Being a “Picky” Eater

I’m not sure I’ve made this completely clear, but I’m a vegetarian.  Right now, I won’t get into the reasons why I am a vegetarian, but I point it out because I came across an interesting opinion article in the NY Times today called “Complaint Box: Picky Eaters.”

In essence, the article talks about the million dietary demands (see cartoon above) that people place on themselves and the difficulty in tailoring a dinner party to meet all these needs.  It’s sort of a funny article and relevant to me, especially with Thanksgiving coming up.

I’m going to the lovely fella’s family’s house for Thanksgiving because it’s too expensive to get to California but the Philadelphia area is within driving distance. They are not vegetarians, nor do they plan on being.  That’s fine.  I don’t expect everyone in the world to make the same lifestyle choices I do.

That being said, I have a few concerns:

1. I don’t want to eat Turkey (or really any other meat).  I was never that big a fan of it anyway, but the idea of it right now sort of makes me sad.  I also think it might be rude of me to offer to make something because I would hate to ruin their established traditions (aka what if they have a sweet potato casserole that they LOVE and look forward to each year?)

2.  I don’t want them to feel like they have to prepare a special meal specifically for me.  The author of the article mentions the difficulty in preparing something that everyone can enjoy, but I don’t think that should be her concern.  She ends the article:

I have had enough with people who want to have it their way, and I am done catering to the quirks of food-obsessed numskulls. If you eat in my home, I will grudgingly respect medically diagnosed allergies, since it puts a pall on conversation when a guest goes into anaphylactic shock at the dinner table. But beyond that, I expect you to eat what you can, ignore the rest and not make trouble. On Thursday, 15 people are sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner at my house, and with God as my witness, I promise you this: There will be dark meat.

I can completely appreciate that.  While I don’t consider myself to be a “food-obsessed numskull,” I think everyone is entitle to make choices about what he or she puts in his or her own body.  However, when you are a guest at someone’s house, you shouldn’t inconvenience your host.  I know her language is a bit brash, but I agree you should “eat what you can, ignore the rest and not make trouble.” Do you disagree?

That’s what I’m going to try to do.  Thanksgiving should be about spending time with people you care about (I know this sounds cheesy) not about the food. I’ll try my hardest not to complicate matters and if I have to eat something with meat in it, one day won’t kill me, right?  I can push bits of bacon to the side and deal with chicken broth.

How do you deal with “picky” eaters? What are your plans for Thanksgiving?

Coffee

I love coffee.  I’ve drank it since I was about 4 years old.  I know that sounds ridiculous, right?  Who’s mother lets them drink coffee at such a young age!?!  My parents are from Guatemala, so coffee is pretty common at all ages and at all times.  I was never kid that liked to play with the other kids.  I was a grandma from day 1.  I would rather chat with the ladies and have coffee than go out and play with the kids.

I know there are a lot of mixed feelings about coffee and caffeine.  Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having coffee everyday. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a household where coffee was perfectly natural all the time, but I don’t think it’s harmful.  I’ve taken a biology class (Brain, Mind and Behavior way back when) and understand the effects of caffeine on the brain but from what I recall, nothing too adverse (please correct me if I’m wrong).

On another note, coffee production is a huge part of the economy of many countries.  I found this really cool set of data (aka really cool for me the econ/development nerd) through the Food and Agriculture Organization that shows commodity production by country (you can change it to search by commodity or by country). I had fun playing around with it for a while 🙂

If anyone is interested, I saw a really interesting documentary on coffee production (it concentrates mostly on Ethiopian coffee production and commodity trading in Britain) called Black Gold.   I highly recommend it to anyone who’s interested

I’m almost done with my next food security topic.  Stay tuned!

What are your thoughts on coffee/caffeine?

New Moon + Long Day Ahead

Last night I went to see New Moon.  I won’t spoil it for anyone, but I will say that the first 5 minutes were terrible but then it got infinitely better (with ridiculous lines throughout).

Also… I may or may not have been converted to Team Jacob.

Need I say more?  (Anyone else feel like a dirty old woman admiring a 17 year old???)

Okay so on to other things.  I feel like staying home, drinking tea and listening to Christmas Carols.  Unfortunately, I’m going to the computer lab to try to bust out a draft of my 15-20 page paper due Dec 4th so I can spend more time with the lovely fella when he visits.

I’m going to a-we-can-make-it-through-the-week gathering later. What should I bring?

Do you have any crowd pleasing recipes??  Do you have a go to dish that you bring to events/parties??

Fantastic Day So Far

This morning I woke up at 6am to go to a 6:30am spin class.  However, as I was getting my clothes together, I decided that I could really use some extra sleep and go to the gym later.  So I put my gym clothes down and hopped back into bed for another hour.  That extra hour of sleep really energized me.  I think it was a good decision.

Then I lounged around for a while, read a few blogs (see the new page up top “Blogs I Enjoy”) and got some school work done.  Around 11am, I headed to the gym for a fantastic work out. For some reason, I had a ton of energy today!  Another huge plus was that Project Runaway reruns were on the TV at the gym (it was the episode where they design for drag queens!).  So I did a little more than an hour on the treadmill, nice and easy.  Time flew by and I didn’t feel like I was working too hard.  I intended to do 30-45 minutes, but I was so into the show that I just kept going.  I guess that happens when you don’t have cable at home!

Once I got home, I made lunch, which was delicious!

A bed of spinach, topped with Quinoa (left over from last night) and a Spicy Black Bean Burger then sprinkled with a ton of lemon lime juice.  It was to die for!  The lovely fella has been telling me to try these Spicy Black Bean Burgers for a while now (he’s not vegetarian, but eats them all the time apparently) and I bought some a few weeks ago but didn’t try it til now.  Pretty delicioso!

Plans for the rest of the day:
-Class/Work on Papers
-Dinner with Friends
-New Moon???  (Let’s be realistic this is probably on the top of my agenda right now…)

Hope your day is going as well as mine!

P.S. I’m super excited to see the lovely fella in 4 days!  It’s been over a month! (We’re doing the long distance thing for a bit)

Vegan for a Day Continued…

Today was ridiculously busy so I really didn’t even have time to think of food.  I had class from 9am until 3pm then I stayed in the computer lab and worked on my statistics stuff (I probably ran 67892038666 regressions today! Ahh!)  Luckily my lunch and snacks held me over pretty well and it was all vegan!

Then I came home and raided the fridge for something to have for dinner.  In my desperation, I didn’t get too creative tonight 😦  I had left over Coconut Curry from a few nights ago (didn’t realize then that it was in fact vegan) with some quinoa and broccolli.

As I was waiting for the quinoa to cook (only 15 minutes!  Woo!), I had a little bit of an appetizer: some artichoke hearts

I love artichokes!  Whenever I walk past the artichoke/pickle/olive section of any super market, I instantly start to salivate!  Weird, right?  Does that happen to anyone else?

The quinoa really was the star of my meal this evening.

It really is delicious and nutritious.    The only thing I hate is having to rinse it.  I have an itty bitty strainer so I can only do about 2 tbsp at a time.  It’s a pain in the butt… I guess I could invest in a larger strainer right?…

Dinner was pretty darn delicious. I’m thinking maybe I’ll have a baked apple for dessert 🙂

Overall, I think my one day vegan experience has been good.  However, I think a lot of this was that I had an extremely busy day.  Things could have potentially gone the other way had I been sitting home all day (since I usually get the munchies when I’m home for too long trying to get work done).  I definitely think I’d like to try this again.  I’m not saying I’m ready to become a vegan but it’s definitely something I could consider transitioning in to.

Did anyone else try the Vegan for a Day Challenge?  Or are you vegan?  Your thoughts?

Anyway, I’m off to finish my self evaluation, start a paper, work on stats project and formulate my next post about food security!  If there’s anything you’d like to know about in particular, please let me know!  Have a great night everyone!

Vegan For A Day

After a little bit of thought, I decided to jump on the bandwagon and do the vegan for a day challenge.  At first I was a bit apprehensive because well, I’m a planner… (not just a city planner) but I like to make sure I’m fully prepared for this.  The thought that I wasn’t prepared for a day full of vegan meals made me uneasy.  However, after some thought, I realized that going at it unprepared could make the challenge more fun.

That being said, Breakfast was a DELICIOUS Green Monster.

My green monster contains: 2 handfuls of spinach, 1/2 a frozen banana, about 5 frozen strawberries, 1 tbsp of almond butter, and some water. Some was enjoyed at home while writing this post, the rest will be enjoyed in class in my travel mug 🙂

For lunch, I’m packing some garbanzo beans and vegetables with Wegman’s Asian Style BBQ Sauce.

I was looking at the ingredients then realized it told me it was vegan right on the side of the container! I love these labels that Wegman’s puts on it’s products.

Then while making lunch there was a slight disaster with my frozen vegetables

Spilled all over the counter!  Yes, my vegan meal will be eaten out of a cottage cheese container.  I’m a ridiculously broke grad student environmentally conscious and recycling plastic containers…

Have a fantastic day!

Amazing Meal

I kept seeing Amazing Grass Amazing Meal protein powder on blogs right and left.  So I decided I should probably try it too.  I ordered a sampler from their website for $3.99 which came with 3 packets of Amazing Meal Protein Powder.  1 Original blend, 1 Pomegranate Mango Infusion and 1 Chocolate Infusion flavor.

I got this a few weeks ago and wasn’t really sure what to do with it.  So I decided to put in a smoothie.  Unfortunately, I was not a fan of the original blend flavor and couldn’t even drink my smoothie mostly because of the grittiness of the protein powder, not necessarily the flavor.

So today, Monica at Run, Eat, Repeat suggested I try it in juice.  I don’t normally drink juice so I tried the next best thing… a green monster! I decided to try to dissolve the Pomegranate Mango Amazing Meal in water first to see if that would reduce the grittiness,

then I added half a frozen banana, 4 frozen strawberries and a handful of spinach.  I put it all in the blender with some ice to yield an Amazing Grass GM…

Honestly, I’m not that big of a fan.  This one was far better than the Original Blend I tried a few weeks ago, but I’m still not completely sold on this product.  I like the idea behind it and the nutrients in it but  I think I like my regular green monster without Amazing Meal more.

I think the main problem I have with it is the fact that it’s protein powder.  Texture not taste.  I would definitely suggest everyone try it because you just might like it.

As for me, I think I’ll stick to regular green monsters and getting protein from other sources. That being said, I did drink it and I’m feeling pretty full right now 🙂

Off to class!  Have a great afternoon!

Frustrating Work Out

Warning:  Rant Ahead!

Spinning this morning was really frustrating.  The class was a 2×20 today, meaning you did a warm up for 10 minutes, two intense intervals of 20 minutes each with a 5 minute breather in between those two intervals.

Sounds great, right?

Well, my problem is the instructor.  Her music is NOT upbeat and the whole time she tells us to concentrate on the road and our mental strength without any direction whatsoever.  I understand that people need to be centered mentally, but why is she getting paid to tell me to essentially ride for 60 minutes on my own?

I can go in a room, get on a spin bike on my own whenever I please, the purpose of a class is to motivate you to work harder!

Maybe I’m mistaken but shouldn’t spin instructors be motivating us to maintain a certain intensity by telling us when to switch up the resistance and cadence?

Frustrating classes like this (and I should say really great ones too) make me want to become a spin instructor.  I wish certification didn’t cost so much money!

End Rant.

Today will be a great day despite the frustrating start!

Bottom of the Barrel Muffins

I bake a lot.  Most of the time I don’t follow recipes because that sort of frustrates me.

I had some coconut milk left over from my Coconut Curry and an part of a can of pumpkin I had opened last week.  So naturally, I made muffins with all these leftovers.

My “recipe” for Bottom of the Barrel Muffins

1/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
2/3 cup sugar (little less than)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin spice
1 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/4-1/2 cup of water/milk/juice/chai tea (I used a bit of my roommate’s chai haha) if batter is too thick

Combine all the wet ingredients then add dry in all the dry ingredients.  Combine.  Line or grease muffin pan.  Fill about 3/4 of the way full.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes depending on the strength of your oven.

Overall pretty healthy, they could probably be made a little healthier by using Agave Nectar, although I’ve never tried (I plan on buying some at Trader Joe’s over Thanksgiving break).

Have a great night!  I’m off to work on my statistics project!

Food Security: Part I

The term food security has become more common in national and international rhetoric.

That being said, it’s not that common.

Generally, what people think of when they hear food security is hunger and famine.   However, that’s not necessarily the case.   Food security can be defined as “access by all people at all times to enough and appropriate food to provide the energy and nutrients needed to maintain an active and healthy life” (Barrett 2106).

Therefore, food security is not only necessarily about starving people in developing countries in villages like this:

(This is the village of Katar, outside Udaipur, Rajasthan, India.  June 2009)

A large portion of what I find interesting about food security is in fact in developing countries (and I’ll probably talk about this more later), but I think it’s important for people to realize that food security issues don’t only exist in low income countries.

I’ve heard the argument that countries like the United States and Europe should not deal with food security because it doesn’t directly concern them, but that’s simply not true.

There are many people in the United States alone that don’t have access to food.  According to the USDA, “14.6 percent (17.1 million) of U.S. households were food insecure at some time during 2008.”  I’m pretty sure this doesn’t include those who live in food deserts without access to healthy foods.

Food Deserts are areas without access to healthy food, most prevalent in low income neighborhoods.   This can mean that:

  • There are no grocery stores in the neighborhood and/or grocery stores or farmer’s markets with fresh produce are accessible by transit or foot
  • Consumers cannot afford to buy healthy food and must buy unhealthy foods such as fast food.

Think of the places you live or have lived… Where are the grocery stores and farmer’s markets located?

I know when I lived in Berkeley, the majority of the grocery stores were located near the University and the affluent neighborhoods while West Berkeley only had mostly small convenience stores.

This was just a small intro into the concept of food security.  My hope is that you think about food security as not only an issue that Africa needs to deal with, but something we should all be concerned about (or at least keep in mind).

Stay tuned for the next part of the food security series! Have a great night!