I read on Face Book from a posting by my friend Kelly that she just got rave reviews from her doctor about her cholesterol.
I'm impressed and inspired.
Kelly is one of my old friends from High School and has followed this little gorgeous bits blog from the beginning. She's tried some of the recipes and given me fantastic feedback.
It seems she enjoys cooking and food as much as I do, but she must be doing something right to have dropped so many cholesterol points in such a short amount of time.
My friends and I are all still relatively young and vibrant, but we are finding out that good health just doesn't come as easily as it used to... there suddenly seems to be some hard work involved, and we have to pay closer attention to what we eat.
The advice our parents used to dole out about health and longevity as we smiled and nodded and crammed Double-Stuff Oreo's down our throats is suddenly starting to make sense.
Unfortunately, I have had an ongoing unabashed love affair with cream, butter and bacon. Those particular fatty and salty ingredients seem to be my achilles heel and last year, I had to adjust my diet in order to protect my aging bod from high blood pressure.
Now I'm playing with new recipes, and I've been trying to cook more "naked" food.
I think, when we cook we need to think seasonally and locally, making sure the main ingredients are things you can find at Farmer's Markets or in the organic/local section of the neighborhood grocery store.
Fresh organic ingredients may cost a little more, but if you use fewer ingredients in a recipe, (avoiding added dairy products, bacon and rich sauces) it can be very affordable.
Plus, you and your whole family eat much healthier by eating organic, so try to think about spending money on groceries as "preventative care".
Additional benefits: You support the community, small business and local farmers and impact the environment in a positive way.
Once I get into the habit of sticking to simple basic ingredients, not only can I accomplish cooking delicious food, but I really do feel better. As much as I crave thick cream sauces, rivers of butter or melted cheese and crispy bacon, my body doesn't feel so great after eating it.
I need to remind myself BEFORE I take a bite of a cheese burger or add that splash of whole cream to my coffee, about how heavy I feel with that in my system.
When you eat clean food, you feel lighter, leaner, refreshed and energized.
This practically-naked-fish recipe is the perfect way to keep your cholesterol in check. Added bonus is, you will impress your family and friends by presenting dinner in snazzy looking parchmant paper packages (which is a totally cool bad-ass June Cleaver move)
Also, this particular recipe cooks the fish perfectly.
4 15x15-inch squares parchment paper4 5-to 6-ounce fish fillets (such as halibut or cod; each about 1 inch thick)
a few pinches of sea salt
a few grinds of cracked pepper
12 fresh tarragon leaves (you can use fresh dill or dried tarragon, but I like fresh tarragon the most)
2 knobs of unsalted butter, cut into 4 small chunks
1 pound slender asparagus spears, trimmed, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
4 Tbs orange juice (fresh squeezed if at all possible. Just the right amount from 1 large orange... )
1 Tbs fresh orange zest (double-duty from the same orange)
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Place parchment squares onto work surface. Generously butter half of each parchment square; top buttered half of each with 1 fish fillet. Sprinkle fish with sea salt and cracked pepper; top each fillet with 3 tarragon leaves, then 1 piece of butter.
Arrange asparagus around each fish fillet; pour 1 tablespoon orange juice over each.
Top it off by sprinkling on a bit of orange zest.
Fold parchment over fish and asparagus, folding and crimping edges tightly to seal and enclose filling completely. Place on 2 rimmed baking sheets, spacing apart. do ahead Can be made 4 hours ahead. Chill. (which makes this the perfect "company" dish)
Bake fish packets 17 minutes.
Slide packets onto plates and serve.