Healthy Kitchens Healthy Lives

The Tipping Point and Cioppino

I met Gary in New Orleans in 2010 and we became friends almost instantly. Skip ahead a year and he’s home in Canada and I’m home in California, chatting and emailing and keeping up with each other’s lives. Our friendship grew into what we knew would be a friendship for a lifetime. Today, sadly, his life in this world is almost over.  Bone cancer.

He was strong and fit, ate a healthy diet, so why cancer? Why him with better than average health habits? Is it food or drink or lifestyle that causes the scale to tip in an unhealthy direction, even to disease? Why do some drink bourbon and smoke everyday and live to be 100, when others with better habits die much sooner? Obviously genetics come into play and we can’t do anything about our ancestors, but there is plenty we can do to keep our health scales balanced. We all know we need to eat healthy foods and limit our vices-alcohol/caffeine and for some smoking. We need to drink enough pure water and exercise daily.

Don’t forget about stress.

For Gary and many others, stress might have been the culprit that tipped the scales. He was focused and driven and pushed himself way beyond what was most likely healthy.  We all know that stress is a killer, but how many of us do something about it? Stress reduction should not be considered a luxury, but a health necessity. A day off from working all the time or even just from electronics can make a difference. Try a walk in the woods; nature is so calming and centering. For me its outdoor exercise and cooking that soothes me. I find myself with a knife in my hand chopping vegetables to make a soup, or making homemade bread. It’s calming for me and slows me down.

If you like the thought of cooking with plenty of time, not under pressure, then plan such a day! Slow down, pick out a new recipe or prepare my Cioppino, maybe this Sunday. Make a salad and cut some crusty sourdough bread to go with it. Enjoy the process. Dine, just don’t eat. Slow down and appreciate and enjoy your health.


A very delicious (and messy!) dish. More of a stew than a soup.

Recipe By: Patty James

Serving Size: 6

1/4  cup  olive oil

2    large  onions — chopped

4    cloves  garlic — chopped

3    large  carrots — chopped

2     ribs  celery — plus leaves, sliced

1     cup  parsley — stems removed and chopped

2     cups  chopped tomatoes

2     cups  tomato sauce

1     cup  water

1      cup  white wine

2      teaspoons  thyme

1      tablespoon  basil

1      bay leaf

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Pinch of cayenne pepper

3     pounds  clams — in shell, scrubbed well

1     pound  halibut fillets — or other white fish, cut into

bite-sized pieces

1     whole  crab – cleaned, cooked and cracked

In a large, heavy stockpot, heat oil and sauté onions, garlic, carrots,

celery and celery leaves until onion is transparent and vegetables are limp.

Add chopped tomatoes and tomato sauce, half the parsley, wine, water, and

seasonings. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for 30 minutes partially

covered. Add seafood to broth; clams first and simmer for 10 minutes. Next

add white fish and crab and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and

ladle into soup bowls. Garnish with remaining parsley and lemon wedges.

Serving suggestions

Serve with crusty garlic bread. You may change the seafood anyway you like. You can use shrimp, scallops and crab. Try mussels, etc. If soup gets a bit thick, add a little water.

My dear, sweet friend. This is how I will remember him, not the way he looks today ravaged by cancer, hoping to pass on soon.


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