WRITTEN ON April 1st, 2011 BY Meredith AND STORED IN Bacon, Beans, Dinner, Italian, Side Dish, Tomatoes

Tonight I’m going to the Huntington Book Revue for a book signing.  Not just any signing. Tonight, I’m going to meet Bethenny.

Let me just say that I have been a Bethenny fan since the first episode of The Real Housewives of New York.  Under the glitz and glam, there was something so immediately real about her.  She was scrappy.  A bit rough around the edges. Smart as a whip with a biting, acerbic sense of humor I instantly fell in love with.  I could tell that underneath it all, she saw the absurdity in not only the other women, but in the show itself, and I got the sense that she was playing along because she knew what was good for her and she knew she could turn it into the pot of gold at the end of the Manolo-colored rainbow.

And did she ever. Now the star of her own show, she’s a business woman with a burgeoning empire and two New York Times best-sellers. No matter what your opinion of her brash, in your face way of telling it like it is, you gotta give a girl credit where credit is due.  She seized a mediocre opportunity, put the NY Housewives on the map, worked like hell and graduated with honors. It’s her turn now.

Let me be clear by saying that my love for Bethenny is purely superficial.  I’ve never read her books, nor do I plan to (I’m not big into self-help books.  If I’m reading a book it’s because I want to get away from it all, not delve deeper into my problems. My self-help consists of two things: broom and rug). I don’t buy her products, though I have on occasion indulged in a SkinnyGirl Margarita and they are actually quite good. But I will be standing in line jostling for a space to meet her tonight with all the other Frankel fiends because I just can’t wait to hear what she has to say. I taped her on Ellen. Wendy Williams.  The girl cracks me up, and I’m pretty damn proud of her. She’s got guts. She’s got chutzpah. But mostly, she’s human, and she’s not afraid to show it.

Lately I’ve also been listening a bit more closely regarding her tips on keeping control of your weight.  To be perfectly honest, over the last year and a half I’ve gained a good bit of it myself.  I’m an emotional eater, and have had plenty or reasons to dip back into the fridge over the last 18 months.

A few months ago I decided enough was enough.  I started making a concerted effort to manage my caloric intake.  I cut back on carbs. I hit the gym like it was going out of style. So far, so good. I’m 10 pounds down.  I have about 5 to go.

In the midst of it all, Bethenny Ever After came back into my life.  Between the premiere of her show and the launch of her book, “A Place of Yes,” Bethenny tidbits are everywhere I look.  Her tips on diet and nutrition always seem to jump out at me when I’m feeling most vulnerable. Her motto “taste everything, eat nothing” flashes into my head when I’m at a cocktail party trying to curb the inclination to trail the waitress with the cocktail franks like a rabid dog.  When I’m feeling uber-lazy, I remind myself to come from a place of yes-I-will-get-my-ass-on-the-treadmill.  She’s been an unlikely inspiration, and for that, I will be forever faithful.

Speaking of saying yes, check out these Tuscan White Beans over the weekend.  They’re hearty, healthy, and full of fiber (wink-wink). Try them with some toasted naan or whole wheat flat bread, a few chunks of parm and a peppery arugula salad. You won’t feel deprived in the least bit,  you’ll wake up Monday without the weekend food hangover, and your inner SkinnyGirl will be so happy you just might spend your lunch hour buying bikini’s online.

Skinny Beans

Skinny Beans

Tuscan White Beans (serves 4 as a side dish)
2 cups cooked white beans, drained and rinsed (cannellini or navy)
1 14 oz can low-sodium diced tomatoes
3 thin slices pancetta, roughly chopped
1 shallot, sliced thin
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tbsp white wine
1 handful fresh basil, chopped
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium sized cast iron pan or saute pan, heal olive oil over medium high heat. Add pancetta, cook about two minutes until fat is rendered. Add shallot, cook about 2 minutes until softened.  Add garlic, cook one minute more, season lightly with salt and pepper. Add wine, bring to a boil.  Reduce by half, then add tomatoes with juices. Bring to a boil, add beans, then turn down to a simmer.  Simmer on low for about 20 minutes until liquid is reduced and thick. Season with salt and pepper, add herbs and serve hot.

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