Photo from Thespruceeats.com

                                                       ODE TO A PLANTRY

                                     Old Mother Gantry went to her pantry,

                                     Looked angry, then trashed it all, blankly.

                                     She restocked as a fun, healthy plantry.

                                     “I declare, my dears,” said Mom Gantry, “I’m not acting grandly,

                                     But, I give a damn about goodness, frankly.”

“Food is an important part of a balanced diet,” quipped American joy-giver Fran Lebowitz. The humorist was talking about real food, sometimes called “whole food.” However, the pantry in many homes has more junk, fake food and “Frankenfood” than things to eat which actually are good for us.

In the last installment of this series, we discussed “The Joyful, S.U.N.S. Longevity Diet.” The nutrition system uses our research-based essentials for joyful aging, S.U.N.S. (Smile-Making, Uniting, Neighboring and Spellbinding) to create a fun, healthy eating lifestyle.

“TURN YOUR PANTRY INTO A PLANTRY” was one of the 25 tips for better eating we offered in the previous segment. We Americans are blessed with good, “REAL” food produced in each of the 50 states. So, with a basket of anti-aging, Vitamin B-3 (niacin) good stuff, a dollop of fun, plus a creative, delicious recipe for every item, we offer you:

                                                           THE FUN, S.U.N.S USA PLANTRY—

ALABAMA PEANUTS—cup o’ joy: Every classic Alabama “fillin’ station” sells boiled peanuts, which are, despite what most people assume, legumes in the pea family rather than nuts. Also, consider adding peanuts to frozen vegetables for stir fry. Teach kids how to make peanut butter (cookinglight.com). “No man in the world has more courage than the man who can stop eating after one peanut.”—Channing Pollack

ALASKA SALMON—catch joy: Try a beautiful dish of Salmon with Strawberry Avocado Salsa; also, Grilled Balsamic Salmon Kebobs (yummly.com).

ARIZONA PISTACHIOS—stir joy: Coconut Zoodle Curry (onegreenplanet.org) is fun to say and delish to eat. Also, leave a bowl of unshelled pistachios out for an enticingly healthy nibble. Pause to shell and give yourself a moment of calm and revive with a plant protein energy boost.

ARKANSAS BROWN RICE—diet joy (no oxymoron intended): Check out the free “how to” video, “Brown Rice Recipe for Weight Loss” (YouTube.com).

CALIFORNIA AVOCADOS—slice of joy: How about Egg-in-the-Hole Avocado Toast (foodnetwork.com)? Also consider, Chicken Tacos with Avocado Salsa (tasteofhome.com).

COLORADO ADZUKI BEANS—whipped joy: Add the word “adzuki” to your “plantry vocabulary” to impress your friends. Also, blend Adzuki Bean Hummus with Lemon Honey (moonandspoonandyum.com).

CONNECTICUT OYSTERS—slurp joy: Few things could be sexier fun than Vodka Oyster Shooters (thespruceeats.com).

DELAWARE LIMA BEANS—mix joy: So, we’re on “Family Feud” and the audience was asked to complete the phrase, “Spaghetti and _____.” Wait, did you just guess, “meatballs?” Get the buzzer, the creative answer is “Spaghetti Turkey Balls with Lima Beans” (insanelygoodrecipes.com). Remember to wear your best silk tie or blouse, spaghetti is attracted to silk.

FLORIDA PASSION FRUIT—spoon joy: Breasts with Passion Fruit–oh behave, this is a juicy chicken dish with a bit of islander fun (thespruceeats.com).

GEORGIA PEACHES—pour joy: Make a pitcher of Fuzzy Navel Peach Sangria (3yummytummiers.com). Search YouTube for “How to Grill Peaches with Mascarpone Cheese.

HAWAII MACADAMIA NUTS—awaken joy: Nutty Buddy Coconut Macadamia Nut Waffles is a fun, healthy breakfast. The recipe at forkly.com says “like sending your tastebuds to the tropics.”

IDAHO POTATOES—goofy joy: Expand the fun of “Mr. Potato Head” with an entire village peopled with potato heads at pinterest.com.

ILLINOIS CORN—wild joy: “10 Wild Ways to Make Corn-on-the-Cob” is on YouTube. REAL FOOD HISTORY FACT: Corn is so very American, the Plymouth Rock pilgrims ate popcorn with cream for breakfast.

INDIANA TURKEY—gobble joy: Thanksgiving just got tasty, fun and healthy (tafunthy?) with Beer Can Turkey (barbecuebible.com).

IOWA LEAN PORKCHOPS—oink joy: The secret is found at Hidden Valley Ranch Porkchops (hiddenvalley.com).

KANSAS SUNFLOWER SEEDS—sun joy: Click your heels three times and let your ruby slippers take you down the Yellow Brick Road to enjoy Grilled Squash, Corn and Kale Salad with Sunflower Seed Vinaigrette (foodandwine.com).

KENTUCKY WHEAT—crisp joy: Did you know you can bake your own Whole Wheat Thin Crackers (yummly.com)? Roll over Nabisco, there’s a new cracker in town.

LOUISIANA SHRIMP—bayou joy: Put on some Louis Armstrong jazz, a little bit of Mexican mariachi and chomp into Cajun Shrimp Tacos (delish.com).

MAINE SARDINES—tinned joy: Remember the “Saturday Night LIVE” comedy skit, “bass-o-matic?” This No-Cook Fish Rillettes Appetizer (food52.com) is almost as easy.

MARYLAND CLAMS—happy-as-a-clam joy: Try a traditional and delicious, coastal stew with 21st century ease, Slow-Cooker Clam Chowder (eatingwell.com).

MASSACHUSETTS CRANBERRIES—berry joyful: Cranberries add flavor to lots of dishes including Boston Baked Beans (tasteofhome.com) but try this next suggestion for fun and yum—Cranberry Meatballs (delish.com).

MICHIGAN CELERY—crunchy joy: I grew up loving bowling alley slawdogs but now prefer the flavorful fun of Celery Slawdogs with Turkey Weiners (bonappetit.com)

MINNESOTA ONIONS—tearful joy: Try an Irishman’s favorite, vegetable dish—Onion-Smothered Cabbage (eatingwell.com).

MISSISSIPPI CATFISH—bottom-feeder joy: I enjoy fried catfish at least once a year, but a much healthier and still tasty option is Baked Herb Catfish (tasteofhome.com).

MISSOURI CARROTS—joyful eyeful: An answer to this pie judge’s prayers for something dessert-like but healthy—Overnight Carrot Cake Jar of Oats (foodnetwork.com).

MONTANA CHICKPEAS—Big Sky joy: Folks in Montana think of their state as the finest in the west. A bumper sticker in Billings reads: “Trees in Montana lean to the left because Idaho sucks.” Besides grinding the chickpeas into healthy hummus, you’ll also enjoy them in a Big Sky Panzanella Salad (yummly.com).

NEBRASKA GRASS-FED BEEF—moo-re joy: red meat is not unhealthy, but steer clear of green-ish meat. If you’re “lerky,” you’ll enjoy the taste of Grass-Fed Beef Jerky (foodandwine.com)

NEVADA PINE NUTS—toasted joy: This holiday host favorite is tasty all year, Pine Nut Cheese Ball (epicurious.com).

NEW HAMPSHIRE MACKEREL—fishing for joy: The chef is British, but he loves breakfasting on this American fish, “The 20-Minute Mackerel Breakfast” (jamieoliver.com).

NEW JERSEY KALE—chewy joy: Here’s a treat-with-heat that would let the “Jersey Boys” hit the high notes, “Hot-as-Kale Jalapeno Tostadas” (vvsumpremo.com).

NEW MEXICO WALNUTS—nut joy: You’d be nuts not to love Showered-and-Shaved Veggies with Walnut Vinaigrette (myrecipes.com).

NEW YORK YOGURT—break-the-mold joy: This is an ice cream-like treat that is actually good for you, Frozen Yogurt Bark (allrecipes.com).

NORTH CAROLINA OKRA—“Pods of the Gods” joy: I just tested this crowd-pleasing snack–Grilled, Bacon-Wrapped Pickled Okra. A grill master friend got the recipe from a favorite producer, Wickles Pickles which are Alabama-based, but it would be delish done with okra from here to Mayberry (wicklespickles.com).

NORTH DAKOTA FLAX SEEDS—lip-smackin’ joy: I call these, Rachel Flak’s Flax Seed Wraps as a salute to the fun-loving mom Cher played in “Mermaids” (yummly.com).

OHIO CHICKEN—great, clucking joy: Have your other recipes gotten boring and fowl? Platter up some Funky Chicken Tandoori (yummly.com).

OKLAHOMA VEAL—Tulsa city-fied joy: Veal Scallopini with Lemon and Capers (thespruceeats.com)

OREGON PRUNES—plum joyful: Charcuterie boards are a fun way to serve up a healthy array of taste options. Prune jam is a great accompaniment to assorted cheeses and whole wheat crackers (sunsweet.com). Remember: Happiness is like jam. You can’t spread even a little without getting some on yourself.

PENNSYLVANIA MUSHROOMS—magic joy: Pumpkins and mushrooms are major food crops in this very green state. Both are combined in Pennsylvania Pumpkin Seed and Pennsylvania Mushroom Salad (bonappetit.com).

RHODE ISLAND SEAFOOD—oceans of joy: If you’re like me, you’ve been on a happy seafood diet for years—I see food and I eat it. Spread out a Rhode Island Seaport Seafood Boil and maybe consider sharing (allrecipes.com).

SOUTH CAROLINA BENNE SEEDS—Low Country joy: Fresh fruits are an essential part of any healthy diet and any “plantry.” Add even more deliciousness and nutrition to sliced fruit with Benne Seed Salad Dressing (recipezazz.com).

TENNESSEE BLUEBERRIES—Rocky Top joy: Combine seeds and berries for a smile-making meal Dolly Parton would love, Blueberry Flax Pancakes (allrecipes.com).

TEXAS PECANS—Yeehaw joy!: This dish would delight a fancy, “Big D” hostess, but it will also fortify a cowgirl or a goatman, Chevre Stuffed Peppers with Pecans (shape.com)

UTAH DATES—The Book of Mormon joy: How long has it been since you’ve had a good date? Maybe plan a rendezvous in your “plantry” and this fun treat, Power Balls with Dates (food52.com).

VERMONT OATS—Green Mountain joy: Oatmeal is already a lot of mush, but how about just a small scoop of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream with these Oat-Stuffed Baked Pears (foodnetwork.com).

VIRGINIA LEAN HAM—joy for lovers: “I do so like lean eggs and ham!” (recipe at oxygenmag.com)

WASHINGTON STATE COFFEE—perk up joy: This is so hot, fresh and Seattle–Vegan PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte) recipe at (coffeeaffection.com).

WEST VIRGINIA APPLES—almost heaven joy: This is a favorite from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Shenandoah Valley, Slow-Cooker Apple Cider (foodnetwork.com).

WISCONSIN MUSSELS—cheesy joy: In one, delectable and nutritious recipe you have Baked Wisconsin Mussels Topped with Wisconsin Cheese (yummly.com).

WYOMING BEETS—Forever West joy: Anything cooked by momma is hard to beat including “Momma’s Sugar Beet Hummus. Check out the “how to” video at YouTube.

WHAT STATE IS YOUR PANTRY IN? Do like Old Mother Gantry and clear shelf space in your pantry of any and all “fake foods” and “Frankenfoods.” After that smart spring-or-any-season cleaning, add “real foods” from your local producers and from those across the US.

                                                   VODKA OYSTER SHOOTERS—CONNECTICUT

                                                             (Source: thespruceeats.com)

Each week, Joy & Gerontology shares a recipe saluting a healthy food produced in America. The delicious and nutritious collection is called “The S.U.N.S. USA Longevity Cookbook” and highlights vitamin B-3 (niacin) which many research gerontologists believe holds the promise for a long, healthy, joyful life.


1 raw oyster

1 teaspoon cocktail sauce

1 Tablespoon (1/2 ounce) vodka


  1. Gather the ingredients.
  2. Add the oyster to a “shot glass” and top with cocktail sauce then vodka
  3. Shoot and enjoy.


–Oysters can be challenging to shuck and require a “special knife,” so it is best to buy them fresh from the fish market open and on the half shell.

–If making these shooters ahead of time, place the shot glasses on a bed of ice.

–For a nice presentation, garnish each shot with a fresh lemon wedge.


This combination of seafood, cocktail sauce and liquor should be enjoyed the same way you’d drink a shot—straight down the throat. Do not chew the oyster; it should just slither and slide down along with the other ingredients.


March 26—Duncan Hines

March 27—Quentin Tarantino

March 28—Lady Gaga

March 29—Sam Walton

March 30—Vincent van Gogh

March 31—Cesar Chavez

April 1—Wangari Maathai, African Nobelist


273. Gitchie, gitchie, ya-ya, da-da!

274. Lou Rawls, American joy-giver.

275. Adam Sandler’s “The Chanukah Song.”

276. Having a better spice rack than your mother or dad.

277. Making proper people giggle.

278. Glenn Close, “Bunny Boiler.”

279. Homecoming mums.

280. Being under a tarp during a rainstorm.

281. Steve Martin’s early comedy training at Knott’s Berry Farm.

282. Cold, fried chicken and Champagne.

283. Spoolies Hair Curlers.

284. Butch wax, flat tops.

285. “Mama’s got a squeezebox…”

286. “You Gotta THINK UP” gospel-flavored finale of “The Original, One-Liner American Diner” musical.

287. Feeling the peeled grape “eyeballs” at a Halloween carnival.

288. The early spring, Japanese cherry tree blossoms in D.C.

289. Peach Park fresh-churned ice cream.

290. Jimmy Driftwood, American joy-giver.

291. Keeping a bottle of Champagne chilled in your refrigerator to be ever ready to celebrate.

292. The mid-century beauty of an El Camino.

293. The slow twist in “Pulp Fiction.”

294. The divine ministry of Reverend Al Green.



Ben South