Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Falling Off the Bandwagon What I Ate Wednesday

Tuck and roll, baby! Pretty much after I posted my Going Strong [vegetarian] WIAW for Peas and Crayons last week, the carnage cravings started-- for real. When the cravings went on to mess with how I felt physically-- achy, tired, depressed, it was time to eat some meat. Even as I wrote my review for Eating Animals, I was browning beef for my spaghetti sauce. I have learned through this experience, though, that my heart is in the right place, but full-on vegetarian is not who I am. It's nice to get in touch with my paleolithic side. :) So, after making it 23 days without meat, here's what I came up with:
Cup of coffee on the way out the door. (Like our flashcards taped to the door? Classy, I know.)
Steak and egg/whites with Texas Pete, of course...oh, and another cup of coffee.

Aren't these cute?!? Way to go, Krispie Kreme! (Mine are the ugly ones on the bottom left: pumpkin spice.)

After grocery shopping, I treated myself to 2 servings of Combos and a Diet Dr. Pepper (my favs!) and I bagged up the rest of the Combos for the kids. :)
Tuna in a pita with LOTS of pickles...and some obligatory vegetables.

Oh yes! And, I finally received my diploma from FSU! Woot! Now I have proof!
Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Eating Animals

I read this one per the suggestion of my friend, Martha, over at Make or Die. Since October is the Go Veg for a Month challenge, I thought I'd read one of the many pro-veg manifestos: Eating Animals. Safron-Foer's editorial surprisingly ends up being less of a case for vegetarianism and more of a case against factory farming. Chock full of reasons to eat less (or no) meat, including health and the environment, Foer exposes the atrocities of removing farming from farmers and giving the industry over to cooperate America. This in particular appealed to my rebellious nature.

So, even if you're not interested in the green stuff ....
...and death is inevitably a part of life-- and survival.

I'd say this paragraph sums up his entire directive:
"It shouldn't be the consumer's responsibility to figure out what's cruel and what's kind, what's environmentally destructive and illegal. Cruel and destructive food products should be illegal. We don't need the option of buying children's toys made with lead paint, or aerosols with chlorofuorocarbons, or medicines with unlabeled side effects. And we don't need the option of buying factory-farmed animals."

Foer's right about one thing...

Unlike many pro-veg-anti-cooperation writers, Foer does not seem to advocate what one voice in text calls the "Marie Antoinette Complex"-- if you can't afford bread, eat cake, or, in our case, if you can't afford chicken, then eat free-range heritage chicken. He also debunks the myth of free range, cage free, grass fed (turns out it's all marketing) and the like. The book is eye-opening, though tough to read in places (if you didn't have one, you may grow a bleeding heart). It's chock full of documentation, but not weighed down with statistics (all his PAGES of references are in a section at the end). It's worth a read, definitely.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Crispy S'mores Wontons

Given that my experiment with wontons didn't bode so well last night, the remainder of the wrappers had to be used for something awesome. Why not dessert? When I saw dessert wontons on Pinterest, and remembered my leftover marshmallows and chocolate chips, I gave it a whirl. Like I said-- why not? This was easy Peesy-- take your filling of choice (pb&j? caramel? nutella? cream cheese?), place it on a wonton, brush water on the edges and place another wonton on top. Fry in vegetable oil 'til they're crispy and roll 'em around in some cinnamon sugar. Enjoy!

Friday Night Fail

Epic fail for our Friday night appetizer and movie event-- unless you're interested in empty wonton wrappers, of course. Oh, and no movie. (Apparently my children are not as in to movies as I am.) Meanwhile, this amazing cheesiness was supposed to substitute for the immense cravings for meat I've developed. I must admit, I've never been into carnage. I have never ever, in my life, craved a big juicy cheeseburger (though I've eaten them, to be sure) or gotten giddy over bacon frying, or voluntarily bellied up to a rack o' ribs. Now, 22 days after starting this whole venture, I can say I'm not a vegetarian. It's nice to rule that out . . . to discover this part of myself . . . the carnivorous part. When I walk in the grocery store, all I can smell is the ready-made fried chicken. I seriously want to face-plant into a bowl of sausage and peppers or cut into a bloody steak or even stuff myself with a pulled pork sandwich. I feel weak and kind of out of it and not a little depressed (AND yes, I'm eating healthy, whole foods and taking supplements and vitamins). I'm holding out simply for the prize money-- which inevitably I will only win if I DON'T keep my promise (See?! Not eating meat makes me think like Eeyore.). But, since this is a year of self-discovery and of happiness, I can say this experience is providing me with both-- I am discovering that my self is not completely happy with zero meat. In the future, less meat is alright. No meat? No way.

Friday, October 21, 2011


It seems like every time I get on one of my vegetarian "kicks" (really, just when I can't stand the thought of chicken's artery recoiling and snapping me in the lip [shudder]) I inevitably find amazing looking recipes that call for a food processor. 
Black bean burgers? Sure, you can eat them...but it's gonna cost ya. Yeah, you CAN use a blender, but it won't work. You'll smell burning plastic before you smell cooking lentil meatloaf. Hummus? Yeah you COULD squish it with a fork, but wouldn't life be easier just to buy it?
 Right. At this point, it should be noted that my husband is the kitchen gadget whore. He's the one who begged for a KitchenAid mixer and I'm the one who uses a spatula 'til I have Thor-sized arms. He's the one who registered for an ice cream maker for our wedding... 'nuff said. So, when I've expressed interest in a food processor, the fact that he's critical confounds me. Finally, the gadget gods smiled on me the other day whilst milling about Sams. There are two places my husband must check at Sams-- the sale section in the front and the sale section in the back. We've procured office equipment, recliners and the like from these little known corners of the store and the other day, our find was no less useful: a display blender and food processor taped together! Woot! Eager to show my husband all the fabulous things this gadget could change our lives with, I immediately visited the grocery store in search of chick peas and chocolate chips. Weird combo? Yes. But, when I saw a recipe for "healthy" chocolate chip cookie dough made from chick peas, I thought, "Why the hell not?"
I wanted to like this, simply because I bought a gadget in order to make things like this. It was supposed to taste like chocolate chip cookie dough. It tasted like...mashed chick peas with chocolate chips in them.

Bravely, my daughter suffered through half and bowl. What an adventurous kid. And now, the "cookie dough" is on the shelf in our frig that confines all other failed experiments that I don't want to "waste". I'm hoping the food processor can revive that vegetarian meatloaf into black bean burgers and earn it's keep.

What do you do with failed experiments?
Are you a kitchen gadget whore, too?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Going Strong WIAW

So, 19 days into the whole vegetarian try-out and I'm going strong (and happy!). I'm discovering all kinds of fun stuff I didn't know about before-- overnight oats (even the husband likes this one), quinoa (love it!), almond butter (new fav!), nutritional yeast (great to sneak into the kidddo's mac n cheese and spaghetti), et al. I've made some experiments that didn't work out (vegetarian meatloaf is best left alone, in my opinion) but the good has far outweighed the bad. The best thing is, with a little planning ahead, I've managed to make pretty healthy meals and stay within budget. Sweet! Now to join the WIAW party over at Peas n Crayons!
Gingerbread overnight oats. Noms!

$0.50 Go Green refill from Starbucks ( X 2! I was a little revved up by the time I got home.) while I shopped for tights for my daughter's Halloween costume. :)

Miso soup and salad with low fat Asian dressing

Luna bars on sale at Target

My favorite tea of the season!

Baked beans and broccoli slaw wrap, made with...

...from my friend, Meagan, for my birthday!

Star Wars popcorn. I pretty much bought it for the Star Wars tin. :)

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Unleash the Night

Confession time: I've never read a romance novel. Seriously. At 31 years of age, it was definitely time. So, since my friend, Elise, is an avid reader of (though not limited to) this genre, she let me borrow a couple of her books.

Admittedly, I've never really been interested in this category of books. Call me repressed or whatever, but it's just never been my thing. (I always kind of picture Fabio slipping in I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.)

NOTE: This is not pretentiousness on my part. Shakespeare wrote the "smut" of his day and he's the poster child of English Literature. 
....and we all know how I feel about Shakespeare.  [gag.]

But, my friend assured me that this line of books actually has plot, not just thrusting and throbbing. I must say, the book delivered more than just "the usual" I'd expect from erotic literature: time travel, Greek gods and were-people are always page-turners for me. If nothing else, Sherrilyn Kenyon is to be admired for the sheer volume of novels she's written-- most of which are on the New York Times best seller list. Apparently, I am definitely in the minority with my tastes. So, as with Shakespeare, though it's not really my genre of choice, I can appreciate it and it's authors for their innovation and thoughtfulness.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Little Things

I have pretty much had a horrible, no good, awful, very bad day-- hectic, frustrating, full of traffic and worry, et al. So, what better day to be thankful? I know that sounds backward, but that's me. Love me. Now, as I think back over my day, it wasn't fun (no warm fuzzies or wanting to repeat these 24 hours) BUT, I've had much much much worse. And, as I sat in yet another traffic jam (I still don't know why people in this city see a green light as a suggestion, not a command) I realized: there's always tomorrow.

This week, I am thankful for tomorrow: not that we should live in the future (or the past, for that matter), but there is something about the hope tomorrow instills that sometimes is all we have to cling to. Cheers to tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Game of Thrones

See that face? She's sad 'cause everybody dies.
We all have our guilty pleasures. Mine (besides Diet Dr. Pepper and booty-shaking-techno music) is fantasy fiction. It all started when I was young. Unlike today's youth (Potterheads), I cut my literary teeth on C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia and I've just never gotten over it.
I know it's silly that the only movies my husband and I get babysitters for have been Harry Potter premiers. It's just something about the escapism of discovering another world (with relate-able characters) that's always held my attention.
Reason #564 to love Colin Firth.
I've always sort of stuck to the "classics" of fantasy literature-- L. Frank Baum, J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis (ever notice the prevalence of initialed names for these authors? What's the deal?) and the like because frankly, I'd rather not be stuck reading a crappy fantasy novel full of poor dialog and two dimensional characters, hoping it just gets better. 
YOU know what I'm talkin' 'bout.
So, when The Game of Thrones premiered on HBO and everyone was all, "You'dloveitYou'dloveitYou'dloveit!" I bought the book. Little did I know George R.R. Martin is not like these  other authors.
*Spoiler alert*-- don't get too attached to characters. Martin ain't afraid to kill somebody off. Despite being in a fog for a couple days afterwards due to my favorite characters being the tragic characters, I truly enjoyed the novel. In fact, I sent it to my niece (who has moved from Rowling and Lewis on to Tolkien and has more patience than I do for his meticulous description) and purchased the next one.
Seriously. This should be the title.
I've taken a peak at the prologue, though I'm reading something else for next week (you don't want to read about my geek fest two weeks in a row, I'm sure) and I'm already hooked. I found the novel a lot quicker-paced than the series as well (that never happens, right?), so if the series was too slow for you, try the book.

Do you know of any good fantasy or even sci-fi novels I'd like? I need suggestions!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Steaming Cup of Autumn

Unbeknownst to me, last Thursday was National Coffee Day. I suppose my subconscious knew this when I posted my copious thanks for the fantastic black liquid. And, as luck would have it, on the same day, as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program with Peet's Coffee, I received some sample coffee to try out, which came highly recommended by The Hungry Artist via my blog comments. Bonus!

What to pair with my samples? Something autumn-y, no doubt. Since I'm stuck in the humid, warm Florida climate instead of a more Fall-friendly clime, I turned down the AC and brewed a pot immediately while I made some chocolate chip pumpkin bread. Hey, if Fall couldn't come to me, I'd come to it. It turns out the Cafe Domingo was smooth and balanced and though I usually prefer dark roasts, this had a robust enough flavor to pair well with the dark chocolate, cinnamon and nutmeg in my bread.

Thanks, Peet's Coffee, for making my National Coffee Day one to remember!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A strong man falls down seven times...

I have a confession...I've slipped in my resolution. A week or two ago, while I was weighing a package to mail, I got on the scale. Some would say this is no big deal. I was just "setting" the dial so the package would weigh, right? Right?! Maybe some people could get away with that, but not me. I reeled . . . for days . . . over a number. After a few days I came to my senses, stopped feeling sorry for myself, and went through some unrealistic expectations I had been holding out for. Example? "If I could just stick to a diet, I'd be thin." Logic dispells this one. Why in the world would there be a diet industry, if diets worked? Selling hope is big business, that's why. Well, I'm done with the Dr. Terminus' of the world (points for getting Pete's Dragon reference).  I've pulled out of my funk and realized that the funk may come back, in which case I'll just have to pull out of it again. "Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts," said someone-who-was-incredibly-wise-that-I-can't-remember-their-name-right-now. At any rate, control is not the answer, nor is indulgence: what I'm searching for is freedom.

As in everything, there is a good side to this slip-up. Instead of just resting on my laurels and sticking to "not weighing myself", I came face to face with my problem-- and I started seeking help. If I could have solved the problem on my own, I would have done it a long time ago. My family and friends have turned out to be invaluable resources and encouragement. Another place I've found is the blogging community of like-minded people. JL has a story similar to mine over at Stop Chasing Skinny. I love the way she talks about striving for her happy weight for years, when there was, "not one damned happy thing about it".  Another great website is Oh She Glows -- when I read Angela's story, I realized how I was shooting myself in the foot trying to stick to a certain amount of calories a day. She related in one of her posts that we don't allot a certain amount of breaths a day (some days we need more, some days we need less) and our body knows that. I started thinking-- when I think about breathing, I start to hyperventilate. I start to worry that next breath isn't coming. Aren't I doing the same thing with food? By trying to restrict it to a number on a chart, I'm not only obsessing about it constantly, I'm eating more than I would have out of rebellion (my body thinks it's being deprived). So, it's time to breath easy and it's time to trust my body. Thanks, slip-up, you helped me get up the 8th time. :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Taking the Plunge WIAW

Did you know October 1st marked the beginning of Vegetarian Awareness Month? Well, it did. As such, I'm taking the plunge and giving vegetarianism the old college try for 31 days. So, with a little help from Jenn over at Peas & Crayons on how to be a vegetarian (instead of a pan-a-tarian) and still feed my carnivorous husband and not break the bank, or take too much time-- here's what I came up with for one day so far.
Overnight oats-- where have you been all my life? Instant oatmeal makes me hungry in 2 seconds but whole oatmeal fills me up til lunchtime. But who has time to get two kids ready for school and boil oats? Not I. Enter Overnight Oats. Oh She Glows has some great ideas, btw.
BK veggie burger sans one bun and a side of onion rings. I was running around town yesterday and this really hit the spot.
One of my errands was to grocery shop. I found these dark chocolate almonds and decided to take these little beauties home as my afternoon snack.
Breakfast for dinner. I made a huge batch of whole grain waffles and I decided I'd go with a savory one-- eggs, Laughing Cow cheese, mushrooms, onions and a slice of swiss.

Pop Up Bowl popcorn with a little taco seasoning (can you tell I'm sick of the butter flavor? I have about a million boxes, though, just to get the RedBox free movies inside.)

Any suggestions for a vegetarian lifestyle?
Any dishes I have to try before the month is over?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Way I See It

Claires Danes (who plays Temple in the HBO movie) and Temple Grandin
This week, I read Temple Grandin's The Way I See It. Have you seen the Temple Grandin movie? I bawled the whole time while my husband laughed at my emotionally girly response. Whatever. SO, while the movie about Temple's life was probably geared more toward an emotional response (perhaps to increase exposure), her book gave me much more hope and instruction. As to be expected, her chapters are short and to the point-- and I love books like that. One of the best English teachers I've ever had taught me that if you can sum up four words in one, do it, essay word counts are counterproductive. Also, this book taught me some valuable lessons that I would otherwise ignore had it not come from a person diagnosed with Autism (not to mention a PhD who has designed most of the animal husbandry equipment in the U.S. and Canada-- brilliant.). Here is my personal highlight:

Stop looking at my son like he's a problem to be solved. Yes, he's different, but not wrong. I was confusing helping him relate to his peers, verbally communicate and deal with sensory issues as something was "wrong" that needed to be fixed. Have you ever seen "Adam"? It's a movie about a man with Asperger's syndrome (I bawled through that one, too.) and they begin by relating the story of The Little Prince

Awesome movie-- must see!

'My favorite children's book is about a little prince who came to earth from a distant asteroid. He meets a pilot, whose plane has crashed in a desert. The little prince teaches the pilot many things, but mainly about love. My father always told me I was like the little prince, but after I met Adam I realized 
I was the pilot all along.'

If there's anything my son teaches people, it's love.

It's time to take Michael for Michael and focus on positive change, building on his natural resources. 

Thanks, Temple!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Happy Happy!

Happy World Vegetarian Day! Okay, so, all pretension and restriction aside, I've always had vegetarian leanings. Today, since today starts Vegetarian Awareness Month (and NAVS is sponsoring a drawing to win up to $1,000 smack-er-oos if you go veg for a month!), I'm going vegetarian for the month of October.  Here are the points I intend to stick to:

Eat what makes me happy
Enjoy this experience
Discover new dishes for our family to enjoy
Prove to myself that I CAN eat vegetarian without becoming a CARBivore

Would you ever go vegetarian for a day, week, month?
If you're already vegetarian-- any helpful suggestions for me?