Sunday, September 29, 2013

What's Your Best Age?

Not long after John and I moved to Los Angeles, we encountered Jack LaLanne at our favorite Greek restaurant, Le Petit Greek Estiatorio.  No, he did not look like this when we saw him ... but here's what he looked like at the height of his career.

Courtesy Wikipedia
Star sightings are not unusual where we live, but what was unusual is he came over to our table to visit with us.  I promise, we did not prompt him to come over.

John, being his ever so shy self, put his journalism cap on and asked Jack, "what was the best age of your life?"  The evening of our visit with him, we estimated he was in his early 90's.  He did not blink.  The answer was easy.  He replied, "Right now!"

Long before it was fashionable to be "healthy," Mr. LaLanne became famous through his fitness and nutritional TV shows thanks to the golden age of television.  Many thought, back in the day, he was a charlatan and a nut.  Doctors claimed what he was doing could give people heart attacks and make them lose their sex drives.

Motivated by his father's premature death at the age of 58 most likely due to poor nutrition, young Jack recognized the sugary junk food he had been living on up to that point contributed to his own terrible headaches, an awful complexion and a horrid temper.  It all became clear when he witnessed a lecture from Paul Bragg, a pioneer in the wellness movement.  Paul delivered a speech on the evil aspects of overdoing on meat and sugar.  Following that light bulb moment, Jack has always credited Paul for saving his own life.

If you watched TV anytime between 1953 and 1985, you probably remember Jack LaLanne's persona well.

When he first started appeared on television, he actually had to buy a 15 minute block because no one could imagine viewers would want to watch exercise.  A few years later the show was picked up on the ABC network evolving to a 30 minute daily program.  I can honestly relay, that guy you saw on TV was exactly the same guy in person.

Here's the lessons I took away.  Those who believe the best years are behind them, may be blinded to the joys of today.  I also learned those who are ahead of their time are often ridiculed.  Keep an open mind to new ideas and we can perhaps evolve.  Of all the star sightings we've had, he was one of our favorites. A few years later, he passed away to his great chagrin.

"I'd hate to die, it would ruin my image. "

Jack LaLanne September 26, 1914 - January 23, 2011

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Need an Appetizer Idea? FIGgedaboutit!

For many years I shunned the fig.  Wrongly, I classified it right up there with prunes and dates; something you "should" eat but hardly have an affinity for.  Boy have I been wrong.

A couple years back I started challenging myself to try new things.  By default, John got roped into trying new things too.  He's been a trooper with the small exception of kale which I now "slip" into his food (don't tell).  For me, you may remember I was persnickety about persimmons but found a way to enjoy them.  Enter the fig.

Always looking so regal at the Farmer's market, I started experimenting with Figs in salads and juicing.  Guess what?  I like them .... a lot!  So similar to eating a sugar cookie, except healthier.  Within the last month, in two separate cities, I had friends mention how tasty figs wrapped in prosciutto were.  Coincidence or an indicator I should try it?  Seizing the suggestion, I implored my second friend to show me his tried and true approach to this simple appetizer.

Our friend, Nick

First slice figs in half just up to the stem so that the stem acts as a hinge to keep it together.  Scoop out the center.  Reserve the scooped out meat of the fig in a bowl for the filling.

Mix the fig meat with a small log of goat cheese.

Throw in some fresh mint into the mixture; this will give the appetizer a brightness to the sweet and savory flavor.

Fill the scooped out fig shells with the goat cheese/mint mixture.  Similar idea to a twice baked potato.

Wrap the sweet, tangy package in a good quality prosciutto sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes at 350.

Let cool slightly.  Enjoy with a lovely glass of wine.

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