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Sometimes, citrus is not optional–it’s mandatory. Such is the case with this dessert (or hell–why can’t it be breakfast, too?).

You could make your own ricotta, but let’s tackle that at another time. Instead, purchase whole or part-skim ricotta and combine with sugar, to taste. Stir in lemon zest and lemon juice. Top with blackberries.

Despite its simplicity, lemon ricotta with blackberries is delightfully refreshing on a warm evening.

When I want salad but am in no mood to chop CHOP chop CHOP chop a thousand different vegetables, I choose a simple combination of arugula and endive. The two lettuces alone provide flavor, color, and texture contrasts–the three things a salad yearns for.

Halve the endive lengthwise and then slice into little half moons. Toss with arugula and a simple dressing of lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, mustard, and S & P.

That’s it. Stop reading.

I did it. I followed a recipe. And it’s one I wouldn’t have thought up on my own. Except I did make a couple of changes (does that still count?).

Instead of high-quality crab, which, let’s face it, I just cannot afford, I opted for shrimp. Both are delicate and mildly sweet and I thought the swap would be appropriate. And because I couldn’t find the chiles that were called for, I used regular old jalapenos. I stuck with lemon zest and juice, but looking back I think lime would work well with the chiles.

The combination of heat, tart, and sweet worked beautifully (yes, beautifully) with the creaminess of the sauce, which was made by combining a crap load (official term) of butter with pasta cooking liquid.

My S.S. said it tasted healthy. “Is it healthy?” No, I’m sorry. It’s not. Keep your pants on.

Though the flavors and ingredients remind me of summer, this is a surprisingly hearty pasta dish perfect for a chilly winter’s dinner. Click here for the recipe.

Sardine spread. Even on their own, the words don’t sound appealing; together, they sound even worse. But I promise–really!–that it’s actually better than you think.

Mash these together: canned sardines, mayonnaise, capers, lemon juice, hot sauce, and S & P.

Serve on top of crackers or toast coated with a thin layer of mustard. Don’t yell at me if your kitchen stinks after making it.

If you go easy on the mayo, or even eliminate it all together, you’ll be left with a heart-healthy spread that will make you not only want to eat it in your underwear (alone, because it smells), but dance in your underwear when you’re finished.

Diets suck. The key is to eat less, cook more, and include plenty of fruits and veggies. That’s the concentrated advice. Trust me, I’m a dietitian. Whether or not you want to diet, I assure you you need to make this recipe for marinated zucchini before summer disappears. (Adapted from a lunch at al di la.)

Finely dice zucchini and summer squash (alternately, thinly slice lengthwise). Marinate in freshly squeezed lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, chopped fresh mint, red pepper flakes and salt. Say what? Yes, that’s it.

This raw salad is so healthy and guilt-free, you’ll feel so good about the way you look, you’ll want to do more than just eat in your underwear.