This past weekend, I was in Sarasota, Florida visiting my grandmother.
Her 94th birthday was on Saturday! 94. Imagine the things she’s seen change in her lifetime!
Since I do more referencing to my father’s parents, I figured I’d give my other grandmother the spotlight today. My father is Roman Catholic and Italian and my mother’s side of the family is Jewish and of Russian and Eastern European descent.
I refer mostly to my father’s parents because, being Italian, they gave me my love of spending hours in the kitchen. They’re romantic, passionate and serious lovers of food. They lived about 10 minutes away (by car) from me while growing up, so I was very lucky to have them so close by.
My grandmother’s name is Ida. She’s my mother’s mother and growing up, she always lived right next door. Like, I could run to her house in less than 5 minutes door to door. About 4 years ago, she moved down to Sarasota, Florida.
My grandmother was a very smart lady – she got her Masters at Columbia and became a social work- and mind you, she’s 94, so when she did that, it wasn’t very common for women to follow such career paths.
She placed such an emphasis on learning and culture. Actually, I had a very hard time learning how to read and didn’t do very well in English class. So, I’d run over to her house every day after school and we’d sit in her library and she’d read with me.
The first book we read together was A Tale of Two Cities and we went paragraph by paragraph until I absorbed what I was reading.
Now, I love to read and write – and I thank her for that.
She is a world traveler – she’s been everywhere from China to Australia and she’s always collected from those trips. Her house, when she lived in NJ, was filled with “artifacts” from her trips – paintings, sculptures, statues, whatever it be, she collected it. Her house was like a museum from all over the world.
I love her very very dearly and after this trip to Sarasota, it left me reflecting on all of the great times I had with my grandmother – she took us to Europe and tried to always show us the world. She was very generous with her time, which I’m most thankful for – whether it was teaching me to read or letting me come over and watch movies.
Sadly, she has dementia now and is on hospice. It brings tears to my eyes to think about how life has brought her to this point, but all I can focus on are the memories and live a full life, in her memory – full of travel, reading, writing and love.
Sorry for getting so personal on the blog today. I couldn’t stop thinking about this after visiting her this weekend, so when I went to start typing, this is what came out!
Quickly about the recipe- it’s great for post-holiday party detoxing and saves well in the refrigerator, so pack leftovers for lunch.
Thanks for listening to me today.
Nutritional Information & Recipe
Weight Watchers SmartPoints*: 11 points
*These points were calculated using the official Weight Watchers SmartPoints calculator. We are in no way affiliated with Weight Watchers, we are providing this information based on popular demand.
Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato Noodle Bowl with Pomegranates and Maple-Sesame Vinaigrette
- 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium sweet potato peeled, Blade D, noodles trimmed
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup sliced brussels sprouts
- 1/4 cup pomegranate arils
- 1 tablespoon sliced blanched almonds
- For the vinaigrette:
- 1 tablespoon real maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- pepper to taste
- Place a large skillet over medium heat and add in 1 tablespoon of the oil. Once the oil heats, add in the sweet potato noodles, season with salt and pepper and let cook, tossing occasionally, for 7 minutes or until cooked through and al dente. Divide the sweet potato noodles into two bowls and tent with foil to keep warm.
- While the sweet potato noodles cook, place all of the ingredients for the dressing into a small bowl and whisk thoroughly. Set aside.
- Place the remaining oil into the skillet and place back over medium heat. Add in the brussels sprouts and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until sprouts are bright green and start to char. Add in the almonds and let cook another 1 minute to lightly toast.
- Transfer the cooked brussels to the bowls with the sweet potato noodles and add in the pomegranates and drizzle with dressing.