I know this is an odd post for a food blog, avoiding food (not all food, just the triggers that sometimes make us eat the wrong things, or eat when we’re not really hungry). I’m trying to lose a few pounds, and many of you responded with a wish to do the same , so I figured we could do it together. I usually become a virtual recluse when I want to lose weight. Why?

Getting my flap on
Hanging out in restaurants smelling all the yummy food I can’t eat makes me grumpy, and dinner parties can be even worse since you don’t have a choice. Movies make me crave popcorn, which is fine air popped – but not greasy cinema style, so that’s about three quarters of my normal social life gone in one fail swoop. Sitting home watching television and the endless commercials that remind me of food every five minutes, is not a great plan either, so I’ve been getting out of my rut, and the house this week.
Out dancing in Paris with Giovanna in the 80’s

Still out dancing with Giovanna 25 years later

Saturday was girls night out again. We skipped dinner this time (don’t get your knickers in a twist – I don’t condone skipping meals, I had a bowl of soup before we went)…
Birds of Play: Jewels, Gina, Giovanna, and Nasra
Gina dancing with a guy we dubbed Austin Powers

 

… and went straight to diet cokes and dancing at Club 1912 in the Beverly Hills Hotel. DjLo happens to be badassy Lo – so adept at spinning discs, that even I couldn’t sit still. What broken ankle?
Then it was off to the spa for complete pampering from head to toe with a treatment that lives up to it’s name, Pure Bliss. Steam and sauna, soaking in the baths, body scrub, massage, facial, and tingling peppermint hair wash eased any swelling I might have had from dancing. Not an ounce of stress left anywhere in my body. Squeaky clean and polished as soft as a baby’s bottom, I was too relaxed to even manage a smile, although I certainly was inside.
Spa time Jewels style
Tuesday was movie night – luckily my handsome date was enough distraction to stay out of the goodies. A girl has to earn a living so Monday and Wednesday were spent cooking for a clients (see lemon-artichoke pesto chicken and barley salad recipe below), and today is “play in the clay day” with my potter friend preparing for her next big exhibition.
Pretty funny really to see the crude measuring bowls I squeeze together while she effortlessly creates masterpieces destined for some gallery or museum. The clay feels so therapeutic squishing between my fingers that I don’t care how rudimentary it looks.
Clubbing: Julie Anne, Lorenza, Gina, Giovanna, and Nasra

I’m also excited about all of the screenings coming up. They’re a safe zone since no food or drink is allowed. Lord knows I lurve my movies! Once the foot is completely healed and I’m fighting fit again it will be back to Bollywood dance class, and renting bikes for a ride along Venice beach. It helps to get out, get active, and not think about food. What non-food related socializing do you do to keep your fingers out of the cookie jar?

Lemon- Artichoke Pesto Chicken & Barley Salad

None of us want to be slaves to hot kitchens in the summertime, so here is an easy make-ahead meal to have on the ready for when the temperature spikes. It tastes like summer with each flavorful burst and I love the contrasting textures. Decadent, yet healthy all the way, so indulge!

Servings: 4

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup fresh basil, packed
  • 2 14 ounce cans of quartered artichoke hearts, drained and divided
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan, grated divided
  • 1/4 cup tablespoons pine nuts, toasted and divided
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon zest
  • 2 1/4 cups water, divided
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 8 ounces of cooked chicken breast, skin removed and chopped
  • 3 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
Directions:

1). Cook 1 cup of barley in 2 cups of boiling water according to package instructions.
2). While barley is cooking, make artichoke pesto sauce. Add basil, 1/2 of the drained artichokes, 1/4 cup of Parmesan, 3 tablespoons of toasted pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, remaining 1/4 cup water, and extra-virgin olive oil to a food processor. Process until smooth, seasoning to taste and adjusting consistency as desired with additional water or oil.
3). Drain cooked barley well and add back to pan off heat. Quickly add 1/2 cup of the lemon Artichoke pesto (refrigerating or freezing any remaining for another use), chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, and remaining artichokes, Parmesan and pine nuts. Stir well and serve warm, or cool and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serving Suggestions: Great served atop of a bed of peppery arugula or spinach tossed lightly in balsamic dressing, or with any steamed, roasted, or grilled green vegetable of your choice.

Vegetarian Variation: Add rinsed and drained chickpeas in place of the chicken for a delicious vegetarian alternative.
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