The excitement in the air was palpable. It was the beginning of the holiday season, and LJ could feel it. “After the past year, I am ready to celebrate,” he thought. At that moment, the doorbell rang; he looked at Annie, “I’ll get it.” He was pleasantly surprised to see his soon-to-be daughter-in-law, Tara, at the door. Before he could greet her, Annie all but shoved him aside to reach her. Both women eagerly hugged one another, and Annie stepped back and laughingly pulled her into the house.
“Hi sweetheart, we’re so glad to see you. LJ, Tara called earlier, and I have not had time to tell you she was coming.” She turned back to Tara, “Let me take your coat. It’s so cold outside.
After handing her coat to Annie, Tara hugged LJ,” Thanks for having me. I won’t take much of your time, but I am coming to ask a favor.”
“Yes!” laughed LJ. Whatever the request is, unless you’re asking to borrow money, then the answer is maybe.”
“No! I am not asking for money; I wonder if you two would be willing to let me host a girl’s night at your home. As you know, I have nine bridesmaids in our wedding. I know that’s crazy, but your son has ten groomsmen, so I’m just trying to keep up with him, “she laughed. “I don’t have the space in my condo, and it would only be for about 5-6 hours.”
“Of course,” said Annie. “As LJ said, the answer is yes. Come in the kitchen; we’re just wrapping up dinner.”
Tara sat at the table and looked at the meal Annie and LJ were finishing. This is perfect; everything looks like it’s from your garden. It’s precisely the way Barry and I like to eat and the way we plan to raise our children.”
Annie and LJ laughed. Annie said, “we can’t wait, but in the meantime, we can help plan your party.”
“Thank you. I need help with the menu. My girlfriends are health conscious about the foods they eat, so I want to make sure the menu is savory, memorable, and healthy. I don’t want anyone waking up the next day wishing they hadn’t eaten something or drank too much alcohol. At the same time, I want everyone to have a good bonding time.”
Annie thoughtfully paused, “how about offering a variety of sparkling waters when they arrive. We can use raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries because each is high in minerals and will help keep your friends hydrated.”
“Oh, that is a clever idea,” said Tara as she wrote on her list.
LJ nodded, “how about almonds to nibble on? They contain healthy fats and fiber, and combined with the sparkling water, will help reduce hunger pangs and keep blood sugar levels steady.”
“If we’re going to talk about nibbling, how about Crab-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms, said Annie. “It’s one of my favorite appetizers to serve guests. I like that the mushrooms are cooked before and after stuffing. Thoroughly cooking protein-rich mushrooms releases the vitamins and minerals they contain. Another excellent source of protein is eggs, so how about Guacamole Stuffed Deviled Eggs? This appetizer is super healthy because it has healthy fat, fiber, and a bit of heat from the chili powder, which contains capsaicin. This antioxidant provides cell protection and combats inflammation.”
Tara looked up from her list, “both sound yummy. I was also thinking about Garlic Herb Roasted Shrimp. It is a low-calorie, high-protein and delicious way to get good amounts of vitamin E, B6, and zinc; each supports immune system health, and when you’re at a party these days, it’s always good to have foods that help protect our body’s defenses. The other dish I am considering is Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps. They are so good, and the tofu in the wraps is another low-calorie, high-protein food that contains lots of beneficial vitamins and minerals.”
“So far, everything sounds delicious, but you can’t have a party without the queen of vegetables,” said LJ. Last month, I made this Buffalo Cauliflower Wings recipe for my book club, and the guys declared it a hit. Cauliflower is high in vitamin C, which helps especially at this time of year.”
Annie smiled in agreement, “plus, you can get cauliflower in purple, green, and orange, which would make for a colorful dish. I have an idea for a drink; let’s make a Clausmopolitan!”
Tara and LJ looked at each other and then at Annie. “Ok, you have our attention. What is a Clausmopolitan,” laughed LJ.
“I could tell you, or I could make some, and we could taste test to determine if it’s the party drink,” Annie said. “The recipe I use is low-carb and sugar-free, so your girlfriends will thank you the next day when they don’t have headaches or over-indulging regrets.
“I’ll drink to that!” chimed Tara.
Annie and LJ are a fictional couple, and their storyline promotes healthy eating and earth-friendly practices.