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Archive for the ‘Healthy’ Category

My friend Bitchy McSnarkster looked at me and started laughing.

“I cannot believe you came out with us”, he said, gesturing at the circle of gay men that surrounded us, “and wore that”, he said, as he pointed at the white vest I was wearing as a shirt.

I think I looked pretty damn cute. Seems some of the men did too; what is it with gay men and breasts? Can’t one imagine what they feel like?  More gay men have felt me up in this lifetime than the straight ones.

Now, this outfit should not have surprised him. This is how I dress. I have an agenda when I put my clothes on, a message to send.

Bitchy knows better. A few months back I called him in a tizzy as I tried to pull together an outfit for a day date. Oh, the dreaded day date. How does one construct an outfit that could perhaps carry you in to the evening but still manages to be appropriate for such wholesome fun as a museum or a movie? I should have worn a burlap sack to this particular date, but one does not know this going in to these scenarios.

He listed off possibilities… “V Neck sweater?” “Don’t own one.” “Flat shoes?” “Only flats I own are sneakers or flip flops.” “Casual black pants?” “NOPE….Bitchy, THIS IS NOT MY LOOK.”

No matter how you dress me up I think I do alright.  Hey, I’d rather have a look than be some cog in a machine.  It is not like I am wearing vests to work sans shirt; there is a time and a place for everything.  I just have a bit more of a liberal interpretation of what to don in most situations. I’m flexible, a chameleon.

Salmon is another one of those flexible creatures.  No matter what you do to it, it is going to turn out pretty great.  For instance, I wanted to add some ginger to this marinade but forgot it; the fish still turned out great.  The lemon juice could be swapped for some OJ or rice wine vinegar and the sesame oil can be completely omitted.  I have made this as simply as just using the soy saice, lemon, garlic and oil, while other times I have added red pepper flakes or mustard powder.  Seriously, do this up however you like; you cannot make a mess of this.

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Asian Salmon

3 TBSP low sodium soy sauce

juice from half a lemon

1 clove crushed garlic

1.5 TSBPS olive oil

1 TSBP sesame oil

1 TBSP honey

2 tsp olive oil

2– 3 oz salmon pieces

In a bowl, whisk together soy sauce through honey.  Add salmon pieces and marinate for 30 minutes, turning several times.  Preheat oven to 450.  In oven safe saute pan, heat oil over medium high heat.  Add salmon to pan and sear on each side for about 3 minutes. (Start by searing the non skin side first.)  Place in oven and cook for 5 minutes.  Serve immediately.

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Cry Me A River

I hate whiners. Truly. I have broken up with men because I found them to be sissified man children who think the world owes them eternal happiness. Women who behave like entitled princesses, believing they are the specialist of all the snowflakes, honestly deserve a smack back in to reality.

So, truly feel free to smack me around after this but I need a good pout.

This new headache medicine is making my life an unmitigated hell. After some careful consideration, my doctor and I decided to try treating my migraines with Effexor, an antidepressant. I am on a low dose as I am not actually depressed, but this minimal amount of the drug has proven effective in treating some womens’ migraines. My old drug, Topomax, made me stuttery, tingly, forgetful and, most importantly, put my sex drive in the tank and competed with my birth control at the same time. Can you imagine a fate more awful then getting knocked up from a bang you weren’t even that into? Christ, it is enough to give you a migraine.

When we decided to take the Effexor route, I knew there would be some adjustment. The headaches had once again become unbearable, intervening with my life in a way that was unacceptable. Every night for the past week I have been forcing those pills down my throat.

I am miserable.

I am nauseous and shaky. The bed spins every night as I try to drift off to sleep. Yesterday I dry heaved in to the trashcan beside my desk three times during the course of the day. My head is still pounding since the stuff this medicine is supposed to do–stop the ever present ache in my temples–has not taken effect yet. I am irritable and gripped by a shameful amount of self pity. Everything seems like a personal insult. My dripping faucet taunts me and my co-worker’s loud laugh has left me homicidal. If I was a crier, I would cry…but then again I can only imagine how much worse that would make things. I just want someone to rub my back and tell me this will get better.

I know it will get better, I do. It really isn’t so bad. My life is a good one. I have friends who are more like family. I have managed to make a decent living for myself despite my Women’s Studies degree. I don’t take myself too seriously and I can usually ring the fun out of most situations. Hell, I rock a leopard print trench coat and I look like the baddest bitch in DC. I hate that I have wished away every single day of this past week. I am lucky to have the health insurance that will eventually rectify the problems these headaches cause.  But at this very moment? I want to whine and scream about how god damn awful I feel.  I want to crawl up in a ball and wait for the next month to be over, a month of pain I am not looking forward to but I know will be worth it.

But, hey, I have to believe the time is worth it, that something really good will come from this.  I will be better and happier and life will be a bit more bearable.  So I sit and I wait.

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(The time here is worth it.  This is a healthy, tasty snack.  The peas are nice and crunchy and are bursting with flavor.  Take the time to make these.)


Slow Roasted Chickpeas

1– 14 oz can chickpeas, rinsed

3 TBSP olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp coriander

Cayenne pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425. Pat dry rinsed chickpeas and place on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Remove chick peas and toss with oil and spices. Cook for 15 more minutes.

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Lady Who Brunches

I spend a lot of time thinking about what it would feel like to not work. Everyone does this, right? Even if they love their job? I have to believe they do, because even if you are doing important work like clothing orphans or sending beehives to African villages, sometimes you just want to be lazy.

I don’t know if it is the sudden emergence of summer (Spring, why such an elusive vixen this year?) or just some listlessness I have been feeling about my current employment “situation”, but I spend far too much time fantasizing about what I would do with those empty days. Reading and volunteering would probably…happen.  That would be a good thing.  I would definitely be a better friend, keeping in touch more and hopefully figuring out a better way to parse up my time and still keep some for myself.

But the truth of the matter is this; I would become a lady who brunches. For me, brunch is a much better option than lunch. It is over the top and decadent; exactly how I do.  I would order french toast drowned in rivers of maple syrup and slather scones in clotted cream.  I would finally find the best hashbrowns in the city and locate the most fantastic cup of coffee.  But really?   It is all about the mimosas…glass after bottomless glass of worry erasing would greet me every morning.  It would be glorious.

But for now, I work.  I’ve yet to win the lottery or drop my ideals and allow myself to become a kept woman. Just the rushing to fit in the gym and return all those neglected hone calls.  Though I am sad I cannot have those things, it probably is for the best I don’t eat all those brunches.  One should not exceed their caloric intake for the day before noon.  If I am stuck with something healthy, delicious and filling, I think I am doing ok.  Those brunches can wait.

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Breakfast Quinoa

Slightly adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1 cup skim milk
1 cup water
1 cup organic quinoa, rinsed
2 cups fresh berries–I used strawberries and blackberries
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
4 teaspoons honey

Combine milk, water and quinoa in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Turn off heat; let stand covered 5 minutes. Stir in blackberries and cinnamon; transfer to four bowls and top with pecans. Drizzle 1 teaspoon agave nectar over each serving.

Serves 4.

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Vanilla

Prologue: I hate to do this because I think it is my prerogative to be a bit of a cunt sometimes if I feel like it, but I assure you, this is not about you.  Yes, you.  Really.  Not about you.  And hey, maybe this isn’t the most flattering picture of me, but seriously, I will buy you a beer if you email me and tell me you have never once done a double take at the partnering of a friend…or thought a nasty thought.  Maybe I am judgmental, but hopefully I can work through that in therapy.

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I met a friend for dinner the other night and we got on the topic of another of our friends who has fallen off the map. It is a pretty common tale; he met a girl and we have been left in the dust.

Now, I get it. I am old enough to understand and accept that things change when someone is in a relationship. Hell, they should within reason. Priorities shift, love is grand and all this. This is in not that kind of bitter rant.

But this girl, Christ almighty. Over the past year I have referred to her as “Cream of Wheat”, “Khaki”, “Missionary”, and “WhatsHersFace”. Being around this girl is a fate crueler than watching paint dry, a slow and painful torture of boredom. I would much rather this girl be a bitch or a nutter than the reality. She bores us all to tears and frankly, I think less of my friend for being with her.

This is not to say I think I am the world’s most interesting person. As much as we all want to think we are smart and funny and charming, no one is all that special. But this girl? I can scarcely be around her, which actually works out okay since my friend has all but dissapeared since meeting this wet blanket; I actually don’t have to see her that often.

There is a part of me, the charitable part that wants my friend to be happy, that hopes I am totally wrong.  Perhaps this woman is some sort of comic genius or can pontificate for hours about sustainable energy when I am not around.  I hope, for his case and the case of humanity, that this is the situation.  I mean sometimes things appear to be really vanilla, but they surprise you.

Take this chicken dish.  I added a few tweaks to my friend MakeOut Bandit’s lemon chicken and it turned out shockingly well.  This is just an amalgam of leftovers and things I had kicking around in the fridge and I could not be happier with how this turned out.  Now, it doesn’t look the prettiest (the brown rice and yellow bowl surely don’t help either) but it was really good.  The sauce is thickened by the cornstarch and it is highly reminiscent of Chinese lemon chicken, but way healthier.  The vinegar adds a nice contrast to the curd and the green onions are a lovely compliment to the whole dish. Oh, and it is easy…I threw it together in less than 15 minutes.  Really, you cannot go wrong here.

Here is to hoping my friend’s girlfriend has some hidden surprises as well.

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Lemon Chicken

Adapted from my friend Makeout Bandit

Pam/Cooking spray

1 packet chicken tenders, cubed

Salt and pepper

2 green onions, chopped (if you have chives on hand, you could sub those in)

1 cup lemon curd

2 TBS white wine vinegar

1/4 cup chicken broth

1/2 tsp corn starch

Preheat large skillet over medium heat. Spray pan. Salt and pepper cubed chicken and add to skillet. Cook chicken for about 8 minutes and then add green onions. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Mix together vinegar, curd, broth and cornstarch. Add to pan and cook for about 2 minutes (sauce will thicken). Serve over brown rice.

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Feeling Feelings

I’ve had a secret shame buried deep inside me for a few weeks.

I watched “Twilight”. I watched “Twilight” and I liked it.

Now, everyone is carrying on and on about the dreaminess of Edward Cullen and I do feel a bit superior when I proclaim I did not find him the least bit attractive. Now this is not to say there haven’t been a few young men I have taken a shine to; I feel a special kind of flutter every time I see Joe Jonas. Say what you will but that boy really does look like he needs his purity ring tarnished and I am happy to take on that job.  Also, I find his floppy brown hair lovely.

But Edward Cullen? Too pale, skinny, hairless and far, far too blond for me. I do not handle emotional boys well and our dear Edward feels far too many feelings for my liking. He seems a young man that would be scared of hurting me, only wants to make love and would talk incessantly about what a deep connection he feels. I do not care for this one bit.

Oh, and he is a vegetarian. I know plenty of lovely men who are vegetarians, but really? Nothing produces a pile of sawdust in my panties faster than a man who won’t eat a steak.

What I think got me about the movie was the sort of wide eyed faith Bella has in what she is feeling. She is in awe he loves her and doesn’t quite understand it, but she just goes with it.  She is young and unscathed by heartbreak.  There are no “what ifs” and she doesn’t hold back scared of the possibility of being hurt.  The movie reminded me of the free fall of first love and made me wish I was 14 again.  Well, 14-years-old minus the acne and the disproportionately large rack.

Except in my 14-year-old fantasies, it was not Edward Cullen…it was Anthony Kiedis.  There will be no pale vegetarians on my watch, no propping of of weak men who are far too emotive.  The only thing I am ready to handle on a regular basis is raves about my cooking  and Mr. Cullen would not be able to even eat my food and that’s just too bad.  Not to say their aren’t some misses but I like the accolades when they are deserved.  For instance I threw this meal together totally last minutes and it came out really well.  Sure, it is just pasta, but it is flavorful and I managed to get a ton of vegetables in here.  For a fast week night dinner that will leave you a ton of leftovers you really cannot go wrong. The whole wheat pasta adds a nice depth and the sauce, more chunky than a normal sauce, manages to stay light(er) thanks to the turkey and artichokes.  Hey, this isn’t going to change your life but it is way better than a jar of Ragu.

And how do you feel about that, Edward?

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Summer Pasta

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small onion, minced

1 pound mushrooms, chopped finely

2 teaspoons dried basil

1.5 teaspoons dried oregano

1 package (about 1.5 lbs) ground turkey

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 8 0z. can tomato sauce

1 14.5 oz. can chopped tomatoes

1 14.5 oz. can artichokes, drained

Salt and pepper

1 box whole wheat pasta

Parmesan for sprinkling

Boil salted water and cook pasta while preparing sauce.

Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Add garlic and onions and cook for about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms,a pinch of salt and some pepper and cook for another 3 minutes. Drain off some of the liquid from the mushrooms with a spoon. Add basil, oregano, balsamic and turkey and cook for 8 minutes. (You may need to spoon off some more liquid.)Pour in tomato sauce, chopped tomatoes and artichokes. Cook for an additional 7 minutes. Salt and pepper and mix with pasta. Top with parmesan.

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She’s So Lucky

A few summers back I was out with a few friends. I was wearing a floatier halter top, not typically my style, but it was the summer after I lost all the weight and I was trying to embrace the new me…or whatever. Who the hell knows why I chose this top as I felt supremely uncomfortable wearing it, but I suspect it had something to do with how awesome it made my cleavage look and the fact that the tag had a “S” on it. I am fairly predictable.

l-and-l1The evening ended with me staggering around the streets of Adam’s Morgan with my friend Cindarella and a few other folks. This was probably the most boozy period of my life; I was fresh out of a relationship that crashed and burned with a spectacular brightness and I still hadn’t figured out how much liquor my new, smaller body could actually handle. I could have made Betty Ford blush with the amount of beer I was consuming on the regular and while I wish my staggering was merely a metaphor sadly it was not. I could barely stand up, but a much more sober Cindarella stood by my side, told me I looked pretty in my shirt, talked smack about my ex and generally watched after me.

As we crossed 18th Street, a crowd of clearly strung out riff raff had congregated around the McDonald’s. One man, unshowered and barely coherent, looked at me and screamed “You shouldn’t be drinking when you are pregnant.”

I lost it.  This man had touched on a deep insecurity when I was already in a vulnerable place. I absolutely came unhinged on that corner. Crying in public probably ranks just above eating coconut and just below dating a blond on the list of things I aim not to do, so you know it had to be bad. Cindarella yelled at the guy but largely tended to me; she hugged me tight and got me in the nearest cab, fully knowing I could never bounce back from that. The evening was a wash.

Little did I know that after I left Cindarella chased that man down, fixing to give him a piece of her mind. He was nowhere to be found and this is probably for the best.  Cindarella is a force and not to be messed with but even I was surprised to hear she chased a CRACKHEAD IN TO AN ALLY for me. Of course when I heard this story I immediately thought about how afterschool special it would have been had she been shanked in that ally. (Kids, this will happen to you if you move in to the big city…) Praise Allah that I have somewhat cleaned up my act, that I haven’t cried in public since, that I have largely forgotten about the guy.  I also trashed the shirt.  Still, I can’t help and think of that story and still smile to this day. Screw “Chicken Soup for the Soul”; I had someone way better to turn to when the chips were down.

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(Chicken stock is super easy to make and can be adapted to what you have on hand. Just throw some root vegetables in a pot with some chicken backs and necks, or in this instance a chicken carcass. All the measurements here are guesses; I promise you cannot screw this up.)

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Chicken Stock

1 chicken carcass (I threw the left over carcass from the last chicken I roasted in the freezer and pulled it out for this purpose)

water

2 carrots, roughly chopped (I threw in a big handful of baby carrots instead)

3 celery stalks, roughly chopped

1 onion, quartered

Handful of flat leaf parsley

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon peppercorns (or a teaspoon ground pepper)

2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)

Put chicken in large stock pot and cover with water. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for about 3 hours. Strain through a mesh strainer and skim off fat. Freeze or use within 5 days.

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On Judgment

“I can tell you this because I know you won’t judge.”

“You’re the only person I can tell this…”

“This has to be between us…I know you get it.”

That’s only the beginning of it. I’ve heard variations of those phrases since I was 18. A college pal used to say “People just tell Lex stuff”. It’s true; they do. I’ve proven a pretty decent track record at keeping a secret; I have some doozies locked deep inside this chest. Also, I like to think of myself as a fairly nonjudgmental person. Sure, I have judgments–isn’t that what a moral code is, anyway?–but I am fully aware the world is full of nuance and tough choices.  Who the hell am I to tell you how to live your life? Finally, I’ve made no secret here, and even more so with friends, that I am far from perfect.  While I am not the most egregious of sinners, I would never call myself a saint. A friend once said one of the reasons she likes me is I “admit my shit”; it makes sense why my friends feel comfortable coming to me.

Of course a small part of me feels validated by people’s trust and the inner gossip whore relishes these juicy tidbits of personal shame.  Yet, one thing about this always gives me pause.  When someone says “I know you won’t judge” it always seems a tacit admission of prior judgment of me.  It as if they are saying “We are kindred spirits in bad behavior”.  Now, of course, this is not always the case, yet I cannot help but blanch when someone starts spilling their dirty little secrets to me.

So I am going to go ahead and admit something to you, but please don’t think I judge you.  I just know you have been there.  I am in a food rut.  This is similar to a few recent recipes, but I just cannot seem to get enough Mexican food lately, namely black beans.  This is a simple, easy and healthy recipe that took me 15 minutes to prepare.  Also, at less than $5 for the whole thing, its a fiscally responsible meal that packs a nutritional punch. This is a rut I am completely comfortable being stuck in.

Just please don’t judge me.

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Mexican Stuffed Potato

1 TBS olive oil

1 large clove garlic, minced

1/2 red onion, chopped

1/2 jalapeno pepper, deseeded, deveined, and chopped

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can diced tomatoes, about half of the liquid drained off

1/2 tsp ground coriander

3/4 tsp ground cumin

Salt and pepper

1 baked sweet potato

Heat pan over medium-high heat and add oil. Let oil heat and then add onions, garlic and pepper. Sautee until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, beans, spices, and salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 7-9 minutes. Serve atop potato.

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