Photo by Raul Cacho Oses / Unsplash

On starting the New Year on a high note, bright colors and rich flavors. To your health, that is.

Covid. That's why this happened. It's always Covid's fault, damnit. Well, sort of. At least that's the case with my once beloved OPI strawberry yogurt salad dressing. Some time last year, the product disappeared off the shelves up here in Eugene. I didn't mind too terribly that the cost for dressings in these parts was easily two bucks per bottle more pricey than in Denver.

I did mind that my favorite dressing was discontinued entirely. I flopped around trying others. They sucked. Worse, those which became my favorites turned out to be full of ingredients that I don't want to ingest: sugar, canola and other seed oils, and the kinds of junk and chemicals I refuse to keep putting into my body.

Not at this age. After reading Dr. Robert Lustig's Metabolical, I went through my refrigerator and my pantry with a nit comb. I threw out a bunch of stuff. First on the list were all the dressings.

I had made slack promises to myself to make my own. Bought a blender. Waffled. And waffled. Finally, Lustig's book. So I set about making the damned recipe. It took seconds, smelled ridiculously good, and is MUCH better than the bottled stuff. Here's the recipe:

Creamy Strawberry Yogurt Salad Dressing Recipe (Low-Calorie)
This sweet and creamy Strawberry Yogurt Salad Dressing recipe will save you calories and dollars. Does it get any better?

This sauce is great on vegges, salads, fish, everything. I am not supposed to eat strawberries but there are so few that they aren't giving me a hard time. I'm not allergic, it has to do with the urinary tract. Yogurt either, but again, this is a condiment. I'm not eating it by the gallon. I'm tempted, but hey.

I use plain yogurt, of course, so no added sugars.

I put the dressing in a tightly-sealed thermos, and whip it out for steamed asparagus, salmon, broccoli, cauliflower. It's sweet, tangy, full of olive or avocado oil and just enough stevia to satisfy my sweet tooth. And much cheaper than six bucks a smallish bottle.

Here are the nutrition benefits from the recipe above:


Serving: 1gCalories: 57kcal

Carbohydrates: 3g

Protein: 1gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1g

Polyunsaturated Fat Monounsaturated Fat: 3g

Sodium: 43mg

Potassium: 29mg

Fiber: 1g

Sugar: 1g

Vitamin A: 2IU

Vitamin C: 8mg

Calcium: 4mg

Iron: 1mg

The other goes back to my farm roots.

I love squash. Spaghetti squash is great but cutting the damned thing for cooking takes a chain saw. So for Christmas dinner I decided to make something up.

I bought two acorn squash, cut them in half, and microwaved each half in a low bowl filled with about a quarter inch of water. The squash sucks the water up as it cooks. Eight to ten minutes, depending on the size of the squash.

Then I clean out the seeds, carve out all the meat into a bowl, slap in a small pat of butter, a tablespoon of honey and some pepper to taste. Whip that up with a fork, and reheat it.

It was WICKED good. I forgot how much I love acorn squash, and how satisfying it is for winter meals. I would imagine some fresh parsley would dress it up even more.

I like that a small bowl  is a lovely snack, and the density of the acorn squash is very filling.

Besides there are these benefits:

Health Benefits of Acorn Squash
Find out what nutrients are in acorn s

The more time I spend in my made-for-entertaining kitchen, the more I am relearning to cook. I slipped into the habit of opening bags of salads for my dinner, which appears to have been not such a good plan.

A better one is to revisit my farm roots, my mother's ability to whip up interesting meals out of leftovers, but not to eat what she fed us. Times have changed.

As has my body. As I've aged, my need for really good food going into my seventies beginning in January is even greater. I'm starting to experiment more, find my local farmer's markets and revisit the very deep pleasure of cooking.

This is just one of the gifts that this move has offered. Uprooting has in some ways returned me to my farm roots, and the pleasure of taking the time to experiment. I am no chef, but cooking in a kitchen which looks out onto the mad dashing of hundreds of birds around my feeders and suet stations is a gift in and of itself.

You regular cooks may laugh, but we evolve into these things like seasons. Right now it's time for me to explore seasonings in my new house. As I look to add even more fiber and fruit to my diet than normal, which is a lot, it's going to be fun to share those meals with my visiting birds when spring returns and I can put the bench back into my gazebo.

Using a light dressing like this inspires me to eat LOTs more fresh vegetables. And heating up the dense, tasty acorn squash satisfies me with its fiber and keeps me from snacking on things that my tongue wants but the body doesn't appreciate. So both are investments in my health.

The other reason is that since I committed to climbing Kilimanjaro again in 2023, there is no better time than now to truly focus on a superb eating plan. That will fuel the workouts which will help me make the summit. Why not make it both tasty and fun?

Vegan salad bowl
Photo by Anna Pelzer / Unsplash