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Honeymoon Phase

The work day was coming to an end. I was at my home office working on an article, and any moment I expected to hear my husband put his key in the lock and walk through the front door.

I adore this time of day.

I used to dread it, but I’m in a honeymoon phase. Dinnertime is almost here and I’m so in love with cooking.

Oh, sure, I’m thrilled to see my husband too. I enjoy hugging him and kissing him and sitting down together to talk about our days. But not that long ago, early evenings felt a little burdensome. Inevitably one of us would look at each other and ask: “So what are we going to do for dinner?”

Ugh! What a dilemma. We were usually at a loss because our cupboards were bare and besides, we were sick of the two recipes that we rotated through night after night after night after night.

Ever since we committed to making fresh, wholesome meals from scratch (or mostly scratch), our evenings have changed drastically. Our kitchen, for the first time ever, is abundant. We have fresh fruits and muffins, ingredients for homemade pizza, and spinach lasagna ready to reheat. We have a refrigerator full of red lettuce, apples, cherries, and tomatoes. Also we have a huge bowl of salsa because I’ve been on a salsa kick. (Basically, for the salsa I use the recipe from this book, combining corn, tomato, onion, pepper, carrots, black beans, parsley, garlic powder, and paprika. Then I add a little lemon juice, raw honey, and Dijon mustard for the dressing. I use it on everything – on top of mixed greens for a nice salad, as a topping to a veggie sandwich, on top of brown rice, as a dip for baked tortilla chips, etc.).

This week I’m experimenting with a variety of homemade salad dressings. When it comes to salad dressing though, my forever favorite is simply balsamic vinegar on top of baby spinach. I usually throw in pine nuts, sun dried tomatoes, goat cheese, and sautéed shitake mushrooms. The original recipe (which I copied from a menu in a restaurant whose name is slipping my mind) also called for bow tie pasta (I use tri-colored).

Tonight for dinner we’re having taco salad, and I’m going to mash up some avocados to make guacamole as a veggie dip. I’m excited about this.

People! How come no one ever told me cooking can be so fun?

A Time to Feast

I’m hanging out with my parents when my dad sees me frantically rubbing my thumbs against the palms of my hands.

“Are you nervous?” he asks.

“Yeah,” I say.

He wants to know why. How to explain?

My parents have been visiting the past few days. I haven’t seen them in over six months. It’s the longest period of time we’ve ever been apart (even when I lived in Europe after college I saw them at least every four months). The past few days have been one big party. We’ve eaten red meat and fried foods. We’ve had Grasshoppers (ice cream and alcohol) and cookies. I think I munched on a vegetable in there somewhere – yes, I steamed spinach one night – but other than that, I can’t say I’ve been practicing “mindful eating” since Saturday. And my home yoga regime? Completely cut off once my parents arrived (although my mom saw my mat, which was rolled out on the floor, and she practiced sun salutations).

“I’m not sure what to blog about for Wasa this week,” I finally say to my dad.

“Well, let’s think,” he says.

“I’m supposed to blog about yoga and mindful eating, but I’m not inspired given my eating habits and lack of yoga practice,” I explain.

My dad is silent for awhile. “You could talk about how yoga is important for old people like me,” he finally says. “As people age, they are at an increased risk of falling. So write in your blog that yoga is important for balance and to do yoga with a Wasa cracker.”

“Uh, okay. Thanks,” I say.

“Just trying to help,” he says.

My mom chimes in too. “Oh, I know,” she says. “Blog about the fact that we bought a juicer.”

It’s true. My parents read the Wasa blog and were inspired to buy a juicer.

“Last week we made peach juice with vodka,” my mom says. “It was delicious!” She pauses. “Am I missing the point?”

Well, I do wish they would make vegetable juice instead, but maybe I’m the one who is missing the point. As I drop them off at the airport, I know what I’m going to blog about: A Time to Feast. This week we’ve hit up good restaurants and had fun cooking in too. We played cards and watched baseball and talked, all over scones for breakfast and steaks for dinner. It was a reunion. A celebration.  A time to enjoy life. Not that we couldn’t have done that over Brussels sprouts and brown rice, but eating well most of the time makes it easier to allow the exceptions. Not to mention, those “exceptions” are much appreciated.

Better Choices

Baked pita chips, hummus, organic raisins, lemon pepper tuna…United Airlines to the rescue!

Seriously, I am sitting here on a plane munching away, so grateful that the airline serves a snack box called the “Right Bite.”

When I woke up this morning, I had a plan. I was going to swing by a center to drop off a car load of items, run by the UPS store to ship a package, drop the dog off at the kennel, pack for my trip, then pick up my husband from work. But somehow I got behind. Way behind.

Not only did I forget to bring apples and trail mix for the plane ride, I forgot to eat breakfast. And lunch. When I flopped down in my seat, I was sweating and breathless (we nearly missed the flight) and very hungry. I flipped through the food options and knew I would be able to get my body back in synch with the Right Bite instead of having to resort to “snacks” full of empty calories and sugar.

I’m glad big companies are becoming more sensitive to offering healthier food choices. I keep reading the debates about replacing sodas and candy in school vending machines with healthier alternatives. The other day I was doing some freelance editorial work for a large newspaper. The building included a cafeteria – mostly pizzas and burgers and fries, but I found a vegetarian station. And I noticed an announcement that they would be having a “sustainable foods” day, offering locally grown meats and produce.

I’m not sure if these actions are coming from consumer demand or a greater awareness on the company’s part (or both), but I’m thankful for the trend.Š

Not Quite Tuna

Tonight for dinner I made tuna salad…without tuna…or mayo.

How, you might ask, did I make such meal?

With vegetables and seasoning.

I’m trying to incorporate as many veggies into my diet as I can, so I’m always on the lookout for new recipes. One of the most interesting I’ve seen so far is “Better than Tuna” from this book. First, I whipped out my food processor. Then I discovered my food processor was broken, so I whipped out a knife and cutting board. I finely chopped three big carrots, two celery stalks, a quarter of an onion, half a red pepper, and a tomato. I drained the tomato and threw all the veggies in a bowl.

For the seasoning I mixed in one-half teaspoon Celtic sea salt, one Tablespoon parsley, one-half teaspoon kelp, and three Tablespoons of Vegenaise.

Looking at the concoction, I wasn’t sure what to think. It looked pretty appetizing, but there was only one way to find out for sure. I served the “tuna” in a toasted whole wheat hamburger bun. I also set out a platter of blue corn tortillas with hummus (I cut the tortillas into “chips” and baked them in the oven first). To drink? Fresh vegetable juice.

Numma, numma, numma. It was delicious. I highly recommend it (hopefully your food processor is working though because all that chopping was labor intensive). I’m so excited for lunch tomorrow to eat the leftovers.Š

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