Fun, Family Reunions, and Food by Julie Freeman, MA, RD, LD, RYT

Well, this summer sure has been filled with many festive family gatherings – surprise parties, weddings, family reunions and it is still not over.  These gatherings are opportunities to connect with others and of course, food is always part of the “communion” – no play on words!

For years now, I’ve often been the one in the family to host the social gatherings, but this year, I’ve been attending more than orchestrating and I get to follow the advice that I often give to my clients and patients – bringing the veggies, salad and/or some good protein.  In this way, you never have to be hungry or overly tempted by foods that will not agree with you –whether it be the waistline, the stomach or the allergies.

It’s interesting to note how quickly the veggie platters and salads do disappear compared to years past – a sign that people are more health conscious.  What is important to also consider is that these fun food occasions do not have to be an all or none situation.  Picture this:  you walk around the buffet table checking out all the delicious foods that you want to have, then you imagine your plate ½ full of veggies and a ¼ each devoted to the grain/starch/carb and the other ¼ to the meat/fish/poultry.  It’s as easy as that – no deprivation, only balance and honoring your body’s hunger and satisfaction.

Equally as important is to never go to a party or function starved.  Start the day with a high protein breakfast that will sustain you – keeping your blood sugar stable and your cravings in control.  Coming from a childhood and young adult period of being obese and addicted to sugar, I have practiced these behaviors over and over again to the point where I no longer think about putting my plate together.  I automatically fill up with lots of veggies and modest portions of the carb and protein.  I love food – all the aspects – color, flavor, texture – and the setting that I create as well.  From dishes to flowers, the ambiance of the meal feeds the soul, which in turn, allows full satiety to occur.

Try out this delicious peanut dip for veggies from my cookbook, Feel Great Look Great – Balanced Eating for a Balanced Life,  and for those with peanut allergies, sunflower seed butter works great!
Mange, Julie

Spicy Peanut Dip with Crudité

2 medium sweet red peppers                                                                                 1 sweet yellow pepper                                                                                             1 pound baby carrots                                                                                               1 cup creamy peanut butter, reduced-fat                                                           2 tablespoons soy sauce, low-sodium                                                               1½ tablespoons sake rice wine or rice vinegar                                                 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce                                                                     2 tablespoons sugar                                                                                                   2 teaspoons sesame oil                                                                                             2 tablespoons garlic, minced                                                                                 1 tablespoon ground ginger                                                                                   7 tablespoons water


  1. Using a paring knife, cut off the top and bottom of the peppers. Remove seeds and cut each pepper in half lengthwise. Then cut each half lengthwise into 3 or 4 strips, removing any white membrane. Cut each strip into pieces about 1½ inches long.
  2. Arrange the peppers and carrots in separate piles in a decorative basket, leaving a small space in the middle for the dip.
  3. Put the peanut butter in a blender or a food processor fitted with a steel blade, then add soy sauce, rice wine, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, sesame oil, minced garlic, and ginger, blending until smooth after each addition.
  4. Add the water and continue blending. The dip should be stiff but still creamy. If the dip seems too thick, add a little more water; if it seems too thin, add more peanut butter.
  5. Scoop into a small bowl and place in the basket of vegetables. Serve.