Thursday, July 14, 2011


For over three years, I wrote a weekly food column in our local newspaper, The Adirondack Express. You can read that paper online, HERE. Anyways, one of the most frequent comments I would receive about my writing was, in a nutshell, how darned healthy all of my recipes were. And most of these comments weren't meant to be positive, which totally floored me! See, many of my readers were super pressed for time, and wanted FASTER, more CONVENIENT dinners and desserts to put on their families' table. When I read between the lines of those e-mails and letters, what I deciphered was this:  Ahem, Leslie, you don't use enough processed foods in your recipes, so meal preparation takes so much longer. We are too crazy busy to eat well--heck, let's just order some pizza and wings and call it a day!

Well, sorry--that's just not how my family and I eat, and I wasn't about to lie in my column. In fact, here's what my daughter asked me to make for her for lunch, just the other day: A spinach salad with blueberries, gorgonzola cheese, pecans and cranberries. And she's 20 years old! I mean, when I was 20, I lived on (at college, anyways) Chef Boyardee, Ramen and Burger King. Seriously. But I'm significantly older now, with some significant health issues, so my thinking is that I should feed myself, and my family (praying that our daughter doesn't inherit my autoimmune problems) the absolute best foods available. And I'll be honest here--this isn't always an easy task, especially where we live. Oh sure, we have a wonderful, seasonal farmer's market in our town, but for really fresh and affordable produce I often find it necessary to drive an hour away, on a weekly basis. But it's soooo worth it--this is the kind of stuff we eat, here in La Casita De Willard.....lots and lots of fresh fruit.....

(I always forget that tomatoes ARE a fruit!)

Blueberries, how I do love thee! Right now, they're on mega-sale, everywhere (like 2 cartons for $4!), so I like to freeze them for winter by laying them out on a flat cookie sheet, freezing, then pouring into a large Ziploc bag--that way, we can pull out what we need all winter long). We also loooove seedless red grapes...........

Eggs are a staple in my diet. The perfect lean protein! And cholesterol myths? Let me just say that I eat at least 2 of these babies a day, cooked in olive oil, and my total cholesterol level is a perfect 167...........I'm just sayin!.............

Here are some more of my pantry staples.........Whole grain bread (we try to eat very little white flour, ever)............

If you eat a handful of these, daily, I swear you're gonna live until you're 150..........

Peanut butter (so good on apples!), beans beans and more beans and tuna.......

Instant brown rice.....sometimes I buy this in bulk. Once you get used to the nutty flavor, there's no turning back! We also buy multi-grain pastas.............

In my fridge, non-fat yogurt (I prefer the locally made Chobani, Abbie likes the Stonyfield brand.........

And hummus....I eat my body weight in this stuff, weekly. So great instead of mayo on sandwiches, and a wonderful snack on whole grain crackers or cut-up vegetables......

I forgot a few things that we rely on, like spinach and steel cut Irish oatmeal and Kashi Go-Lean cereals. Organic milk and BUTTER--yes, BUTTER! Stopped eating anything like margarine years ago, when I read that our bodies know how to process natural dairy products, but have no idea what to do with synthetic things. Mostly we cook with olive oil, but butter is just about the best thing, EVER, in my book, used in moderation, of course.

Oh sure, we junk out just like everyone else, every once in a while, but I'm a firm believer in moderation. Where I used to be able to down 2 glasses of wine, half a stuffed crust pizza and THEN a slice of cake, well, I can't do that anymore, but that's okay--I don't even crave those junk foods these days. Hmmm, maybe this old bod is trying to tell me something, after all of these years?

We also love green beans when they're in season (frozen or canned? Bleeech!). One of my favorite ways to prepare them is to roast delicious. First thing I do is rinse them under cold wate and snap off the ends. Lay them out on a baking sheet............

Toss them with a little olive oil (until lightly coated), then salt and pepper..........

Roast in a 425 degree oven for 10 minutes. In the meantime, I julienne about a third of a jar of sundried tomatoes. Toss the beans with the tomatoes, then roast for another 10 minutes..........

Remove from oven and place into a serving bowl. Top with crumbled Feta cheese. Serve hot.....

Super easy and flavorful! Here's the recipe..........

Serves 4

1 lb. green beans, rinsed with ends removed
olive oil--enough to coat
salt and pepper
1 / 3 jar oil packed sundried tomatoes, julienned
2-3 oz. crumbed Feta cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lay green beans on a baking sheet. With your hands, lightly coat green beans with olive oil, then salt and pepper to taste. Roast beans for 10 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven, and with tongs mix sundried tomatoes with beans. Continue roasting for 10 minutes. Pour beans into a serving bowl, then top with crumbled Feta cheese. Serve hot.


* My brilliant Uncle Joe in Oakland, CA, who taught me the magic of the macro lens when photographing food!

* My brilliant Uncle Joe, who taught me the power of "threes" in photography. Check out my egg and apple photos, silly Uncle!

*I'm grateful that my dear friend Lynn's husband has found an amazing new career, in his 60's, no less! Go Fred!


  1. Leslie - What perfect timing! I just picked about a gallon bag of green beans from the garden just yesterday! I can't wait to try out this recipe. I know we'll love it! Our families have very similar tastes and eating habits. Just so you are one of the things I'm grateful for today! Love you~ Mona

  2. Hey Les,
    Love the top photo! Where is that taken?

    About the butter, had to laugh. Graces' 4th grade class this past winter was reading your fave, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and then they went to an authentic 1910 classroom out on the prairie. There were many things they studied, but she got the biggest kick out of making her own butter! So last night, she insisted I buy a pint of whipping cream. She placed it in a jar and shook it, (while jumping up and down herself!) for nearly 45 minutes until it turned into a lovely, silky, sweet butter. Yum! Just making our own butter may end up being a good work-out plan! Then an hour in the pool afterwards! Pray for us and our 3rd continuous week of over 100 degree temps down here in Tulsa, OK! Arghhh...

    Love, Debra

  3. Mona--THANK YOU for the wonderful comments--hey, great minds think alike, right? You are SO my inspiration, eating-wise; now, I just need to start making my own bread! And Deb, the Whole Foods photo was just lifted from Google images, silly--and I LOVE your butter story, a Laura Ingalls. Homemade butter--yummy! We've been thinking about you guys with that horrid heat you're having--move to New York, woman!

  4. Hello Leslie, It is your old friend Patty. I have enjoyed reading your blog, thank you so much for sending it to me. We need to change the email on it because work has new strick rules on emails.
    I want to tell you that I live in the Almond Capital of the World! We eat roasted almonds everyday and we are going to live to 150! I also grow the long Chinese beans and I will use your idea to prepare them. Sounds yummy!
    I miss you here in California, keep in touch

  5. We've been eating this way in our household since the beginning of the year. It was great to read the contents of your pantry, and to be given permission to use butter (which I love). :-) I'm eager to try the green bean recipe.

  6. Here’s to freedom, cheers to art. Here’s to having an excellent adventure and may the stopping never start.
    Flights to Addis Ababa
    Cheap Flights to Addis Ababa
    Cheap Air Tickets to Addis Ababa