Friday, September 26, 2014


Photo by Jolene Thym. Sandwich from South Coast Deli, Santa Barbara
THE GREAT NEWS about all of the bad news about childhood obesity is that companies are taking the news seriously. They're working hard to create new products that are way better for kids, cutting sugar, fat, calories, sodium -- and preservatives. 
Among them is the lunchmeat giant Hillshire Farm. This fall, Hillshire launched a better-for-you line of lunchmeats called Hillshire Farm Naturals. The thin-cut meats, including ham and turkey roasted in different ways, have about the same sodium, fat and calorie content, but they're made without preservatives or other artificial ingredients. The result: Better, fresher flavor. An 8-ounce package is $4.49 at most stores.
Another healthy option at some stores are the new deli turkey slices by Diestel, ridiculously fresh slices that are literally freshly, thinly sliced turkey breast in a package. These come in lots of great flavors, including one that's salt-free.
P.S. This photo does not picture Hillshire Farms nor Diestel's cold cuts, but it COULD! In fact, IF these coldcuts had more pork choices, I could pull it off. This is the "Three Little Pigs" sandwich from South Coast Deli in Santa Barbara. It's triple pork topped with shredded and dressed salad. Memorable. If you're in the area, go there. You will be happy you did. It's on East Carillo.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Photo courtesy La Tortilla Factory
APPLAUSE AND THANKS to Sonoma County's La Tortilla Factory for their new line of organic tortillas made from non-GMO and organic grains. The tortillas have a fresher, more authentic taste and come in traditional, whole wheat and a really corn-forward yellow corn. They aren't homemade, but they're a close second. Find them at Whole Foods and Safeway stores.

Monday, September 22, 2014


Photo by Jolene Thym
APPLE SEASON HAS arrived. Dozens of varieties of fresh apples are being picked and shipped to local markets -- including these ultra sweet and tart SweeTangos. These apples, which are in season for a very short time, have super-white flesh and are so juicy that that you need a napkin.
Look for bags of these pretty pink-red apples at Trader Joe's and other stores. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014


Photo by Jolene Thym
FRESH GARDEN TOMATOES, baby greens, and creamy purple eggplant fresh from the garden remind me to be thankful for the extra-long California summer -- and to pour up a glass of summery white or pink wine to celebrate.
Since I'm so insufferably picky about everything, including my wine, I decided to share a few notes about light summer wines you might enjoy before summer disappears.
Stemmari Pinot Grigio ($9.99)
This italian Pinot Grigio from Sicily is an interesting bridge between classic Italian Pinot Grigio and California style Pinot Gris. It's dry and slightly tart, but after a few sips, it reveals a less traditional fruity side, with hits of peach and orange blossoms. This is a great wine to serve with extra-rich fish dishes.
Stemmari’s Dalila ($13.99)
When you're in the mood for a buttery white that seems almost sweet because of the deep floral and stone fruit notes, this is a fun pick, as it's made from 80% Grillo and 20% Viognier, two lesser known grapes.This is a good wine to serve with just about any cheese or any fish dish.
Villa Maria Hawkes Bay 2013 Unoaked Chardonnay ($13)

Friday, September 12, 2014


Photo by Jolene Thym
I LOVE LAKE COUNTY wines. They have so much depth and character, thanks to the hot, intense heat of the long summer days -- and the cold, freeze-your-toes off nights. This 2011 Cimarron Vigilance is no exception.
It's packed with deep, spicy aromas and flavors, layers of berry fruits and has almost enough structure to hold up the glass. It's a blend of Zin, Syrah, Petite Sirah and a few other red grapes. This is a great wine to serve with meat and bold Italian dishes. The wine comes from Shenandoah Vineyards in the Red Hills appellation, a region known for huge temperature swings between days and nights. This is a wine worth seeking out -- and be sure to buy an extra for the cellar. $25.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Photo by Jolene Thym
CHEESE IS LUNCH IS CHEESE -- at least in my world. Of course I prefer the finest cheese I can put on my cutting board. I love hand-wrapped cheddars, pungent blue cheeses, hunks of Parmigianno Reggiano, spoonfuls of creamy Laura Chenel Chevre, and Humboldt Fog, my all-time favorite. (Someone even gave me a hunk of this for my birthday one year!)
Now, these nicely packaged, adorable, portable Jarlsberg Minis don't rate quite that high on my cheese barometer, but when it's time to stock the fridge with something quick for the lunchbox, these fit the bill. Great with toast for breakfast, or with crackers and fruit for lunch, they are low-fat and have a nice Swiss cheese bite. Personally, I prefer them melted, but that's just me. Find these at most grocery stores.