Flight Risk

I’ve been traveling a lot lately.

Usually, I prefer to drive – not only because I like having the time in the car to think about things, or sing to myself, or talk to myself.

(Boy, am I glad Bluetooth was invented. Now other drivers don’t look at me like I’m nuts when I’m talking to myself in the car.)

But I really prefer to drive because flying makes me nervous.

It’s not the fact that I’m thirty-five bajillion thousand feet up in a lightning-attracting metal craft that is much heavier than air.

Nor is it that I really dislike sitting super chummy close to strangers that are invariably carrying every strain of flu, but insist that “it’s just allergies.”

It’s not even the fact that I’m locked into an enclosed space over which I have no control.

No, flying makes me nervous because in order to get on the airplane, I have to go through airport security.

I would love to be a confident seasoned traveler, zipping through the airport pulling my smart rolling carry-on in one hand, and confidently clutching my venti no-fat latte and boarding pass with the other.

But instead, I’m a clumsy, fumbling ditz with about as much confidence as a seventh grader on the first day of school.

For some reason, standing in the line for security makes me extremely nervous. I don’t know why. I have nothing to worry about…

…except for that full-sized bottle of lotion that I keep forgetting is in the bottom of my purse. (Only had to go through security three times for that one. And I almost made my flight!)

…or the expired license that I inexplicably keep behind my current one and will invariably pull out by mistake. (“No, my real license isn’t expired, sir. I can explain why I have two IDs.”)

…or the super cute sweater with metallic threads that kept setting off the scanner. (Don’t worry. Getting a pat-down is just like getting an awkward hug from a stranger. Only it’s not.)

So I shift my feet in line, constantly check my ID, and try to avoid all eye contact with the friendly neighborhood TSA agent, all the while chastising myself for choosing to fly.

“Why did I buy a plane ticket?” I wonder. “New Hampshire isn’t that far. It’s only 22 hours. That’s not too bad. I so should have driven!”

 

Grown Up Eggs

My Saturday morning routine usually consists of coffee, sushi, and murder.

(Usually Grimm. But sometimes, I switch it up with The Mentalist.)

On the weekends that I didn’t happen to stop by my friendly neighborhood sushi place, I eat eggs.

Scrambled eggs.

Cheesy scrambled eggs.

With lots of cheese.

Like a little kid.

Occasionally, when I have a lot of time, or when I feel the need to remind myself that I’m old enough to pay taxes and own a car, I’ll make poached eggs on toast with shaved parmesan and roasted asparagus. Or, as I like to call it: “Grown Up Eggs.”

Grown Up Eggs

There isn’t even a real recipe for this. It’s just one of those things that you throw together.

I happened to have a good loaf of bread from the bakery, but sometimes I just used the regular sliced stuff.

Also, I’m new to the poached egg scene (I used to make this with soft boiled eggs instead), so I’m not going to give a tutorial, but you can find a good one here.

The element that really makes this dish is the parmesan. Get the real stuff, not the can. Use a vegetable peeler to shave off short pieces. Parmesan is salty, so you won’t need much salt on the finished dish.

Grown Up Eggs
2 poached eggs
Roasted Asparagus
1 thick slice of bread
Shaved Parmesan
Salt and Pepper

Poach two eggs and set on paper towels to drain. Toast the bread and shave the parmesan. Layer toast, asparagus, parmesan, and eggs. Salt and pepper to taste. Ponder your mortality.

Go Green for Spring: Romaine Lettuce

GreenforSpring

 

Happy Spring!!

Which was actually yesterday. Who knew!

OK, a lot of people probably knew, but I didn’t. I was sure the first day of Spring was today until I saw yesterday’s Google.

Oh well. Life is full of missed opportunities, I guess.

Well, First Day of Spring, or Second Day of Spring aside, today’s Veggie is Romaine Lettuce.

Romaine Lettuce often gets overlooked, but it’s actually chock full of nutrients and contains a whole alphabet of vitamins. This leafy green isn’t just something to fill the bottom of your salad bowl. It’s a wise, nutritious choice for a well-balanced diet.

Choosing Romaine
Look for heads that are tightly packed with stems that are not too brown. (Use the same guidelines for selecting Boston and Bibb lettuces.)

Using Romaine
Have you ever determined to be healthy – I mean, really healthy this time – and load up your grocery cart with all sorts of salad greens…only to have them rot in your fridge before you have a chance to use them up?

Or is that only me?

Well, I have discovered a way to combat this tendency. As soon as I get home from the store, I wash and chop my lettuce.

My sister-in-law gave me an Oxo salad spinner that is very roomy. I toss all of my washed greens into the basket and give it a few spins. Then I cover the greens with a paper towel, and the entire bowl (and basket) tightly with plastic wrap. The basket keeps the greens away from any condensation, and the paper towel soaks up any moisture. I toss the greens every time I make salad, and replace the paper towel whenever it feels damp.

This not only keeps my salad greens fresh far longer, but it saves me a lot of time when I’m making my lunches for school. (And forces me to actually eat the healthy things in my fridge.)

Need some salad ideas?
Romaine+Shredded Carrots+Kalamata Olives+Feta Cheese+Boiled Egg …with Balsamic Vinaigrette (my typical lunch)

Romaine+Black Olives+Prosciutto+Parmesan …with oil and vinegar

Romaine+Bibb+Arugula+Spinach+Mushrooms+Parmesan …with Caesar Dressing

What is your favorite salad combination?

 

Go Green for Spring: Cilantro

GreenforSpringToday’s highlight is cilantro.

(Yes, I know cilantro is an herb. Avocado is a fruit. We’re just gonna roll with it.)

The health benefit mainly associated with cilantro is toxic metal cleansing.

So, remember that time you drank that bowl of mercury? Yeah. Cilantro will help you with that.

But other than binding to the toxic substances stored in your body’s tissues, cilantro is also showing a lot of promise in diabetic research (it contains a nutrient that stabilizes insulin production), and as an anti-anxiety sleep aid.

Choosing Cilantro
Use your senses when choosing cilantro. It should look green and vibrant, smell fresh, and feel like a freshly picked bouquet – not weak or wilted.

There’s more in the bundle than you think, so keep that in mind when you’re figuring out how much you need.

Using Cilantro
A lot of people recommend storing cilantro in a vase with a little bit of water in the bottom and a plastic bag over the top. That sounds like a whole lot of work, and I have never done that. I wrap my cilantro in a paper towel, put it in an open bag, and stick it in the fridge. It keeps just fine.

To wash cilantro, hold it like a bouquet of flowers, then dunk it “flowers” first into a bowl of cold water. Swish it around, then pull it out and let the water drain off. Replace the water in the bowl and repeat. Do this two or three times until the water is mostly clear.

Now comes the fun part…

Wrap a paper towel around the stems, then go outside and shake the water off the cilantro like you’re shaking out a feather duster. …or you could use a salad spinner…or just pat it dry with a towel.
But slinging cilantro off my balcony really is fun. (I don’t get out much.)

It’s best to keep the cilantro in its bundle and just tear or slice off what you need. (Hold the cilantro at an angle above a cutting board, and gently slice off the outer leaves with a very sharp knife.)

Extra cilantro will freeze quite well. Just put it in a ziplock bag and stick it in the freezer. No extra steps needed. (Do not thaw it before you reuse it. Just pinch off whatever you need.)

A word about today’s recipe:
I pinned this recipe a couple months ago. We were in the smack dab middle of winter, and I must have been craving green. It looked so good! It had avocados! It required a mortar and pestle! I love my mortar and pestle! And exclamation points!
Well, it sat around on my Pinterest board for a little while. Every now and then, I would look at it and imagine its awesomeness.
It called to me.
This past weekend, I answered.
I was so excited!
…then so disappointed.
It looked so good. It tasted so bland.
However, I was determined that my effort would not go to waste. I put on my chef’s hat, channeled my inner Rachael Ray, and went into rescue mode.
The result was this recipe. And it’s not half bad, if I say so myself.

chckpeavcdo

Creamy Chickpea and Avocado Salad
I can’t wait to try this with roasted garlic. Sun-dried tomatoes may also make an appearance.
1 avocado
1 15oz can of chickpeas
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup greek yogurt
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbs chopped green onion
1/4 tsp onion powder
juice from half a lime
salt and pepper to taste

Peel and dice the avocado. Drain and rinse* the chickpeas. Smash the chickpeas and avocado together using a mortar and pestle. (You can also do this with a fork, but a mortar and pestle is much more fun.) Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
Serve with choice of bread. (I prefer pita.)

*I also peel my chickpeas. It’s not necessary, but it makes for a smoother salad. Just rub the chickpea between your fingers, and the outer skin will slide off.

Have you ever had a recipe fail on you? What did you do to rescue it?

For other great recipes, follow me on Pinterest!

Go Green for Spring: Kale

GreenforSpring

I’ve blogged before about how obsessed I am with kale.

Seriously. This stuff is awesome.

Not only does kale lower your cholesterol, and help detoxify your body, it also is believed to reduce your risk of cancer.

Popeye should have carried around cans of kale instead.

(Juicers: Did you know that kale is actually better for you steamed than raw?)

Choosing Kale
Kale is in season from mid-winter to early spring. Look for bunches that have small, tightly curled leaves. The color should be a deep green, and stems should be stiff not rubbery.

Using Kale
Store the kale unwashed in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

The stems of kale tend to be tough, so you will generally remove the stems before cooking.

Kale1

1. Fold the kale leaf in half, like a taco.

Kale2

2. Slice along the back rib with a sharp knife to remove the stem.

Kale3

3. Lay two or three leaves on top of each other…

Kale4

…and roll them up together.

Kale5

4. Slice through the roll to form bite-size pieces.

Kale6

*Please ignore all the weird shadows on my hand. My kitchen has the worst lighting.

I usually wash the kale between steps two and three. Wet kale is easier to roll and slice for some reason.

Need a recipe for kale?
Try Warm Kale and Quinoa Salad
Or check out Kale Salad with Creamy Almond Ginger Dressing

Any other yummy kale recipes? Put the link in the comments and I’ll add it to the list!

Go Green for Spring: Asparagus

GreenforSpring

I love asparagus.

It’s got awesome health benefits: it’s an anti-inflammatory, an anti-oxidant, and it contains a very important nutrient that helps your digestive system. (I won’t bore you with all the science, but you can read about it here.)

Plus, it’s super yummy.

Choosing Asparagus
Asparagus starts appearing in the very late winter and early spring, but its peak season is April to May, so that’s when you’re going to get the best deal on it at the grocery store.

Look for stems that are about the thickness of a pencil with dark green or purplish tips. The stalks should be straight and slightly flexible – not bent or twisted – and the tips should be tightly closed.

Asparagus will not keep long in the refrigerator, so plan to use it up within a couple of days. Wrap the base of the stems with a damp paper towel to keep them fresh as long as possible.

Using Asparagus
Working with asparagus is super easy.

Just rinse in cold water and blot between two paper towels. Then, pick up the stalk near the base, and gently snap off about two inches or so. (Like you’re snapping pole beans.)

You don’t have to stress about it. It will snap off very easily. Don’t force it.

If you managed to get some thicker asparagus in your bunch, don’t sweat it. The skin will be tougher, so just peel the lower third of the stalk with a vegetable peeler. The thinner stalks do not need to be peeled.

Asparagus will shrink down to about half its size during cooking, so keep that in mind when you’re thinking about portions.

Need a recipe for asparagus? I love it roasted:

Asprgs1

Parmesan Garlic Roasted Asparagus
1 bunch asparagus
olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
grated parmesan
sea salt
cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 400* and drizzle olive oil in the bottom of a roasting pan. Wash and prepare the asparagus, then lay them in the pan and add a few more drops of oil if necessary. Toss to coat. Add minced garlic, parmesan, salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 20 minutes, checking and stirring after 10 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

Full disclosure: Ok, so I didn’t feel like actually grating any parmesan for this, so I just used the stuff in the can. Also, I didn’t have any sea salt. Also, this would be great with bacon.

What’s your favorite use for Asparagus?

Go Green for Spring: Avocados

GreenforSpringThis week starts week with St. Patrick’s Day, and ends with the First Day of Spring. I thought it would be a great opportunity to highlight some of my favorite green vegetables.

The first highlight of our “Go Green for Spring” series is the Avocado. Avocados are not vegetables. I am aware of the irony.

Avocados are super good for you. They contain a powerful anti-inflammatory that has been shown to reduce symptoms of arthritis.

Adding avocados to your salads will actually help your body to absorb all the good nutrients that would normally not be absorbed. They are also high in fiber and show a lot of promise in reducing cholesterol and stabilizing blood sugar.

So pick up some of these super fruits next time you’re at the grocery store.

Choosing Avocados
The best way to choose any fruit or vegetable is to use your senses. How does it feel? How does it smell? How does it look?
(If you can get away with tasting it, that’s good too. But I doubt your local grocery will look kindly on your taking a bite out of a tomato.)

When selecting avocados, pick them up and give them a slight squeeze. It should be firm, but give way to moderate pressure. Think of way the way an orange feels versus how an apple feels. If the avocado is mushy, or squeezes easily, it’s too ripe.

Another way to test the ripeness of an avocado is to pop the little brown stem off the end. If it comes off easily and is green underneath, the avocado is ripe. If it does not come off easily and is yellow or brown underneath, the avocado is not yet ripe (yellow) or too ripe (brown.)

You can purchase an avocado that is not yet ripe and let it ripen on your counter for a few days. When it is ripe, put it in the refrigerator where it will keep for about a week.

Using Avocados
To open an avocado, slice it in half lengthwise with a sharp knife. Then turn the two halves in opposite directions. It will pop apart and leave the stone in one half.

If you are only using half the avocado, keep the stone in the unused portion, wrap in plastic and refrigerate. The stone will keep the refrigerated avocado from turning brown. (You can also put the avocado stone in a bowl of guacamole with the same result.)

To remove the stone, whack it with a sharp knife and twist. The stone will pop out easily.

Cut the halves in half again and, holding the avocado in your hand, peel the skin back from the flesh like a banana. The most vitamin-rich portion of the avocado is the dark green layer under the skin. This peeling method keeps as much of that layer as possible.

Need an idea for an avocado recipe that’s not guacamole? Try this:
avochknsaldAvocado Chicken Salad
1 12.5 oz can chicken (about 1 1/2 cups shredded)
1/2 avocado
2 Tbs diced onion
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup greek yogurt
juice of half a lime
salt and pepper to taste
choice of bread (I used pita)

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
The longer it sits, the better it is. I mean, really. This tastes amazing the next day…if it lasts that long.