SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. - I admit it. I've been fantasizing about making comfort foods including pecan pie, chocolate cake, oatmeal cookies and cheesy pizza. The thing is, in the fall we can start gaining that unwanted winter weight or stay trim and fit if we choose the right foods. So, I decided to whip up an all-natural treat that took me back in time to San Francisco during graduate school.
Three days a week, I commuted from Santa Cruz Mountains to San Francisco State University. It was a trek. If I had the money I'd go to this quaint coffee shop complete with plants, muffins, and herbal teas. One morning I ordered yogurt and fresh fruit teamed with a cup of hot tea. Sure, it was plain and simple but it was Mother' Nature's finest and filled the spot and comforted and energized me.
Now, as a city girl in mind but mountain woman at heart, I've stayed with the down to earth foods mentality. Two winters ago, I put on the snow garb: jeans, flannel shirt, down vest, ski hat, mitten, neck scarf, and Sorels. Then, I went out to the stack of wood and for about an hour brought it inside the cabin and on a bench closer to the door.
Yes, I complained.
"What am I doing? I'm too old to being doing this. I'm moving to a warm, coastal town. Or, maybe I'll just runaway and start over on The Big Island."
But the cold wasn't my only challenge. After I made a big fire (it took me several years to master it), and sat down on my warm waterbed to chill with my fur kids, I logged on to my laptop computer. As I was typing I felt a tickle and then prick on my cheek. A big, brown spider greeted me on the keyboard. It was like a scene out of the film "Arachnophobia." One tetanus shot later and a swollen cheek (and arm), I made a fresh fruit salad to heal my wounds. It made me feel better and got me through the spooky spider adventure in the mountains.
Fall Fruit Salad
2 tablespoons honey
1⁄8 cup orange juice, fresh
3 apples, cored and diced (Honeycrisp and Fuji)
1 orange, slices, chopped
3 pears, cored, and diced
1⁄4 cup dried plums or cranberries, chopped
1⁄4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
Dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger
2 cups organic low-fat plain yogurt
Dark chocolate bar (70 percent cocoa), shavings
Toss the orange, apple, apples, pears, and dried fruit. Combine the fruit and nuts in a stainless steel bowl. Add the honey juice. Sprinkle with spices. Transfer to a glass bowl with a lid and chill for one hour. Serve with organic low-fat plain yogurt mixed with honey. Garnish with chocolate shavings. Makes 3-4 servings.
This fresh fruit salad with creamy yogurt is sweet, healthy, and has a touch of citified elegance. Apples and pears are seasonal, so that means the price is right. I used Tupelo honey for the fruit mixture and Wildflower honey for the yogurt. (But any honey will suffice.) While I long for the city, it hit me as I munched on these fall fruits from Tahoe that I've been a mountain woman for more than a decade. It's home away from home. And during the fall with the chill of a snowstorm coming - I like it. It's sweet.
Motto: Feed your sweet tooth with super foods. Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you for it.
- Cal Orey is an accomplished author and journalist. Her books include The Healing Powers series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate and Honey) published by Kensington.-Her website is www.calorey.com.