Few things in life make me happier than vacationing with my beautiful family–especially when our vacation consists of staying on a vineyard cottage in the heart of Napa Valley, eating gorgeous, fresh ingredients all day long and tasting some of California’s best wines! This particular trip is especially dear to my heart because after 3 years of trying to have a baby, God finally blessed us with our little girl Gracie whom we could ‘baby bjorn’ along our Napa travels.  And for those of you who are trying to picture me with my four month old daughter strapped to my chest with a glass of wine in my hand—yes it made for a pretty funny image.  I spent my four day Easter vacation under the wonderful, 70 degree, dazzling spring sun with my husband, children and in-laws.  They loved utilizing their chef/daughter-in-law for every meal and I was equally pleased to cook for such a food-loving, enthusiastic bunch! In fact, I was so excited to put one of my dishes together by incorporating some fresh chopped parsley from the garden (growing right outside our cottage) that I literally broke my toe running out of the house with such sheer giddy excitement!  What can I say?  Fresh, healthy food drives me wild!  No worries though– a little ibuprofen and fresh-from-the-garden gourmet California dinner helped ease the pain… And…I guess the wine helped too…hehe

After a great night’s rest and the help of my favorite nurse/husband, I licked my wounds and gathered the strength to make it to the next wine tasting on top of Howell Mountain at the fairly new and visually striking Cade Winery.  Braving the broken toe, winding road and overtime with the in-laws was worth it to see the breathtaking view from the famous mountain—not to mention the great wine.  During the drive back to the cottage on the final night of the experience—I reminisced about some of the wonderful foods we had enjoyed: poached eggs with pesto and prosciutto on a garlic crostini, cilantro-lime fresh corn and black bean salad, homemade pesto and cherry tomato pasta, baked kale with brown sugar and locally raised grilled chicken marinated in garlic, lemon and rosemary, and the list goes on… We called it “Easter Simplicity” because in Napa almost every ingredient you can buy is fresh, local, and organic.  This is great for me because it fits perfectly with my food mantra: simply grown, simply prepared, simply healthy—straight from God to your stomach!  And though there was no time for elliptical machines or yoga classes, I still have a clear conscience and didn’t gain any weight—even eating so much so often, because I am confident our fresh, organic spring food choices were so healthy and natural that it balanced out any activity deficit.

So that’s pretty much the moral of this story.  We snacked throughout the vacation on gourmet small plates and washed it all down with rose’, sauvignon blanc and specialty single-vineyard wines.  For the grand finale we brunched with cinnamon [whole wheat] French toast topped with organic strawberry and blueberry compote, asti and/or champagne mimosas and a big heaping helping of warm, loving family laughter.  I will forever be grateful for this unique experience and am ecstatic that through it all, because of our healthy and fresh meal planning, I don’t have to come home to [currently] gloomy Cincinnati drenched in rain, guilt, and shame from eating empty, worthless, processed calories; I’ll just take the rain, thanks.