Sep 292011

This past weekend was the wedding of one of my best friends. She and her new husband have been together for eight years, having met while we were all in college together. I thank Jeff for teaching me to love CSI while he dominated our house’s television on weekends, for bringing me into their reality TV weekly celebrations while they lived in Queens years later, and his impromptu dermatological consults. Jeff and Anita have been a couple almost as long as we’ve been friends, and I am so happy to have been a part of their long awaited celebration.

This was my first time in the wedding party since I charmed churchgoers as my cousin’s flower girl in 1992.

Over the past two years, I’ve been excited to take on the role of bridesmaid and support the bride-to-be in any way I could.  From stuffing wedding invitations to delivering cocktails at the reception, my focus was on the couple. Except, of course, when my attention was diverted by food.

Up until the big day, I had friends and family as my “food police,” helping me stick to my healthy goals.  I wanted to keep my energy up, avoid getting sick, and make sure I looked great on a day when there would be thousands of pictures taken of guests from every angle. Especially these past few weeks, I’ve been careful about what I put into my body.  Wedding weekend was no exception.

Birch Hill caterer provided food for both the rehearsal dinner and the reception, and they put out a beautiful spread with several vegetarian options available. (Unlike one wedding I went to last year, but on that occasion a waitress brought over my own special plate of chilled avocado soup, a brie and pear tart, and some delectable cucumber thing.  You go, Four Seasons!)

I always find the cocktail hour with small plates selection to be even better than the sit-down entrees. Maybe it’s just me (or the fact that I’m so hungry during the first hour) but this is the time I like to dig in. Taking a look at the buffet table, there were a lot of choices this weekend. Following my general plan of attack for special occasions, I decided to make a healthy and a not-so-healthy plate. A small mound of guacamole with piles of raw peppers, summer squash and cucumbers to dip (and two tortilla chips that I passed off to Mike), a bit of fruit salsa, and a bunch of pineapple was my starting plate.  I ended up going back for more peppers, cucumbers, grapes, and pineapple. I usually don’t post pictures when they’re not of a quality anywhere near the realm of “good,” but I have a point I’d like to make, so please forgive these quickly snapped shots.

The healthful plate was full of vitamins, water, fiber, tasty flavors with sweetness and crunch.  And do you notice anything about the color?

Moving on, it’s not the most photogenic, but the spinach artichoke dip was fabulous.  Some crackers, artichoke hearts, and mozzarella cheese rounded out the dish of indulgence.

The point I’d like to make is something I call the Beige Rule. Notice how much more beige this picture is?  If you ever have a meal that’s all beige, chances are it’s not good for you.  Starchy, sugary, fried, cheesey… breads, pastas, pastries all fit the beige food bill. While Cheetos and their shocking orange hue are clearly an exception to the beige rule, and many other color-enhanced food-products, many of nature’s best foods come in beautiful colors that showcase their vitamins and minerals right on the surface.  There are healthy exceptions to the Beige Rule as well, such as brown rice and oatmeal. While healthy, these are both very calorie dense and should still be eaten mindfully. Of course we need to have a little bit of beige every now and again, but if you’re trying to go for healthy, beige is not your best bet. By limiting the beige to one small plate, I could continue on my quest for a healthier lifestyle. I may have sent someone back for just a smidge more… but I offset it with a third plate of fresh fruits and veg.

For the rehearsal dinner, the main course was also buffet style.  I opted for a small portion of rice, a small pile of pasta primavera with parmesan, and huge honking load of broccoli. This image looks like it’s zoomed in, but the plate was truly much larger than the appetizer plates. The broccoli spears were bigger than my fist! How’s that for some color?  A little marinara sauce on the side.

With such a tasty preview, I looked forward to the food on the big night. Sadly, I don’t have any food pictures from the wedding night aside from one, because I was busy dancing, jumping into pictures, and running to refill my wine glass doing bridesmaidly duties.

Terrible picture.  But at least you can see there was quite a bit of color in my eggplant parmesan and grilled vegetables on the side.  I wasn’t a fan of the potatoes and was already pretty stuffed from the earlier cocktail hour and beautiful salad course, so I ended up eating all my veggies and about half of the eggplant.  That’s ok.  It was definitely fried and had lots of breading, so as tasty as it was, it was also a bit indulgent.

But on a special occasion, that’s what it’s about.  Celebrating love, life and food. Cheers! To a lifetime of happiness for the beautiful couple!

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