Oscar-mania is upon us once again. For those “in the know” and for those who “want to know,” the awards show will air on Sunday, February 24th. For the Academy Awards, it’s the 85th annual, but for Figs & Function, well, we’re just a baby.
Welcome to the 2nd Annual Figs & Function Healthy Awards Dinner.
The creation of this healthy menu was inspired by this year’s 9 films nominated for best picture. Stroll down Movie Memory Lane to see last year’s menu. Can you believe it’s been a year since the box office buzz was over The Artist, The Help, and The Descendants?
Your healthy menu for this evening includes the following:
Champagne and Hors d’oeuvres
Champagne or Sparkling Wine..………………….……………..……….Amour
Philly Tailgate Veggie Balls in Gravy……………….………..Silver Linings Playbook
Pi’s Peppers and Anchovies……………………………..……….………..Life of Pi
with Jean Valjean Toasted Baguette…………..……….……….Les Miserable
“Fake Out” Fatoosh Salad………………………………………………Argo
Southern Backyard Chicken…………………………….Beasts of the Southern Wild
Free Grits……………………………………………………….…..Django Unchained
Emancipation Apple Pie…………………………..………….………Lincoln
“Gottcha” Chai Tea…………………………………….……….Zero Dark Thirty
Champagne or Sparkling Wine
Okay, maybe a red wine would have been a more heart-healthy choice for this menu, but sometimes you just need to feed your soul. For me, that’s where Champagne or sparkling wine comes in. Pouring a cold glass of bubbly is like saying, “Let’s get this party started!”
Philly Tailgate Veggie Balls in Gravy
What’s a Philly tailgate party without meatballs in gravy? But let’s go healthier. The wonderful folks at the famous Marabella Meatball Co. were generous enough to share with us this recipe for their Veggie Balls. They’re easy to make, so yummy, and the perfect way to get your cancer-fighting cruciferous vegetables. We’re now on our way to debunking our 2011 weigh-in as the “fattest city in America.”
As for the “gravy,” well, since I didn’t grow up with a Nonni, we never made “gravy” from scratch. I did have two Nanas, though. We made “sauce” from a jar.
So here are a few tips for buying tomato sauce: Look for sauce that has less than 5 grams of sugar, and no high fructose corn syrup. Look for lower sodium—less than 350 milligrams per serving—or no sodium versions. You can add your own salt at home. Look for simple ingredients, not complicated words, and try to stay clear of “natural flavors.” If they can’t list the flavor on the jar, I’m not sure I’d want to buy it.
Pi’s Peppers and Anchovies
As with so many things in life, bigger isn’t always better. And the same holds true for fish. When buying or ordering our sea friends…think small.
Eating more of these little wild fish, like anchovies and sardines, is healthier. Try to reduce your consumption of the larger predator fish, like tuna and swordfish, because these fish have much more pollutants, toxins, and mercury in their flesh. The little fish have such short life spans that these toxins don’t have time to build up in their bodies. Also, avoid buying any type of fish from China. Their regulation policies are less than desirable.
This recipe is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which benefits the cardiovascular system. It is an excellent source of protein, calcium, B Vitamins, phosphorous, iron, and potassium, and it’s thought that the smaller fish enhance brain function, as well. What do you think about that?
Red Peppers are rich in phytochemicals that reduce free radical damage. They also will support heart and memory function. And though the garlic may not be on the menu for a first date, it is a natural antibiotic and very healthy.
Jean Valjean Toasted Baguette
When buying bread, look for 100% whole grain. If the first ingredient listed on the label is “flour” or “enriched bleached flour” you’re not getting 100% whole grain bread.
Whole grains are naturally low in fat and cholesterol free. They usually have more than 10% protein and best of all, they offer lots of healthy fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Also, try to choose bread with less than 200 milligrams of sodium per slice.
“Fake Out” Fatoosh Salad
Middle Eastern countries are known for eating an abundance of fruits and vegetables. In fact most of their meals are vegetable-based with meat used only as a condiment. This light and healthy Fatoosh Salad is the perfect way to begin our meal.
The bright and colorful raw vegetables contain a variety of health benefits, from Vitamin A and K in the romaine lettuce, to cancer fighting and anti-inflammatory properties of quercetin found in red onions.
Even the salad dressing is healthy.
Sumac, which is a berry, is dried and crushed to make this spice. In addition to adding a unique and bright lemony flavor to the dish, it also provides antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.
Southern Backyard Chicken
This recipe is an easy way to roast a chicken and have it come out juicy every time. As with ourselves, we like our chicken to be lean and clean, which comes from being raised in an environment where the birds are allowed to roam freely, thus the term “free-range.” Look for this on the package of your chicken. Another term to look for is “organic.” Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy all come from animals that were given no antibiotics or growth hormones. I know organic, free-range chickens may be more expensive per pound, but if you remove some of the processed frozen meals from your shopping cart, what you fork over to the cashier will probably come out the same. I think that’s a win/win, don’t you?
Grits are a true southern favorite. Paula Dean adds a boatload of butter and cheese to her corny concoction. But you really don’t have to. Arrowhead Mills makes a truly tasty product that’s easy and healthy. Just add the grits to boiling water and in 5 minutes you have the creamiest grits ever. You can also count on getting some B Vitamins, a bit of Vitamin E, and the minerals selenium, zinc, potassium, and phosphorous. Plain grits have no cholesterol or sodium.
Emancipation Apple Pie
President Abraham Lincoln was known to have loved apples, so this Emancipation Apple Pie is served in his honor. Though I wish I could have found an exact recipe of Lincoln’s beloved apple dessert, I’m pretty sure he would have approved of this recipe I found on the Internet. It got Mr. S’s stamp of approval.
“Gottcha” Chai Tea
If you’ve never tried chai tea, what are you waiting for? Its warming spices and soothing richness makes this tea like a Snuggie on a cold winter’s day. Have it iced in the summer and it’s still fabulous, and healthy too.
Chai is typically made with black tea steeped with a blend of ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, cardamom, cloves, and star anise. You can add a sweetener of your choice to taste, from honey to maple syrup to unbleached cane sugar.
- Ginger has been shown to demonstrate anti-inflammatory effects, as well as offering digestive benefits. It also promotes circulation, strengthens immunity, and helps to fight cancer.
- Cinnamon may help to reduce the risk of heart disease, regulate blood sugar in people with diabetes, and help to lower cholesterol as well. It also may help to relieve cold and flu symptoms.
- Cardamom can be used for both sweet and savory culinary purposes. Medicinally its health benefits are vast, aiding everything from symptoms of the common cold, cough, and bronchitis, to relieving digestive woes such as gas and constipation. It also is a good source of potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron.
- Clove is also known to be an anti-inflammatory spice.
This is my favorite chai tea recipe. But no worries if making it from scratch doesn’t interest you. Look for chai tea bags at the grocery store or at your favorite coffee house.
So, my fellow film (and fashion) fans, there you have it—the 2nd Annual Figs & Function Healthy Awards Dinner. Who knows who will win best picture, but eat some of these anti-inflammatory, heart-healthy, vitamin-rich foods and you’ll be the picture of health!
Click here to check out other healthy Figs & Function recipes.
Until Next Time,