You Gotta Have Friends by Elizabeth Brown, MS, RD

Best Friends Forever

I have been on the East Coast for the past week visiting friends and family who I have not seen in several years. I’ve known most of my friends over 25 years. This is difficult to believe since I feel like I’m only 25 years old.

But it’s been fun to see familiar faces and talk about where all the time has gone.

I met some of my friends while working at a gym when I was 18. It was the same gym where Rocky Johnson and the Samoans trained. I remember joking with them about the fact that they were professional wrestlers. I would say, “You can’t make a living as a wrestler.” They were very nice men who loved to joke around.

I also remember meeting Rocky’s son, Dwayne Johnson (better known as “The Rock”), when he was in high school. He was very quiet and a little shy back then. He certainly proved that one can make a very good living as a professional wrestler.

Working as a personal trainer spawned my career in nutrition. I found that I could teach people how to move their bodies, but I didn’t know what to tell them to eat to fuel their bodies. So I elected to study Nutrition in college. I also became a Weight Management Specialist, a Diabetes Educator and attended a Holistic Culinary School.

I have lived on the East Coast, West Coast and the Gulf Coast. I worked with people from all over the world and have learned how food affects and shapes people’s lives. I have seen my friends and family change over the years as a natural part of the aging process and as a result of a stressful environment and lifestyle choices.

During my trip home, I’ve been trying to help those people I love most by sharing my recipes and nutrition knowledge but as most of you know, change doesn’t happen overnight. Change is a process that must be implemented one day, one recipe or one little piece of information at a time.

While flying from Atlanta to Allentown, I spoke with a gentleman who had been married for more than 40 years. He admitted that he is lost in the kitchen since his wife’s passing. I shared with him a very simple baked fish recipe.

At Mother’s Day dinner I talked to my family about the importance of omega-3 fats. With a strong history of heart disease and arthritis, they were all ready to take action to get more omega-3s each day.

I spent time with my friend Samina Wahhab, MD, a prominent plastic surgeon with two young children and an amazingly balanced life. We talked about how to get her children to eat more vegetables. Together we made spaghetti and meatballs with a hidden green vegetable for extra nutrition.

I made an orange arugula salad for my BFF Kara. And I’ll be taking a quinoa tabouli salad when we visit family in Delaware. I also helped a writer gather some simple fruit salad recipes for her article on healthy forth of July pic nic fair. A creamy fruit salad is always a hit. See her article at this link

Although no single recipe can erase a lifetime of less than perfect eating habits and lifestyle choices, at least we can all make some positive changes today. If someone had told me that I would make a living writing about my loved ones, I would have said, “You can’t make a living writing about your everyday life!” I was wrong.

How lucky am I?

Breaded and Baked White Fish
One pound thin white fish: sole, flounder or tilapia
2 cups brown rice or corn flour (Gluten-free) or whole grain flour of your choice
1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 egg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat baking tray with canola oil. Combine flour and seasonings in a bowl. Beat egg in a separate bowl. Dip fish in egg one piece at a time. Dip in flour. Coat both sides evenly. Set on oiled tray. Bake 10 minutes then flip. Bake 10 more minutes, remove from oven. Serve with green salad.

Spaghetti & Meatballs
2 slices whole grain or brown rice bread (Gluten-free)
8 ounces lean beef
1/8 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup fresh, chopped spinach
1 Tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch cayenne
1 egg, beaten

Sauce
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 small onion, fine dice
2 red peppers, fine dice
28 ounce can diced tomatoes
6 ounce can tomato paste

Make by hand or use a processor. Crumble bread. Add meat and mix. Add onion, garlic, spinach, basil, oregano, nutmeg, cayenne and egg. Mix thoroughly and form into balls. Brown meatballs in canola oil. Remove meatballs. Set aside. Add broth to deglaze pan. Add onion, peppers, diced tomatoes and paste. Add meatballs. Simmer 30 minutes. Add more liquid as needed. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with pasta.

Quinoa Tabouli Salad
3 cups quinoa
3 cups parsley, minced
1 cup mint, chopped
1 cup basil, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
2 T olive oil
Juice from one lemon, ~2 T
2 cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt (~1/8 tsp) & pepper to taste

Cook grains as indicated & cool in the refrigerator while you prepare the other ingredients. Chop herbs & tomato. Add herbs & tomato to cooked cooled grain. Add Lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, sea salt & pepper. Toss, taste & adjust flavors as needed. Serve as a bed for steamed fish or poached poultry

Orange & Arugula Salad
2 oranges, any variety
4 cups arugula
2 Tbsp fresh herbs which compliment flavors: Optional (mint, rosemary or tarragon)
2 Tbsp lemon juice & zest of one lemon
1 Tbsp honey
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon flax oil
Sea salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp walnuts, chopped

Peel and section grapefruit and cut crosswise into small triangles. Wash and dry arugula and herbs using a salad spinner or colander to drain. In a mixing bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients: herbs, lemon juice & zest, honey, Dijon, olive oil, salt and ample black pepper. Divide arugula between two bowls. Toss with dressing to coat. Top with orange sections and walnuts. Eat & enjoy! To make this a more complete meal, top with your favorite protein source such as steamed white fish, tempeh or poached free-range chicken

Creamy Fruit Salad
2 cups fresh berries such as blueberries, blackberries and strawberries
2 cups chopped peaches, plums and nectarines
2 Tablespoons orange juice or cut open and orange or lemon to squeeze over fruit and prevent browning
1 cup plain, non-fat yogurt
1 Tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Chop peaches, plum and nectarines, any combination. Blend with juice to prevent browning. Add berries. Combine yogurt, honey and cinnamon. Pour over fruit mixture and enjoy!