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December 19, 2006

I did send Q out for some butter, just in case a cookie frenzy came upon me. This far, though, none has: I have contented myself with reading cookie recipes and imagining the fun of baking them, but I have not incarnated these fantasies at all.

Here is the thing: I sample the cookie dough as I bake. Everyone who bakes does this. I am not at all sure I am capable of producing a batch of cookies without doing so, and I'm not sure I want to find out. The Standup Doc has me writing down every bite of food that passes my lips (which, by the way, is much more fun than it sounds, and gives me a daily feeling of accomplishment upon which I have come to depend), and it would be difficult to explain "cookie dough" as an entry.

Oh, come on. It's Christmas. Well, yes. But there is an immoderate something in me that doesn't easily stop once I get started, that takes one bite of certain foods as a license to finish off the whole thing. It is true that there are social drinkers and then there are drunks; it seems also to be true that there are social eaters and then there are gluttons. I'm one of the gluttons.

It takes tremendous effort for me to be moderate in eating, and I usually fail. It is much easier to be abstinent, which means modest amounts of protein rich foods and many, many vegetables. And tea. And no cookie dough.

I happen to know that certain people will be giving us cookies this weekend, and I will accept these gifts with great joy, since I do need something on hand to serve Q, to say nothing of our other friends and family members, most of whom are are not gluttons. Somehow, this is not a danger: the finished product on a pretty plate doesn't tempt me nearly so much as the sticky, stiff dough in the mixing bowl, pregnant with its cookie progeny. Why this is so, I cannot say. But then, we gluttons rarely feel the need to explain ourselves.

But there is another way to live, and I want very much to protect it this Christmas. I don't want to court further illness in any way. You know what I've decided to call my nutrition and wellness program? the Standup Doc writes. I'm calling it "Zindaagi." That's an Indian word--it means "life." I can think of no better name than that.

Neither can I. And so: tea, in a lovely cup. Homemade soup in a mug. A tangerine, reminding me with its delicious smell what was in the toe of my stocking when I was a girl, as I slip off the first strip of peel. Celery, stuffed with peanut butter. A piece of broiled fish. Or the best and simplest chicken recipe in the world:

Zindaagi Ginger Chicken

Place in a baking pan and cover pan with aluminum foil:
boneless, skinned chicken thighs (one per person)
Bake in slow oven (325 degrees Farenheit) for 30 minutes.
Take from oven and remove foil; turn on broiler. Sprinkle liberally with
ground ginger
Place pan under broiler for 8 minutes or so, until chicken is nicely browned.

That's it. Bon appetit!
This is such a good time of year, when we are so aware of the many gifts we have been given, to begin thinking about the great gift of our health in a new way. But it's hard to do it alone; most of us need some help. Visit the Standup Doc at
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