Wednesday, July 8

Simple Elegance for Summer

Author Gretchen Rubin has been getting a lot of press over her latest book, Better Than Before. Having never read any of her work, I recently checked the audio version of this new hit out of the library to listen to while working in the kitchen, cleaning, etc.

To be honest, I was unimpressed. The book was shallow and disorganized compared to many of the far more fascinating, better researched, and better explained books on habit formation and the cultivation of new behaviors currently on the market. It didn’t help that every time she mentioned anything related to food or nutrition I winced… SO many wrong ideas, happily touted as fact, without a stitch of backup, evidence, or logic!  

Anywho, the one really great thing I did take away from the book was the idea of a House Drink. Rubin tells an anecdote about an Italian friend of hers who was trying to cut back on her drinking. To help stick to her resolution to cut back, she created a personal concoction of juices, seltzers, and extras to serve in a pretty glass on nights she was dining at home with her family. It recreated the “special” feel of having a tradition and an elegant glass to look at and hold (and wasn’t straight, boring water which “feels healthy”), allowing her to cut back on her wine intake without losing all the other experiential aspects positively associated with it. 

I loved that idea, and promptly filed it away in my list of things to feature on my nutrition blog and with my clients, but thought I’d share it here as well. I’m a big fan of what I call “Peasant Food” – simple but satisfying meals, often made or served in a single dish – so a fancy “House Drink” is a bit over the top for us. But I’ve experimented a few times with making spritzers of juice and mineral water (2 to 3 oz juice to about 6 oz water) in a pretty wine glass, and been very happy with the result. It’s pretty, delicious (without being full of sugar or calories), and feels special – a perfect light indulgence for summer. 

Yes, I know these are strawberries and I'm talking about
raspberries, but it's a good picture!

That idea was still in my head when we had new friends over for dinner last week. They’d volunteered to bring dessert, and arrived with a bowl of raspberries (fresh from a local orchard!) and diced nectarines and fluffy whipped cream to pile on top.  It was incredibly simple but positively divine. (I know we’re going to be really good friends, because we both are all about the food and not how it’s served! I brought salad to the table in the big stainless steel bowl that goes with my KitchenAide, and they brought berries in a big, plain Tupperware bowl.   :)

The berries, like the House-Drink-inspired-spritzer, were incredibly simple but felt decadent. And now I’m thinking that the theme I should have been pondering all along was less about promoting healthy eating/drinking habits than what am I doing that cultivates simplicity, joy, and gratitude in my everyday life? 

None of us are promised tomorrow. If the zombie apocalypse hits next week or next year, I want to look back knowing I savored the beauty I was given… not squandered it.  

What is making you stop and see the beautiful in your life this week?


  1. I really like the idea of a House Drink. I'm inspired to think up something for our home!

    You've made me quite curious about Rubin's nutritional proclamations. My daily culinary efforts include meeting the needs of four separate, somewhat-but-not-exactly overlapping, special needs diets. I wince quite a bit at all the 'wrong ideas touted as fact' out there!

    1. Kudos on managing multiple special needs diets - that can be quiet a challenge!

      I've created mental blocks against about half of Rubin's nutritional views (for the sake of my blood pressure :p ), but clearly remember her assertions that: there's no reason to worry about drinking about water at all; there's nothing wrong with consuming diet cola; and completely abandoning carbs is the best thing ever (for everybody). *sigh*