Let the Good Times Roll

So I lied yesterday. I didn’t say fuck it to circadian rhythms. I stayed up till 1. BUT I did get some studying done, so I consider it a bit of a win.

I started D-Day—the day I Disdain, that I wish I could Ditch, that hopefully won’t mark my Defeat, etc—with a shower and a walk over to Starbucks for some last minute reviewing. While there I grabbed a grande Vanilla Rooibos tea (because I just couldn’t handle any more coffee) and THE LAST Raw Gojiberry bar.

I was hoping beyond hope that I would be able to find one of these for breakfast, but I wasn’t terribly optimistic because I hadn’t seen them the dozen times I’d been there in the last week. But, ah ha! I found one. It was hidden in a basket full of seasoned nuts.

Score!

With my bounty in hand I popped a squat at a table (isn’t that a nice image) and reviewed my flashcards. After running through all 93, I realized that I knew far more than I thought. There were only a small handful that I still had trouble on. So I buckled down and…only learned one or two more before I had to leave.

Semi-score!

Luckily, the ones that were giving me hell, All-American Rejects style(I not so secretly love this song) weren’t on the exam.

Definite score!

After dumping what was left of my brain onto my desk, I left and got the most amazing after-exam treat—a two-hour nap with my special friend. And this wasn’t just any cuddly nap. It was quality sleep. I dreamt.

Then I woke and needed feeding. So off I went to the Teeter salad bar for some sesame noodles.

I know that when I last had them I wasn’t terribly complimentary. And what I said still holds true—they are too oily. But I was craving those cold slippery noodles terribly, so I figured out a way to utilize their excess. When is having oil a good thing?

On a dry salad, of course!

And I just happened to have a helping of spinach and mushrooms waiting in my fridge. I tossed in some edemame and my salad was ready for a heap of noodles. And that’s exactly what it got.

So delicious. Cold, slippery noodles, tender greens, and plump soybeans. Yum.

But I think I have to accept a sad reality—I just don’t like raw mushrooms. Cooked mushrooms, I’m all over. But I found myself having to “hide” the raw mushrooms in a forkful of other goodies today to be able to swallow them. As much as I would like to be able to happily eat raw veggies, I just have to accept that there are very few I like.

I’ll just chalk it up to another step in my 12 steps to taste-awareness (which started with my salsa problem).

I ate this lunch on the little grass island/square/patio area in the shopping center. The tables with big yellow umbrellas were just calling my name on this beautiful sunny day.

Once the last noodle (and not the last mushroom) was slurped I intended to head back to campus. But as I was walking to my car I spotted across the parking lot…a supplement store.

I have been on a mild quest for supplements, especially protein, lately. As much as I hatehatehate taking vitamins and supplements

(I had a daily traumatic experience with some horse pills/vitamins as a child) I realize that I am almost definitely not getting enough of what I need from my diet. It’s been especially shocking for my system to go from a relatively high protein diet to a minimal protein diet. So off I went to peruse their selection.

Of course, the second I stepped inside the two muscular men inside began offering me samples and capsules, all of which were intended to help me look “good.”

^Sexy? Not with what looks like a dick in that bikini.^

Since I didn’t want to switch genders I politely declined their offers. But I did finally take the plunge and buy some protein powder:

Life Time Life’s Blend Plant Protein.

One scoop a day supposedly offers me 22g of protein for only a little over 100 calories. Since I only need about 30-35g per day, I’ll probably take ½ a scoop.

Hopefully that will keep my hair from being so brittle.

Anyway, after my big spending spree (protein, lunch, and a few other foodstuffs) I headed back to the homestead for some baking.

I wasn’t terribly happy with that batch of brownies I made last time and since I had a ripe banana and a bag of Bette Hagman Gourmet Four Flour Blend—the gluten-free flour made by the woman who literally wrote the book on gluten-free baking—in my room (the latter another gift from Godfather), I decided to give it another go.

Oh boy. Oh boy. Oh boy.

This was a baking failure of epic proportions. Normally, when I make a less than satisfactory batch of something I’m upset. Not this time. It was so bad all I could do is laugh.

This is what I found when I opened the oven.

This is what it looked like after sitting for 5 minutes.

I have no earthly clue what went wrong. This batch contained less liquid than the last. So I decided to try is again in a larger muffin tin.

Nope. That didn’t work either.

I couldn’t stop laughing while I washed the dishes.

Oh well. Better luck next time, right?

This little event seemed to lift my spirits and give me the energy I needed to…study for my next exam—Quakerism. Yes, the good times keep rolling till tomorrow morning.

Luckily, this exam isn’t going to be anywhere near as hard. So I made a few flashcards over coffee. Then I grabbed my bowl of dinner—a few leftover sesame noodles and wheatberry salad and edemame salad (both goods from my earlier Teeter trip)—and met up with some girls from my class to study.

We got some studying done. Mostly we just talked, though.

Dinner and gabbing was exactly what I needed. Then, once we all went our separate ways, a few squares of my new chocolate bar—Chocolove Cherries and Almonds in Dark Chocolate—was exactly what I needed.

So scrumptious.

I’m off to bed soon. It’ll be another early morning for me. But then I’m done. Completely. Totally. Absolutely. And I get to go out for a lovely lunch and drink a delicious beer.

I just have to make it till then.

Finals Craze

You know how yesterday was so wonderfully productive? Well today is the complete opposite of that.

Instead of going to bed after my spoonful of peanut butter, like I said I was going to, I decided to have another. That meant that I was awake when I got a call from a friend a little before 1 asking if I wanted to come over. For some reason, instead of hitting the hay like I wanted/needed to, I went over. We played with his dogs for quite a while (how I miss being around dogs) and then talked into the wee hours of the morning.

What time did I finally get back to campus, break into my dorm (because I‘m still without card and key), and make my way into bed?

Sometime around 6am. Yup, I’m a smart cookie.

And the worst part is that, for reasons unknown to me, I still expected to get up at 9 for another morning run. So my alarm went off at 9 and I, once again, turned it off and went back to sleep…until 11:30.

This, of all days, was not the day to sleep my day away. I had those 93 artworks to memorize. I wanted to bake brownies.

When I finally got up I had Empty PB Tub Oats (EPBTO), inspired by Tina, for breakfast: spoonful of oats, water (actually, this time I just used the extra Get Clean tea I accidentally made), whatever peanut butter was still in the tub, cinnamon, and a hefty dose of bananas.

This ended up being more like soup than hearty oatmeal, but I was fine with that.

Well, except for the fact that after I finished I wanted something to bite. And by bite, I mean chew. I’m a chewer. I need to chew.

So I had a handful of chocolate covered sunflower seeds.

I love these little babies.

Once I was done chewing, a shower and some hardcore study time was calling my name. I tried studying in my room, but ended up falling asleep on my desk.

So off I donned my trusty study pants and trudged to Starbucks.

^These are a lovely pair of hand-me-downs from an old friend. They fit like a glove.^

There I enjoyed a tall black coffee and some personal time with…you guessed it…my art history PowerPoint.

Doesn’t this look like fun?

Try to contain your jealousy.

Once my coffee was killed I switched to an unsweetened iced passion tea. And, coincidentally, around the time I was sucking up the last of that pretty in pink drink the last of my pretty in pink brain was slowly pouring out my ears. Time for my next meal (even though it should have been lunch I can’t call it that because it was eaten around 5).

I had some leftover fajita vegetables from last night and originally I had grand plans for these. I was going to cook up some quinoa to mix in with the veggies, buy some salsa and big lettuce leaves and make Mexican lettuce wraps. That, of course, was far too much effort for me today.

Instead I heated them up with some edemame and Texas Pete and ate it out of a bowl with chopsticks.

Why on earth did I eat a clearly non-Asian dish with chopsticks?

Because I’m delirious from lack of sleep and trying to remember whether every single stupid painting was oil on canvas, tempera on wood, oil on panel, tempera on canvas, tempera on panel, oil on wood, or some combination of the such.

Because to me, bowl seemed to equal chopsticks.

Regardless of my utensils, this was a delicious not in any way Asian lunch. The edemame, as usual, gave my heap of soft, sweet-n-heat veggies the perfect pop of fresh color.

This was so good that, once the vegetables were gone, I didn’t want the pool of juices to go to waste. Unfortunately, I’m out of bread or anything else that could have been used to soak up the good stuff. So I turned to a college student’s best friend—a personal-sized bag of popcorn.

Yup, I went there. And it was a great place to go, especially since I ate the juice soaked kernels with…chopsticks.

But now I find myself exhausted, without any will to further memorize, and just wishing today would be over.

I know. I know. I’m usually not nearly this downtrodden and without hope. But I’m tired and finals are finally getting to me. (Did you catch that mini pun? That’s all I can muster at the moment. I’ll make up for it tomorrow with puns by the pound.)

So I think I have no other choice than to channel in inner stereotypical college student and throw circadian rhythms out the window.

What do I mean by this?

I’m going to bed. Not a nap. Bed. I’ll set an alarm for 11 or 12 or 1 or sometime, wake up, (maybe eat breakfast,) head to the library and study my little heart out. I’ll take a short nap (probably on the couches in the library). Then wake at 8 for my 9 o’clock final.

This will either be a wonderful idea or completely bite me in the ass. But frankly, I’m not getting anything done now so I’ve got nothing to lose.

Later, gators.

Completions

All day I’ve been finishing up things I started yesterday.

Completion #1:

Run.

I wanted so desperately to go on a run yesterday, but the weather wasn’t cooperating. So upon laying my head down to sleep last night I decided that I was, baring torrential downpours, going to run first thing this morning. So my alarm went off at 9, I turned it off and fell asleep till 10, and then I got up and got ready to run. Before hitting the trails, though, I needed some fuel in the form of a spoonful of peanut butter and some Starbucks.
I had heard numerous times of the greatness that is 1) exercising before breakfast and 2) drinking coffee before cardio. Both are supposed to do amazing things for your workout, burn more fat, yadda yadda.
I call bullshit.
I felt jittery almost the entire time. Sure, I was able to run more than I thought I would be able to, but by the end I felt nauseous and light-headed. Where is that million dollar feeling I bride myself with before every run? MIA this morning.
So I returned to my room sans euphoria and slowly sipped a cup of Get Clean. That helped to calm me enough so that I could realize I was rapidly getting hungry. Which leads me to…

Completion #2:
Lunch.

As you know yesterday I was craving sweet potato fries, but didn’t have the time to do all that was required to make them. But later in the day I bought a locally grown purple sweet potato from Fresh Market.
And…in the process of putting away my groceries yesterday I noticed that in my fridge I had ½ package of tempeh and about 1 ½ tbsp of my Mrs. Renfro’s Habenero Salsa left. Of course, a light bulb immediately went off. I crumbled the tempeh into the salsa jar, added a few dashes of Texas Pete, about a tbsp olive oil, and a spoonful of hummus. This got shaken like a Polaroid picture (or like a “rollaroid picture” as my sister used to call them) and stuck back in the fridge to marinate (as is utterly necessary for long periods of time with tempeh or risk actually tasting the tempeh).
So once I finished my tea and returned to a normal body feeling, I went to town making my lunch.
That potato was no match for The Knife.
And once I showed it who was boss it showed me…
Its beautiful color. I’ve seen pictures of purple sweet potatoes before, but this was my first up close and personal experience with one. Truly gorgeous.
From there the show of mite continued until I had a pile of rustically chopped potato slivers.
These got tossed into a Tupperware with a drizzle of olive oil (about 2 tbsp), a generous grind of salt (about 1 ½ tsp), a few shakes of pepper (about 1 ½ – 2 tsp) and a sprinkle of cumin (1 tsp). Once everything was in this, too, got shaken like a Polaroid picture, then dumped onto a baking sheet and baked at 425 for about 20-25 minutes, flipping a little over half way through.
While these purple beauties were baking, I mixed up my attempt at that heavenly dipping sauce: 1 ½ tbsp balsamic vinaigrette, 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp dried rosemary. If I had had the ability I would have made rosemary infused olive oil (heating the olive oil with the rosemary in it), but that wasn’t in the cards for the day.
I also finished up my tempeh blob by heating it on the stove for about 5 minutes on medium-high heat, stirring when I heard the hint of a sizzle.
After the tempeh was heated it was finally lunchtime.
I must say, it was well worth the wait. I was half-heartedly expecting a slightly different taste from the purple potatoes, but they tasted exactly like the scrumptious sweet potato fries I was so dearly craving. And the tempeh offered an intriguing heat from the mix of three sources. It had the lovely texture that has made tempeh a favorite of mine, but none of the uncooked, unflavored weirdness. The only thing that was slightly off in this meal was the dipping sauce. Next time I’ll definitely infuse the olive oil and add a little less balsamic. But it was still a delicious dip for my fries.
The feeling of such good food in my belly gave me the motivation I needed for…

Completion #3:
Art history final study PowerPoint.

The study of art history hasn’t changed much over the years. There’s a bit more analysis now, but it’s still based on lots and lots of slide identification. So I made PowerPoint “flashcards” of my 93 (count ‘em, 93) artworks to memorize. I started this last night and, by the grace of all the deities, I finished making the “flashcards” today. And now…I just have to memorize them. By Thursday.
Oh well. Hooray for small victories.
And to celebrate that small victory I succeeded in…

Completion #4:

Satisfied Craving

Yesterday I started craving something…something sort of chocolatey, but not quite. Something sort of like a cookie, but not quite. Definitely something baked, though.
Then it hit me…I wanted a Triple Ginger Coconut cookie from Zen Cat Bakery. This is a local vegan, gluten-free bakery that supplies goods for various coffee shops around town. I’ve had this cookie once before and, obviously, it made quite an impression. So while out looking for cardboard boxes (with which to pack up my college life) I convinced my friend that a little trip to our favorite coffee shop, The Green Bean, was a wonderful idea.
And look at that, they just happened to have some of those delicious cookies (of course, seeing a FB update from the bakery about what they deliver for where had nothing to do with it). I grabbed a cookie and a cup of coffee and sat down to happily enjoy my snack.
Doesn’t that look amazing (and eco-friendly with my reusable mug)?
It hit the spot and held me over perfectly until dinner…

Completion #5:

Editorial board dinner.

Tonight was the ceremonial passing of the baton from the out-going ed board to the incoming ed board (ie-me). How did we mark this momentous occasion?
By ceremoniously sharing bowls of (garlic heavy) salsa at Mexico Restaurant (my town’s favorite chain of Mexican restaurants), of course. It was a lovely meal. I, as usual at Mexican restaurants, ate a few too many chips. By the time my vegetable fajitas came to the table I wasn’t terribly hungry. That didn’t stop me from eating a good amount of the vegetables (sans tortillas and fixins’), because, as usual, I feel like I’m not getting enough veggies.
So I nommed on my veggies, heard quite a few stories about editors, writers and my professor, and saw more men then I ever have drink fruity daiquiris (with whipped cream and umbrellas).

I definitely felt initiated into the team after this meal.
And now…
Completion #6:

My day.

I’m snacking on another spoonful of peanut butter and a cup of Get Some Zzzs then hitting the hay.
Hooray for a productive day!
G’night, eaters.

End of a Semester, 2

On this momentous day, the last day of classes for my freshman year of college, what did I do? What did I eat? Something special? Something gourmet? Did I go out for a celebratory meal? Did I break bread with friends over foods that have come to represent our first year of adulthood?

Not quite.

Breakfast was a square of Gary Null chocolate (does that count as celebratory?) and an apple with a cup of Get Clean and a newspaper.

This was eaten on a bench in the quad because, at least at this point, the weather was pleasant.

Then I anti-climactically walked off to my last 3 classes: art history, journalism, and New Orleans literature.

Back in the day (elementary and middle school, most likely) the last day of school was a big production. There were games and snacks and pictures and other festivities. Today there were presentations. Not nearly as much fun as playing board games.

About half way through my last class I got a huge hankering for…sweet potato fries. But not just any sweet potato fries. The sweet potato fries from my Mardi Gras meal at Fincastles. Remember those?

I dipped them in a sensational rosemary sauce and at the time I slightly lamented their lack of crisp skin. Today, though, that lack of crispiness is exactly what I craved. I wanted that toothsome, tender, plump sweet potato bite. And I was even going to try my hand at the rosemary sauce.

Unfortunately, though, by the time I got out of class I was starving and making this delicious dish would require walking to Teeter, buying a sweet potato, walking back, pre-heating the ancient oven (which means it takes forever), chopping, seasoning, and finally baking. And frankly, I just wasn’t capable of waiting that long to eat.

So instead I bought an order of regular French fries, mixed up a knockoff version of the bootleg version of the rosemary sauce I wanted to make (mustard and balsamic vinaigrette), grabbed my ever-faithful bag of baby carrots and tub of hummus (with a little Texas Pete, of course) and called it a meal.

It turned out to be a pretty damn good one. And, a further testament to the idea of intuitive eating (that our bodies just know what we need in order to function) I ate way more baby carrots and hummus than fries and dip.

I finished off my lunch with another couple of squares of Gary Null chocolate (thus, unfortunately, finishing off my supply).

Originally upon finishing my very delicious and nutrious lunch I was going to head out for a run, but the weather looked like it was about to take a turn for the worse. And I discovered that it was national pretzel day. So of course my friends wanted to go get their free Pretzel Time soft pretzels.

I, for once, was full so I abstained from the treat, but still accompanied them because, well, why not. And because I knew since we were already out and about they would be willing to accompany me to Fresh Market.

Once at the Market (after enjoying my usual coffee sample, of course) I picked up a new bag of baby carrots (because I finished mine at lunch—honestly, how many carrots do you need to eat before you turn orange?), peanut butter (this time I actually got to grind it from the machine myself) and…a sweet potato.

Yes, I finally got my sweet potato! Finally, being a relative term, of course. But I made up for the long wait by buying not just any sweet potato, but a locally grown purple sweet potato.

(I didn’t cook up my fries today, but you’ll see them soon, I promise.)

All the activity and “excitement” of the day plum tuckered me out so I took a nap upon returning (again putting off my run until later). I woke just in time to put my pants back on (because I can never sleep in jeans) and head off to the end of the year newspaper meeting. At this meeting people were recognized and we ate light refreshments, ie-hummus, pita chips, cookies, donut holes and a veggie tray. Normally, I perfect the art of turning light refreshments into a meal, but tonight I just wasn’t feeling it. So I ate…a few more baby carrots and a couple of pita chips dipped in hummus. Sounds familiar?

Why mess with a good thing.

During my meeting I got a call for a coffee run. I accepted. At Starbucks, tall black coffee in hand, I spent a lovely evening chatting with some friends. I walked away thoroughly relaxed (despite the caffeine) and with an invite from a gay man to a Friday night toga party at a local gay bar. Sounds like fun, right?

Of course, I said yes.

But until I wrap myself in a bed sheet and dance the night away I’m going to watch a movie with some friends. Maybe I’ll finally get my run tomorrow.

Later, eaters.

Under the Weather

When I finally got out of bed today around 2 (after my phone had been ringing and buzzing since 8) I confirmed that yes, I did indeed feel under the weather.

Nothing a bag of popcorn and a bottle of water can’t fix, right?

Wrong. I’m spare you the details of how I found out I wasn’t cured.

So I went right back to bed to sleep and catch up on my Hulu-ing. A few hours later my battery needed charging and I needed sustenance. And for once I knew exactly what I wanted—roasted red pepper hummus and Texas Pete on soft bread.

Unfortunately, the only component of that meal I had in my room was the Texas Pete (of course). So fulfilling my craving would require me to get up, dress, walk to Teeter, brave the Sunday afternoon crowds, and walk back. I contemplated if it was worth it. Then I threw up again and decided it was.

Yup, that’s exactly how that went.

While at Teeter I also picked up some apples and salt and pepper roasted pistachios.

The pistachios ended up being the best and worst idea of the day. Best: because pistachios are a new-found love of mine and salt and pepper is, quite possibly, my favorite of all seasonings. Worst: because I ate about a million of these little babies.

^Isn’t that pretty?^

In between pistachio gorge sessions I also ate my desired meal, with some carrots on the side for nutrition and color compliance.

A little while later I ate an apple, after which I promptly returned to bed. Then around ten I walked to Starbucks for a big ole cup of Vanilla Rooibos tea and some gossip, after which I promptly returned to bed.

At various points throughout the day I got a smidge of work done, but nothing noteworthy. It’s just been one of those days.

Hopefully a good night of sleep will put me back on track for…gasp…my last day of classes before finals.

Fuck.

G’night, eaters.

Hello!

Hello health and hunger!

I woke up this morning with lips still slightly stained from my red wine last night. Red wine is good for you, at least better than Busch Ice, so I figured what better way to ring in my new commitment to a healthy lifestyle than with a glass (or three) at my friend’s birthday last night. Definitely a good idea, if you ask me.

Another good idea was walking over to Starbucks this morning for breakfast.

Wait, a breakfast from Starbucks healthy? And vegan?

You bet!

First, I brought an orange with me. Then I ordered a tall black coffee (I feel so cool whenever I say I don’t need room for cream). Originally I had thought about picking up a little pack of their nuts, but when I saw the (emphasis on) little pack had 4 servings and one serving alone packed a mighty calorie count I decided to pass knowing I’m incapable of exercising willpower around mixed nuts (especially cashews and almonds). Instead I went with a Two Moms in the Raw Gojiberry bar.

This is a raw, gluten-free, vegan fruit and nut (emphasis on the nuts) bar that I wanted to try for a while. And it ended up being a great choice. It had a super satisfying crunch and mouth feel, made possible by the wide variety of goodies pressed into this bar, and it wasn’t too sweet at all.

So all together these goodies and some me-time with a newspaper made for a wonderful breakfast. And I was thoroughly prepared for my last Quakerism class.

Oh boy, I think I’m hyperventilating just thinking about that. The year is almost over. Oh shit.

Nothing like a big cup of Get Clean to calm me down, though. And a little work. I find working to be extremely comforting?…relaxing?…helpful when I’m freaking about my soon lack of work. Work lead right into lunch (hello hunger, I’ve missed you).

Lunch today was…strange. It was one of my typical weird, but wonderful combinations. In my little bowl I heated up a black bean chipotle Garden Burger patty, some edemane, Mrs. Renfro’s habanera salsa, a splash of water and…the weird part…a spoonful of oats.

Yup, oats. Like the kind you eat for breakfast. I figured that my lunch wouldn’t fill me up quite enough, so I wanted to add a little heft. I didn’t have any bread or chips or whatnot, but I did have a can of oats. And I was pretty sure I had read a veggie burger recipe somewhere that used oats. So in they went to get zapped for a minute. And out of the microwave came…deliciousness!

This was a bowl of steaming hot goodness. The oats soaked up the flavor of the salsa and between that and the splash of water nothing was too spicy (but still spicy enough to get me hot and bothered). The burger was good as always. And the edemame added a nice little pop of freshness and color.

On the side I had a few baby carrots and a Nutrigrain raspberry bar. Frankly, the Nutrigrain bar was a lovely cap off to my meal, but I could have done without. Especially after my afternoon snack:

A ginger mulberry walnut cookie from Go Big Oat! cookies.

I got a package of goody goods from Jim (Vegan Godfather) today. In the package: a handful of Go Bit Oat! cookies, some Gary Null chocolate bars, a few meal bars, and two packages of gluten-free flour (I sense some baking coming on!). I do love his packages!

I intended to only have a few bites of this cookie (with a cup of Celestial Seasonings tea) and call it a perfect snack. Unfortunately, that’s not exactly what happened. Instead, I ate the whole thing. Oops. But, for a slight bit of redemption, I did pick the healthiest cookie. That counts for something, right?

I’ll tell you something that definitely counts for something…I bought a camera today!

Yes, my very own digital camera. Like a big girl.

Where have I been getting my pictures all this time, you ask?

My roommate has been nice enough to let me run down her batteries and fill up her memory card with my multiple shots, with varying degrees of flash, of (almost, sorta) each and every bite I’ve taken this semester. But now I, the girl afraid of commitment and parting with money (especially money she doesn’t really have), paid cold, hard debit for her very own digital camera with megapixels and zoom and settings and a bunch of other things I don’t really understand, but have been told are great.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to play with my camera at dinner. I went out for Indian with my man friend and his family. They already think I’m a bit strange for my veghead ways (not terribly strange, but a bit of a rabbit-person), I think they would really question their son’s dating habits if I pulled out my camera and started snapping pictures before picking up a fork. Or worse, if I “artfully” arranged my food on the plate for those pictures.

Without the aid of pictures, my dinner:

A fried vegetable fritter

Mushroom mutter (spicy mushrooms and peas) over basmati rice

I know nothing of Indian food, so I couldn’t even begin to eloquently tell you about the spices and flavors and nuances of the dish. I will say that this dish packed almost the perfect amount of spice to excite me, but not quite get me hot and bothered. The mushrooms were cooked to perfection, soft enough to bring out their flavor but not enough so they fall apart on my fork. And the rice was just the right level of doneness for sopping up hot liquids (about 5 minutes before normal doneness).

And of course, the company was quite enjoyable. The whole family is hilarious, especially after a beer or two. I really wish they weren’t leaving for Vermont tomorrow.

And speaking of tomorrow, it’s a rugby day. The last rugby day of the year (oh god, here come the heart palpitations and hyperventilation). I’ve already got a batch of Hello Jello setting in the fridge and a 40 with my name on it.

Hello college!

Philosophy of Eating

Originally, I was going to write a long post about my body image, celebrities, exercise, diet, dieting, intuitive eating, blah blah blah. You’ve heard it all before (and probably don’t necessarily care to hear my slightly varied views) so I’ll refrain. Or rather, I’ll give you the Cliffnotes:

My weight fluctuates. My muscle-tone fluctuates. There are times when I workout more, eat healthier, do what I’m supposed to. There are times when I don’t. I’m an average person. I don’t look like a celebrity (stick thin, with perfectly tones muscles, and all the right exposed bones). I’m not saying I couldn’t look like a celebrity—there have been times I had all the right exposed bones and relatively perfect toned muscles—but I don’t have the time/commitment/desire to obtain those two things.

As of late I’ve been trying intuitive eating—eating exactly what I want when I want it and trusting my body to tell me what, when, and how much I need.

In the past I’ve tried eating multiple small meals throughout the day.

I don’t remember how multi-meals worked (I know it didn’t go badly, though).

But I can say, intuitive eating used to work (I quickly slimmed down to my almost-celebrity physique), but it has since backfired. I’ve gained back a portion of the weight because, for whatever reason, my intuition no longer works. I find myself wanting to ingest large amounts of food (usually Luna Bars or peanut butter) without ever getting the satisfied feeling that intuitive eating depends on. For some strange reason, it appears that I’m deathly afraid of hunger so I eat as much as I can whenever I can to avoid it (almost like my intuition took me too far back—to cave days).

So, starting tomorrow, I’m back on the multi-meals. And remembering that I do actually know a thing or two about health (as opposed to thinking it’s acceptable to eat three brownies/Luna bars/bags of chips because all I’ve head to eat that day were a few carrots and oatmeal). And getting back to the gym in a maintainable, happy way.

I’m not a silly, clueless little girl. I know what I’m doing. So I’m going to do it.

My daily eats posts will look different from now on, possibly longer, possibly less exciting, but definitely healthier. And I’ll be happier. And hopefully a little more svelte.

I’ll keep you posted.

Step 1

I think I have a problem. A real, serious problem that is causing me actual physical pain.

I…I…gulp…have a…sa…salsa problem.

There, I said it.

I have a problem with salsa.

Some people can buy a jar of salsa, dip a few chips in it, and call it a day. They’re able to calmly put that jar in their fridge/pantry and think nothing of it until they decide (usually after at least a day or two) to dip a few more chips in it. Or they can go to a Mexican restaurant and share a bowl equally between their tablemates. To the average person, a Tostitos Scoop tortilla chip is a handy tool, not a challenge.

I am not one of those people.

Most people have never known what it was like to dip a baby carrot in salsa because they’re out of all other options (FYI-it’s not very tasty nor does the carrot hold much dip). Nor have they known the fear of being discovered that a person experiences as they sit alone in their room…eating salsa straight from the jar with a spoon because they’ve run out of even baby carrots to dip in it.

At Mexican restaurants I don’t want to deprive my fellow diners of their share of the delicious, freshly made, finely blended and wonderfully balanced salsa, so I have to ask for my own bowl.

And I usually need a refill of that bowl before we need a refill of the chips.

In the last week I have bought 2 jars of salsa and only have ½ a jar left.

The first jar I bought was Grande Fire Roasted medium heat salsa.

I also bought a bag of Garden of Eatin Multi-Grain Everything with Flax Seeds tortilla chips to dip into my salsa.

At first, I exercised ah-maze-ing willpower. I bought the chips late at night, so I was able to wait until the next day to try some. And when I finally did try some I limited myself to one serving of each and walked away. Sure, I wanted nothing more than to dive into a pool filled with the deliciously chunky and smoky salsa and have chips as my only flotation device, but I restrained myself…until lunch the next day. That is when things really began to get out of control.

I had a bowl of various steamed, sautéed and roasted veggies. What better for a yummy salad like that than a huge dollop (or two or three or…) of my newly acquired salsa? So onto the veggies I plopped a generous amount.

After I finished my salad I noticed that there was some salsa left at the bottom of my bowl.

Oh no. This is where things usually go downhill. And downhill they went…fast.

Of course, I couldn’t just leave that salsa there at the bottom to be washed down the sink later. That’s blasphemy! The only logical thing I could do was grab a few of my yummy (albeit slightly too salty) chips and rectify this little problem.

An undisclosed amount of time later (it would have been a day later or an hour, I’ll never tell) I was out of chips and thoroughly salsa-logged. But still I wanted more.

I resisted, though. Displaying more of my then-existent willpower over salsa, I put the lid on the jar, closed my refrigerator door, and walked away…until lunch the next day.

Inspired by my (uncontrollable desire to consume all of my) salsa, I decided on a black bean burger for lunch. And what goes better on top of a “spicy” black bean patty than a huge dollop (or two or three or…) of chunky Mexican-style nectar? So onto the patty I plopped a generous amount.

Are you noticing a pattern?

Well, the pattern continued when, after I finished my burger and found I was still craving salsa, I ran down to the vending machine to buy a bag of pretzels to dip. Unfortunately, all the pretzels (and other adequate dippables) were gone, leaving me only with sunflower seeds and Snickers, neither of which I was far-gone enough to consider…yet.

Instead, I returned to my room and began searching for miraculous dippables. When no salty snacks were to be found I turned to the “next best thing”baby carrots. I always have a bag on hand for dipping in hummus. Dipping is dipping, right?

Wrong. Baby carrots and salsa don’t mix. At all.

So again, I put away the salsa, only to take it out later and polish it off via a spoon. Yup. Two new lows in one day.

A day or two passed before I was jonesing for more Mexico in my diet. So off I ran to Teeter, a bit ashamed but not too ashamed to stop myself from buying a jar of Mrs. Renfro’s Habanero Salsa.

Habaneros have never been my friend, so I figured their presence in my salsa (and my lack of chips or other salty dippables) would force me to slow down my intake. Nope.

Instead, I showed even less willpower than last time. I bought this jar late at night, too, but instead of being a good girl and waiting until lunch I immediately ripped out a piece of bread and went to town…though timidly at first. Two slices of bread later my mouth was on fire, my eyes were gushing tears, but still I wanted more.

Are you getting the full extent of my problem?

For lunch today, having seemingly forgotten the pain of the night before, I plopped a slightly less, but still generous dollop of my newest acquisition onto my black bean burger. This time, though, I was prepared with a slice of bread schmeared with hummus to cool my torched tongue.

The burger and bread were gone, but not my craving for tomato-based heat.

Out came another slice of bread (or two) to be dipped into my ready and waiting jar. As I swallowed the last bite of thoroughly drenched bread, I began feeling like an actual fire-breathing dragon so I was forced to stop. Or pause, rather.

I resumed my fire-eating during dinner. This time it ended well past the point of gushing tears. I was experiencing stabbing pains in my right ear (a strange, but usual reaction of mine to extreme spice).

So there I am, doubled over, clutching my ear in pain, dripping tears on my shirt and craving…chocolate.

Yes, that’s another wrinkle in this saga. After gorging myself on spice I crave chocolate. So I gorge myself on chocolate…to the point that I’ve eaten too much and need something to counteract the painful sweetness…so I take another bite, just one more bite (yes, straight from the jar with a spoon) of salsa. Then I want another bite of salsa. And this cycle continues until my right ear and my mouth are on fire and my teeth are throbbing from the sugar.

Now do you see the full extent of the problem? Do you see why I’m so concerned?

And the worst part, in the time it has taken me to write this I’ve eaten another almost-quarter of the jar and a handful of carob chips.

So this is me beginning the 12 steps-

I have a salsa problem.

Or maybe I’ll stop once I finish this jar.

Special Brownies

Another day, another baking experiment. And in honor of the only holiday made for all the jokers, smokers and midnight tokers

I made some (almost) very special brownies.

You guessed it—vegan, gluten-free baby brownies!

I’ve been experimenting with another of my one-two punch classic recipes. But of course, none of my classic recipes are ever quite classic. This brownie, instead of the usual chocolate chips you expect in a decadent brownie, I put in a couple generous handfuls of carob chips.

These chips are better than chocolate to me, especially in brownies. Allow me to explain:

A good brownie needs that extra bite that comes from a whole chocolate chunk, but a lot of times those extra chocolate-y morsels seem to add more sugar-y sweetness than satisfying bite. And nobody wants a too-sweet brownie or a bite-less brownie. Enter carob chips.

These chips offer up a semi-sweet, earthy, almost bitter depth that will lend a brownie the necessary chunk without adding much sweetness. They almost remind me of the perfect balance of chocolate and coffee (which happens to be another common ingredient in brownies).

Are you convinced?

You certainly well should be.

Unfortunately, the rest of the recipe wasn’t as amazing as the addition of the carob chips. As usual, the batter was great.

^Even better than one of these, I’m sure.^

These little babies just didn’t have the texture I was looking for. The top was a bit too crispy and the insides weren’t fudgy/chewy/fucking amazing enough.

Luckily, I think I’ve figured out how to fix that (a little less of this, a little more of that). One of those changes, I hate to say, will be to abandon my cupcake-esque forms in favor of the more traditional square.

As you know, I love cute, little creations. But I suspect a square will help with the texture (and will certainly keep the bites from sticking to the paper wrappers).

As always, you live, you learn, you figure out how to make your brownies special even without the ganja.

Bad and Badder

I apologize for my absenteeism this weekend. I was on a mostly liquid diet this weekend (and I didn’t have the flu, wink wink) so there wasn’t much to talk about.

And now all I have to offer you is two bad eats.

Oh well. Here goes:

For Friday lunch the ladies and I decided that it was the perfect day for a picnic. So we headed to the Harris Teeter prepared food section for some supposedly good eats.

I had wanted to try out the Teeter offerings for quite a while. I would salivate every time I passed their salad bar stocked with cold pasta salads and their hot Asian bar. And what better picnic food than a lovely tasting box full of tabouli, wheat berry salad, hummus, grilled veggies and sesame noodles?

Unfortunately, this food did not live up to my ever-rising expectations. The biggest problem:

Oil.

It appears Teeter is a little heavy handed with their oils and vinegars. I would expect that of most grocery store salad bars, but not Teeter.

So Friday lunch was a bit of a bust. And then Sunday dinner ended up being an even bigger bust.

My man friend’s parents are in town visiting him and his brother, so Sunday afternoon found us at his brother’s house drinking his mother’s homemade wine and eating chips generously dipped in his homemade salsa. Sound pretty great, right?

It was, until it came time to actually eat dinner. His family are traditional eaters—the meal centers around meat and vegetables are sauted in butter.

See the problem?

They knew I wasn’t a big meat eater (understatement much?), but I left out the part of being a complete veghead. So when dinner was served I loaded my plate with asparagas (sautéed in butter), carrots (roasted in butter and maple syrup), mashed potatoes (whipped with butter and cream) and a thin slice of ham.

Normally, I would have passed on everything and stuck with my salsa and wine, but there was no way in hell I was going to insult his mother’s cooking like that (especially since she is just getting over the fact that her baby boy—who is a junior—is seeing a freshman).

Oh boy! Bad decision.

It’s been roughly 6 weeks since I went animal-free, and this meal proved to me just how quickly our bodies adapt. After only a couple bites of butter and flesh I was feeling sick. And I’m still feeling sick. Honestly, if we hadn’t of ended up spending the night at his brother’s house last night I probably would have pulled over to throw up on the ride home. Instead, I drank a few glasses of whiskey with his father to numb the gnawing pain in my stomach.

I guess that means I’m officially a veghead.