I’m about to fall asleep when my husband, Ron, reaches out and shakes my shoulder.
“Are you awake?” he asks.
“Yes,” I say.
“What do you want for your birthday?”
“Hmmm,” I say. “I don’t know. Let me think about it.”
But I do know. I’m debating between various brands of juicers (Green Star or Omega – any thoughts?). Ron is going to keel over when he hears this. In the six years we’ve been together, I’ve never asked for a single item relating to the kitchen.
Not a pot.
Not a pan.
Not a knife, a spatula, or a whisk.
Growing up, I never learned how to cook. My girlfriends and I — we were women of a new generation. We were going to be doctors, lawyers, and mathematicians (and we are). There would be no time for preparing meals. (I’m not sure what our eating plan was — hired help? fast food? — we didn’t think about that part). I do vaguely recall taking a Home Economics course in high school. Men were required to take it too. We baked a pie. I stared at the aluminum container holding the crust and debated between leaving it or removing it. I wasn’t sure aluminum should go in the oven so I took it off. My pie looked more like a pancake.
People change, though.
Now I see our kitchen in a whole new light. Cooking spinach lasagna the other night, I sipped a glass of wine and turned on some tunes. I had to call my mother — twice — and ask her whether I was supposed to cook the whole wheat lasagna noodles or layer them in the dish uncooked. (The first time she said, “Cook ‘em!” and the second time she said, “Yes, I’m positive. Cook ‘’em!”) I cooked the noodles. The food was delicious. I’m no longer intimidated by the kitchen. Bring on the juicer!
Broccoli. Used to like it as a kid. Then one day I ate it and threw-up later that night. Haven’t touched it since. We’re talking 19 years of no broccoli. That’ too bad considering it’s one of the best vegetables out there – packed with nutrients, fiber, and cancer-fighting antioxidants.
As I continue to adjust my eating habits, I am always looking for new ways to add vegetables into my diet. Broccoli is one vegetable my husband loves, so I usually steam a little bit for him and make something different for myself – spinach, green beans, whatever. But the other night I was boiling some Barilla whole grain pasta. I drained the noodles and poured some organic pasta sauce over the top.
As I was scooping out the broccoli for my husband’s plate, I decided to mix some of the florets in with the pasta and red sauce. Yum. I love broccoli again. But only this way. I’m the same way with asparagus. Can’t really stand the stuff plain (unless of course it’s picked fresh from my own garden), but I will eat it in an omelet. Go figure.
¼ cup cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced
1 small zucchini, sliced thin lengthwise
2 tablespoons goat cheese
2 pieces WASA Hearty Rye (may substitute any WASA variety)
Sauté zucchini in a non-stick skillet until soft and golden in color.
Spread 1 tablespoon goat cheese on each crispbread.
Top with sliced tomatoes and layer zucchini on top.
TIP: Substitute eggplant or yellow squash for zucchini.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Nutritional Value Per Serving
We are in Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II) and the teacher is walking us through the pose nice and slow. She has us begin in Tadasana (Mountain pose) and then tells us to touch our fingertips together in front of our chest. As we jump our legs apart, our arms open up too (so they are parallel to the ground).
Next, the real instruction begins. She focuses on our feet, making sure they are spaced far enough apart and turned in the proper direction. She reminds us that our back heel should be aligned with our front heel.
She pauses as we breathe.
She moves onto our legs. She makes sure that our right knee is bent so that it’s directly over the right ankle. We need to press our thigh back so we can see our second toe. She keeps us focused on our lower body, giving us directions on our tailbone, butt, and – again – our thighs. She mentions that second toe again.
You can practically hear the thoughts of every student in the studio: My arms are tired. My arms are so tired! When will this pose be over so we can put our arms down? Are anyone else’s arms tired? Or am I just a wimp? How much longer do we have to hold our arms up?
Finally, the teacher says, “I know your arms are tired.”
Her acknowledgement is a relief even though she encourages us to keep those arms lifted. “Stretch them out even further, reeeaaaaching for the walls,” she says.
She moves onto our shoulder blades – are they scrunched up by our neck? Release them.
Lengthen our torsos.
Broaden our chests.
She knows exactly what we’re doing – allowing our minds to be consumed with thoughts about our arms.
“Your brain starts to panic first,” she says. “Your body is strong and your arms can handle this.”
That’s the extra motivation we need for the last few breaths until she finally has us step our feet back together and place our hands on our hips.
I’m working out in LA for a couple weeks – my old hometown – and it’s great to be back in my favorite teacher’s class. Now that I’m here, I remember she was always big on arms.