A journey in words...

Welcome to my journey in words! A story about health, exercise, weight loss, food addiction, humor, size discrimination, sarcasm, social commentary and all the rest that’s rattling around inside my head...

I now twit, er... or tweet. Anyway, you can follow me on twitter @Aeon1202

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Recipe Share: Pam's AMAZING Eggplant Bruschetta

My sister made this at our family dinner last Sunday night and I’m telling you – it’s the most awesome thing I've eaten in a while.  The crunch of thin sliced baked eggplant, the richness of cheese, the bright flavor of fresh, late summer tomatoes…. SO SO GOOD.

Pam’s Amazing Eggplant Bruschetta

What You Need:
·         1 eggplant peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch slices 
·         Salt to sweat the eggplant 
·         Two eggs
·         Splash of milk
·         Italian seasoned bread crumbs
·         Two large tomatoes
·         Generous handful of basil
·         1/4 cup of good season’s Italian salad dressing
·         2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese
·         1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

What to Do:
Lay the eggplant on a cookie tray and sprinkle both sides with salt, then cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for ½ to 1 hour. This draws moisture out of the eggplant. 
Meanwhile dice the tomatoes and basil into small pieces and toss with salad dressing and Parmesan cheese.
Take eggplant from the fridge and pat dry with paper towels.
Mix the eggs with the milk and dip each piece of eggplant into egg mixture then into bread crumbs. Place slices on a greased cookie sheet. 
Bake eggplant at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes then turn the slices over and bake another 10 minutes or until the eggplant looks crunchy.
Remove from the oven and add a pinch of mozzarella cheese on top of each slice and a generous spoonful of the tomato mixture.  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Remembering the Day

Most people of my Country and generation have a, “where I was when…” story.  This is mine.  No more, no less.

The primary thing I remember about that day is a pervasive feeling of being alone.  It was a Tuesday, and I was at work.  When things started happening in the morning I first found out about it from my boyfriend, Ted (who would in another month’s time become my fiancĂ©).  He called, sounding stunned, almost numb, to tell me there had been a terrible accident causing an airplane to crash into one of the buildings in New York City.

I assumed he was right, a terrible accident, a failure of aviation or unfortunate human error.  I also assumed he was talking about a small vehicle, perhaps driven by one person or two.

Time passed.  I remember I was listening to NPR radio, getting occasional updates but mostly still focusing on my job.  Ted called again, with further news that another plane had crashed.  This is when I discovered that the plane wasn’t small, and that there was no accident in progress.

It wasn’t until sometime later that I found out most of my friends were sent home from work that day.  Ted stayed at his office, but shortly after the first crash he and all his co-workers had gathered around a television, glued to the news.  This is why he kept calling as my primary source of information. 

The company I worked for at the time sent down an official word to us on the situation: do not go home, do not watch the news – just keep working.  It seems ghoulishly coldhearted now in retrospect, but at the time they must have thought it the wisest course.  Two months later, the recession that resulted from this day would cause them to let go of 1,400 employees nationwide, myself included.  The company I work for now sent home all of their employees to be with their families at around Noon.

At some point in the afternoon, one of our engineers called.  He was crying, not quite hysterical but close, and trapped in New York City.  He had a friend who worked in one of the towers and had just seen it collapse from a distance.  Another engineer arrived at the office with rumors that planes would continue to fall throughout the day, as many as fifty in total, and since one had just done so nearby us in Pennsylvania, no one anywhere was safe.

I didn’t know what to do, so I did as I’d been told – I kept working.

Later in the afternoon my co-worker Carla and I went out into the parking lot for a few minutes.  Looking up, we realized that we had never noticed how many planes pass over us at any given time until they were abruptly all gone.  The sky was very blue and completely silent.

I went home from work at my usual time, and finally at around 6:00PM put on a television.  Only then did I see for myself the full extent of what had happened.  And only then did I start to cry.

That was the Fall I acted for the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, and that following Saturday I reported for work in full costume as expected, but I was numb with fear and grief – neither my heart nor head in the situation.  I remember my friend and show partner, Jill, taking me aside and buying me a cookie.  I remember she told me that my job was to make people smile, to comfort them and take their mind off of what was happening – so that’s what we did.

I’ve never really suffered under the delusion that my world was safe.  As a small child, I worried constantly that someone was going to shoot a nuclear missile at us.  So the events of that day didn’t really change my perception so much as clarify it a little.  The world isn’t safe, it never was, and it’s populated by some people who will kill you because of who your parents are, what you look like, where you were born, what you believe, or simply because it’s what they want to do and what they want is worth more than your life.

Now, thirteen years later I’ve been struggling even more than usual with the pervasive darkness and how to respond to it.  A friend of mine recently told me that the only positive response is to be the light.  You may be small, you may be only one, but all you can do to change the world is treat it and the people in it the way you wish it could be.

My light may be small, and very dim at times, but I am trying.  And at least I know I am not alone.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Status Report: 2 lbs. lost, 74 lbs. total

I am now firmly ensconced in a period that I am referring to as: the long, slow slog.

At one point I was the rabbit, taking off an average of two to three pounds every week.  Now as I approach the 200 lb. body weight mark I’ve slowed waaaay down and become the tortoise, losing a fairly steady pound per week.  You may (or may not) notice that I’m only giving status reports every few weeks these days, since reporting in with that same one pound loss every week is kind of boring.

I’m aware that it’s a healthy rate of loss, but I honestly could be doing better.  I’ve been really struggling with maintaining my motivation and not sitting down every now and again with a bag of chips or too many slices of pizza.  These slip ups are happening once a week or so – which isn’t often enough to make me gain, but is often enough to cause the extremely slow rate of loss I’m seeing now.

Also, I’m not so sure it’s very good for me to average 1,300 to 1,500 calories most days and then jump up to 2,200 once a week or so.  Although there is some compelling evidence to support the idea that this zig zag method of calorie intake does trick the metabolism out of getting really sluggish due to perceived starvation conditions, I think the higher days should really involve something a bit healthier than pizza.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Recipe Share: Southwestern Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Veggie Salad

The Stuff You Need:
·         3 cups cooked and cooled quinoa (tastes better if cooked in chicken broth rather than water)
·         1 pint cherry tomatoes cut into fourths or one regular and one yellow tomato, cut small
·         1 (16 oz.) can of sweet corn or about 16 oz. of fresh cut from the cob, if you have it
·         1 (16 oz.) can of black beans (rinsed)
·         2 cloves garlic (finely minced)
·         ½ red onion (finely diced) or four scallions (chopped small down through the white stems)
·         1 yellow, red, or orange bell pepper (finely diced)
·         1 large handful of finely chopped cilantro or one large handful of chopped basil – whichever herb you prefer is fine
·         2 ripe avocados (cut into small bite sized chunks)
·         Salt and pepper to taste
·         2 limes
·         1 tbsp. honey

What To Do:
1)      Mix all ingredients together except the avocado, honey and lime in a large bowl.
2)      Whisk together the juice of two limes with a tablespoon of honey until the consistency is even.
3)      Open the avocados, cut them up and put them on top of the salad, then pour the dressing over before tossing everything together thoroughly.  I recommend doing the avocados last and then dressing them right away because they will oxidize and turn brown quickly when exposed to air, the acid in the lime juice keeps them from doing this, so you want to get them dressed ASAP after you’ve got them out of their peels.

This recipe is an adaptation of one I found on the Rants from Mommyland blog, which is an absolutely endearing and funny read whether you’ve got small children or have just been one at some time in your life (it is linked at lower right if you’d like to see for yourself).  I put in a lot of alternates so that it can be customized per individual taste and preferences.  Either way, it’s so healthy and tasty your body will thank you for eating it!

Nutrition Info:
Serving Size:   1/8th of entire recipe
Calories Per Serving:   259
Calories From Fat:   71.2
Total Fat:   7.91g
Saturated Fat:   0.76g
Cholesterol:   0mg
Sodium:   227.9mg (this will be more after you add salt & pepper to taste)
Total Carbohydrate:   36.21g
Dietary Fiber:   5.75g
Sugars:   6.76g
Protein:   7.17g

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The "Split Plate" Charge

This falls squarely into the, "no wonder people have a hard time maintaining healthy body weight" category...

I have blogged before about my frustration with restaurants who charge me more money for ordering less food or less highly caloric food.  For example at breakfast last weekend I asked for my omelet to be made with egg beaters instead of real eggs, and that they hold both the cheese and toast.  They charged me a dollar more for the egg beaters and gave me zero money back for letting them save about four or five ounces of cheese, two slices of bread, butter and jam.  I saved about four or five hundred calories and paid $1.50 more for the privilege.  If you attempt to do something like order tomato slices or fruit in place of oily hash browns that can be anywhere from another $1.50 to around $4.00 charge, so I usually skip a fruit side dish and just eat an apple when I’m home.

A number of restaurants these days are catering to those of us who want to eat healthier, such as Seasons 52 and Harvest Seasonal Grille – which boast unique menus with a large number of entrees that fall under the appropriately sized 500 calorie mark for a meal.  They also specialize in fresh, locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, and as a bonus are quite delicious.  Fresh food is pricey, so even though your dining experience at such a restaurant will be quite healthful it still costs a lot less money to eat a fatty cheeseburger and fries.

On average, restaurant portions of food are between two and three times larger than necessary for a meal.  Knowing this, I very deliberately cut a lot of my meals in half before I even begin eating them.  Since my husband and I tend to order very different meals in restaurants (he doesn’t go in for this “hold the butter” and “hold the cheese” nonsense that I tend to pull) so it’s never really occurred to me to just order one meal for two people.  For this reason, until recently I didn’t truly know what a split plate charge was.

Apparently if two people go into a restaurant and order a single meal for the pair of them, many restaurants will tack on an extra five dollars or so for serving a single plate of food to two people.

So, let me get this straight… they bring one meal, they save the entire cost of ingredients, labor and energy consumption utilized in making another meal, and they get to charge more money for the one they did provide – simply because there happens to be two bodies sitting at the table?

Can anyone explain why this is an acceptable and commonplace practice?  I’m just not getting it.

And is this kind of bass-ackward business practice contributing to why so many restaurants go under and close down within a year or two of opening?

Makes a good argument for restaurants that serve the entire menu a la carte.