back home again it was off to the pool. Ah, only one tourist: He was from Chicago; a great conversationalist as I swam lap after lap in the cool climate like San Francisco, not normal for Lake Tahoe...Later, it was to the post office to mail The Healing Powers of Olive Oil and The Healing Powers of Vinegar to an interested olive oil store owner. And next, to the grocery store (dodging tourists) to pick up purple grapes, organic strawberries, dark chocolate infused with pears, whole wheat French bread, organic cheese, and some other stuff.

At home again facing chores was a chore: watering the front yard; housecleaning; and the must-do filing sits staring at me. So the question remains, who in the world would want to spend time making homemade veggie lasagna when you can cheat and get it another way? Not me. It's Friday. And the microwave befriended me.

I confess. The other food stuff I purchased included frozen, yes frozen, Michael Angelo's Vegetable Lasagna. On top of the black box it reads "The Art Of Italian Cuisine" and on the bottom "NO PRESERVATIVES." Ingredients: tomatoes, vine-ripened, tomato puree, salt, basil, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, mushrooms, spinach; cooked lasagna noodles, mozzarella cheese, part skim ricotta, whole milk, vinegar, romano cheese, olive oil, garlic, honey, spice, pepper...a few other things but nothing looks unnatural to me or if it does this list passes the test for a meal. What's more, while it's high in sodium (720 mg) that's OK because I will eat more fruits and veggies for the day to keep my intake low. One serving size is a mere 280 calories; and I get 20% Vitamin A, 35% calcium, 30% iron of the required daily values. Not to forget the protein and fiber. .

Between you and me, sure, I'd love to have that sexy, sophisticated, tall and lanky, creative Italian gourmet chef in my kitchen creating this masterpiece but that's not happening right now. So, for today, this quick and easy dish for dinner made the grade for me--The Writing Gourmet--the one who hates to cook but loves fine food.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Warm Up to French Bread to Lose Unwanted Lbs.

French Bread 'n' Herbal Olive Oil--

a Dieter's Dream Come True!

"Italians...seemed never to die. They eat olive oil all day long...and that's what does it."

--William Kennedy

Psst! If you want to lose unwanted weight and believe you must deprive yourself of bread--lose that thought! Do as the French do and include bread in your daily diet. Yes. Yes you can! Is the song "Baby I'm a Want You" by Bread on your brain? No worries. There are a few tricks of the staying skinny and healthy trade, so to speak--and tasty French bread with an Italian kick plays a supporting European role...

An appetizer doesn't have to be fattening or unhealthy. Plenty of appetizers, such as these Mediterranean types (found at hot spots like Frantoio's Restaurant in Mill Valley, California), can include fresh vegetables, nuts, whole grain bread and olive oil. Not only will appetizers such as slices of whole wheat French Bread (homemade or fresh from your local bakery) dipped in warm fresh extra virgin olive oil give you an Italian taste, they will curb your hunger pangs so you won't be tempted to overeat at lunch or dinner. And note, while dinner can be nutritious and delightful, to people who follow a true Mediterranean diet, it is the lightest meal of the day and eaten before 7:00 P.M. Appetizers like French bread can help you stay on track.

Tonight, for instance, after indulging in those rich, dark truffles from Ireland (and the organic candy bar with notes of ginger that lingered like a gourmet bakery gingerbread cookie), I was in the mood for a light meal: spinach salad with veggies, a few walnuts, splashed with red wine vinegar teamed with fresh, warm French bread dipped in warm basil olive oil.
Extra virgin olive oil (fruity, intense), virgin olive oil (strong, but milder than EVOO) can be fine, too. Don't hesitate to add your own garlic and onion to the oil, which can make the dipping experience even better for your taste buds.

And note, this is one little secret that helps me to maintain a size 4, 122 pounds at 5'5" -- and allows me to have my chocolate and eat it, too! (Maintaining two active, fun-loving Type A Brittanys, 3 and 6, are two other big mother's helpers to keep those doggone pounds at bay!)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Get a Taste of Tuscany with Olive Bread

Olive Bread Memories Linger in My Mind

"The olive tree is surely the richest gift of Heaven..."

--Thomas Jefferson

Tonight at home I'm sitting by the fire with my three four-leggers snoozing around me. Savoring the last of the day at Lake Tahoe. A good swim and good hot tub amid gray skies, straggling tourists, and one delightful local, a swimmer, made the day a good one. Getting ready to go back to work and complete copy edits on my forthcoming chocolate book. (New gourmet truffles from Ireland, literally, arrived yesterday; each one will give me an endorphin-fix like swimming does.)

But I find myself constantly fantasizing about the San Francisco Bay Area, my real home where I grew up, went to college at SFSU, and lived life to the fullest. The City has a very special place in my heart. If I close my eyes, I can feel the cool wind and fog, smell the fresh crab on Fisherman's Wharf and sweet scent of salt water taffy. In my living room I have Michael Leu paintings surrounding me, a memory of San Francisco. It's a place where gourmet chocolatiers create works of art and serious chocolate lovers live. I miss the people. I miss the hustle bustle and culture of the city. I miss the restaurants. And above my bed, there is a lone painting of Sunflowers by Vincent van give me a taste of Tuscany. In my room, it's surrounded by more of Leu's works of San Francisco, specific spots that have won my spirit and soul...

Olive Oil Tour Diary

Enter Frantoio's Restaurant in Mill Valley, California... I am whisked off to my own booth with a full view of the oakwood-fired oven. To the left of me, I also get to view Frantoio's state-of-the-art olive press--behind a gigantic piece of glass at the back of the busy restaurant. It has huge granite wheels, used to grind the olives to paste. This particular night, the press is down. Still, I get a tour (and you can get a virtual one at and ) and am impressed that the restaurant makes its own extra virgin olive oil on-site. Plus, later I discover, Frantoio also provides custom presses for more than two dozen clients. It's unique, and so is the house-made extra virgin olive oil used in all of its dishes.

The menu boasts seasonal Tuscan delights using local produce and cheeses As a vegan, I select the margherita brick-oven pizza, made with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and extra virgin olive oil. As I sip chamomile tea, I dip homemade bread (with olives) into the freshly made olive oil. (Yes, for me this is an adventure.)

Note: On page 213-214 I include an Olive Bread recipe in my book The Healing Powers of Olive Oil--so you can enjoy a taste of Italy, too, right at home.

(Excerpt from The Healing Powers of Olive Oil (Kensington, 2009)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Cozy Up with "Cool" California Shrimp Pasta!

Cool California Shrimp Pasta

I admit it. I wish I had my own personal gourmet chef. But I don't. So, the way I have learned to eat is to keep it simple and healthy. Tonight, I am satisfied. I so want to share with you a dish I created in minutes...And the scent of fresh red onion, garlic, and shrimp linger in the kitchen. Ah, it's nice. So California.
No measurements required for the veggies. It's laid-back California-style cool cooking with no worries. Can't help but think of that oldie but goodie song
California Girls by the Beach Boys. Ironically, it does rain and get cold in our Golden State. And it is raining (again) heavy with loud thunder tonight. (But I did get my swim and hot tub (it's California) in earlier today when the sun was shining...I think I may have been a fish, of sorts, in my past lifetime. The film Splash is one of my fave films. The ending is oh-so romantic. But then, watched Titantic last night. So sad. I cried.) Speaking of tears, ships, mermaids, pools, and the ocean...

California Shrimp Pasta

In a medium nonstick skillet, stir-fry sliced red onions with chopped garlic in premium extra virgin olive oil for a few minutes. Stir in cooked, jumbo shrimp. Add chopped, steamed (al dente) broccoli, cauliflower, green and red bell pepper. Toss in fresh cilantro. Serve over all natural whole grain pasta (6 grams of fiber, 7 grams of protein, no cholesterol, fat, sodium per serving) placed in a rustic plate. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese, a few sliced almonds (it's California, man) and fresh pepper.
It's still raining outside. What's that song about it never rains in California? I wonder if the lyricist was serious. Nah, no way.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Craving a Healing "Homemade" Brownie Fix?

A Healthy Dark Chocolate Rx--

Brownies with Olive Oil & Walnuts

Back in the early stages of research for my forthcoming chocolate book (due out at the end of this year), I didn't start out eating and enjoying 70% cocoa content chocolate--the good stuff which requires an acquired taste. I inched my way, bit by bit, truffle by truffle, chocolate by chocolate, into the healthy chocolate world just as I do anything new.

One the first memories that comes to mind is my first relationship with real dark chocolate brownies. I confess. No baked goods made from scratch that time. I was too busy interviewing the chocolate world and its people. But at my local grocery store I purchased a convenient box of double dark chocolate brownie mix (it called for vegetable oil). Note: Later, I discovered gourmet dark chocolate brownie mixes are available. But I did use extra virgin olive oil. (I discuss its perks in my book The Healing Powers of Olive Oil.) Plus, I tossed in plenty of good for you chopped walnuts. (I didn't read the ingredients on the box because I'm sure it contained preservatives and other unnatural things.) I felt less guilty, more in charge of it all, you know. A cup of antioxidant-rich green tea helped, too.

Still, it was an introduction to the land of dark chocolate. As time passed, I got hooked on healthier, high-end chocolate--the good stuff with the good for you compounds that make you smile and much more. Whether it is "really" homemade by me or made by creative chocolatiers around the world whom use their own fresh ingredients--I am now a gourmet chocolate addict. Hooked for life until death do us part.

But the almost ready-made brownie fix did work for me, sort of. It was like taking a Dark Chocolate Basics 101 class. And when I took the first bite of a warm, chewy, chocolaty brownie (the EVOO and nuts did make it moist and crunchy) it felt like it was the beginning of entering an amazing new land or pristine planet of no return.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

It's Hot Stuff! Make Your Day with Hot Baked Tater$!

Hot Stuffed Baked Potato Bar:
A Cool Recession-Buster

By Cal Orey

At 18, I became a vegan. I admit this announcement did not make my mother happy. She made superb dishes--all types of cuisine--from breaded veal to beef stew from scratch. After all, as a child of the fifties, I grew up on meat and potatoes. But my mom visited Europe when I was a kid, and when she came back home, our meals were often creative and daring. Think snails and frog legs.

I don't know if it was nutritionist Adelle Davis or the popularity of health food stores that influenced me. Perhaps it was both. I do know, however, that eating fresh vegetables, fruits, grains, yogurt, and nuts has worked to keep me lean for decades.

Also, during my graduate school days, money was an issue. I recall a Baked Potato Bar (similar to a Salad Bar but more fun) in the Student Union--a starving students' utopia for lunch or dinner. It was so cool. You grab a giant pre-baked potato and dress it with a wide variety of toppings: all types of veggies, cheese, and herbs.

During the gathering of the variety of Mediterranean recipes in my book The Healing Powers of Olive Oil, I learned that I can make my diet much tastier and more healthful by adding fresh onions, garlic, spices, and olive oil--especially flavored oils. The European flair is exciting to enjoy at home, especially if you can't whisk off to Italy, Spain, or Greece. (On pages 222-223, Shallot-Herb Stuffed Potatoes is a to die-for recipe created by The Golden Door Spa's former renowned Chef Michel Stroot.)

But you can whip up your own baked potatoes (Russet are best and nutritious), too, by putting your creative energy to work and top those taters with whatever you like--cruciferous vegetables, tomatoes, olive oil, and Parmesan or Asiago cheese, plus so much more. (To boost your mood, hum the catchy sixties tune Mashed Potato Time by Dee Dee Sharp.) A bonus: Use a large potato and plenty of toppings. It can be a meal in itself and a super recession-buster. (It's ideal for warming up on a cool, calm, and lazy pre-summer evening. Great for a party, kids, or get-together with friends. And it's the perfect dinner for sofa spuds, too.)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Breakfast in Bed, Mediterranean Style

Breakfast at Callie's

Today I swam in the rain. It was heaven. It brings back images of one of my fave classic films Breakfast at Tiffany's. This afternoon I purchased new oatmeal colored sheets (400 thread count); three new comforter(s): old fashioned lacy vintage-style oatmeal; white; and a multi-Mediterrean colored one--maroon, gold, brown, and forest green. And tomorrow for the finale I'm treating myself to breakfast in bed.

No recipes this time around. It's simple. It's basic. It's good. I will warm up a fresh multi-grain whole wheat bagel and top it with two scrambled eggs (organic and brown)--made with a tad of extra virgin olive oil in the pan to prevent sticking (I mention doing this in my book The Healing Powers of Olive Oil), a splash of organic low-fat milk, and a sprinkle of grated cheddar cheese. A sprig of fresh parsley (yes, I still have my herbal garden) will make it perfect and pretty for me.

This easy meal for one (a few bites for the pooch duo and cat) will be teamed with a large cup of new French Roast coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice. Eggs (in moderation) whole grains, fresh fruit play a part in the traditional Mediterranean diet.

I love this stormy weather with lightning and thunder. And I love waking up to breakfast in bed. It's (almost) like dialing up for room service at a hotel. I love having my two French Brittanys with me on clean sheets as they will be tomorrow in the morning. Note to self: Teach the boys how to cook up a meal for their Mom and serve her in bed. But for the time being, I don't mind playing "gourmet" chef.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Toast to Gourmet Hot Chocolate



I remember in the film Under the Tuscan Sun when Katherine (Lindsay Duncan) indulges guilt-free in an ice-cream cone and Frances (Diane lane) takes a peek at the uninhibited woman enjoying herself. It's healthier to eat your favorite foods--including dark chocolate--in moderation than to deprive yourself of life's simple pleasures, which can lead to overeating. Pssst! With gourmet food you don't need to go there.

While processed cakes, cookies, and ice creams are not healthful (usually because they contain too much sugar, preservatives, and artery-clogging trans fat), homemade desserts and beverages can be good for you. Yeah, it's for real. Also, any time you can pair fresh fruit with gourmet treats, by all means do as they do in Europe and savor the best fruit of the season.

On the topic of seasons, today, I and my companion animal trio endured thrilling thunderstorms, lightning bolts, and heavy rain at Lake Tahoe. They are cool because they've grown up with it all so it's "normal." But instead of hitting the swimming pool, I waited for the roofer to repair the water leak(s) in my study.

And now, I am sitting contented, in front of a warm fire, and watching a film on TV. My two Brittanys, Simon and Seth, are sleeping on the couch, and Kerouac, my black cat is curled up in the catnapper. It's time to treat myself to a mug of gourmet hot chocolate. (I was comped plenty of the luxury stuff from luxury chocolatiers around the nation during research for my forthcoming book on chocolate.)

So, what exactly is this kind of hot chocolate, anyhow? I use organic low-fat milk with gourmet dark chocolate shavings (just like you'll find and taste in Europe). And yes, I will include a dallop of whipped cream (without trans fat) and sprinkle cinnamon on top.

Not only am I getting a good dose of good calcium and vitamin D from the milk, the chocolate provides iron, other nutrients, and feel-good compounds (which are discussed in my book The Healing Powers of Chocolate--due out at the end of the year). The bottom line: Don't stress over extra calories and fat. You can enjoy a pleasurable treat--like gourmet hot chocolate which boasts good dietary fat--and enjoy its healing benefits, too.

Adapted from The Healing Powers of Olive Oil