Monthly Archives: May 2010

A Green Monster spotting

I’ve never been afraid to get a little dirty…

No, not the X-Tina kind of dirty, but the real, kick up some mud, “what color was my shirt?” kind of dirty.

Growing up, I was the kid who never wore shoes, intentionally splashed through puddles and constantly had dirt under her fingernails.

Fortunate for me, this was perfectly fueled by the fact that my family lived near and extensive area of wetlands. In the summers I attended a nature camp and, when I was lucky, my dad would even take me on “frog hunting” trips.

I didn’t mind getting a little swamp water in my shoes. In fact, I even relished it.

In time I’ve learned to clean up a bit, but I still maintain a passion for an occasional dosage of mud.

However, for as much as I loved the murky, green waters of my childhood, I never thought that same descriptor could be used in talking about good food.

The legendary “Green Monster” has been sighted on many a blogs. Although many of my trusted sources raved about the drink, I was still hesitant.

Last week, fueled by a little nostalgia for the swamp-wading days of my youth and fueled a lot by the awesome sale my grocery store was having on spinach, I decided it was now or never: I was going to have a Green Monster sighting of my own.

After one quickly blended batch of spinach, bananas, peanut butter and almond milk, I was hooked.

After a few days of making a pretty standard version of the GM, I was willing to venture into swampy territory of my own by making a different version.

Limey Green Monster

Ingredients:

  • 4 ice cubes
  • 3/4 C unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 3 large handfuls spinach
  • 1 T PB
  • 1 small fat-free lime flavored yogurt
  • Toppings: Fresh fruit, dried fruit, granola, cereal, etc.

Directions:

  • Combine ice, milk and banana in a blender. Thoroughly crush.
  • Add in spinach and continue blending, stopping to stir occasionally.
  • Add PB and lime yogurt. Blend to desired consistency.
  • Pour into glass or bowl, top with add-ins and enjoy.

I topped my Green Monster with pineapple, blueberries and a leftover chai carrot cupcake. In addition to a Green Monster spotting, there were also hungry cats and bunnies on the prowl.

Yeah, wasn't about to let that happen.

It just LOOKS innocent!


An insider’s tip: Nut-butter anything

A good network of sources, a good journalist makes (and logically structured sentences also help).

I need to be tuned into my sources for insiders’ tips, heads up on news and credible information.

My goal is to fairly and objectively represent my stories. For that reason, it isn’t possible to keep in the good graces of every source (Oh, you wanted to keep the fact that you are a felon under wraps? Maybe you shoulda’ thought of that before attempting armed robbery…).

But, it is also important to realize that a story doesn’t end just because it went to print.

Keeping up with past sources, asking for new information and recognizing who is a reliable authority can all contribute to the best, most innovative and most credible projects down the road.

Similarly, in navigating the food-blog world, I’ve discovered a few sources on whom I can always count on for delivering incredible recipes.

One of my absolute favorite bloggers is Mama Pea of Peas and Thank You. Not only are her recipes gosh darn delish, but also she is one of the most entertaining writers around.

So, when she posted a recipe for a tofu-take on the nut-butter crusted veggies I’ve come to love, I knew it was a guaranteed hit.

Nut-Butter Crusted Tofu

Adapted from Mama Pea’s recipe.

Ingredients:

•    1 14 oz. block extra firm tofu
•    3 T nut butter (I used natural creamy PB)
•    1 T low-sodium soy sauce
•    ¾ T sugar
•    ½ T wheat bran
•    1 T water

Directions:

•    Drain tofu. Horizontally slice the tofu into four even sections. Cut those slices in half, making eight even sections. Press the tofu for at least 10 minutes.
•    In medium-sized bowl, mix the nut-butter, soy sauce, sugar, wheat bran and water. When tofu is thoroughly pressed, spread equal amounts of the nut-butter sauce on both sides of all slice.
•    Arrange on greased baking sheet. Bake in 400-degree oven for 10 minutes on each side.

I served made an open-faced sandwich with a little bit of spinach, a side of veggies and some fresh fruit. Enjoyed outside on my deck, it was a perfect summertime lunch.

But, then again, that was expected—I have good sources.

*Update to “Polls” section: Do you view your body as an ornament or instrument?


My race discrimination

As my friend and I stood at the starting line of our 5K this past Saturday, the celebrity speaker (or rather, a somewhat-known local with some free time) tried to pump up the crowd.

Relatively little attention was being paid to this guy.

Not that he could be blamed; it’s a challenge to get a group of people, moments away from racing, to focus on anything but the butterflies in their stomachs.

Desperately reaching for something to feed his ego grab the crowds’ attention, the guy asked, “Who’s first 5K is this?”

To my surprise, more than half the people in the crowd raised a hand.

Really? First 5K? But you’re 30-ish years old…

I suppose this is where a little of a bias comes in. Confession: I actually can’t remember my first 5K.

My parents have always been active. Some of my earliest memories are of my dad coming back from a wintertime run with icicles hanging from his nose or of my mom disappearing on three-hour long training runs.

To me, this was just what they did. It didn’t seem unusual.

I often spent weekends “competing” in local races with my parents. During these runs, my parents didn’t push me to win and didn’t scold me for walking. Instead, the runs were simply bonding experiences, where we all had fun exercising.

It wasn’t until I hit my teenage years that I realized my family was a little bit unusual.

I was surprised to see that other kids’ parents didn’t work out almost every day. I was absolutely shocked to think that some parents never worked out… that was simply beyond my comprehension.

Although I’ve  adjusted to the idea that not everyone works out, I still can’t help but feel a little sorry for those who don’t know the sweetness of sweat.

I’ve had my own struggles with body image. I’ll even admit that at times I’ve used obsessive working out to fuel these insecurities.

However, at the heart of it all, I know that working out is really, truly a healthful release for me.

The diverse forms of exercise available are what make it just so therapeutic: You don’t have to run. You don’t have to bike. You don’t have to swim. You just have to try. Find what makes you happy.

As the race began and I set off weaving through crowds of people, I saw kids, teenagers, adults and older people. About one mile in, I realized that it doesn’t matter if you are 5, 15, 30 or 60 when you run your first 5K, learn to bike or master the freestyle. All that matters is doing it.

Life isn’t a race, afterall.


V8 has nothing on me

Let me fill you in on what I dish out about $10,000 a semester to learn:

•    Multimedia Reporting: People like hearing about sex, violence and the bizarre. For example, news that a clown prostitution ring was broken up, sending Bozo the Clown to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the buttocks would sell, sell, sell.

•    Multimedia Editing: No one correctly uses “lay” vs. “lie.” For the record, “lay” requires a direct object and “lie” doesn’t… just don’t ask me what that means.

•    Statistics: Be skeptical of everything and watch out for false positives. Wait, did my professor just teach me how to read a birth control test?

•    German: Ich kann nicht sprechen.

I know that these are pretty abstract concepts for the “average folk” grasp, but somehow I make do.

However, on the days that the battle of who vs. whom was just too overwhelming to focus on, I turned to daydreams of summer.

I imagined relaxing beside a pool, sipping on iced tea and catching up on my gossip magazine supply.

I figured this was pretty realistic… I was even willing to live without a hunk to feed me grapes.

Still, my expectations were a little high. My days are more filled with interning and less with finding out what Lindsay Lohan has been up to.

[source]

With a lot to keep me busy, sometimes it’s difficult to fit balanced servings of fruit, vegetables, carbohydrates, proteins and fats into my diet.

So, when I stumbled upon a recipe that combined fruit, vegetables and a good dose of sweetness, I wasted no time in getting’ a cookin’.

Chai Pumpkin Carrot Cupcakes

Ingredients:

•    ¾ C all-purpose flour
•    ¾ C whole-wheat flour
•    1 ½ t baking powder
•    ½ t baking soda
•    2 t chai spice (see below)
•    ¼ C vegetable oil
•    ¼ C unsweetened applesauce
•    ¼ C crushed pineapple
•    3 flax seed “eggs
•    Heaping 2/3 C sugar
•    2 t pure vanilla extract
•    2 C shredded carrots (about 4 or 5 medium-sized carrots)

Directions:

•    In a large bowl, whisk together first five ingredients (through chai spice).
•    In another large bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients (oil through carrots).
•    Slowly add the flour mixture to wet ingredients. Blend until just combined.
•    Fill greased or lined muffin tins ¾ full with batter.
•    Bake until cupcakes are set, about 20 minutes for mini-muffins.
•    When slightly cooled, remove from tin and allow cupcakes to finish cooling on wire rack.

Glaze:

•    Make whisk together milk, softened low-fat cream cheese, vanilla, cinnamon and milk until desired consistency and taste are attained. Glaze cupcakes when they are adequately cooled.

Chai Spice Blend:

•    1 1/2 t ground ginger
•    1 t cinnamon
•    1/2 t ground cloves
•    1/2 t ground cardamom
•    1/4 t nutmeg
•    1/4 t allspice

Enjoy and please excuse me while I lay a sexy wounded clown down to “sleep.”


Cereal killer

Confession: I am weak to the powers of cereal.
Dear friends or dreaded foes?

[source]

For much of the time that I was struggling with an ED, I absolutely forbade myself from eating cereal.

During this time, I put cereal on a pedestal. I reasoned that it was carb-loaded, packed with sugar and just too darn delish so it must be bad for me.

As part of recovery, my nutritionist encouraged me to add foods back into my diet that I had once banned. Things such as potatoes, jelly made with sugar and even pizza were tough sells. I was perfefctly content without them in my life, because I had good “substitutes.”

Cereal was another case; I didn’t hesitate to dive back into the cereal box.

Before I began assessing the nutritional profiles of every bite I ate,  I filled up my bowls with Captain Crunch, Cocoa Puffs and Fruit Loops without blinking.  

At that time, my addiction ran strong… but, I didn’t care. It was only when I realized how much sugar and how few nutrients these cereals offered that I reluctantly, but determinedly, banished them from my diet.

When my nutritionist finally gave me the permission I felt I needed to eat cereal, I went full force.

Suddenly, there was no limit. One bowl turned into two, turned into three, turned into a cereal “dessert” complete with chocolate syrup.

I opted for healthier versions such as Kashi brand or shredded wheat, but this only fed my addiction, because I convinced myself it wasn’t very harmful.

Reality check: The cereal may have been healthier, but no one is supposed to eat the whole box throughout the course of a day… I just had no portion control.

Another confession: I don’t know why I’m speaking in past tense. This is still a challenge for me. I do fine by going without any cereal at all. It just seems that once I allow myself to “indulge” in cereal I can’t stop.

One the principles that helped me overcome the worst of my ED was intuitive eating. I tuned into what my body was telling me. I ate when I was hungry and stopped when I was satisfied.

Generally, I did do (and continue to do) a pretty good job with this. I accept that if I just really want a PB&J sandwich, no amount of salad is going to leave me satisfied. Instead, I just go with the PB&J to begin with, and end up eating less and feeling more content in the long run.

However, as I said, this whole mentality falls into pieces when I dip my spoon into the cereal bowl.

I am frustrated with my seeming inability to moderate a love for cereal. Now, I just don’t know what my options are.

On one hand, I consider eliminating it from my diet. This wouldn’t be because of nutrition, but because I know cereal is a trigger food for me. On the other hand I hesitate to go back to a place where I deny myself any food.

If I chose not to eat cereal, I would be diligent about still maintaining a good balance with my diet. I would still allow myself indulgences.

I just think I would have more control… or more bluntly, I wouldn’t end up with an empty box of cereal, a bowl licked clean, a stomach ache and a load of regret.

Question: Do you think it’s OK to choose not to eat any certain foods? Do you have any “trigger” foods (think Pringles… “once I pop, I just can’t stop!”)?


Stopping by…

Thanks to Meg, from the great blog “Be Fit. Be Full,” for featuring a guest post by me today!

If you are checking out my blog for the first time, please take a look around. I’m in the process of getting the blog off the ground, and appreciate any feedback anyone has to offer…


Overcoming border discrimination

I am a die-hard University of Kansas fan. Inherent with that is a passion for basketball, knowledge of the evolution of the Jayhawk and disdain for the state of Missouri (I can sleep at night knowing the rivalry is reciprocal).

So then, actually liking a product that was grown within Missouri’s borders is fairly big news.

Recently, a friend brought me some fresh produce from the St. Louis farmers market. Hesitant at first, I was quickly won over by some delicious red bell peppers and a perfectly ripe avocado.

Having somewhat overcome my discrimination toward all things Missouri, I then turned my attention a Japanese eggplant that was included in the bounty.

My friend had been raving for weeks about Japanese eggplants. He claimed the flavor was even better than that of traditional eggplants.

I was skeptical, but intrigued. I hesitated as I passed by the Japanese eggplant selection at the local grocery, but just couldn’t bring myself to put it in my cart.

When my friend gave me the Japanese eggplant, there were simply no more excuses.

Enter: roasted Japanese eggplant and onion thin crust pizza.

Notes of significance: I love crisping up whole-wheat tortillas to use for flat crust pizza. Just before the first frost, I (sadly) stripped my basil plant and made an extra large batch of pesto to keep me through the winter. I froze the pesto in an ice cube tray, so I had convenient 1 tbsp. sized portions whenever I want.

Roasted Japanese Eggplant Pizza
Makes one serving


Ingredients:

  • 1 whole-wheat tortilla
  • 1 Japanese eggplants
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion
  • 1/2 C baby spinach
  • 1/8 C feta cheese
  • 1 T pesto
  • Thyme, basil, salt and pepper for seasoning.
  • 1-2 T extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch thick slices. Cut onion into large chunks. Coat the eggplant and onions in olive oil. Season to taste and spread out on roasting pan.
  • Roast for approximately 30 minutes, flipping once.
  • While vegetables are roasting, thinly coat the tortilla with olive oil. When vegetables are done in the oven, bake tortilla (still at 400 degrees) for approximately four minutes on each side, or until lightly brown and crispy. Watch closely and pop any bubbles that form in tortilla.
  • When tortilla is crisped, coat in pesto, cover with a layer of baby spinach, and arrange roasted vegetables. Top with feta cheese. Bake in oven for approximately five minutes.
  • Cut and enjoy all to yourself.

Reluctantly, maybe Missouri has something going for it… basketball season just can’t start soon enough! Rock Chalk!