Friday, May 7, 2010

TGIF, Quick Dinner and Fun Facts Friday

This has been a very long week and I will be happy to put it behind me. I am ready for a nice relaxing weekend. I hope you all had a more restful week than I have had. Here are some gratuitous feline photos just because I can.

This is a cute picture of our youngest feline, Nicco. He is curled up with his human father in chair in the family room. He likes to burrow into little places and be as close to his humans as possible. I think he has the most expressive little face and he loves to be center of attention which means he gladly poses for the camera. It is sometimes hard to believe he has a warning on his medical record at the vet. Who ever heard of a vicious 6 pound cat? I meant other than my vet of course.

His older brother Massimo on the other hand is not cooperative for the camera. He hates to have his picture taken and almost always manages to get his eyes closed in time for all pictures. Of the thousands of photos I have of him 95% are like this. I thought this one was funny since he appears to be sticking his tongue out saying, “Nanny nanny boo boo I ruined another picture. When are you going to stop trying mom?”

Our female feline, Luca Bella, is not cooperative, which is why you don’t often see pictures of her. She is a spoiled little diva and has no intention of doing anything she doesn’t want to do. Sounds just like a woman right?

After I ran my errands today and made caponata I kicked back for a while with another book. I needed a little time to recharge. While reading I decided to grab some frozen grapes. Have you tried them yet? They are like little frozen grape bon bons. I love the texture of frozen grapes cold but somehow not frozen solid. I buy large containers of grapes, clean them and toss them into the freezer in one cup servings. A cup of grapes is roughly 100 calories for those that are trying to keep track of that. They make a great warm weather snack that is also healthy. If they freeze together pour them into a colander and run cold water over them and they separate but don’t defrost. They have the added benefit of providing you with a little resveratrol.  It is odd, I am not much of grape fan unless they are frozen.

Since I made caponata today and really didn’t want to have lasagna with Dan for dinner tonight I made some quinoa and topped it with caponata, which I warmed. I used quinoa because it is a whole grain that is a decent source of protein. Each 1 cup serving of quinoa contains approximately 220 calories and 8 grams of protein. Caponata topped quinoa and a green salad and I had dinner. Quinoa is another grain that you can make in large batches and reheat in the microwave if you like to minimize your cooking time.

Fun Facts Friday:

My friend Heather has started doing a "fun facts Friday post" as a way to get to know her readers and I thought it was a brilliant idea. I decided I would start doing the same thing here so we could all get to know each other a little better. Here are my facts for this Friday:

  • My birthday is coming up soon and I will be 48 years old. Shivers….. it hurts to “say” that out loud. I really hate the fact that I am getting SO old. But as my buddy Louis says, “It is better than the alternative.” Thanks Louis, I can’t argue with that logic as dark as it is. For the time being I still look younger than I am, which may not last forever so I am trying to appreciate it now, while it lasts. Lately I feel like I am aging every day.
  • I am married to Dan, my best friend, and we have been together since 1987.
  • Our favorite place to vacation is Italy.
How about you? How old are you, how long have you been with your significant other and where is your favorite vacation spot? I hope many of you will want to play along. I think it will be fun to get to know each other a little better.

Something interesting from the e-Cornell course:

One of the lectures from course two discussed the calorie density of food groups and separated food by broad categories as follows:

  • Salad (raw salad veggies) – 100 calories per pound
  • Vegetables (corn, carrots and broccoli) – 200 calories per pound
  • Fruits – 300 calories per pound
  • Starches (rice, potatoes, beans) – 500 calories per pound
  • Beef tenderloin – 1,100 calories
  • Cheese – 1,700 calories per pound
  • Pure sugar – 1,800 calories per pound
  • Nuts and Seeds – 2,000 to 2,500 calories per pound
  • Chocolate – 2,500 calories per pound
  • Potato Chips and French Fries – 2,500 calories per pound
  • Pure fat (like oil) – 4,000 calories per pound
I found this to be really interesting. The foods that we all gravitate to are the more calorically dense ones. In the course we learned that we crave those high calorie foods because we are programmed to in order to survive. In times of feast or famine we needed to eat high calorie foods to survive the upcoming famine. In this age there is no famine coming which means that we all tend to gain weight because we still crave the high calorie foods.

Also I have heard many omnis comment on the calorie density of nuts that vegetarians eat. But when you compare the nuts and seeds to oil there is no question that nuts are a better choice than oil just from a calorie perspective. Not to mention the fact that nuts have micronutrients which have been stripped from the oils. Additionally when you compare nuts to meat or cheese, nuts are still a better choice since they are normally consumed in much smaller quantities than animal products.

I also found this list interesting from a meal planning perspective. Sometimes I make meals that need more calories. But looking at this list it is obvious that by including some heartier vegetables, starches and nuts and seeds I can built a substantial meal without needing to resort unhealthy foods or unhealthy preparations of otherwise healthy foods. I tend to fall into the trap of using a lot of “salad vegetables”  (for their nutrition)which results in dishes that don’t have many calories. This is fine when you are eating 5 or 6 times a day but if you follow a more traditional schedule of eating three times a day meals need to be more substantial.

I thought this concept was quite interesting. It gave me a lot to think about and I thought some of you may enjoy the presentation format like I did. What do you think was this enlightening or thought provoking for you?

Signing out:

That is going to be it for me today. I really need to relax and recharge tonight. I will be back tomorrow. Have a great evening!


  1. Lovely photos! Your felines are little beauties. :)

    I love frozen grapes! My dorm roommate first introduced me to them and got me hooked. Oh yes, and thank you for posting the caponata recipe earlier. I used the eggplant I intended for caponata for something else, but I will try your recipe at some point!

    Thanks for sharing the Fun Facts. My contribution: 1) I'm 24 years old, 2) sans significant other, 3) and like vacationing somewhere I can be outdoorsy (Hawaii might have to be my favorite, just because it's one of the few destinations to which I've been fortunate enough to travel).

  2. Tiffany,

    Thanks, I think the boys are quite handsome too. :-) They are both Turkish Angoras and still act like kittens even though they are 8 years old. In fact they just ran by playing the "chase me game".

    Frozen grape are the best. I remember being so amazed the first time I had them. Now I always have grapes in my freezer.

    Thanks for joining in on the Fun Facts. Hawaii is a great vacation spot too. It was right up there on my list before my first trip to Italy. BTW, what I would not give to be 24 right now. ;-)

    I hope you are having a good evening,

  3. The only way I can get my son to eat grapes is if they're frozen, so they are now a staple in our house. I agree with you--anyone who hasn't tried frozen grapes should.

    My birthday is also coming up soon (we just might be birthday buddies), and I will be 29. I've been with my husband for four years, and my favorite vacation spot is Alaska. I've been there three times, and every time I'm there, I think I should just call home and say, "Send my stuff up here--I'm not leaving." The whole state is breath-taking. I haven't yet managed to talk my husband into going to Alaska with me because even though he is a private pilot, he doesn't like long flights if he's not the one flying. And I refuse to fly to Alaska in a Cessna.

    As a side note, I've been following your blog for a month now (I turned vegan a month ago and turned to online sources for support). Thank you for posting so many incredible recipes (I've tried quite a few and especially appreciated the smoothie recipes since I also had a throat problem recently) and such great information about nutrition.

  4. Your cats are very cute, I especially like Massimo:) We also love frozen grapes, especially in the summer. They are a great snack!

    My facts- I am 48, I have been with my Dan since 1978,(we were high school sweethearts)and we married in 1985. Since I chose to be a stay at home mom of 4, I do not know what these "vacations" are that you speak of ;-)

  5. Jessie,

    Who would have thought frozen grapes would be so popular? I read about them in a magazine 10+ years ago and have been hooked ever since.

    I will write a quick birthday post soon. Maybe we are b'day buddies. ;-)

    Reading your words about Alaska makes me think of Italy. I feel exactly the same way. I have not seen Alaska but it sounds like I should. I don't blame your husband for not wanting to let someone else do the flying. But I agree flying in a Cessna to Alaska would just be a bit cramped. My dad used to have a V tailed Bonanza.

    Thanks for your kinds words about the blog. I am sorry to hear about your throat, but glad I could help a little.

    If you ever have any questions please feel free to post a comment or email me.


  6. Janet,

    Massimo is my little angel. He is the polar opposite of his little brother the demon seed. Too bad he won't keep his eyes open for photos.

    Yay for 48 and husbands named Dan, we should start a club. LOL. I will be there soon to join you. ;-) How nice that you are married to your high school sweetheart. My Dan is 7 years older than I am. We met after I was out of grad school.

    I guess it is tough to vacation with four kids. I have trouble dragging three cats and they don't get a say. I remember being a little terror to vacation with when I was a wee one. ;-)


  7. Absolutely adore the pics of the furbabies and the comments about their personalities. Too funny. I have not had frozen grapes actually. I love grapes too. So maybe I should try this for a snack.

    So glad I inspired you to do the fun facts. I am loving it!
    Ok, I am 35 (freaking out about it already), been with Jason for 15 years (10-year wedding anniversary in Aug), I adore any vacation that involves a beach!

    Oh and that info on the foods is great. Funny though, I crave salads...

  8. Heather,

    I think the boys (felines) are adorable, but I am a little biased. Glad you enjoyed the pics.

    You haven't had frozen grapes. I love them. I had more today. You really should try them you may get hooked.

    Oh what I wouldn't give to be 35 again. I am already stressing about 50 and it is still 2+ years away. So ridiculous. Congratuations on your upcoming anniversary. There is something very relaxing about the beach. When we go to Italy we like to end our vacation with a few days in Capri or on the Amali Coast before heading to Rome and flying out. I guess I gravitate to the beach as well. I had not thought about that until I read your comment.

    It is funny, I crave salad and all veggies now too. But I didn't always. I think I need to detox before I learned to love them.


  9. Love your babies!!!
    Especially Massimo!!! What a face!

    Well I am 37 years old....blah
    I have been married to Chris since 1994, We met in 1992 but didn't start dating until October 93' we had a whirlwind romance. We were only together 5 months and decided to get married. My favorite vacation spot would have to be Kansas City.
    Either, Old Town or Plaza Center

  10. Brandi,

    Thanks, I think they are precious too. Don't tell Nicco but Masi is my favorite. ;-)

    A 5 month romance, you don't waste any time girl. I guess when you know, you know. :-)

    Would you believe I have never been to Kansas or much of the US actually? Growing up in Indiana we always when to South Carolina for vacation. I have been to most of the eastern seaboard, Hawaii, and San Francisco but haven't seen much more of the US. Dan and I were just talking about needing to see more of the US.

    talk to you soon,

  11. Sorry for jumping in late here...but better late than never right?

    First of all: your Massimo and Binky just sing personality and intelligence!

    Second of all: I love frozen grapes and frozen cherries...haven't eaten either in a while, so thanks for the reminder.

    Also, in a possibly odd side note, my mom used to toss frozen grapes in with freshly popped popcorn for a Saturday night treat when we were kids. The result was sweet and savory, sort of like kettle/caramel corn or whatever it's called, I guess.

    And facts? Well, let's see...Peirce Brosnan once touched my elbow. And my husband's aunt was good friends with his father. The two facts are not phenomenoligically related, but rather just coincidence...imagine must have been written in the stars!

    And as a further aside: I'm neither a fan nor not a fan of said celebrity. :)

  12. Ok, so it's probably obvious now, that I didn't read the fun fact rules...sorry...I am 42, I've been with my hubby for 15 years, and my favorite vacation spot is either camping in Southern Oregon/Northern California coast...and/or hopefully someday...a 6-month backpacking tour of Peru and Brazil...which I imagine would then become my favorite vacation. Also love Europe, but have only lived there, not vacationed as such.

  13. Rose,

    Masi and Binky said thank you! LOL.

    Frozen cherries sounds brilliant. I have not tried that yet. Thank you so much for sharing that idea. I would never have thought of popcorn and frozen grapes but I will need to try that now. ;-)

    Your fun facts are way better than my questions. That is a very odd coincidence. But more importantly does he look the same in person? I have found they never seem to.

    Camping on the Northern California coast sounds wonderful. I am not a camping kind of girl but even I would enjoy that. My hubby really wants to go to Machu Picchu but I don't feel like it is safe enough. You are much more adventurous than I am. ;-)

    talk to you later,

  14. I thought PB looked pretty much true to form...he was very well mannered too. We were in a restaurant and he asked me the way to the toilettes.

  15. And for the record...I think Machu Picchu would be worth the trip no matter what. It must be incredibly beautiful and just an amazing place to bear witness to.

  16. Rose,

    We had some friends go to Machu Picchu and end up in he middle of gun battle. That is what freaked me out. Apparently it is or was a popular sport to rip off tourists and sometimes it turns ugly. But I have heard it is amazing if you aren't a chicken like me.

    You have had one of the few celebrity sigthings that went well. Normally I hear horror stories. It is oddly comforting to hear a positive story. Thanks for sharing that. :-)


  17. binkys face is priceless, he would win a staring contest with anybody. i cant even look at that pic without feling like i need to apologize for something,lol.

    :P to you too massimo

  18. walter and i talk a lot about how humans are programmed and what we want to eat intrinsically.very good topic.

    when i saw how many clories are in a POUND(!) of salad/lettuces i was like "thats what im talkin about,YES!!" lol im such a glutton.

    (i forgot this)

  19. I don't often comment, but yours is the only blog I regularly follow and I'd like to be part of the "family"! I'm 53 years young and have been married for 18 years to a super-duper man who eats everything I make (or try to make). We lived overseas for awhile and have taken some great vacations, but I don't really have a favorite. We now live in upstate SC and visited Hilton Head for the first time last fall--it was pretty darn nice.

    Thanks for all the great food/nutrition info! We're not quite vegans but I'm constantly inspired by your dedication to healthy eating. Unfortunately it's still a struggle for me to always make wise decisions about food, but I keep telling myself it's getting easier!

  20. Haven't been on-line lately.

    I am definitely putting the collard wraps on my list of things to do. :)

    Enjoyed the fun facts!

    I am 48, Robert and I have been married 25 years! It seems like yesterday in so many ways. I am not much on travel. I am an Army brat. We lived in Germany 3 years.
    Once my Dad retired he took a job in Iran. That was back in 1979. Do you remember the American hostage situation? Thank the Lord we were out just in time!! It was very scary. The place had turned vicious. My parents were extremely nervous. We were able to get on a military hop, and headed to Spain. Since all that excitement, I have never wanted to travel abroad. We do take vacations within the US. Yet, home is my favorite place to be.

    Love the info on the food groups/calories! I liked learning we crave higher calorie foods for a purpose! Interesting stuff to me.

    I completely understand the 50 thing. He..he I already just round up in my mind, and think I'm

  21. Michelle,

    Binky and Masi said thank you! ;-)

    Thanks for letting me you enjoyed the tidbit about food from the course. I found it to be an excellent summary. Also it was interesting to know why all seem to enjoy "less healthy" food.

    talk to you later,

  22. Hi Laura,

    Thanks for following me. What a nice thing to say that I am the only blog you follow regularly. *smiles*

    Congratulations on 18 years of happy marriage. That is quite an accomplishment.

    I really enjoy Hilton Head, glad you did too. My hubby really enjoys hitting the links there.

    If you ever have any questions please feel free to ask me. I am happy to help in any way I can.

    thanks again,

  23. Naina,

    Nice to have you back. :-)

    The collard wraps are my go to quick meal or snack. I hope you like them as much as I do.

    Yikes, being in Iran near the hostage crisis must have been terrifying. That would keep me at home too!

    Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed the food categorization. I found that lecture quite interesting.

    Great idea about rounding up my age now. If I start now maybe 50 won't "hurt" as much. :-)


  24. Thanks for sharing the info about the Cornell course! I found it interesting as well...

    I'm 30, been with my SO for just a year and a half...and my favorite vacation place? Cuba, for sure!

    I find it interesting that you don't feel Machu Pichu is safe (that may not be surprising after just revealing my favorite destination). I think of Peru in general, and especially Machu Pichu as being very safe for Latin America, and fairly safe in comparison to the U.S. Granted, it's not Europe, but then neither is any big city in the U.S.

  25. That list is interesting. I wouldn't have guessed that beef tenderloin was so much lower than oils and French fries. It's definitely food (yuk yuk!) for thought. I'm finding your coursework very interesting.

    Here are my fun fact answers:
    1. I'm 25.
    2. My taller half and I will celebrate four years together at the end of this month. :)
    3. I just love vacationing. Italy is my favorite place in the world, but I love going just about anywhere. Our first vacation together was Kansas City, which is about three hours from here.

  26. Jenn,

    I am glad you thought the Cornell stuff was interesting. I found it enlightening. It was news to me that we are biologically programmed to eat food that is more calorie dense.

    Cuba is your favorite vacation spot. That is really interesting. The closest I have been to Cuba is Key West. You are the first person I know who has been there.

    Machu Picchu didn't scare me until some people we know ended up there with guides and robbers shooting it out. I am a big chicken, that was it for me. Gun fire is something I try to stay very clear of. ;-)


  27. Brigid,

    Glad you liked the Cornell info. It does put french fries and potato chips into perspective doesn't it?

    I knew you loved Italy too! ;-) We Italophiles need to stick together. ;-) I remember our first vacation together too, though it was a little longer ago. LOL. We try to go gack every few years for old time sake. Congratulations on your upcoming anniversary!


  28. I missed this post on Friday so I'm responding a little late. LOVE that photo of Massimo, what a riot!

    I haven't tried frozen grapes, never heard of the idea till now. I have some grapes now though, so I'll go ahead and pop some in the freezer and give them a try.

    Fun facts: I'm 27, been dating Steve for 6 years, and my favorite recurring vacation spot is a tie between NYC and Las Vegas, but I'll take a brand new destination any day. Happy early bday to you, I do hope you tell us when it actually happens :)

    PS. I love that Heather's answer involves the beach!

  29. Sarah,

    I just knew you would love the picture of Massimo. He is a character and has such a sweet disposition.

    You have to try the frozen grapes. I adore them. Dan used to make fun of me doing that until he tried one that is. Please let me know what you think. I can't wait to hear. :-)

    Wow, you and Steve have been together forever. That is seriously a long time at your age. Good for you! Your vacation spot was not what I expected. But NYC is a really good one. I am lucky to live with driving distance. Not exactly around the corner, but 3 hours isn't that far away. ;-)

    Thanks for the early b'day wish. I will absolutely post when it happens, as painful as it is. But since I have outed myself on age I hope it will be less painful. LOL.

    I loved Heather's answer too. It was exactly what you would expect wasn't it?

    talk to you later,

  30. Hi, Alicia,

    I'm catching up on my blogreader, sorry I'm a little late!

    I'm 32 & have been married to my unconditionally supportive and encouraging husband for 8 years.

    We love to travel, even though I'm a chicken like you. :) He makes me be adventurous. We don't have a favorite spot--anywhere new is okay with us! This summer I'm surprising him with a road trip to Northern California (Napa) where we'll go see one of our favorite singers in concert. We would really like to go back to Ukraine & Poland, though! Maybe next summer.

  31. Jackie,

    Sounds like your hubby is like mine. He loves the more "wild vactions". We didn't have a favorite place until we went to Italy. Now it is hard to think of going anywhere else. We have discussed retiring there.

    A road trip to Napa sounds fun. I hope you both have a great time.


  32. Wow, I haven't been online much for a few days, many of my blogging friends haven't even blogged in that amount of time, but I'm already 85 posts behind on yours! LOL

    Massimo's photo is classic, just classic! As is your perfect caption! Love the squinched-up eyes and the tongue. Yep, I have no doubt he's saying neener neener to you!

    I just kind of glanced through all your latest posts, with the vain hope I might actually have time to read them all one of these days! (By which time there will be 85 new ones!) :-)~ So I didn't notice if you've actually revealed the date of your birthday. I hope I haven't missed it!

    Frozen grapes are great, a favorite summer treat! And thanks for sharing your eCornell class info, that was interesting and gratifying. :-)

    I'd love to visit Machu Picchu someday. I should go during hunting season here... I guarantee there would be less gunfire at Machu Picchu on its worst day than there is around here on the quietest during that evil season! >:-( I think you and Dan should go there sometime, what the hell. Aren't you the one who likes to run with scissors? ;-)

    The Fun Facts Friday thing is, well, fun! :-) I especially enjoyed Rose's rule-breaking revelations! ;-) (Hey, Rose, I once danced an impromptu tango in an alley with Jeff Goldblum!) But back to the rules... I'm 48, have known BW for 23 years (married for 22 this June, how can that much time have passed?) - he's my best buddy and I'm really lucky, he puts up with more than you know! :-) I'm having a terrible time thinking of a favorite place to vacation! I've pretty much loved every place I've vacationed! May I choose three? Okay, thanks. ;-) The UK, Taos, NM and the area of California that includes the Bay Area, Napa, Sonoma, Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea (which is where I'd live if I had a skazillion dollars, in one of those delightful Carmel cottages!)

  33. Lalo,

    You are so not 85 posts behind. But that did make me laugh so thanks!

    I had to post that picture of Masi. I loved the tightly closed eyes and tongue sticking out. He is quite the character.

    You didn't miss my birthday, it is next week. So don't fall behind on post reading our you will miss it. LOL

    Frozen grapes are my favorite little chilled treat. I eat them every week, hot or cold. But more often when it is hot outside. ;-)

    I am glad you enjoyed the e-Cornell tidbit. I thought it was so fascinating. But I love stuff like that. I also thought that broad grouping like that makes it much easier to remember.

    Yay for another member of the 48 year old club. I am definitely in good company. You and BW have been together a long time too.

    Machu Picchu would be fun wouldn't it? I need to stop being a big chicken I suppose. Wow, I did not think of hunting season where you are. I bet that is scary. I hope it doesn't last long. How is Punky? Have you seen that little cutie pie lately?

    An impromptu tango with Jeff Goldblum, that is a fun fact. You aren Rose have given me an idea for an upcoming Fun Fact Friday.

    I love the Bay area of California. Such a beautiful place wih phenomenal food. We love it in SF.

    talk to you later,


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