Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Nutrition Overload with Quinoa, Beets, Avocados, Lima Beans, and Edamame

I love to cook. Being in the kitchen, chopping, stirring, measuring, etc. is very meditative. I listen to music, forget all of my worries, and completely lose track of time. However, I hate trying to cook after work when I'm exhausted and feel like I need to rush, so I use the weekends to plan and cook my meals for the week.  It can be a pain, but I am always thankful that I've done it.

Lately, I have been eating out far too often. I find it very difficult to eat out and eat healthy foods (especially as a vegetarian, it seems my options are grilled cheese, cheese quesdillas, or an iceberg lettuce salad). I have been worried about my nutrition levels, so this week, I searched for recipes packed with fruits and vegetables that would up the nutrition in my diet.

I am no chef and wouldn't even begin to know how to come up my own recipes, so I'll just link to the original source.

Coconut Milk Breakfast Quinoa

I love quinoa, but I never thought of eating it for breakfast. It works. Plus, I'm already half in love with anything with any form of coconut. I went with the bananas and pecans recipe, but I feel like this could make a great base for some delicious breakfasts. I'm already dreaming of blueberries next week.

Quarter Pounder Beet Burger and Creamy Avocado Potato Salad

A few weeks ago, I tried beets at Sweet Tomatoes. I always assumed they would be bitter or sour due to their rich color, but they are not. They are sweet and earthy, which has made me fall madly in love with them. When I saw this recipe, I had to try it. I wasn't disappointed. Between the beets, brown rice, and lentils, these are both satisfying and delicious. 

I've never been a fan of potato salad because I hate mayonnaise. However, avocados are my favorite food on the planet. The avocado dressing was beyond sublime; I'm surprised I didn't cut my tongue off trying to lick all of the leftovers out of my food processor. And the pairing with the creamy potatoes and the cucumbers (I'm normally not a fan of cucumbers, but I got a great one at the farmer's market and it was amazing in this dish) was delicious. A little added cilantro was amazing. Made this for lunch, so we'll just have to see how well it keeps in the fridge this week. I don't care about eating a black lump of potatoes as long as it still tastes as amazing.

In the afternoons, I try to eat a snack with some protein to hold me until dinner. Dry roasting edamame is just genius. I tasted these as soon as they came out of the oven, and I could have eaten the entire batch. This might be my new favorite snack.

Shredded Beet, Goat Cheese, Kale, and Spinach Salad and Pureed Lima Beans 

I have a great farmer's market close to work in Tampa, so I try to eat a healthy salad for dinner each night. This is just a continuation of my current beet obsession. Plus, I really love goat cheese.

The pureed lima beans are supposed to go with a tomato broth, but I was too lazy to make it (some other time). However, the pureed beans alone were super tasty and garlicy. They have a smooth texture similar to mashed potatoes, and they are extremely filling.  

Monday, April 16, 2012

Arty Zen Meditation

While in Columbus last month, I met a fellow artist who was mad about Zentangle. I don't understand it enough to write much, but what I do understand is that it combines art/drawing and meditation. It makes perfect sense to me. Whenever I have pressing matters on the brain, I put some great vinyl on the record player and paint. It clears my head and calms me in a way that nothing else can.

I decided to try zentangle. I didn't take a class. Honestly, I just watched a few minutes of an instructional video and then tried to create something. I like to just jump in. It was both fun and relaxing. I'm definitely interested in learning more. These are my first two.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

2012 Reading Goal - Books 1-26

Last year, my goal was to read 26 books. Two books a week sounded like a lot, but once I got started, it was a lot of fun. I also ended up reading 36 great books.

In my typical overachiever mentality, I wanted to do better this year, so I bumped my goal up to 52 books . Whenever I mention it, people look at me like I am crazy (except for my family members who are equally crazy).  It is only April, and I'm 26 books in. I'll be golden. Here's a rundown of what I've read so far this year.

1: Codependent No More and 2: If Life Is a Game, These Are the Rules

Sometimes, I wish that I had studied psychology in college. It's not that I wouldn't want to be a writer, but I find human emotions and motivations fascinating. Reading books like this gives me a glimpse into one of my alternative realities.

3: Talking to Girls About Duran Duran

Rob Sheffield is funny and  has great taste in music. This is a memoir set in the 80's to a most bodacious soundtrack (each chapter is a memory based on a song). I enjoyed the format and would love to read one for the 90's too.

4: The Book of Joe

Apparently, despite the similarity, this book wasn't the inspiration for Beautiful Girls or October Road. I seriously love that movie (Happy piano players work the circus...) and the show. Anyway, the stories are remarkably similar and enjoyable. I loved this book. It was both hysterical and heartbreaking, which is exactly the kind of bipolar novel that I love.

5: Before & After: How to Design Cool Stuff

I subscribe to Before & After magazine. It is a a level of design awesomeness that I aspire to, and I always find the articles inspiring. I have McWade's other books, so a lot of this book was a repeat of the articles and books that I already have. The book was still packed with useful information. However, I bought the Kindle version and was surprised to find that it wasn't formatted very well...  I wish they would fix that.

6: Little House on the Prairie, 7: Farmer Boy, 8: On the Banks of Plum Creek, 9: By the Shores of Silver Lake, 13: The Long Winter, 14: Little Town on the Prairie, 15: These Happy Golden Years, and 16: The First Four Years

Confession time. I love Little House on the Prairie. I loved the show and have always had a crush on Michael Landon as Charles Ingalls (what a man!). It still amazes me that these are the stories of real people and are probably typical of many of the first American settlers. I love the adventure of the time period and was totally consumed with the whole series. My favorite book was These Happy Golden Years because it focuses on Laura and Almanzo falling in love. Ahhh sigh.

10: Socs and Greasers

Rob Lowe and The Outsiders. Two of my favorite subjects in the world.

11: Beastly

I enjoyed both the movie and book version of Beastly. It is an interesting, modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast that really worked. It was a fun, light read at lunchtime.

12: The Help

Everyone I know who read the book first disliked the movie. For once, I watched the movie first and ended up loving both the movie and the book. I would suggest you go that route too. The book is both funny and shocking. It makes you think, which is pretty rare for anything making the book club rounds these days.

17:  The Creative Writer's Survival Guide: Advice from an Unrepentant Novelist

I was lucky enough to have John McNally as a writing professor in college. He always had good advice, was fair in his critiques, and gave great advice. His book reminded me so much of being in his workshop class, reminded me of old friends (Jonas), and filled my head with good advice. It also made me rethink panning a book (or anything really) too quickly on my blog.

18: The Hunger Games

Ok, yes, I read this book again. My sister was reading it, and I wanted to read it along with her. I was also about to go see the movie (enjoyed it). After a second read, I still love this book. It is accessible to many readers, but it still is able to make a lasting point. I respect that in any writing.

19: The Chosen and 20: The Diary of a Young Girl

These books did something magical for me because they made me think about the past and sprouted an interest in my grandparent's lives (Family History). I have always been interested in their lives, but after reading both of these, it made me ask questions and wonder about things in a totally different way. In addition, it pushed me to learn more about the Holocaust, which is a important to never forget about. They taught me about things that I didn't even know that I should be asking about.

21: Tex and 25: Taming the Star Runner

S.E. Hinton is one of my favorite writers. Her books are straightforward and simple enough for anyone to read, yet she is able to pack them with characters, situations, and emotions that are so vivid and wonderful that you can't help but be sucked into their world. I've written about her before (No Jazz Before The Rumble) and feel that both of these novels hold their own. They make me want to run away to Oklahoma to ride horses and hang out with the cowboys.

22: What Do You Want to Do Before You Die?

I love the guys from The Buried Life. They are silly and a bit crazy, but they do some pretty awesome things. I had to have this book. Canadian boys seem so lovely, I think that I need to run away to Canada too.

23: Franny and Zooey

I enjoy Salinger's writer because he knows how to capture a character on a page and make them feel so real in my mind.  I've read Catcher in the Rye more times than I care to count (It's history. It's poetry.), and Holden Caulfield is like an old friend (granted a nutty one). I haven't read much of his other work, so that's one of my current goals. I want to get acquainted with the Glass family.

24: Cat's Cradle: A Novel

This was my first Vonnegut novel. I was always worried that he was too weird. This book was totally weird, but it was also hysterical and poignant. At first, I was lost and confused. I wanted to give up on it, but I am so glad that I didn't. Now that I know that Slaughterer Five isn't about working with dead animal carcasses, it will be my next Vonnegut novel.

26: Burning Bright

I appreciate the way that Steinbeck saw the world. He loved his characters and his readers. After reading one of this novels, I  feel like I have been transported to their world. I feel like I have lived their life. I read The Winter of Our Discontent  when I was 15, and I have carried Ethan Allen Hawley with me ever since. This one wasn't quite as powerful, but I still enjoyed it.

If you want to follow along with my reading, follow me on shelfari (awdylanis). Also, if you have any book recommendations, add them to the comments below. I'm always looking for interesting books to read.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Family History

A few weeks ago, I read The Chosen (Chaim Potok) and The Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank). I enjoyed both, but they haunted me for days afterwards. I thought about both stories and did a lot of research about the war. I learned about the World War II in school, but I don't remember taking the time to really think about it.  I am embarrassed to admit how much I didn't (and still don't) know or understand.

In particular, I was disturbed by the Holocaust. I considered how I would react if I saw those same things going on around me. I want to believe that I am the kind of person who, when faced with something so horrible, would stand up and do what I needed to do to protect the people around me. I want to be that brave.

I wondered about the people who were brave enough to stand up and do something. It made me think about my Grandfather.

He was the most kind and gentle man I've ever know. He was soft-spoken and introverted, but when he laughed, he was super silly and his blue eyes would light-up. We spent summers building rock gardens together. He hung a swing for me from the tree in the back yard. We ate peanut butter and butter sandwiches, and I tagged along after him wherever he went.

My Grandpa fought in World War II. Three of his brothers fought also. He was born in Canada while his family immigrated from Scotland, so he became a US citizen in Algeria on his way to war. He was a gunner and a paratrooper. His record say he fired a grenade laucher. While in Anzio, he was taken prisoner and spent nearly 15 months in a German prisoner of war camp (Stalag VII B). He rarely spoke of it, and no one ever asked him about it.

Growing up, I would beg my Grandma to show me old photos. She always showed me photos of him in his uniform. She was so proud of him, so even without fully understanding, I was inherently proud of him too.

I think of my Grandmother too. She was only 17 when they were married, and then he was gone overseas. She worked in a factory and took care of everything at home. She lived for over a year not knowing his fate.

I realize that in 1940's America, this was the norm, but I still can't seem to fully wrap my mind around all of it. I don't want people to forget what happened to them (and so many others), and I really hope that we don't ever have to go through anything like that ever again.

For my family, I am researching and writing down our family history. I'm working on our family tree, scanning photographs, and connecting with long-lost relatives in hopes of collecting stories, photos, and memories. I'm interviewing my family and writing it all down, so it won't all end up forgotten.