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A few days ago I met a woman who was referred to my blog as a source of good tips for healthy eating. I can’t even tell you how flattered and delighted I was upon hearing that. Fountains of passion fruit juice sprang from my ears and blue forget-me-nots bloomed in the corner on my mouth.

You know I am not about dieting here. My mission, this Internet pilgrimage if you will, is to promote Jason’s perfectly pink nipples first, and right after that to show you how easy and available healthy food is to us. In all honesty, on occasion, I also have an urge to show off my positively adorable pooch right along with a cake I managed not to destroy in the process of baking it.

Granted, those who live in mostly sunny California have an easy access to a variety of fresh produce all year round. I’m one the those lucky bastards. Therefore, if you are one of the dudes of the surfers’ nation (board or no board) you’re out of excuses for not crunching on baby carrots and milking a navel orange on a regular basis.

There’s hope for the rest of America, worry not. You can always put a meal together from scratch no matter where you live. Just that one little adjustment will help you reduce, and hopefully eventually eliminate the amount of processed foods you put into your body. Everyone has access to potatoes, tomatoes, onions and some sort of fresh greens, lemons and olive oil. With only those few ingredients you can mash up cooked potatoes to serve along sautéed chicken strips and a simple but delicious salad. How long do you normally wait for a pizza delivery? At least 30 minutes to an hour. It will take about 20 minutes of your life to whip out a simple dinner I described above from start to the first forkful of the homemade scrumptiousness in your mouth…

Meat is expensive, and as alarming research shows, not good for us in excess. You can eat brown rice with a bunch of roasted vegetables and a tomato sauce; even that from a jar will do. You can serve whole-wheat spaghetti with garlic, a touch of extra virgin olive oil and lots of fresh parsley, just like the Italians do. Despite what you think about pasta, this simple meal is smashingly more nutritious and friendlier to your system than any frozen dinner you get from your megamarket, not to mention a highly processed platter of …edibles from an average diner.

Then we’ve got fish. Always opt for fresh fish when available, but if not, the frozen kind will comply. Here’s a recipe for a simple fish stew I borrowed from Giada de Laurentiis some months ago. You can serve it with bread, any rustic type, or ciabatta for being the most authentic choice for this meal. A lack thereof should not stop you from making the stew. Jason and I enjoyed the dish with a scoop of forbidden rice for example, but any rice is just as adequate.

Gather the following elements:

–       1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

–       2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

–       1 onion, chopped

–       3 cloves garlic, minced

–       Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to season

–       3/4 cup white wine, such as Pinot Grigio

–       1 (28-oz) can crushed or pureed Italian tomatoes

–       1 cup water

–       1 tsp chili powder

–       1 tsp sweet paprika

–       1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, for some heat

–       1 1/2 pounds whitefish fillets, halibut, cod or arctic char, skinned and cut into 3/4-inch chunks (if frozen, let it thow out first)

–       1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Begin with sautéing the onions in a heated olive oil, ideally inside of a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pan. Season with salt to help the onion sweat. Add carrots and garlic and reduce the heat to medium-low. Season again with salt and pepper and mix well. When the vegetables begin to soften, add the wine and scrape of all the bits of flavor from the bottom of your pan to incorporate that into the sauce. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes or until the liquid reduces au sec (almost all liquid is gone). Add the tomatoes, water and spices, mix and cook until the vegetables are soft. Now it’s time for the fish. Toss your fishy chunks into the pot and let it simmer all together until its meat is fully cooked. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired. Add fresh parsley and serve.

Voila! Bon appetit and Na Zdrowie! Despite the hell-ish esthetics the meal was truly divine, I swear. Here’s one last tip — it always works — when plating, sprinkle each serving with love and fairy dust, thus turning it into an irresistible feast of the Olympian gods. The magic is in your hands, remember that.

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There’s this thing on a certain social networking site, known as Facebook, where one writes up 25 things about themselves and sends the list to 25 people. The idea is to share intimate, less known facts about yourself with people of your choice. Instead of writing down my 25 things and posting it on the above mentioned website, I thought I’d toss them here and make a salad out of it.

1. Almost every morning, as I dress up my bottom, I glance in the mirror and smile with approval at the sight of my profile.

2. The more I cook, the more appreciation I gain for my mother’s culinary talents. I didn’t realize how good of a cook she was until I tried the trade myself. The goal is NOT to be able to make a few dishes I can later alternate when making dinners for my family. Instead, I cook to free my soul and go to heaven for having discovered and exploited my potential.

3. There’s something about Jason’s nipples I cannot simply resist.

4. I am on non-speaking terms with Starbucks for their new line of VIA Ready Brew. While the world screams “RECYCLE! USE LESS PACKAGING! STOP CUTTING DOWN THE AMAZON!” they come up with those tiny coffee sachets worth 1 cup each. Hello! Have you not heard of global warming and The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is twice the size of Texas?? These Starbucks people are bananas! Argh!

5. The awesome thing about the holidays is that Jason can’t stop me from making peanut butter and chocolate brownies, or a shit load of chocolate cookies, or even a brownie pie!

6. My favorite candy store? Sur la Table for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

7. My favorite day of the week? The bra-free day. I like to keep my girls free and give them all the play-time they want before I get them to work for food when I get pregnant next year.

8. Hey, Mister! Have you not noticed your car has built-in blinkers? Nooo, these are not Christmas ornaments. You ought to use blinkers all year round dammit. Oh, yeah, that’s a huge pet-peeve of mine.

9. I grew up surrounded by books. Love ‘em to the last page. However, since I started this blog, I’ve been mostly purging words rather then inhaling them. I miss that.

10. Cosmo is a four-legged Pelè in disguise.

11. I have a vivid imagination. In my head, I see pictures of myself and/or people close to my heart in extremely catastrophic scenarios. Those images come to me randomly and out of the blue. Often they are so realistic I start to cry. I am unaware of the origin of this condition. I don’t know how to overcome it either.

12. Beauty moves me. It fills up my chest till it hurts and I start to cry. Again.

13. I secretly fart.

14. I haven’t used a hairbrush in six months, since I cut my hair short.

15. I was a witch in one of my previous incarnations, who lived in the woods and brewed herbal concoctions for various ailments.

16. – 24. Last night I made a salad, a twist on Coleslaw, that was so good the world stopped spinning for a moment. It was so fantastic in fact it’s worth 9 points of the 25 Important Things From Agnieszka Graczyk’s Life. Here’s how I did it…

I bought a package of shredded cabbage. I’d have gotten a whole head if the store offered one, as you know how I feel about the unnecessary packaging, etc. They didn’t carry the veg in its natural form. Back in my kitchen, I emptied the bag into a large bowl and added shredded Granny Smith Apple along with a bunch of chopped scallions. In the meantime, I toasted maybe a 1/2 a cup if raw walnuts, let them cool, and then roughly chopped them into small boulders of brain nuts.

Don’t they totally look like brains? The truth is they are really good for your brain, so it’s a clever tip to remember. The smurfs that write on Whole Foods web pages made my life easier for describing in detail the nuts’ magic:

Walnuts have often been thought of as a “brain food,” not only because of the wrinkled brain-like appearance of their shells, but because of their high concentration of omega-3 fats. Your brain is more than 60% structural fat. For your brain cells to function properly, this structural fat needs to be primarily the omega-3 fats found in walnuts, flaxseed and cold-water fish. This is because the membranes of all our cells, including our brain cells or neurons, are primarily composed of fats. Cell membranes are the gatekeepers of the cell. Anything that wants to get into or out of a cell must pass through the cell’s outer membrane. And omega-3 fats, which are especially fluid and flexible, make this process a whole lot easier, thus maximizing the cell’s ability to usher in nutrients while eliminating wastes–definitely a good idea, especially when the cell in question is in your brain.

The salad would not be complete without the dressing I quickly whipped up in our Magic Bullet. These were the components:

–       freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1 lemon

–       1 tbsp of honey

–       2 tbsp of heavy cream

–       3 tbsp of olive oil (the whole nine yards – organic, extra virgin, first cold pressing, etc.)

–       2 tsp of sea salt

–       1 tsp of black pepper.

Everybody in the bowl (the cabbage, scallions, apples, and nuts) got coated evenly with the silky dressing, then chilled in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes before consumption time. Then I took a bite, and with it I heard music and saw fireworks on a horizon. It was amazing, beyond delicious. There was the tartness from the apples and the dressing, but instantly the nut took off the edge and spread comfort and bliss in my mouth.

I didn’t need anything else for dinner. That was my delight of the day. For Jason, however, I reheated leftover penne over pancetta and garlic, and grilled three chicken tenders. Just like that. Nevertheless, the salad still took the Guest of Honor’s seat, and got a round of applause. Pure brilliance on a plate.

25. I am madly and uncontrollably in love with that white boy from Texas named Jason Blaine. Moreover, I am madly and uncontrollably loved by that white boy from Texas named Jason Blaine. He loves me just the way I am.

Gobble, gobble…!

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