Ask Calorie Ken: Summer, Shakespeare, and Tzatziki

Good food for the body, mind, and soul.

By , Columnist

iPhone Photo by Ken Brooks

It has become a tradition in recent years for Calorie Ken and a covey of Friends of St. John’s Jamaica Plain to picnic on Boston Common and enjoy the annual Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (CSC) production of Shakespeare on the Common.  

A Boston tradition since 1996, CSC has been presenting fully-staged productions of Shakespeare plays free of charge to Boston audiences.  This year’s production is All’s Wells That Ends Well, and we are looking forward to enjoying good food, good friends, and good theater on a Camelot-perfect New England summer evening.

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We Episcopalians in the Diocese of Massachusetts tend to be a thoughtful lot.  Many of us interpret Jesus’s Feeding of the Five Thousand to be a message about sharing instead of magically creating bread and fish out of thin air.  Imagine 5,000 people pooling their resources and having enough to feed everyone with lots left over. That's a true miracle!

While we don’t try to bring the hundreds in attendance together to share our repasts, we do lighten our little contingent’s individual loads by each bringing a little of this and a little of that so that the T ride to and from the Common is not too burdensome, and we all have a little surprise awaiting us since we don’t always know exactly what the other might bring.

Calorie Ken’s Handsome Jim is in Florida visiting his family and ailing mother this year, so Tiny Dancer and I are on our own. We are bringing Perrier, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, some cleverly disguised fermented white grape juice (after all, Jesus did turn water into wine, and we are Episcopalians), and Calorie Ken and Handsome Jim’s homemade tzatziki.

For Jim’s 40th birthday, ACK arranged a trip to Greece, and we made it a point to sample tzatziki all across the country. Our favorite was at a little restaurant by the submerging bridge at the south end of the Corinth Canal where we left the lens cover of one of our Canon EOS lenses on the railing of the walkway and watched it disappear as the bridge sank into the water so a boat could pass (no need for locks here, just sinking bridges).

Tzatziki is a versatile dish that can be used as a sauce, spread, or dip. It’s as cool as the cucumber in it, perfect for summer, and easy to make. Here's our simple recipe:

One large container (32 oz. or 4 cups, 120 calories per cup) of plain nonfat Greek yogurt
One average size cucumber ( about nine AOL inches)
One medium size sweet Vidalia onion
The juice and pulp of one lime or lemon (ACK prefers lime)
Seasoned to taste with ACK’s favorite Lawry’s Garlic Salt

Grate the cucumber, dice the onion, squeeze the lime, add the Lawry’s, and viola! Tzatziki! It’s a wonderful, healthy dip or sauce, and an excellent, low calorie, tasty, healthy substitute for mayonnaise on a sandwich. Enjoy it at your next summer gathering with your good friends.

Apparently, the Bard of Avon didn't write about tzatziki, but here's some good food for thought from Romeo and Juliet, Act IV, Scene 2: "Tis an ill cook that cannot lick his own fingers." Happy summer!

Beginning to End Tzatziki.jpg


Swanky reader, Calorie Ken wants to hear from you!  
Post your comments below, and send your questions  And, tell others!  Post on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn...everywhere, and share with your e-mail distribution lists. We hope to make Calorie Ken the Dear Abby of good health and nutrition, and we need your help.  Cheers!

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For two years, Ken Brooks (Calorie Ken) was a volunteer in the Tufts University CALERIE Study. He is now a nutrition evangelist. Send your nutrition, weight management, general health and exercise questions to

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