Posts from — May 2010
It wouldn’t be Memorial Day weekend without either a torrential downpour or sweltering 85 degree heat, and luckily this year we had the latter.
After displaying my patriotism by way of food, I slapped on some zinc oxide, and it was off to Rocky Neck beach.
I always get excited when visiting a new beach, because they all have their own unique characteristics and waterfront landscapes, and Rocky Neck did not disappoint.
The only real downside were the crowds. We waited in a line of cars for about 35 minutes to get into the park, so if you are visiting Rocky Neck on a sunny weekend, try to get there by 10:30 AM.
The frustration of traffic though was quickly forgotten once we made it to the beach.
How eerie is it to see such clear blue water in Long Island Sound?!
Growing up in Fairfield, I’m used to murky shorelines filled with questionable oceanic deposits, so it was an unexpected treat to find such clear water along the Southern coast of Connecticut.
There is also a really incredible boardwalk that stretches the entire length of the beach.
The nice thing about this boardwalk, is rather than being entirely in the sun, it takes you through wooded areas, which offer a nice shady escape not easily found on most beaches.
As you can tell by my skin tone, I don’t have much patience when it comes to lying in the sun, so I took quite a few boardwalk breaks throughout the day.
The boardwalk also takes you out along a charming little estuary.
Below Michal watches a family of crabs along the bottom of the river.
A few other pros and cons:
PRO – the sand is really soft (not rocky–despite the name).
PRO – there are ice cream trucks located at BOTH entrances to the beach
CON – with so many people, one of them is bound to piss you off (a guy threw his bottle of coke into the estuary right in front of me, and I snapped).
PRO – the bathroom and changing facilities are clean
CON – certain areas of the beach are extremely narrow, so on a crowded day expect to overhear lots of other peoples conversations, and vice versa.
PRO – besides the beach, Rocky Neck offers hiking, camping, picnicking, and bike trails!
Camping trip anyone?
May 31, 2010 2 Comments
I’m up bright and early this morning, because in about 30 minutes Michal and I are going to be getting in the car to drive up to Rocky Neck Beach for the day.
Being that we were a bit cut for time this morning, we decided to prepare a quick breakfast using frozen waffles.
To be honest, I never really buy frozen waffles–let alone organic wheat ones, but Michal is always pointing them out when we’re in the natural food section of Stop&Shop, so out of curiosity I finally decided to try a box.
This breakfast literally took just 5 minutes to prepare, and it turned out delicious….
And yes, we intentionally used a red, white, and blue color pallet in honor of Memorial Day.
To create this patriotic dish, just top your waffles with peanut butter, strawberries, and blueberries, and then garnish with fresh coconut.
Michal always has to one-up me, so he used some Chobani greek yogurt to make his waffle creation a bit more extravagant than mine.
I really love it when I find a healthy breakfast recipe that tastes not-healthy.
May 30, 2010 1 Comment
I’ve been super busy this past week, so sadly the blog has fallen to the wayside, but the plan is to get caught up this Memorial Day weekend, starting with a very exciting event that happened last Saturday–my first Renaissance Fair!
I promise I will reward you all with video footage if you make it through to the end of this entry.
I learned a lot about myself while attending my first Renaissance Fair, such as….
-Spelling the word “fair” as “faire” bothers me
-I do not excel in medieval warfare
-I do not like the smell of leather combined with the smell of hay combined with the smell of small animals
-I only like historical reenactments when I can hide behind the safety of my TV screen
Actually, I’d like to revise my last statement: I only like historical reenactments when I can hide behind the safety of my own TV screen, OR when my friends are being publicly humiliated…
The trip to the fair also doubled as a scouting trip for Michal and Noah, who were on the hunt for some movie props for the film they’re working on this summer–NINJA ZOMBIES.
Below is Meredith checking out some possible daggers for the film (she’s heading up the art department).
We also had the chance to practice our skills at throwing sharp objects.
I love the gusto in which everyone is throwing their axe in the next photo.
Below is what happens when you leave your boyfriend alone for two seconds….
Twould be wise to stay on friendly terms with this brave warrior,
and these fearsome two also….
As promised, I leave you with some video footage….
May 29, 2010 No Comments
Who knew that above Heroes Tunnel on the Merritt Parkway is a scenic state park with over 12 miles of trails?
Being a Connecticut native, I’ve driven through this iconic tunnel hundreds of times, but only just discovered the parks existence this past weekend while researching state parks online.
When I first looked at the map and saw a big yellow blob titled, “West Rock State Park,” right over the Merritt, I thought it was a mistake.
Despite my skepticism, I decided to venture up there on Sunday, and was relieved to find it existed.
To be honest, I half expected the park to be a boring open space with some amateur man-made trails. Even after seeing the entrance, I remember thinking, “this is going to be lame.”
And then I entered the park, and I was a bit taken a back by how wrong I was.
Once you enter there is this gigantic lake that appears out of nowhere, and it’s absolutely gorgeous.
From the lake, there are a variety of different trail options, but I mapped out a 3.5 mile course which takes you up along the side of the mountain, and then circles you back down around the base of the lake.
The forest was so lush with vegetation, that it almost seemed foreign.
If someone were to show me the photos I took, my first guess would not be Connecticut.
The path I mapped out was a fairly strenuous 2 hour hike to the top, and there were lots of rocky sections…
So if you’re looking for something a bit more moderate, I recommend sticking to the trails that circle around the base of the lake. I actually merged onto these trails during the last 25 minutes of my hike, and it was a nice cool down
When I finally exited the woods, the sun was blinding, but once my eyes adjusted I got to experience one last view before I left.
I live for pretty landscapes.
May 18, 2010 1 Comment
For most people, french toast is often thought of as a full-flavored sugary treat, only meant to be enjoyed on the occasional Sunday morning, but with the right modifications, french toast can provide your body with a near perfect ratio of protein, carbs, and healthy fats (which means you can put down that box of Special K and start eating real food again).
Ingredients (serves one):
- 3 slices of light whole wheat bread
- 1 egg (I use real egg, but you can use egg substitute)
- 1/3 cup Soy Milk (I’ve also used almond milk and skim milk)
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground flaxseed (optional)
- Frozen strawberries
- Peanut Butter!
Start by preparing dipping mixture in a bowl. Beat together egg, soy milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and ground flaxseed.
Heat a large pan on medium heat (or if you’re lucky enough to have a skillet, use that). While the pan is getting warm, prepare strawberry topping by placing a large handful of frozen strawberries in a bowl, and then heating in the microwave for about a minute. Once they’re soft, mash them up in the bowl, and then heat again for another 30 seconds. Mash again until you get desired consistency.
You will save a lot of money by purchasing your organic fruit in the freezer aisle.
Once your strawberry topping is done, it’s time to cook the french toast.
Coat your pan with olive oil, and then coat your three pieces of bread with the egg mixture (if any is left over just pour it on top of the bread once it’s in the pan). Place the coated pieces of bread in the pan, and then cook for about three minutes on each side.
Once your french toast is done, spread a thick layer of peanut butter on each piece, and then cover with strawberry topping. I usually sprinkle more cinnamon on top, and sometimes drizzle a little agave syrup over the finished product.
Feel free to stack your french toast like a sandwich, and then cover with more strawberries.
The possibilities are endless. You can even create your peanut butter sandwich first, and then dip it in the egg mixture, so the peanut butter gets warm and gooey as it cooks in the pan.
Be warned that french toast addiction might follow…
But since there is absolutely nothing unhealthy about this meal, eating it every day for the next year is OK.
May 17, 2010 1 Comment
My mother has been dying to get herself into this blog by any means possible, so being that it was Mother’s Day on Sunday, I finally gave in.
I gave her complete freedom in choosing what the adventure would be, and she actually came up with a really nice idea…
…a trip to Beadworks to design some jewelry.
Since so much of what I do on this blog is done outside, it was really nice to mix it up, and do something relaxing indoors…although the massive selection of beads was a bit stressful, especially if you have no idea what you’re doing.
I finally fell in love with a strand of pale green stones, which I decided to pair with some soft yellow Swarovski crystals. I plan on turning the below layout into a necklace and earring set.
This was definitely the perfect indoor adventure for this blog, because creating a necklace from scratch costs a fraction of what it would retail for, and it’s a lot more fun getting to say you designed it. I didn’t have time to complete the above creation yet, but when it’s finished I’ll post pictures.
My mom bought a whole bunch of stuff, so it will probably be a while before she completes all of her creations also.
After the bead store, we decided to eat somewhere semi-adventurous so we chose Chocopologie down the street, which is a very European-style cafe run by a famous chocolatier from Denmark.
The menu is a fusion between really decadent specialty drinks and desserts, and lighter fair such as healthy sandwiches and salads.
My mom and I had already had a massive mother’s day breakfast with my family, so for our first course we split their signature drink, the Chocopologie, which is rich espresso and dark hot chocolate topped with lavender foam.
This tasted absolutely incredible.
For our second course I had my heart set on their grilled sandwich with mozzarella, avocado, tomato, red pepper spread, and grilled portabello, but they were out, so I ended up ordering the Mediterranean Salad, which consisted of goat cheese, kidney beans, pine nuts, lemon croute, string beans, roasted beets, and a citrus vinaigrette.
There was a lot more to this salad than pictured above, but once again, I didn’t remember to take pictures until I was almost done with it. The good news is that this salad tasted incredible, and I’m now so in love with the above combination of ingredients, that I think I’ll try to re-create it this weekend….maybe I’ll feature it as another Meatless May recipe.
After lunch my mom and I had one more adventure at Mashalls Mega Shoe Shop, and then we called it quits.
I guess pretty jewelry, hot chocolate, and a nice pair of shoes is all it takes to subdue even the neediest of mothers (she didn’t call my phone once for the next 24 hours).
May 11, 2010 No Comments
The spirit of this blog has always been to get out into the world, try new things, and hopefully experience tiny adventures along the way.
Having said that so many times before, I now feel a bit remiss in my failure to recognize that not everyone has that luxury…
On Saturday my mom and I participated in a charity walk to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. It was a bittersweet experience, because on the one hand it’s completely devastating to see those with the biggest sense of adventure (children), have to sacrifice their childhood due to illness, but on the other hand it’s remarkable and inspiring to see the impact that granting a single wish can have on a child’s entire life.
One of the founders of Make-A-Wish Foundation, Frank Shankwitz, spoke at the event (he’s kind of hard to see in the above picture, but he’s wearing a cowboy hat near the blue tent). He started the foundation over 30 years ago, and the story behind his inspiration is so moving….you can read it here, but be sure to have a tissue ready.
If you continued to read this blog entry without reading the story I just linked to, please go back and read it now, because it’s more important than anything I have to say here.
And if after reading the story you would like to make a donation to this incredible organization, please click here: I want to help kids with big dreams have BIG ADVENTURES!
Your donation will go towards helping to give kids the strength and inspiration they need to deal with a life-threatening illness, such as my cousin Dianna below, who after her recovery, will be getting a wish granted from this incredible foundation. Let’s just say her top choice involves a certain movie, based on a certain book, based on a certain vampire (SO EXCITED FOR HER!).
No matter how cool you think you are, this orange haired girl is cooler.
Just please ignore the fact that she’s in middle school, and we’re the same height.
May 10, 2010 No Comments
Even when I was a vegetarian, I absolutely hated tofu, but over the years I’ve come to realize that this was probably because I never learned how to properly season or cook it.
Thanks to this challenge, I decided to re-visit my hatred for tofu, and combine it with something I love–GRILLING!
First things first though…pit stop at Trader Joe’s…..
Ingredients (serves two):
- 1 package of Trader Joe’s Organic Extra Firm Tofu
- 1 bottle of Trader Joe’s Island Soyaki marinade
- 3 Bell Peppers (assorted colors)
- 1 large Zucchini
- olive oil
- kale and brown rice (the side dishes I served with this meal, but feel free to serve whatever side dishes you want)
Tip: No matter what brand of Tofu you decide on, always make sure it’s “Extra Firm” if you want to grill it. Also be sure to get as much water out of the tofu as possible before you marinade it. I use paper towels, and press them into the tofu to get out extra moisture.
Directions: Slice tofu into 4 or 5 even pieces, and then coat them with Soyaki marinade inside a ziplock bag. Let sit in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes (I just did 30 minutes, but some people marinade their tofu overnight).
While waiting for tofu to marinade, cut bell peppers into thirds, and cut zucchini into long slices for grilling. I like to brush olive oil and balsamic vinegar on my vegetables before grilling.
When grill is ready (keep heat on low), brush a generous amount of olive oil on the area where you will be grilling the tofu. If you don’t, the tofu will stick.
Place tofu and vegetables on the grill, and cook for about 6 minutes on each side.
Look at how pretty the grilled tofu looks. The grilled vegetables came out nice also….
And now for the final product….
…..A beyond simple vegetarian meal that took only about 5 minutes of prep, and 12 minutes of cooking time. Did I mention it tasted INCREDIBLE also? The only thing not pictured is the kale and brown rice I paired with this meal (always pair some sort of grain with such a low-carb meal, especially if you’re active!).
I was honestly shocked by how much I loved this meal, and I already have plans to throw together a tofu burrito to bring to lunch tomorrow.
I think I’m going to enjoy the Meatless May Challenge a lot more than I thought.
May 6, 2010 1 Comment
Before I begin this entry, you need to know a few things about my past:
- I was a vegetarian for 10 years.
- I was a member of PETA for 7 out of those 10 years.
- In middle school I used to sit outside Shaws and sell pencil eraser caps to raise donations for an animal rescue organization.
- I once boycotted our high school science department for using animal dissection as a teaching tool (plastic replicas would be more cost-effective and humane!!!) And oh how the feelings of unjustice come flooding back…
Now to update you on the present:
- I am no longer a vegetarian, and this makes me sad.
I suppose the beginning of the end for my vegetarian ways was in high school when I first developed anemia due to an iron deficiency from not eating any meat. The reason this iron deficiency happened was because I was still too young to understand healthy nutrition, and since I did not come from a vegetarian family, this usually meant that instead of eating my mothers meal of chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans, I would just eat lots and lots of mashed potatoes. I had no concept of what it meant to be a healthy vegetarian, and my parents often joked that I was “breadetarian,” because instead of meat, I would just eat a second serving of bread.
By the time I hit my sophomore year of college, I started eating meat again. It started in drips and drabs, but pretty soon I was eating turkey sandwiches almost everyday, and to be honest, my body felt great. I was no longer fighting exhaustion, I started running and weight training, and I even started losing weight, and I attributed it all to having let meat back into my life.
Of course I now realize that it was not the meat…well technically it was the meat…but the bigger point I’m trying to make is that it was the iron and protein within the meat that helped my body to properly function again, and I could have gotten that same sort of nutrition from vegetarian sources such as soy, legumes, nuts, seeds, eggs, and dairy products if I had just had the knowledge that I do now.
Shortly after graduating college I went back to being a vegetarian, but again fell off the band wagon about a year ago, and looking back, I’m not surprised, because although my vegetarian diet was better than what it used to be, my overall diet was still not healthy. I hardly ever cooked healthy vegetarian meals, and I had convinced myself that carbs and fats were bad.
I finally gave my diet a make-over about a year ago, and I suppose if I had to categorize how I now eat, I would describe it as “Mediterranean,” because my diet mostly consists of vegetables, nuts and seeds, olive oil on everything, A LOT of whole grains, lean cuts of chicken and turkey, and fish. Basically the biggest change I made was integrating a lot of healthy fats and carbs back into my diet (I used to be afraid that peanut butter would make me gain weight, and now I go through a jar a week!).
Now that I feel like I finally have a grip on balanced nutrition, I want to tackle being a vegetarian again, and I thought May would be the perfect time to see if I could go meatless once again. My main goal for this challenge is to learn how to cook extremely basic vegetarian recipes so that I can continue to get the protein and nutrients my body needs, without needing meat.
Even if by the end of the month I don’t go completely vegetarian again, I will at least have a new arsenal of vegetarian recipes that will hopefully replace many more meat meals in the future.
Before I end this entry, I just want to make a brief plea, that if you haven’t yet seen the documentary Food Inc, please please please watch it (if you have a Netflix account you can stream it for free on your computer). At the very least watch the trailer here!
It teaches people that eating less meat isn’t just about being more humane to animals, it’s about making our food safer and healthier, and saving our planet in the process.
May 6, 2010 No Comments
After breakfast on Sunday, I felt exhausted, so I crawled back into bed and didn’t wake up again until around 1:30 in the afternoon.
I don’t know if it was my allergies, or the fact that I was just a bit behind on sleep, but even after sleeping in, I still felt extremely groggy and a bit in a funk. Even though I was in no mood to get out of bed, I forced myself to at least take a nice long walk outside (which often is the best cure for a stale mood).
First stop along the walk was Cafe Romeo for lunch, because my stomach was already grumbling like crazy. I guess my banana bread oatmeal for breakfast wasn’t decadent enough?
Cafe Romeo is a fairly new eatery in East Rock, and although the competition for Italian food is fierce in this area, they’ve sort of carved out their own little niche by pairing good sandwiches with good aesthetic design.
With their open-air store front and large outdoor seating area, the ambiance is definitely a step above the competition, but their service still hasn’t quite reached the level of professionalism that I guess comes with time. I don’t think this has deterred anyone from going though, because the place was packed!
I ended up ordering something I’ve enjoyed at Cafe Romeo before—their tuna salad sandwich.
I had my tuna salad on their whole wheat bread, but in the past I’ve had it on their pumpernickel rye bread, and that’s definitely my favorite.
I also got to sample their foccacia bread, which Michal had an Eggplant Panini on.
Grilled balsamic marinated eggplant, roasted red peppers, and baby spinach, with a kalamata olive tapenade.
This sandwich melts in your mouth
I also ordered some freshly brewed ice tea, which tasted amazing, and really helped perk me up for the remainder of my Sunday walk.
After Cafe Romeo, I came across a store near the New Haven green that I’ve never noticed before (which is odd since I’ve walked past it at least a dozen times now).
Ten Thousand Villages is fair trade non-profit organization whose mission is to, “provide vital, fair income to Third World people by marketing their handicrafts and telling their stories in North America. Ten Thousand Villages works with artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed. This income helps pay for food, education, health care and housing.” (Source: Ten Thousand Villages website).
Walking through the store felt like someone had stocked the shelves based on my personal taste in jewelry and home decor.
…And because it was for such a good cause, I had to buy a few things, right?
I immediately grabbed a bar of extra dark chocolate, because it’s really hard for me to find authentic chocolate at the local grocery store, and once you acquire a taste for real chocolate, everything else just tastes processed and fake.
My next purchase was the most beautiful card ever, but I can’t show it here, because it’s for mother’s day, and my mother sort of stalks me through this blog, so I don’t want to ruin it for her (sorry mom–you’ll have to wait until Sunday).
My last (and favorite) purchase was a necklace and pair of earrings made from recycled brass.
I’m a bit obsessed with the craftsmanship and beauty of this necklace (this photo doesn’t do it justice), and the coolest part is that they can provide you with a print-out with background information on any item in the store…
My particular necklace came from the non-profit, Jacaranada Workshop, in Kenya, which provides employment, training, and other assistance to artisans with mental or physical abilities.
The sad thing is that I never really realized the impact one can have by simply choosing to buy their jewelry or home decor from developing countries.
I’m definitely going to make more of an effort from here on out to buy jewelry and other decorative items from non-profits such as Ten Thousand Villages, rather than Anthropologie other stores.
On my walk home I passed this advertisement:
I thought the tag-line would be a great motto for this blog, even though my motto for today was sort of “get out more, spend a little!”
Although there was nothing particularly adventurous about this Sunday, by the end of my long walk I felt so much more energized (and happier) than when I had begun, so I stand strong in my belief that it’s always better to just force yourself to get outside if you’re in a funk.
I know it’s hard sometimes, but a long walk in the sunshine can cure even the most stubborn of mental states.
May 4, 2010 1 Comment