You can select your friends, however, you definitely can not select your family. For better or for worse, they cling to you like a facial beauty mark (or an embarrassing birth mark).

I type away from my mother’s kitchen table in Philadelphia in the midst of a two week family vacation. Last night at dinner, my cousin shared with me how impressed she was with my children’s appetite. Based on the kids’ slim stature, she worried that my husband and I were high-jacking some of their food. Her subtle comment about my “minor” weight gain gently stabbed at my heart. No problem. I quickly shot back that I am still the “spaghetti” in the “Spaghetti and Meatball” nickname we earned as youngsters. It’s all love when you’re home. Everything remains “good in the ‘hood.”

When I visit my mom’s house, I look forward to eating without conscience for a few days. The first stop on my city food trek always leads to an old fashioned, refreshing, Italian Ice. I scan the 40 flavor menu at the Fairmount and 20th Avenue establishment for the perfect cool down combination. Let’s go with the lemon and lime classic, and only for a $1.50. Next, my food safari hunts for the perfect Philly cheese steak. I can’t go wrong no matter what favorite local mom and pop destination I select within city limits. My children can’t comprehend why the “use-your-napkin-wipe-your-mouth” queen uncharacteristically delights in the messy and greasy hoagie. Of course the medium size carries weight like a large, and the large should be re-titled as Gut Buster. And it’s only $3.99. No doubt my vacation diet will qualify me for bonus roundtrip minutes on the YMCA cross-trainer back home.

I enjoy the freedom to eat fantastic high calorie foods without guilt on a few special occasions per year (okay per month). However, it ultimately pays dividends to balance out these foods with a hefty share of healthy fruits and vegetables. The fresher the better. This dietary philosophy could certainly apply toward our spiritual appetites as well. Have you ever gone on a binge for Fruits of the Soul? Do you remember when your mother told you that too much of one thing is not good for you? An unlimited buffet of Fruits for the Soul could be the one exception to that nugget of wisdom.

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I recommend that you take an extra share of Soul Fruit with you on your Fourth of July road trip. Hand some out to your spouse before you hit the Dan Ryan construction zone. Serve a dish to the driver that cuts into your traffic lane without a signal. Stir up a fresh salad for your relatives as you convene at the holiday dinner table. Cut a slice for the children before you head out for the fireworks exhibition. Lastly, pack some for an early morning/late afternoon snack when you return back to work. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying leftovers throughout the week.

As a child, I always whined and complained about eating my vegetables. Fortunately, I never turned down a fresh, sweet portion of Soul Fruit. Would you like to share some with me?