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Far-Retched

June 5, 2010

Last night I went to see Sex and the City 2 with Ann and Regina. Small world: when I worked at the Balsam Mountain Inn from 2005-2008, I was the event coordinator, and had met Regina there since she is a wedding photographer. Ann got married in Asheville a while back and Regina was her photographer, and they’ve kept in touch. I actually hadn’t seen Regina in a few years, but it’s funny how someone I just met (um, through the Internet, because I’m modern like that) knows someone from my past. And Ann also knows someone from my present, who works in the same building as me! Oh, the coincidences.

Anyways, back to last night. We went to Cinebarre, which is a hip movie theater where you can order from a full bar and food menu and eat while you’re watching the movie. Ann and I ordered Sangrias, which took 45 minutes to get, and about 6 minutes to drink 🙂 They were delicious. We also ordered the “Braveheart” pizza, which has all sorts of extremely delicious things on it like sun-dried tomatoes and artichokes. I also snagged a couple of Regina’s delicious “Mr. Chips and Salsa”. Our food and drinks did take a while, but everything tasted great and the movie distracted me from my rumbling belly.

Which brings me to my review of Sex and the City. I’m not much of a movie critic, but I will say this: when I was typing an email to my mother this morning about the movie, I intended to type, “It was fun, but some of the scenes were far-fetched.” However, I actually typed “It was fun, but some of the scenes were far-retched”. Freudian slip?

Actually, I had a great time, I enjoyed the scenery from the movie, some of the clothes that weren’t too over the top, and some of the humor.

I’ve been busy this week, Thursday night I attended the “On the Verge” art show opening at the Flood Gallery with Amy. I am trying to find some pictures to put up some of the work, but I’m having a hard time finding any of it. I did love the pottery of Maggie Jones, but even that link doesn’t show much of what was in the show.

Today I’m headed to the Farmer’s Market to see what I can see. Last time I went I snagged local free range eggs and a GALLON of strawberries, and I’m hoping by now someone has some fresh green things for me to purchase.

I’ve also been keeping up with my strength training, but more on that in another post. And pictures, too. I’m going to take pictures. Not of my strength training, because that would be both difficult and embarrassing, but of something.

Have a great day!

Or Not.

May 26, 2010

I totally intended to attend the talk put on by Dan Buettner about how to live to 100, based on his research of the so-called “Blue Zones”. The talk was to start at 6:00 pm last night, but I ended up not being able to make it because of some work-related stuff. 😦
However, I have the newspaper article concerning last night’s talk in my hot little hands, so I can at least discuss his top nine tips. (You can read the whole article here.)

Here are Dan Buettner’s “power nine” tips for living to 100 and my thoughts on them, ’cause I know you wanna know.

  1. Move: Find ways to move mindlessly. Make moving unavoidable. I have read many times that we should work fidgeting into our lives, and I can’t say I’ve ever made that happen. I do make an effort to exercise every day, and I get up and walk around quite a bit at work. I think I do okay at this, but I could always try to do a teensy bit more.
  2. Plan de Vida: Know your purpose in life. Oh boy! Definitely working on this one, though I have times when I have absolutely no idea and I get kinda bummed. Interesting to hear how important this really is.
  3. Downshift: Work less, slow down, rest, take vacation. Sounds good to me…did I mention I only work four days a week? 🙂
  4. 80 Percent Rule: Stop eating when you are 80 percent full. I’ve heard this over and over again, too. Working on it for sure!
  5. Plant-Power: Eat more veggies, and less protein and processed foods. Yay for plant power! And yay for hearing from another source that protein ain’t all that. I first read that protein wasn’t all it was cracked up to be a few years ago in The China Study, and since then I’ve been happy to eat more whole grains, fruits, beans, and veggies and not worried so much about how much protein I’m getting.
  6. Red Wine: Consistency and moderation. I love red wine, but I definitely don’t drink it consistently or moderately. Oh wait, that’s not right. I don’t drink consistently, period. I probably have a drink once or twice a week, or maybe nothing at all for a month. And I don’t always choose red wine, either. I’ve heard that if you don’t already drink regularly, there’s no reason to start, so I’m not sure if this is advice I’ll take.
  7. Belong: Create a healthy social network. This is something I have been working very hard on recently! Again, I didn’t realize how much of a factor it was in living a long life.
  8. Beliefs: Spiritual or religious participation. I’m spiritual…but I keep it mostly private. I wonder if that counts?
  9. Your Tribe: Make family a priority. My cats are my family, and I certainly make them a priority:)

Interesting stuff! I wish I had gotten to see him live, but it’s nice to see I’m already on the right track. And yes, I would like to live to 100, but only if I’m up and around and can be vibrant – I do not intend to live any other way.

Have a great day!

Oat Cake Success!

May 25, 2010

Remember the oat cake concoction I made on Sunday? Yesterday morning I took it for a test drive:

Good job on the lighting, Jen!

This is one serving – a quarter of an 8×8 pan, sliced in half so it would heat up more evenly in the microwave. One half had coconut butter on it, the other had almond butter on it.

Mmmmm....coconut

I love how the coconut butter gets all melty after being heated up!

I also had some local strawberries that I picked up at the Tailgate Market more than a week ago. I froze about a third of the berries, and this morning heated them up to go along with my oat cake.

All together this recipe was definitely a success! It tasted really good. The jury is still out on if it holds me over as long as a regular bowl of oatmeal. I always eat a morning snack, and today I was really hungry by about 10 am (I eat breakfast around 7:30), but that could have been because of my workout before breakfast, it might not have to do with the meal. I have three more portions to try so I can find out, though!

Yesterday I also got to participate in my very own very teeny tiny blogger meet up! While checking out Yoga Pose May I came across this post, and discovered the blogger, Ann, lives about five minutes away from me. We finally got a chance to meet in person when we met at a local cafe for a drink.  Being the sub-par blogger that I am, I took zero pictures. It was fun, though, and it was so nice meeting someone with so many of the same interests as me. Hi, Ann!

Tonight I’m going to this event. I’ll be back tomorrow with a recap, I hope 🙂

Mindful Monday Returns: Savor Small Bites & Chew Thoroughly

May 24, 2010

Missed the first three installments of Mindful Monday?

Even though I didn’t blog about mindful eating last Monday, I still started working on a new element of it, this week trying to “savor small bites and chew thoroughly”.

I’m glad I didn’t post last week, because now I have another whole week to keep practicing this! I don’t think I’ve mentioned it, but as I write each step in the blog, I’m practicing it as well. I am taking it one step at a time, because trying to do everything at once feels overwhelming. However, I am definitely eating more mindfully, and taking it one step at a time has helped.

Let’s start with small bites. I don’t think I was guilty of too often taking huge bites, but I’m amazed at how even a small bite of a meal really packs quite a bit of flavor. When you take small bites, you also naturally take longer to finish a meal, which gives you much more time to enjoy it and let your body tell you if it is full or not.

Practice this by picking up a normal bite on your fork or spoon, and then knocking about half of it off your utensil. Notice how even with a smaller bite, you still get to enjoy the flavors and textures of the meal.

To really enjoy your food, chew thoroughly. Oh, Lord, how I am guilty of doing just the opposite! I really have made tremendous changes this year alone, just by being aware and setting my intentions to eat slower. I really, really notice now when other people eat quickly! I wonder how they even had time to taste what they were eating, but I know I was often guilty of the same thing (and still sometimes am!)

Chewing is where the digestion process starts – all too often we swallow food in an almost whole form, which forces the rest of the digestive system to take on much more than it needs to! We should all be chewing our food until it is liquefied, and goes down easy.

Start by putting down your utensil between every single bite. I find that once I’m disconnected physically from the utensil, I’m disconnected emotionally from the food, other than what’s already in my mouth. There is no need to take another bite right now – you already have food in your mouth. Therefore, there is no need to be holding your spoon or fork or chopsticks, either. I also believe if you are eating something with your hands, like a slice of pizza or giant turkey leg, you should put the food down and stop touching it, so you get that same disconnect.

Once your utensil is down it should be easier to focus on what’s going on in your mouth, as opposed to picking out your next bite. Engage in the senses as I talked about before, and just keep chew, chew, chewing, until the food is soft and in a liquefied state; it’s ready to swallow now.

My own experience with this is that it takes practice. Sometimes I don’t want to chew thoroughly, because I’m distracted by work, or a cat, or some thought. I keep practicing, though, because I can already tell how helpful it is to me in my quest to eat mindfully, intuitively, and savor my food (and life!).

Have a mindful Monday!

Freezer Loaf and Other Oddities from FrankenJen

May 23, 2010

When I have my cooking extravaganzas on Sundays, I often end up with way too much food to consume in a week. Enter my freezer. By this weekend I had frozen lentils, plain brown rice, brown rice with Rotel tomatoes and Mexican seasonings, spinach hummus and a plethora of various types of veggie burgers staring back at me, begging to be used whenever I opened the freezer door.

So I decided to defrost a bunch of the stuff, add a few extra things, and make Freezer Loaf. This is how mine turned out:

"How I love the fresh air. I have been in the cold, dark freezer for far too long." (What, your food doesn't talk to you?)

I ended up thawing out about a cup of lentils, 3 cups of rice (some plain, some Mexican style), and two veggie burgers that were made from white beans and spinach and artichokes. I threw all of those ingredients, along with three carrots, a handful of walnuts, a handful of almonds, and about 1/3 of an onion into the Vitamix. After blending I added a few handfuls of rolled oats to thicken the mixture, then into the 350 degree oven this went. I baked it for 45 minutes and had a piece for lunch – it was actually really good!

I used to be intimidated about making veggie and/or bean burgers and loaves, but I realize now all you need are good spices and enough cornmeal/breadcrumbs/oats to make the whole thing stick together and you’re good to go.

Mmm, lunch

Here’s another piece that I cut out and put on top of the salad I’ll eat for lunch tomorrow. (The salad also has Spring Mix, jicama, grapes, grilled eggplant and artichokes, and I put a bunch of organic (and HFCS-free) ketchup on top of the loaf after I took this picture.)

The grilled eggplant for tomorrow’s salad?

Bam!

I washed and sliced the eggplant, sprinkled salt on all the slices, layered it in a colander, and set some heavy pots on it for an hour to drain. After knocking off the excess salt I decided instead of making my own marinade, I’d pour on some Madras Simmer Sauce from Seeds of Change. I let it sit for about 30 minutes, then used the grill side of my skillet to cook these babies up, about six minutes each side.

Because I can never leave well enough alone, I decided to also try to make a baked oat dish to eat as a quick breakfast this week. When Anthony and I were visiting friends in Oahu in 2008, they brought us to a cute little place for breakfast, and this cute little place had something called “oatmeal pancakes”. My friend warned me they weren’t like normal pancakes; they were thick and more like a slab than a flat disk. I ordered them anyways, and I really liked them! I thought I’d try to recreate that dish.

A sea of oats

Ooh, close up

To make this dish, I first cooked up a giant pot of oats:

Please sir, may I have some more?

This contains 1.5 cups old-fashioned oats, scant 3 cups water, two smashed ripe bananas, 1/4 cup raisins, and 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal.

While this cooked I mixed together the dry ingredients:

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour, smidgen of salt, 1/2 teaspoon each of the baking sisters, powder and soda, copious amounts of cinnamon, and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

Once the oats were cooked and cooled a bit, I added the flour mixture in, then I poured the whole shebang into a lightly oiled 8×8 casserole. I cooked it for 20  minutes at 350 degrees.

I haven’t tasted the oat cake yet, but I figure this will give me four servings and in the morning I can cut a piece, heat it up, and add whatever toppings I desire. I can tell you I will desire almond butter. If this turns out not to taste great, it’s straight into the freezer it goes, where it can be used for some other FrankenJen cooking project!

Happy Sunday.

All About Coconut

May 22, 2010

Yesterday my friend Amy was doing much better than I expected. She’d had two of her wisdom tooth pulled the day before our visit, and she was actually able to speak, smile, laugh, and did not look at all like a chipmunk. However, she did spend the day before throwing up, as they gave her Percocet and I don’t think popping pills is her strong suit.

I think she really enjoyed our visit, especially because I made us a “Mexican Smoothie”. It’s just as awful wonderful as it sounds. Refried beans, salsa, tomatoes, some Mexican Cheese blend, all put in her sad, sad blender and mushed up into spicy perfection. Or something like that.

After that fiasco, I asked her some “interview” questions. She’s up for a promotion at work, and I wanted to help prepare her for the interview process. I don’t think I helped at all, considering most of my questions involved sparkly unicorns, her current hairstyle, and a bag full of cat treats (don’t both asking, I doubt you can appreciate the subtle nuances of my crazy humor). She did laugh, though, and maybe that will give her the edge in getting the job. I hope she gets it, because she promised she’d pay for our first round of beers and buy me a pony because she’ll me making so much money. (Amy, you can’t remember promising to buy me a pony because you were still heavily medicated yesterday. I swear it happened.)

After the interview we went to some awesome co-op in the town where she lives. Unfortunately, Amy lives about an hour away from me, which means this lovely little store also is about an hour away from me. While there I bought three things, all of which involved coconut.

There was much more in this bag, but I didn't take a picture of it!

Wow, this picture looks professional! I am so talented. Or perhaps I stole it from the website.

I did not actually buy a coconut cut in half and filled with coconut cream ice cream. That option was not available, unfortunately.

I bought the straight up coconut because I’ve been wanting to make coconut butter since I’ve seen it popping up around blogworld, I bought the blueberry coconut yogurt because I was planning on making vegan blueberry yogurt pancakes for breakfast this morning and I think I’ve been consuming too much soy so I didn’t want soy yogurt, and I bought the fake ice cream just because I felt like it.

So today I made said coconut butter. I’m glad I have a Vitamix, because I’m not sure most of your every day household appliances could handle the job. I know the coffee machine would have totally choked.

I really should have taken a picture of the process of the making of the coconut butter, and what it looked like when I was done, but instead I have this lame shot that I took after the finished product had been sitting in my fridge, and it’s hard as a rock.

Looks like lard, no?

It’s absolutely delicious. To really enjoy it, it’s got to be heated up, at which point it is just as smooth and creamy as the icing on a Cinnabon. Yum. I put some on the aforementioned blueberry pancakes this morning. Love.

My life today has involved coconut in more ways than one:

Maybe she thought I was going to put her in the Vitamix, too?

I was doing some cleaning today, which is my bed has no sheets and my pillows and comforter are on the floor. Thankfully, they served as a hiding place for Coconut when I turned on the vacuum. She’s a chicken, what can I say? She was actually so well hidden that for about 45 minutes I had no idea where she was. She didn’t come out until I pet her – and at this point the vacuum had been off for an hour!

Nola is also scared to death of the vacuum cleaner, thunder, and low-flying aircraft, but she was outside at the time. Now she’s sitting on my lap, though, and kinda pissed that I don’t have any pictures of her up. Next time, Nola, next time.

Goals and Pudding

May 21, 2010

Whoa! I have majorly slacked off in my blogging duties, not to mention my goals for the month of May. However, I’m okay with that. Last week I realized how much pressure I was putting on myself to do, do, do. And that sucked, sucked, sucked. I was making myself unhappy by trying to save as much money as possible, work towards career goals as much as possible, and in general be as productive as possible. No bueno.

So. In the last week I’ve spent money on shopping for lovely clothes that I’m so happy with, I went to a gathering of a young group of locals from the county, I went to an awards ceremony where one of the volunteers that works for the center where I work was presented with an “Outstanding Volunteer of the Year award”, and today I’m going to hang out with my friend, Amy, who just had her wisdom teeth out yesterday. I’m bringing her pudding.

I’m re-assessing my thoughts on goal-setting. I have always thrived on goals, but I am wondering if it’s time to take a break from all that. I have a job that I really enjoy, it’s summertime, I’m starting to get out in the community quite a bit more and am meeting more people, I’m going on a camping trip soon, and I’m having much more fun not worrying about my career and how much money I have saved. I’m not normally one who will cut loose and not worry about stuff, but I’d like to have more of that in my life. However, I will not be setting that as a goal, because then I’ll most likely put a ridiculous amount of pressure one myself to not worry!

Even last night I dreamed about blogging, or rather the fact that I hadn’t been blogging. I felt like I didn’t know what I had to say, and didn’t know what my niche was. I guess I’m just going to blog when I feel like it about what I feel like talking about.

I’ve got to go now, as it’s time to prepare for Operation Pudding. Have a great Friday!