Ithaca is Gorges

This morning I woke up to find this little guy hanging out in the kitchen.

I actually took this picture yesterday, because he kept coming back.  It was -6F when I woke up and yes the window was open.  My apartment is an oven!

With the sunshine, it felt like a summer day.  Then I checked the weather… Oh dear.  However, that didn’t stop me from having a fabulous morning!

With a cup of coffee and the best green monster I’ve had in a long time, I started my next creation to bribe my class into liking me.

Apparently, I’ve got bananas on the brain.  I made Banana Chip Cookies from 101 Cookbooks. The only changes I made were omitting the walnuts and using brown sugar instead of natural cane sugar.

Think of your favorite chocolate chip cookies… now add banana chips and make them *slightly* healthier.

Okay who am I kidding, they’re pretty fatty 🙂  I got 37 cookies from this recipe (even though the recipe says it yields 24).
Here’s the estimated nutrition info:

Pretty darn good!  The banana chips add a nice crunch that makes them way more exciting than regular chocolate chip cookies.  Plus since it’s a class on Modern Latin America… bananas are very fitting…Do you know what the “Banana Republic” is? And I’m not talking about the store!

I hope my class likes them!

While my cookie dough chilled in the fridge (I actually baked them in the afternoon), I chilled outside with RhodaRemember last time? This time it was colder so I wore an extra long sleeve shirt.  10F when I left and 15F when I got home!  Burr!  We did the same route.  For some reason it felt a lot tougher this time, but just as lovely!

Arctic Tundra?  No, just Upstate NY…

This is my favorite stretch of the run:

Sadly my camera died halfway through the run!  Rhoda‘s camera was there to save the day!

Frozen falls!

Ithaca really is gorgeous!

Great pics, Rhoda!

Now I’m off to read since I’ve slacked off all weekend!  Hope you all have had a great weekend! Have a great night!

The King of Muffins

I have the baking bug.  I used to bake all the time!  But recently, I’ve cut back for health reasons.  No matter how hard I try, I undoubtedly have to try one of whatever I make.

Today, I was presented with the perfect opportunity.  Some friends in my program are working on a plan to submit for a competition.  Tonight they’re pulling an all nighter and are in desperate need of a pick me up!  What’s better than a delicious baked treat for a chilly day?

Enter my dear friend, Ina Garten…

Barefoot Contessa’s Banana Crunch Muffins

No substitutions.  Made exactly as is.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Warning:  Extreme salivation may occur.

Divine.

Channeling “The Dude”

Big Lebowski, anyone?

Today was freezing!  I think the daytime high was 14F!  Right now it’s about 7F!

To beat the cold, a bunch of Cornell planner headed to the bowling alley! Cornell actually has its own bowling alley on campus (in the basement of one of the gyms!)

Little known fact about me: I was once in a bowling league!  <– Nerdy! I know!

I’m glad I got out, because today was one of those days were I had to remind myself to smile.  It worked though!  I got myself out the door, unburied my car, picked up a friend and headed to the lanes.

There was pizza

Friends

Confusion

Have you ever been to a place where you have to keep your own bowling score on paper!?!?!

But overall… a ton of fun!

Honestly, today has not been fun.  I have been a bottomless pit all day.

Today was the first day in the past two weeks that I actually felt like I had to stop myself from eating when I wanted to and all I could think about was food.  All day my stomach felt empty no matter how much I ate/drank.  I tried everything… wait ten minutes before eating something to see if you really want it… I did.  Drink water… still wanted food.  Drink hot tea… still wanted food, had about 5 cups of tea today.  By the time I went bowling, I had already eaten 1,500 calories (which I realize isn’t that much but this is the amount that I’ve been eating most day the past two weeks without feeling hungry).  At the bowling alley I had 2 pieces of pizza and about probably 5 cookies and many chips.

The thing is, even after that, I wasn’t full.  I wasn’t hungry, but I wasn’t full.  Do you ever have those days where you just can’t seem to eat enough?

I’m not sure what it is.

I’m trying not to feel guilty because what’s done is done.  One evening is not going to derail my efforts at a healthy lifestyle; however, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed that I couldn’t stop after 1 piece of pizza and 1 cookie.  Oh well!  What’s a girl to do?

Tomorrow will be a better day, full of smiles!

Now, I might need to re-watch The Big Lebowski (Yay for Netflix watch instantly!), because I flew through those two discs of Mad Men I have!

Have a great night!

Italian Toad in a Hole

Hi all!  Thanks for all your nice comments about my 100! and my International Food Assistance post!

Is anyone else experiencing crazy weather today?!  All of a sudden there was a blizzard at about 11:00am!  I was not properly dressed!

On to food…I had the best dinner tonight.  It was quicky, easy, healthy and most importantly delicious.  It may not look that pretty but it was TASTY!

This sort of reminded me of a toad in a hole (you know, bread with egg in the middle) for some reason.

Behold:  Italian Eggs over Polenta!

I haven’t quite mastered the pretty aspect but flavor was spot on!

I have a ton of recipes bookmarked and with all the talk of Italian food on Nicole‘s blog this seemed like the perfect way to get my fix.

I made a single serving since it’s just me.  It was the perfect portion!

The recipe calls for a tube of polenta, but I didn’t have that so I made my own.  It was super easy!  I had never made polenta before! 
Have you made polenta before??

I brought 1 cup of water to a boil with a pinch of sea salt in a small saucepan then added 1/4 cup of cornmeal and stirred like crazy for a few minutes until it started to come off the sides of the pot.  I transferred that to a plate and let it solidify.

In the mean time, I added half a cup of pasta sauce to a pan with 1-2 cups of fresh chopped spinach.  Then I heated it until the spinach wilted it.  Then the best part… this is where the toad in a hole-ness comes in… I made a little well in the sauce/spinach, cracked an egg in it!  Then it cooked covered for about 3 minutes, because I love runny yolks! (Cook longer if you want a solid yolk)  Any runny yolk fans around??

Serve on the polenta!

The recipe calls for asiago cheese, which I didn’t have so I sprinkled it with some grated pecorino romano cheese.

Delish!

All this goodness for only 300 calories! (For full nutrition info, see the sparkpage)

Best dinner I’ve had in a long time!  Highly recommend it!  Really it could be enjoyed any time of day!

Now I’m off to watch Mad Men, because I’m obsessed!  Have a great night!!

Nice Buns!

Ideally, I’d have these buns…

Guess who!

But last night, I had these..

.

To curb my insatiable appetite, sweet tooth and desire to bake yesterday, I made Angela‘s Skinny Mini Glo Buns!

As usual, I made changes using the ingredients I had at home:  Real butta instead of margarine or Earth Balance.  I found some frozen lactaid in my freezer (apparently it was too precious to throw out before break) so I used that instead of almond milk since I ran out yesterday (see another reason why I go to the store 74992984 million times per week).  Also, I didn’t have whole wheat pastry flour so I used whole wheat bread flour.  And last but not least I didn’t have nutmeg or ginger so I just used cinnamon and allspice 🙂

O-M-G!

Make these!  You won’t regret it.

They aren’t Cinnabons, but they’re perfect for a sweet craving!

Soooo good!

Nice buns, Angela! 🙂

If you’re interesting in reading something a little thought provoking, my friend Lauren wrote a GREAT post on how we view the world and health.  Head over to her blog Sailing Training Wheels and read it!

Hope you have a fantastic days!  Tomorrow’s Friday which means it’s almost the weekend!  Woo!

International Food Assistance

Now that I’m back at school I remembered that I do actually like and care about something other than eating! Hard to believe, right?

In case you’re a new reader, I’m interested in global food security.  I started this blog to combine my passion for healthy living and international issues.  Recently, I’ve been slacking on the food security end of the blog.  In the past, I’ve written about the causes of food security (four parts) and the environment.  If you click the tag “Food Security” on the right sidebar, you’ll find all my food security related posts to date.

Image from Google Images

Today, since the recent crisis in Haiti, I thought it would be a good idea to give a little history of global food assistance and little introduction to the United Nations’ World Food Programme.

Before the establishment of an international organization (i.e. the United Nations), food assistance was distributed from one nation to another (bilaterally).

The United States, since the 1950s, is the largest donor of food aid through Public Law 480 Title I (P.L. 480), now known as Food for Peace managed by US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

Food being sent abroad by USAID (from Google Images)

P.L. 480 began as a scheme to relieve some of the surplus agricultural products produced in the US.  This assistance from the US government comes in three forms:

  1. Trade and Development Assistance:  “government-to-government sales of U.S. agricultural commodities to developing countries on credit or grant terms.”
  2. Emergency and Private Assistance: “the donation of U.S. agricultural commodities to meet emergency and nonemergency food needs in other countries, including support for food security goals.”
  3. Food for Development initiative (recently inactive):  “government-to-government grants to support long-term growth in the least developed countries. Donated commodities are sold in the recipient country, and the revenue generated is used to support economic development programs.”[1]

Bilateral food assistance proved to not be the most effective solution to food insecurity as it depends on surpluses in donor nations and generally serves the interest of the donor nation.  I don’t mean this as a judgment of the US or any other nation that provides food assistance, but it makes sense that you donate what you have extra of.  You don’t produce specifically to give away.

The result of food programs like P.L. 480 was the “dumping” of agricultural products into the markets of developing nations, undercutting local producers (since this food was free or cost next to nothing) and creating more poverty and food insecurity in the long run.

Therefore, an unbiased organization was needed to deal with issues of food assistance…

This is where the United Nations comes in…

Next time: United Nations involvement in global food security and the formation of the World Food Programme!

Please don’t be shy!  Let me know if you think this is interesting!  What do you think of food assistance at home or abroad? Is there anything you’d like to know more about?


[1] USDA: Foreign Agriculture Service. “Public Law 480, Title I.” http://www.fas.usda.gov/excredits/foodaid/pl480/pl480.asp


100!

I interrupt this blog to announce that:  This is my 100th post!

In honor of 100, I’m sharing 100 things you may or may not know about me.  So in case you’re super bored… (or at least as bored as I was while I wrote this… remember all that free time I had?)

1. My favorite color is yellow.

2. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people misspell the word lose.  When you lose weight you will have loose pants!

3. I hate orange juice.

4. I’ve been to Guatemala, Brazil, Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, England, Monaco, Greece, India, Dominican Republic, Argentina, Uruguay, yet I’ve never been to Mexico or Canada!

5. I’ve passed out twice.  Once in a market in the Dominican Republic and once on an airplane.

6. I was a development studies major in college.

7. I speak Spanish and sadly am forgetting Portuguese.

8. I want to be a baker.  I often threaten to drop out of grad school and become a pastry chef.

9. I have 1 sister and 1 brother.

With Grandma

10.  I was probably an accident (sister is 8 years older than me, brother is 11 years older than me… what does that tell you?)

11.  I used to hate jeans, since I moved to Ithaca I wear them almost everyday.

12.  When I see BBQ or Cuban food, I really miss meat.

13.  I actually like meat, I just don’t eat it for environmental/humanitarian reasons not necessarily because I think cows and chickens are cute.

14.  I want to be one of those people that wears high heels everyday.  Maybe someday…

15.  I read WAY too many blogs for my own good, but I love it.

16.  I drive a Jetta.

17.  I get really frustrated when people hate corporations but love Whole Foods.

18.  I forgot to mail my absentee ballot in the last primary (presidential) election. 😦

19.  I voted in the last presidential election.

20.  My first concert was N Sync.

21.  The last concert I went to was Britney Spears (can you tell I’m really a 12 year old?)

22.  I think Arrested Development is one of the funniest shows ever created, and I’m a little concerned that they’re making a movie.

23.  I hate going to the beach.

24.  I was born in the Los Angeles Area, apparently in LA this is hard to come by…

25.  I could eat beans everyday and be a happy person.

26.  I own a pair of crocs but I don’t wear them out of the house.

27.  I want to live in a big city someday (i.e. NYC, SF, Paris, London, Buenos Aires)

28. I’m obsessed with weddings.  I don’t plan on getting married anytime soon but I already have mine planned (on a word doc)… weird, I know.

29.  I come from a family of dentists.  My dad, sister, cousin, and aunt are all dentists.

30.  I don’t ride bicycles, the last two times I did, I crashed… badly.

31.  I’m known for making cupcakes among my friends, but since I started this blog I’ve only made cupcakes once… Kind of sad.

32. I love the book Wuthering Heights, not sure it’s my favorite but I’ve read it 3 times and loved it each time.

33.  I have a hard time feeling sorry for people who don’t try.

34.  I’m not one of those girls who loves kids and babysitting.

35.  My favorite drink is red wine, preferably a nice cab.  I try to drink it sparingly

36.  Most days I only drink water, green monsters, tea and coffee, no juice or soda for me.

37.  My favorite Spice Girl was Posh Spice.

38.  I eat really fast, working on slowing that down.

39.  Not a huge fan of beer.

40.  I have a crooked toe.  It’s weird…

41.  I can’t do a cartwheel.  Well really I haven’t tried in year.

42.  I don’t like running outside alone.

43. Wet bathroom floors gross me out.

44. Same with hair on the bathroom floor.

45. I’ve wanted a pet pig for as long as I can remember.

46. I’m mildly obsessed with Beyonce.

47.  I have a hard time donating money because I don’t trust charities or maybe just people. (Sad I know)

48. I’m pretty shy when I first meet someone.

49.  I get really frustrated when people circle the parking lot looking for a close parking spot when there are plenty of spaces further from the storefront.  Really, you can’t walk an extra 50 yards?

50. I really believe that if more people used public transit it would be better.

51.  One day I want to live in a place where I can walk/take transit to work/recreation and don’t need to own a car.

52. I really don’t like raw carrots but I eat them because they’re convenient.

53. I have a running Amazon Wishlist of things I hope to one day buy (or be given?).

54.  I would love to learn how to garden.

55.  My favorite flower is a daisy.

56. I love watching the Food Network at the gym, but a lot of times I’m too embarrassed to request it on a TV.

57. I don’t wear tight clothes; it makes me feel uncomfortable.

58.  The first food blog I ever read was Jenn’s Menu and Lifestyle Blog, found it on SparkPeople.

59. I’m pretty good at ignoring things…

60. My favorite Starbucks drink is a tall, soy, iced pumpkin spice latte.  The hot ones are just too sweet. This is a major treat!

61.  The usual Starbucks order is a tall, non-fat misto (if I have a lactaid pill, if not soy) with no foam.

62.  Crusty egg and foamy milk are disgusting.

63. In college I drank about 6 cups of coffee per day.

64.  I’ve now cut it down to about 1 maybe 2 per day.

65. I love dishes/china.  I look at them online when I’m bored.

66.  I wish I could be on Jeopardy!

67.  I like frozen yogurt > ice cream.

68. I wear a shoe size 9.

69.  I drink about a gallon of water everyday.

70.  I love Bollywood movies!

Seen It!

71.  I’ve never read Where the Wild Things Are.

72.  I was editor in chief of my high school yearbook.

73.  I got the grocery store an average of 4 times per week because I can never remember to get what I need and always feel like I’m missing something.

74.  I don’t care much for swimming.

75. Airplanes make me nervous.  I always sweat during takeoff and landing (gross I know).

76.  I don’t understand why everyone loves Bob Dylan.

77.  I got two trophies growing up: one for a literature contest in elementary school and one for bowling.  I was not an athletic child.

78.  I want to live abroad at some point in my life.

79.  I can’t stand cold fruit.

80.  I’ve considered starting a blog called “Stuff Brown People Like” for latino funnies.

81. I have a MacBook but since it’s the aluminum one everyone thinks it’s a MacBook Pro.

82.  Ina Garten and Giada Di Laurentiis are my favorite Food Network chefs.

83.  But Tyler Florence is nice to look at.

84.  I was once confused with Rachael Ray.

85.  I was a passenger in a road trip from Pennsylvania to California.

86.  I can’t drive a stick shift car.

87.  The lovely fella has tried to teach me to drive stick many times.  I just can’t seem to do it.

88.  The lovely fella’s name is actually Joe.

89. Champagne is delicious, but I must admit I kind of love Ballatore for its cheap goodness.

90.  Currently, my car is not legally registered.  This will be fixed ASAP!

91.  Chocolate and PB is my favorite combination.

92.  I love sugar free, fat free Jell-O pudding.  I don’t think of it as diet food!  It’s delicious!

93. I can’t sing to save my life.

94. I don’t know how to knit, crochet or sew.

95. I have a niece and two nephews.  They’re triplets.

96.  My entire family except my immediate family, one aunt and (recently) one cousin lives in Guatemala.

97.  I was born in California.

98. I used to know all the presidents in order… I think I still might…

99.  My favorite fruit might be a mango.

100.  It took me over a week to think of 100 things about myself!

You’ve made it through my self absorbed post!  Yay for 100 posts!  I promise when I reach 1,000 I won’t post 1,000 things about myself.

Tell me something about you!

Have a great day!

Happy Monday!

Yesterday, I was down right restless.  Today, I’m excited to have started!  I woke up dark bright and early to find it pouring out.  It was looking like it was going to be a dreary day.  I checked the weather at it was 50 Degrees Fahrenheit!!  Right now it’s 51F!  Crazy!  Two days ago we had a high of 30F!

This morning for some reason I was super nervous about classes.  I’m not entirely sure why but I think it had to do with the fact that the lecture class I’m TAing for is at the same time as one of my core classes.  Luckily, it’s okay.  I talked to the professor of the class I’m TAing for and he said it’s not a problem if I don’t go to his lectures.  I’m leading a conversational Spanish language discussion section so people can talk about the subject in Spanish, so not really that big a deal.  So I went there to make a quick announcement about my section.

Then I headed to my first class, Introduction to Method of Planning Analysis.  Sound fun right?  Eh it might be.  It’s required.  I’ll suck it up and who knows I may love it!  I sure do love me a good economic forecast!

After that I dodged umbrellas and puddles all the way home.  It was 11:30 and I was starving!  I tried hard to hold on til at least 12pm by putting in some laundry but I couldn’t wait til 12:00pm. I decided to counteract that gross weather with a fun, fresh meal.

Wet and Puddly all around!

I made a FANTASTIC sandwich!  Hummus. Cheese.  Cucumbers. Tomatoes.  Need I say more?

So fresh tasting!

Finish that off with some kiwi, skin and all.

Eat Kiwi, It’s good for you!  1 fruit provides 95% of your daily Vitamin C! Do you eat the skin on kiwi fruit?

Heaven in a lunch!  (For nutrition info on lunch, see my sparkpage)

Lunch was sealed with a kiss cup of tea!  I’ve realized that ending a meal with a cup of tea helps keep my sweet tooth at bay and I guess helps my brain signal that it’s done eating.

I found this tea on sale at Wegman’s last week and since I love peppermint tea I had to try it.

I had never heard of Gypsy Tea but I loooved this one!  The peppermint flavor is very mild but there’s something else in there that is simply fantastic!  I can’t put my finger on what it is, but it’s oh so good!

I’m going to go get my laundry, start reading for class, then go to my next class!  Hope you’re having a wonderful Monday!!

Finally Ready For Classes To Start

I’ve had enough.

I’m getting tired of sitting around and doing nothing.

I’m officially ready for classes to start again.

I know I’ll regret this tomorrow night when I start reading for my first classes but as of now, I’m over it.  I think I’ve been a little anxious all day because I’ve been very snacky, but I think I’ve kept it to an okay level.

One of my many snacks today was this:

What is that?

No, Stonyfield hasn’t started making Pumpkin Flavored Greek Yogurt (although they probably should).   Actually, it’s my version of Caitlin‘s Pumpkin Yogurt (her version uses equal parts yogurt and pumpkin).

Stonyfield sent me some coupons for yogurt samples so they were perfect to give pumpkin yogurt a try. Thanks Stonyfield!

I used a small 5.3oz container of Oikos non-fat greek yogurt mixed with 1/4 cup of canned pumpkin (not easy to come by these days as there as been a pumpkin shortage in upstate NY!) and 1 tablespoon of Agave nectar.  All that goodness for only 160 calories (80 for the yogurt + 20 for the pumpkin + 60 for the agave nectar!  Wonderful sweet treat!

Delish!  Give it a try!

What’s your favorite way to enjoy greek yogurt?

I’ve literally done nothing all day, and I’m starting to get restless so I think I’m going to go to the gym (even though I didn’t plan on exercising today) to get my mind off upcoming classes and basically just get my blood flowing.

Hope you had a great weekend!

First Run in the Cold + The Giving Tree

I’m not a runner, but I am occasionally known to go on a jog.  I usually prefer to do so with someone else, a running buddy if you will.  This morning, Rhoda told me she was going for a run, so I tagged along!

I was a little concerned because the last time I ran outside it was 65 degrees (few weeks ago in California).  This morning when I went for a run, it was 17 degrees… kind of cold.  Rhoda is a pro.  She trained for a marathon in Michigan in the winter so she gave me some pointers.

1.  Dress in layers.  I wore a shirt and a jacket with slightly below the knee running pants (I really should invest in full length pants for this weather!).

2. Wear gloves and something to cover your ears.  Forever I had no idea what those big headbands were for.  Guess what?? They cover your ears!

Do you have any tips for running in the cold?

So I headed out and met up with Rhoda.  Honestly, it wasn’t bad at all.  I didn’t feel cold throughout the entire run.  At one point I even pushed my ear warmers back to let my ears breathe a bit and removed my gloves (though only for a few minutes because the back of my hand started to get REALLY cold).

I didn’t really get cold until I was walking home after having cooled down.  Then I was sweaty/wet and in below freezing temperatures.  See the problem?

It was great though!  We did 4 miles and chatted the whole time!  It was also beautiful!  I forget how picturesque it is here, especially in the winter.  I wish I had brought my camera to take pictures!  Oh well, next time!  Thanks for letting me slow you down, Rhoda!

After lunch, I came home and showered then met up with some people for lunch at a new cafe in Ithaca called The Giving Tree.  The cafe is a local, vegetarian place.  Very cozy and cute with mismatched chairs and such!

At this point (around 1:30pm), I hadn’t eaten since breakfast at about 7:30am; I was ready to chew my arm off.   I had a really hard time choosing what to order, because the entire menu was vegetarian so there were a ton of options to choose from!  I got some coffee and a plate of eggs, home fries and toast, which is probably my favorite food on the planet! A bit boring, I know, but I had to go with an old favorite.

Coffee was served in local Syracuse China.

Only made better with Rhoda there to pour the cream in the coffee

As you can see, I hated it.

My friend Celia got a delicious tofu scramble with vegetables!  I had a bite.  I would definitely get that next time!

Delish!  I can’t wait to go back!

Today has been a great day!  Thanks friends for making me smile today!

The rest of the day, normal eating will resume, and I will enjoy my time watching movies (I have two from Netflix that I’ve been putting off).

Hope you all have had a fantastic Saturday so far!