Screwing around…

I screw around with my diet a lot.  Anyone who knows me is aware of this fact.  Sometimes I’m vegan, other times you can’t pry me away from animal parts.  I’ve been known to be gluten-free.  Occasionally my diet includes a lot of green shakes.  Usually you can find me avoiding sugar and dairy.  No matter what it always includes a lot of vegetables, a lot of water and very little caffeine.

The most likely catalyst for change is my high expectation of entertainment and my abhorrence of boredom.  I mean, seriously, do you know anyone else that wears wigs on a regular basis just to avoid boredom from my own reflection?  If you do, send them my way – there has got to be another one of me out there, right?

The other catalyst for diet-screwing is a penchant for flavor-healthy foods (I’m coining that phrase so don’t even think about taking the url).  Cooking food is rewarding.  Cooking food that your body needs is even more rewarding.  That’s not to say I’m a purist…I occasionally take part in the post-race McDonald’s cheeseburger and won’t judge you if you like Grade-A Mikey D’s beef too.  But, I find that the healthier my lifestyle is, the healthier I actually WANT to eat.  Take right now in my life as an example.  I’ve been running my little butt off (well, it’s getting littler with all this running around).  My pace is increasing (after all you couldn’t have gotten much SLOWER than me before), my endurance is improving, my recovery time is diminishing and I’m generally feeling fitter.  So, if I run 10 miles in the morning and then eat a steak covered in fontina cheese with a side of french fries dipped in mayo and a generous helping of mac and cheese what the hell am I running for?!

So, when sitting on the beach at JAL Resport and Spa in Fujairah yesterday after successfully launching the philanthropic efforts of a donation-worthy local non-profit I didn’t even need to choose my food wisely – my body chose for me.  As my friends chowed down on club sandwiches on white bread slathered in mayo and filled with processed meat and egg, gigantic “mega-bite” burgers on huge white buns with melted cheese and piles of double-fried french fries (*note: the food at JAL is out of this world – particularly anything they do with fish – in fact, the nicoise salad is worth the hour and half drive from Dubai) I enjoyed a much milder selection.  My “I’m-turning-into-a-serious-runner” body picked the tuna carpaccio salad – raw tuna with ginger and mixed greens in a Dijon vinaigrette.  And then like a hungry rabbit I scavenged my friends plates for all the greens I could dig up.

And after being convinced that the french fries were some of the best ever tasted I sampled one…and you know what, at that moment I would have taken a fresh leaf of delicious greenness over that fried bite of starchy potato.  But, check with me tomorrow…I may be singing a different tune.


Local means five steps away

Script writing...SammyDarlaJulia style

One of my favorite things is throwing together a meal from the ingredients that can be found in my kitchen…or your kitchen.  I pride myself on being able to walk into any kitchen (give or take a ketchup and beer bachelor pad) and put together an kick-ass meal.  Granted, I’m not sure I would enjoy that experiment quite as much if I walked into a kitchen filled with frozen fish sticks, Prego spaghetti sauce and Oscar Mayer bologna, but…actually, let me take that back.  I would love that challenge.  In fact, that may be a part of what The United States of SammyDarlaJulia is all about.

This morning I cooked breakfast for a couple hungry people consisting of only what was already in my kitchen (kind of an unfair standard though – after all I am a chef).  Here’s the menu:

Chicken soup eggs – When making an omelet use only one yolk – it doesn’t matter how many whites you use (unless you are cooking for the entire Marine Corps in which case you may need a few more yolks – and some back-up).  It improves flavor and consistency dramatically over an egg white omelet.  Start by whisking together the egg whites, the one yolk, some rice milk (who needs dairy when you can milk rice?) and fresh cracked pepper.  Get a pan up to high heat and dry roast shiitake mushrooms, turn the pan down and add the egg mixture and some leftover chicken barley soup from the weekend of TLC.  Use a spatula to break everything up and to make sure the omelet gets evenly cooked.  While that finishes, throw some Delba bread into the toaster (what, may I ask, is ‘Fitness Bread?’).  If you have dairy eaters at the table then top with a thin spread of goat cheese and fig jam.  Or top with smoked salmon, a bit of grapefruit preserves and a fresh mint leaf.

You may be asking yourself ‘Who the hell has homemade chicken barley soup, grapefruit jam and some weird German bread on hand?!’  No one – that’s who.  The point is that you can use ANYTHING to create a good breakfast – just do your organs a favor and leave the Oscar Mayer out.

Chicken Soup and Chicken Soup

courtesy of

Today a friend of mine landed himself in the hospital with a mini-heart attack.  He’s in his 30s and he’s a runner.  Yikes.  I’ve dedicated my weekend to giving him more TLC than a video about chasing waterfalls and what’s more TLC-inducing than a big ol’ bowl of homemade chicken soup?  Two bowls, that’s what.

Here are the recipes – Darla style (which doesn’t resemble a recipe at all).

courtesy of

Chicken Tortilla Soup: Cook and shred a whole (need I say organic?) chicken.  Add a jar of good salsa (not that preservative-filled crap, but the real stellar stuff), a can of crushed tomatoes, the shredded chicken and some uncooked rice to a pot of homemade chicken stock.  Let it stew to combine the flavors.  Add salt, pepper and a natural hot sauce as needed.  Just before serving add lots of freshly chopped cilantro.  Spoon into bowls and top with sliced avocado and broken tortilla chips.  Take that El Vez – just kidding I take it back – I love you.

Chicken Barley Soup: Cook and shread a whole chicken (sound familar?  I love ripping meat off a bone – so much dirtier sounding than intended).  Add chopped carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, the shredded chicken and uncooked barley to a pot of homemade chicken stock.  Let it stew to combine the flavors.  Add salt, pepper and herbs de provence as needed.  Serve with a good whole grain bread (or a gluten-free rice variety).

Tuck ailing friend in and call it a night – at 3 am.

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