My mother had a crush on Anwar Sadat.

She had a way then, when she was young and easily swayed, of falling for some of the famous men who made their way into our suburban New Jersey living room through the magical medium of early TV. She was wild about “Mr. Television” himself, for example, manic comedian Milton Berle, whom she affectionately called “Uncle Miltie,” who made her laugh her troubles away. Later, she swooned over CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow’s “deep, manly voice,” even when he had to announce bad news. But Anwar Sadat? What, I asked her, did she see in him?

“He’s tall and slim and elegant,” my mother answered dreamily, “and I love his taste in ties.”

Genuinely intrigued by my mother’s fascination with Sadat, then vice president of Egypt, I, a bookish high school girl, did some research of my own. For me, his choice of ties was inconsequential, but what he ate for lunch has stuck in my mind. I must have discovered this tidbit in a Time profile of him: Every day he ate lunch alone at his desk, and that lunch was always the same - cottage cheese and fruit. No wonder he is slim and elegant, I thought to myself, he watches what he eats! At fifteen, I had put myself on a low-fat diet and begun to look at most things through the prism of food.

I’d also recently gotten an after-school job as a checkout girl at the local Acme supermarket to save for college. To make what I found to be a terribly tedious job more tolerable, I turned it into something of a science project: I studied what the customers bought when they did their weekly grocery shopping and compared that to their physical condition. The results of this project provided me with a vivid, indelible lesson: You are indeed what you eat.

The overweight, out-of-shape customers filled their carts - and ultimately themselves and their families - with packaged cookies and cakes, cartons of cheap ice cream, bags of expensive junk food, ready-made, pop-in-the-oven, frozen TV Dinners, and boxes of Jell-O instant pudding (heavily advertised at the time for the woman with a “busy day”). The slim, athletic customers, on the other hand, bought mostly colorful, fresh fruit and vegetables and almost nothing edible that came in a box or a plastic bag.

Now, five decades later, I must say I’m grateful for those early lessons, which set me on a lifetime course of healthful eating. Even today I try to make one meal a day - most often lunch - fruit-filled. My favorite is this smoothie, which I highly recommend.

Will it help to make you “slim and elegant”? Well, maybe. Will it affect your taste in ties? Not in the least.

Quick and Tasty Healthy Fruit Smoothie

Blend together:

1 cup low-fat milk (or soy milk)
½ cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 banana
1 pitted peach (or 2 pitted apricots)
1 cup (approx.) fresh hulled strawberries
1 scoop vanilla whey protein
sweetener (honey, sugar, or stevia) to taste

For added thickness, add a few ice cubes while your smoothie is blending.