Sunday, March 30, 2008

Rolley Polley Mama's Got a Fatty

So, I like to eat. You don't call yourself the Diva of Yum if you don't focus your purpose for living on the Yum. I'll be honest and say that I've been focusing a bit too much on the yum and not so much on the exercise that should be matched with the yum I've been consuming. The result? My fat girl jeans have been on regular rotation. I've watched this growth around my middle go from, cute little muffin top, to like a triple layer cake and it aint lookin' so yummy.

Weddings, the beach, poolside people watching are all super fun things around the corner and the Diva can't have that extra wiggle for everyone and their mamas to see. So I'm getting my post Eddie Van Halen Valerie Bertinelli on and doing that dreaded thing called dieting. The thing about dieting is that you have to think even harder about food. And when I say think harder, I don't mean like Wendy's or Taco Hell. I'm talking about the choice between lettuce or lettuce with water on the side. It's going from one hell to the next. I'm exaggerating, of course.

I know too that I'm not the only one. I don't want to get all Supersize Me on you so instead I thought I'd share some healthy recipes that have helped me deal with the idea of not eating out as much as I prefer which is every waking, breathing moment of my entire life.

The first thing is quinoa, an ancient grain that's been around since forever and three days. It's like the Oscar worthy vintage dress of all grains. Super yummy. Super healthy. Super fiberlicious. (Here is where I keep comments about the fiber to myself and apologize to the people who have been near me since the diet debacle reared its ugly head. ) And to top it off, it's so easy to make and perfect for those times when you are starving and just need to stuff face fast. To the left you'll see my cooking skills at work. Here's what I did.

1) Buy some pre-chopped veggies. Who has time to cut things?
And you might get injured. You'll need carrots, onions and celery. This is what fancy chefs on the food network call mirapoux. If you say it front of a mirror over and over it makes your lips look really sexy and French.
2) Saute veggies in olive oil and salt and pepper.
3) Add a huge ass can of chicken stock or veggie or whatever your
little heart wants or whatever is on sale.
4) Add about 1 3/4 lb of quinoa
5) Simmer on low heat until the quinoa is the consistency of your favorite couscous.

This was a pot of yum that lasted about a week for me and the sis. The veggies are like sweet morsels of fun amidst the salty, nuttiness of the quinoa. Please tell me if you try it because I love to hear how right I am about good food.

The other thing on this diet that has saved my life is the wonderful thing I call frozen veg heaven. I love corn which is of course one of the least healthy of the vegetables but I love me some corn. I used to give dissertations on corn for a receptionist at an old job and was happy to convert her to a corn lover. She gained about 5lbs by the time I left my position but we won't get into that now.

Aside from corn, I've been looking for a way to eat more green beans. I love green beans and hope to look like one someday. I found the answer at my Disney World also known as Trader Joes. It's called Prig Khin Green Beans. The packet on the right comes with crispy frozen green beans and two spicy soy sauce packets that dress the green beans in a subtle, kicky, yummy layer of pure goodness. And like the quinoa its super easy to make. If you are one of those special learners, like myself and need pictures, see below. It was as simple as adding a tablespoon of olive oil, sauteing the green beans, dumping sauce packets and stirring. How easy is that?

I threw in some fluffy white rice as a side dish and some extra carbs that I don't need and ta-da dinner! That's as gourmet as it gets for a dieting Diva on a Sunday night.

As I approach that scary age of 30, I know that fighting off the lbs will be an uphill battle but at least I've got some new and challenging food adventures to come and more for you to read about. I'm hoping that few more weeks of frozen veg and vintage grains will bring this triple layer cake on my waist down to at least a cute little cupcake.

Man, do I miss cake.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Line Theory

When I moved to NY a few years ago I noticed things about people and thus, myself. One of the most important pieces of advice my dearest friend of over 2 decades gave me during my Welcome to NYC Beeyotch dinner was a loving and concerned warning:"Don't touch anything. You'll get malaria."

I took that to heart. I didn't sit on subway seats, especially after I watched a homeless man urinate there. No worries. I learned early on from my homegirl Orphan Annie that 1) bright red is only cute if you are around 4.5 years of age and by like 5, you should consider some Clairol #24 and 2) when you gotta go, you gotta go.

I also began to pay closer attention to the way people move. Ever thought about how we try our damndest not to have eye contact with strangers, to say hellos in the hallway at work or how annoyed people get when a stranger's head falls on their shoulder on a cramped flight. (BTW, that's usually my ass. Apologies.)

What's up with that? Are we just so germophobic and peoplephobic that we jump at moments of human contact, however insignificant?

The only exception to this rule, I've found, in my little humble ol' life is when there is a line. We like the formulaic quality of a line and the idea that there is an order to it all and better yet a purpose, ie to get into that sample sale and have a first go at the half-price jeans, to cop the best seats for the artist with the lazy eye who sings to your soul, or well, whatevs, you get the point. The beauty of a line is that in lines, people don't mind getting close, bumping into each other and doing the awkward "I'm sorry"s. Really in a line people, including myself, don't seem to mind the idea of maybe catching some stranger's malaria.

I was thinking about this today as I got in line at Chop't. I've been missing NYCish things the past week and when this opened up down the street from my office I thought it was Jesus talking to me. For those lucky enough to know what Chop't is, go ahead with ya damn self! If not, it's a healthy fast food joint with some of the most expensive vegetables known to mankind. I'll tell you how it works so if you are ever blessed to get into one you'll know the order of things.

First, you get in, of course, a line. There will usually always be a line if you are normal and like to eat lunch before dinner time. There you will find before you an awesome plethora of ingredients available for your salad. This will also give you time to create a masterpiece of a lunch. All sorts of vegetables, meats and cheeses and even smoked tofu can all be added to your salad by a nice salad artist that will rush you through the process of choosing toppings and following your salad to the end of the line where your salad will change hands to the chopping artist who will chop the bejesus out of your greens and add a dressing of your choice. Be sure to tell him "when" or else it will be a soggy, sorry mess of veggies. And ta-da, faster then you can say romaine he/she will hand you your salad creation with a smile. You need to get a smile at the end cause you've been just officially been robbed. I haven't left Chop't without a bill of at least $10 bucks but I'll be honest and say that I've always left full and mostly always happy.

My salad, on the right ran me a cool 10 bucks and with the soda on the side it pushed it over the 13 buck line. Chop't carries Boylan fountain sodas. These sodas are made of pure cane sugar and other all natural goodies. And really how can you honestly go wrong with diet cream soda? Just looking at this picture makes me so happy with life I'm not even sad that I'm eating at a messy office desk with my to-do stack spilling over onto my romaine, crumbled egg, beet, avocado, fried onion, rocket fuel thai-curry dressing beautifulness. The bread they give on the side aint to shabby either. More like pieces of sweet tortilla if you ask me but still yummy with my salad. I'll be really honest here, dear readers (Do I have plural readers yet?), and say that I really wasn't working and was for sure on Now that I'm done with salads, can we talk about how Nicole Kidman still isn't showing yet? I'm concerned and will pray about it tonight, definately.

I'll tell you the one downfall from this salad. Well maybe I won't since I want to keep you interested but if you are unfortunate enough to be in line with me one day, my apologies for the stank. Hey, at least it aint malaria!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

An Ode to Hamentashen

There's something I don't understand about Jesus. I'll admit that Easter is one of my favorite holidays because as a writer there's no greater story than the drama that is the life of Jesus Christ. Betrayal, a hooker, death. Come on, if those aren't ingredients for Jerry Springer I don't know what is. My only question is why couldn't we have some cookies thrown in for the after-party? You are risen homey, why not celebrate with a nice sugar cookie?

This is where I look to my Jewish brothers and sisters. Matzah ball soup, challah and that miraculous thing called a bagel (only from NYC, please), are just a few examples of some of the beauties of the Jewish culture. And then I found out about hamentashen.

I walk into work last Thursday and I see someone added this on my Outlook calendar: hamentashen contest. First, I love my job and second, it turns out that at the same time I'm celebrating the triumphs and tragedies of Easter, Jewish people are celebrating Purim. I asked them what this was all about but got a bit distracted by the fact that there were cookies involved and so I did what any other normal person would do, eat the cookies and go to Wikipedia afterwards.

Here are my findings: Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people of the ancient Persian Empire from Haman's plot to annihilate them, as recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther. Purim is celebrated mainly by giving away sweets to friends and family. The "in thing" to give is of course, hamenstashen. A hamantash is a pastry in Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine recognizable for its three-cornered shape, said to represent Haman's hat. They are made with many different flavors, including prunes, nut, poppy, date, apricot, fruit preserves, chocolate, or even caramel or cheese.

Now that's what I'm talkin' about.

I had to try every flavor available to me at the time: almond, apricot, poppy and raspberry. My favorite was the poppy, the sweet grainy texture of the paste a perfect balance to the dense buttery dough. I have to say though, if you had put a chocolate hamantash in front of my face I'm sure it would have been like the best day ever, aside from the day I stalked Mario Batali on the streets of NY to see if he would feed me at Lupa for free. See photo for proof. Can you spot his signature orange crocs? I'm beginning to really miss NYC artists, where are you guys hiding in DC? But, I digress again.

I guess we always wish for what we can't have - legs like Charlize Theron, an ass like Kim Kardashian, for Ken Paves to leave Jessica Simpson once and for all to travel with us on bad hair months. You get the point. As I sat around my office conference table on Purim, I had to be grateful for the experience in front of me. Where else can you find a girl lucky enough to be eating hamentaschen with her boss and her co-workers during working hours, dispelling rumors about celebrities and passing around invitations for a Friday night outing?

Even if we are stuck with a dreadful Easter ham and cheap, indistinguishable grocery store salads dressed in all sorts of mayonnaise, isn't it all just about togetherness? It's about that Uncle pinching your love handles and comparing you to the fat, arthritic Aunt that kisses you with a slippery smack with each hello and goodbye. It's about watching your mom remind your dad about his cholesterol when he reaches for another Peep. For me Easter will be about sitting around the table with my family, a crazy bunch of Filipinos and Americans and Filipino-Americans ready to stuff themselves until its time to make the long drive home, where ever that might be.

I guess this is just one of those times where you have to look at the bigger picture. I'm sorry to get all Wonder Years on you but as I get older, I'll always want what I can't have but more and more I'm so happy with what's in front of me.

In the Beginning

I started writing this blog in the third person and realized that there is nothing more Divaesque then writing in the first. So here I go.

I needed a vacation in the worse way. My skin was pale and cracking. My concealer from my tanned summer skin sat lonely and unused, relegated to the medicine cabinet. Worst of all my toenails were the definition of atrocious after months kept in socks and dumpy Uggs. Winter, you ruin my life! My sister was finishing up her last round of finals at Georgetown and she needed a break from group projects on Macroeconomics and boys in button-downs and khakis, so we decided to get our Nike on and just do it. Like the Divas that we are, we embarked on a four day food fest on an exclusive remote island in the Caribbean. Now when I say remote I mean Jamaica (Ocho Rios, to be exact) and by exclusive I mean an all-inclusive resort where spring- breakers, honeymooners and retirees gather around troughs of food, dripping suntan oil and saltwater on mounds of oily callaloo. To the Diva, this defined heaven.

This trip meant a lot to me and the only thing that could have made it better is if Rihanna and Chris Brown had decided to low-budget it and come at the same time and to the same place. I would have made it worth their while and performed my a capella rendition of Umbrella (ella-ella-ella) but whatever, I digress.

One of the many highlights of my trip is finding the meaning of life in the divine thing known as a Jamaican Pattie. It meant so much to me that it inspired the idea for this blog and is also the reason that it's my profile picture. Who wants to see a picture of this mug when you can look at the crispy, flaky mysteriousity that is the Pattie! After an early morning flight and bad airport food, my sister and I landed in 90 degree temps, starving! Jesus spoke to us through the simple yet inviting, toothless smile of a Jamaican Pattie vendor, who asked us kindly, "Chicken, beef or vegetable?" We were feeling brave so we went with the beef. Buttery, melt in your mouth mystery meat = BLISS. The fact that it was only $4 for 2 patties and a Ting, the native soda, is just what my girl Kimora would call Fabulousity!

Sometimes in this crazy world of job searching, love searching, soul searching, you need something so simple and beautiful and enjoyable that the experience can't be described in words. The joy of traveling with my sis is that we have our own language. Not that crazy twin kind of language because we are neither twins nor crazy. But I just had to look at her face and hear her mumble a knowing, "Mmm,hmmm," to know she understood my joy. There on a strange, dusty sidewalk in a country that is known mainly for a man who made good music and didn't wash his hair, I understood that life is all about simplicities. It is about good traveling companions, the sun on your back and a simple meal, that you can hold in your hand and take only quick, random guesses at its ingredients.