Thursday, August 30, 2012

A return to Youngie Days...

This year marks 10 years that I have been out of college! (EEEK/GASP!!!!)  It also marks 14 years since I started my college career at a para-military academy in good ole' Buzzards Bay!! (God I feel old!!!)

Not a bad place to spend 4 years!

Part of going to such a school requires that all freshman Youngies go through a 2 week Orientation Boot Camp.  The objective is to too teach cadets the finer points of how to live at sea, take direction and learn what it means to live life as a merchant mariner.

The current orientation class going on now down on the cape! (source)
It is a weird feeling to look back on what at the time felt like the worst 2 weeks of my life!  Now I remember the weeks with laughter, insanity and really miss the time I had with that group of people!  The 40+ kids that were in my "company" for those 2 weeks are still some of my closet friends 14 years later.  Most live scattered around the world but when we get together it is like not a day as passed.

Gotta love a school where EVERYONE is in the fitness plan! (source)

The schools current Training Ship (source)
This evening, I have the pleasure of joining a group of MMA staff, alumni and friends of the academy on a mini Harbor Cruise around Boston Harbor that will stop off at the schools training ship. The ship is in town for a few days to give the cadets a real world snapshot of life at sea and why they are going through this insane orientation process.   I am excited to go onboard the newer training vessel (was acquired after I graduated), see how the youngies are surviving bootcamp and relive a few moments of a "glory days".

I will be sure to post some fun action shots later this week of the event and you can also look forward to a few more MMA/Alumni centered posts in the next few weeks.  Who knows maybe I will even pull out and scan some actual photos from my days in college for your amusement (that is right kiddos, this old lady has photo albums of college pictures!  No digital pictures or Facebook albums here...)  We have a few networking and Alumni events on the calendar that will surely give me my fair share of MMA for a while :)

Thanks to the Foundation for inviting me this evening!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Thought process of an impatient/scattered brain foodie...

There are times when I plot out a meal from start to finish.  I find a recipe, shop for the ingredients, prep the ingredients and end up with a finished dinner that is fit to serve to guests...  9 times out of 10 this will end up on the blog...

This sadly however,  is not the norm of my everyday eating routine....

10 minute "kitchen sink" fried rice

I think about food and what I am going to cook later ALL DAY! (seriously, ask anyone I work with!).  As a treat, I am going to share with you all the inner workings of a crazy foodie's brain when a craving hits...  Be excited, be frightened but no judging!

1.  It starts off with either a craving or desire for 1 specific ingredient. I turn all OCD/single white female on that ingredient...   Sometimes I find it through, google, my google reader or during  one of my many "pinterest breaks" at work.

2.  Once my mind is set on cooking that evenings meal with said ingredient I forage the interwebs for recipe ideas. Sometimes I am looking for "quick n' easy" other times I actually google a random list of ingredients I know I have at home and hope for the best...

3.  I will will narrow down my recipe findings to 1-3 recipes with full intentions of following one recipe to the letter when I get home.

4.  When I return home I am usually weak with hunger and my patience to prepare a meal is very very thin... What ends up happening is chaotic and a bit scary...

5.  I pull up my 3 recipes and start foraging through the kitchen for needed ingredients.  80% of the time I only have a sampling of ingredients so I start combining the recipes to make a pseudo dinner...

6.  98% of the time I adapt whatever recipe into a one pot.  There is little to no measuring.  I add spices with the reckless abandonment and rarely salt my dishes (no idea why I NEVER think to add salt).  My reasoning is always..  well it is just me and I don't care if it is pretty or not....  (awful mindset for a food blogger I know!)

7.  The end result is usually a tasty giant pot of some sort of goulash that I inhale while watching TMZ and Chronicle (every damn day!!).  Then I have leftovers for the next  week day.

Giant pot of goulash  soup!

My food is rarely pretty, usually impossible to recreate or even describe... but I love it!  I want to get better at measuring and documenting my dishes to share with you all.  Perhaps I need to snack more before I get home and really look into weekly meal planning!

Can I get back to this?
Are you a thoughtful cook who plans out a recipe to the smallest ingredient or do you just throw things in a pot and hope for the best?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Part Time Vegetarian/Vegan?

I know I know... just writing that title opens me up to all sorts of debate but stick with me and let me explain ok?  Awesome!  This is a long wordy post...  you have been warned!

(Also, I am going to over-share in this post, go on a few random tangents about my diet and give you some honest feedback on how changing my diet has worked for me.  I am not a professional dietitian or doctor.  Please consult someone with actual training if you are looking to change your diet)

Over the past few months I have been cutting out various foods off and on to better observe how my body reacts to them.  To say that it has been eye opening is in understatement!

If you have been reading this blog or know me in real life you know that my love for all things Bacon, Cheese and Meat is a true and pure love!  Nothing says comfort to me like bacon mac n' cheese or eggs Benedict smothered in hollandaise sauce.....

So when I decided to start removing items from my diet to see what the change on my body was I was pretty quiet about it (going to Bacon's #1 fan to rocking tofu at lunch tends to raise a few eyebrows...).

Cutting dairy was one thing... being almost 32 and having acne was an issue that really messed with my head. I was very open and honest to people when I mentioned I was cutting it out. I did however, still feel the need to qualify the statement with (it's not 100% of the time and yes I still love cheese).  I felt like just cutting back on dairy was like telling my family I was now Republican and a fan of Romney!!!  If they were shocked about me cutting out dairy what would they say about me replacing turkey for chickpeas or cashew cheese instead of alfredo sauce?

The funny thing was though, that as I cut back on dairy the less I craved and missed it!  I KNOW!!  I have been on this journey for almost 4 months and no longer do I feel the need to add to cheese to many dishes. Sandwiches sans cheese, just as tasty!  Having oatmeal w/ almond milk instead of yogurt in the a.m., delicious and way more filling.  Gone are the days of 1-2 cheese sticks a day as a work snack.  Those have been replaced by bags of chopped veggies, raw nuts and hummus.

I have noticed my complexion clearing, less phlegm when I wake in the morning (over share I know..) and a HUGE reduction in stomach aches.  I had been on dairy for so much of my life that I actually just thought of my stomach aches, bad skin and bloating as normal routine.  It was only after reducing it from my diet that I noticed the discomfort when eating it.   

All of these changes in my health and complexion made me research more about what I was putting into my body.  Could I go vegetarian for 80% of my diet and really save meat and cheese dishes for special occasions?

I have never been a huge red meat person when it comes to my grocery shopping.  I thought, how big of a deal would it be to cut out chicken/meat and simple carbohydrates from my diet M-F?  I thought about going Vegan during the week since I am off dairy but honestly the thought of no 5 minute egg dinners or asking if there is butter in everything I eat sounded like to big of a step in my life right now.

The reason for making these changes is to improve my health, my mood and keep me at a healthy weight.  Stressing myself out over whether something is vegan or not is really not my goal now.  Baby steps!

Sooo what does this all mean for my life, my diet and the blog?  Good stuff I hope!  I plan on being a vegetarian (almost vegan) Monday through Friday.  The weekends I will try to also be meat/dairy free but I am not going to limit myself at family functions, dinners out with friends or food festivals throughout the year.  I want to really savor and enjoy those times when I eat meat or cheese instead of making them part of the norm in my diet.

I fully expect to stumble on this... Even today I had a work lunch where the  only protein was deli meat.  Instead of making a sandwich with meat and cheese I opted for a GIANT salad with a small portion of turkey deli meat.  The upside was that I didn't have the mid-afternoon slump that a heavy carb/meat lunch usually brings on.

For you my readers it means more recipes made with simple whole food ingredients that capture the textures and tastes of classic cheesey/meat dishes without all the heaviness....

Thank you for taking the time to read through my brain dump on this topic! I have spent A LOT of time the past few months thinking about this and am really excited to make these small changes in my diet!

Now it is your turn, does any of what I wrote here resonate in your life?  Have you tried cutting out certain foods to see there effect on your system?  Do you see yourself cutting out meat or dairy even one day a week?  Are you concerned what friends and family would think?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

MV Summer Vacation

I am just getting back from a week on Martha's Vineyard followed by attending my first #HLS12 Summit in Cambridge.  So many things to share with you all.... First things first.. my summer vacation!

I don't think I will ever get over the feeling I have when I first step off the ferry onto Martha's Vineyard.  There is something so magical about an island that is always welcoming, relaxing and ready to repair your mind/body/soul !

Ferry rides call for Harry Potter!
I have been going to MV since before I can remember. As a child I spent my days on the beach jumping off the Jaws Bridge or biking the many trails upisland.

During my college years I worked my toukas off as the Donut Girl all while still managing to hit up the beach, and enjoy the nightlife of a summer paradise....

After college my sister and I bought my grandmothers house down on MV.  For the past 10 years or so we have been DIY homeowners who spend our time on the island painting, gardening, building cabinets etc...  My times are not as carefree as they once were on the island but I must admit I appreciate my time there now much more.
Turkey on Portuguese Sweet Roll with Raw Kale Black Bean & Corn Salad
Before I saw the island as a beach getaway... a place that was always a part of me and my family but I definitely took it for granted.

As I get older I am starting to see the affect it has on me.  When I am there I am happier, calmer, healthier, lighter etc...

I walk everywhere, I sleep without an alarm and I never wake in the middle of the night. When I am there I am transported to another time... A simpler time where social media is a distant thought and getting your coffee from the local shop in your PJs is a norm...

  I BBQ and drink homemade Sangria...

 I laugh and really talk with friends...

I tend to my own secret garden...

I prepare & eat simple meals from local farms...

 I day dream of moving here and spending my days hiking the island...

I remember my childhood, the amazing memories created here....

 And I am truly sad when it is time to leave the rock for the mainland...

MV is really my most true happy place.  It recharges my soul and makes me take a moment to appreciate all I blessed with...  I will always hold this island close to my heart!

Thank you to my lovely friends who joined me on this vacation!  Even though we had to battle a few rainstorms I had the best time that I have had in years!  Thanks!!!

Where is your happy place?