Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cabbage "Steaks"

Talia hated when I called these steaks.  Because,  Talia is a hater.  A grinch if you will.  They truly do resemble steaks,  and the cooking is so easy it's comparable to throwing a steak on the grill.  This recipe is delicious as a main course,  or as a side.  It's simple,  repetitively quick,  and looks impressive.   Aside from cabbage,  the ingredients are ones you probably already have in the house.  No muss, no fuss.

I brought these to Thanksgiving and everyone was pretty reluctant to try them.  They look weird,  I am not going to sugar coat it.  One person said the picture looks like that of a hoochie whooooo (if your picking up what I am throwing down).  It's not that beautiful,  but it's delicious.  Once people get over the whole look of it,  it's addictive.

Cabbage Steaks
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35-45 minutes
Serves- 5-8 (2 steaks each)

2 heads Green/White Cabbage
Pam (or other brand) oil cooking spray
4 tbsp Olive oil
4 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
1 tbsp Oregano
1 tsp salt (always better to put less,  than to add too much--guests or you can add more after cooking,  but you can never take "too much" out
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. While your oven is preheating,  spray two baking sheets with Pam or other olive oil spray.

3.  With both heads of cabbage,  remove the outer layers of leaves---probably about 8-10 leaves from each.  You really want a solid base and the core.  Any leaf that is "kinda" falling off, get rid of.

4.  On each head of cabbage,  cut 1 inch thick slices.  

5.  Place all of the cabbage slices on the cooking sheets and put about a finger or two space between each so they cook and not steam each other (vegetables in a high heat oven too close together steam,  not bake).

6.  While your oven is still preheating,  mix the following:  All of the Olive oil, red wine vinegar,  oregano, red pepper flakes,  salt, and pepper together in a shallow bowl.

7.  Make sure to mix the mixture very well.  Spoon the mixture over top of the cabbage steaks,  making sure that when you dip your spoon into the mixture you pull from the bottom to the top. 

 Why you ask?  If you just dip your spoon in the top you will only be putting oil on the cabbage,  since oil and vinegar separate and vinegar sinks to the bottom.  Get that spoon for ladling over the cabbages all the way down to the bottom of the bowl and pull up.---Side note---have you ever gotten a greek salad at a diner and it comes out covered in oil,  but no vinegar?  That's because the greek dressing seperates with the oil rising to the top and the vinegar sinking to the bottom.  If the person putting the dressing on doesn't put the spoon all the way in the dressing then you end up with just oil.  That was your science lesson of the day---don't forget it.

8.  Place both pans in the oven,  one on top and one on bottom.  Cook both for 20-25 minutes,  and switch them so both pans have a chance to keep the crispy cooking power of the upper rack.

9.  This timing isn't an exact science,  when you see the cabbage start to wilt and get black around the corner's it's done.  It took mine about 40-45 minutes for this to happen.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Chicken Cacciatore with Prosciutto

This is a fantastic, easy, and relatively quick meal.  It uses most of the ingredients you may already have lying around,  minus the Prosciutto which you may have to purchase.  I'm a dego so I happened to have prosciutto lying around.  Just kidding,  I bought it from this amazing flat bread idea in my head that turned out horribly.  Ah,  you win some you lose some.  With this recipe however, I won.  I made this when my friend Alli Paul came over. Alli eats generally clean,  so it was my task to make a totally clean dish for her and I.    This delicious dish has a load of vegetables,  which makes it very filling with the two proteins.   This is an awesome reheat too, so perfect for all you meal preppers!  

I love the clean eating aspect of this,  especially since it is all fresh vegetables.  You are not missing anything without a starchy carb like pasta, which is typically served with this dish in a restaurant.   You could certainly make it with quinoa.  But then it wouldn't be paleo (but seriously,  who gives a shit?).  For now this recipe is clean,  paleo and gluten free----yada yada yada (Jerry-you yada'd over the best part Elaine- No I mentioned the soup).

Chicken Cacciatore with Prosciutto 
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Serves: 4-5

1 lb chicken breast, cleaned (about 4 medium thickness)
1/4 lb Domestic Prosciutto (if your rich you can get imported--the difference is about $5 a pound)
1 large White Onion
3 Small Cloves Garlic, or 1/12 large ones
2 Shallots
1lb Sliced White Mushrooms
4 cups Fresh Spinach (about 1 bag)
2 cups Roasted Rep Peppers (mine I made, but the jarred in water would work fine)
4 cups fresh Broccoli 
2 tbsp Olive Oil, divided
12 oz Tomato Sauce (Tuttoroso is my favorite)
4 Tbsp Tomato Paste (I use this kind...
1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 tbsp parsley 
Salt and Pepper for Seasoning
2 Bay Leaves

1. In a large sauce pot heat 1/2 tbsp of olive oil over medium high heat
2.  Throw in Mushrooms and sauteed 4-5 minutes,  until a little brown around the edges.  
3. While that is happening dice your garlic, shallots, and onions,  place on a separate cutting board.
4. Remove mushrooms and set aside on a separate plate.
5.  Add 1/2 tbsp of olive again to the sauce pot and allow to heat over medium high heat.
6.  Throw broccoli in sauce pan and allow to saute for about 7-10 minutes, or until also a little brown (do not cook all the way through, you do not want them to turn to mush in your finished product).  Throw in spinach for one minute and allow it to wilt a little.
7.  Set aside on the same plate as the mushrooms.
8.  Again,  heat 1/2 tsp of olive oil over medium high heat.
9.  Throw in prosciutto and allow to saute about 5 minutes.
10.  While prosciutto is browning,  clean and cut your chicken breast into large strips.  
11.  When prosciutto a little brown around the edges throw in garlic and onions from the cutting board,  adding 1/2 more of olive oil.  Let that all cook together until fragrent.  Season with salt and pepper and 1/2 tbsp parsley, lightly.
12.  Remove prosciutto and place on the same plate with the other veggies (it should start to look like a big pile). 
14. For the last time,  heat 1/2 tbsp olive oil over medium high heat. 
15.  Season chicken well with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
16. Saute in olive oil about 5 minutes on each side.  Until lightly fried and brown on each side.
17.  This is where it gets super easy----mix in the 4 tbsp of tomato paste with the chicken.
18.  Put all your vegetables from the plate plus your roasted red peppers into the sauce pot with the chicken.

19. Cover with tomato sauce.
20.  Add bay leaves.

21.  Cover with lid and cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally,  for 1 hour. 
22.  Remove bay leaves and serve.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Spicy Chicken Stew

I don't even really know what to say about this besides I love soup and stew.  All kinds.  The only kind of soup I don't fancy is gazpacho.  I've tried, believe me.  It's cold.  Cereal should be cold.  Not soup.  Maybe one of you can rock my world with your famous gazpacho,  but for now no I don't like it.  I dare you to wow me. 

This recipe is really  a one pot wonder.  Last Thursday Kevin made chilli,  which I also love.  The spice in it was awesome,  and it really inspired this recipe.  Kevin and I are kind of on par with our cooking abilities,  except that he thinks outside the box even more than I do.  His cooking is always unique,  and yummy.  I've never been unhappy with something he's made me.  And come on, he's a man who can cook.  What is their not to love?  You don't have an answer for that. Well, neither do I.  With that being said,  thanks bub for the inspiration.

The stewed tomatoes in this are awesome because they add a touch of sweetness.  The sweet and spicy really does a number on your tongue that's awesome.  This recipe does call for flour,  but think of the serving size.  This stew could serve 10 people, so the flour in it is really minimal in comparison with the entire recipe.  If you want to make it just soup, omit the flour and butter (rue).

Add potatoes and wow a crowd, or like me make the whole pot Sunday to eat during the week.  It made four 2 cups containers,  plus one wonton soup container.  This is a total side note, but I have an obsession with Wonton Soup and the containers which they come in.  I'd eat it every morning for breakfast if I had a resident Chinese Wonton Soup maker in my house.  A girl can dream....

Spicy Chicken Stew
Prep: 10 minutes, plus 30 minutes for chicken to cool
Cook: 3 hours, 40 minutes (roughly)
Serves:  8-10

1 Whole Chicken,  4-5 pounds
6 8 ounce cans of Sliced Stewed Tomatoes
2 cups Chicken Stock (homemade if you have it)
2lb of Sliced White Button Mushrooms
1 bag of Petite Carrots
2 Medium White Onions
1 Bag of Celery, Cleaned with stems removed
4 large Cloves of Garlic
1 tsp olive oil
2 tbsp Paprika, divided
1 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes (or less if you can't handle the heat)
3 Large Bay Leaves
4 tbsp Butter
1/2 cup Flour (you could try to use Almond Meal, but I can't guarantee that will make a rue)
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Parsley for Serving

1. Heat a large stock pot over medium high heat with 1 tsp of olive oil.
2. While your oil is slowly heating clean and dice: celery, onions, and garlic.
3. In the pot add in Mushrooms, Onions, Carrots (I keep mine whole since they cook down),  and Celery.  Do not add garlic just yet.
4. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Allow to cook about 4-5 to minutes stirring throughout to avoid burning.
6. While your veggies are sauteing clean and wash your chicken, removing the bag inside or the liver and shit.  Older people enjoy chicken livers, if you know one you can save it for them, otherwise chuck it.
7. After your veggies have sauteed in the olive oil add in your garlic.  Season with 1 tbsp Paprika and 1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes.
8. Allow garlic to cook 2 minutes, or until fragrant.
9. Once fragrant,  place your chicken breast side up on top of the vegetables.  Season with more salt and pepper,  and the remainder of the paprika.
10.  Pour all stewed tomatoes and all chicken stock into pot.
11.  Add in 3 Bay Leaves (no matter how many you use remember the number so you can remove them at the end).
12. Place lid on top and allow to boil over medium high heat for 3 hours.
13.  After 3 hours remove the chicken to a separate plate to cool for picking.  Make sure you get all of the bones.
14.   Allow chicken to cool uncovered.
15.  In the microwave heat 4 tbsp of butter.  After it is melted whisk in 1/2 cup flour.   Once it becomes tight it is now a rue.  Drop this into the soup and allow it to continue to boil. In about 30 minutes, the rue will have thickened your soup into a stew.
16. Once the chicken is cooled pull it apart with your hands,  discarding bones and fat.  
17.  Place chicken back in stew to heat through,  about 10 minutes.
18. Serve with parsley as a garnish

Monday, October 20, 2014

I Remember the First Time I Thought I was Fat

   Isn't it funny how you remember things from such a long time ago? How every so often your mind brings up this memory you have stored somewhere deep within it?  It's like our brains subtle way of telling us "Hey,  you ain't all that.  I can prove it. Remember when...."

   The memory I'd like to share with my dedicated readers is well over twenty years old.  It's one of those memories that you only think about once every four years.  But once every four years, it hits you in the gut like a brick.  You remember exactly how you felt in that moment,  and every time you remember it you wanna go HAM.

   I was in gym class as a little tyke doing the Sit and Reach. Even to this day I ponder the genius behind the Sit and Reach. When in life will I need to know how far I can sit on my ass and reach past my toes?  When in life will I need to know how long I will need to hold myself on a bar for the flexed arm hang? Besides in the pending Zombie Apocalypse....which is a whole different ball game,  and even then I highly doubt being able to sit on my ass and reach past my toes will even help me. Who knows,  maybe I'm under estimating the Sit and Reaches value to my life.  DOUBTFUL.

   Anyway,  I was a little wee one in this memory,  maybe 7 years old.  The whole class was sitting behind me in a neat line (why are schools so anal about quiet, neat, lines of children anyway?) discussing whatever the topic of the month was--- Saved By the Bell, Pogs,  Tickle Me Elmo,  Tamagachis, Furbies....

   I sat on my rear and reached to the ominous yard stick someone had taped to a foam long square.  The goal of the sit and reach is to see how far you can touch on this self made yard stick foam square thing.  I reached....1.  Other kids bent into pretzels and reached 6 inches, 10 inches, 12 inches.  I reached 1.  I tried and I tried and I tried.  My body just wouldn't bend like that. To this day, it doesn't.  Well,  as a child the yearly Physical Fitness Assessment was basically like the Olympics for 6-14 year olds.  The Physical Fitness Assessment was life in the world of Elementary Education Physical Education.  And,  I had failed. Essentially,  I had failed at life at that moment according to standard archaic gym practices.

   So,  I stood very gingerly and walked myself to the back of the line fighting back my tears. And,  do you know what my gym teacher said to me?  She said "Elyse,  that's what we call no Flexibility".   She didn't say it to just me.  She said it to this entire line of neatly seated children who were staring at me.  If I was witty then as I am now I may have responded "Hey lady,  take a walk with your matching neon swooshy tracksuit with geometric shapes" or I would have walked to the back of the line and said to my best friend Hozz "Thisssss bitchhhhhh".  But,  I didn't.  I just sat down and I didn't cry. Big girls don't cry. 7 year old children don't cry.  Now they do, but when I was 7 we were taught to keep it all in.  We were taught that emotions aren't for outsiders.  Now we teach kids cry about everything,  which I also don't necessarily agree with but that's a different blog post entirely.

   Isn't it funny to this day I can still remember that happening? I can still remember the discoloration of the wooden gym floor as I walked to the back of the line with my head down. I still remember the dumbass yard stick taped to the dumbass foam thing that was rectangular and blue.  I still remember the color of this idiot's matching swooshy track suit (neon blue with green geometric shapes). That night I decided well I am not flexible, so I must be too fat to be flexible.  I WAS 7 AND I DECIDED I WAS FAT.  IF I WAS FAT,  I HAD TO BE UNWORTHY.

Look at this kid:

     Was I fat then TRACK SUIT LADY?  No way.  As far as I was concerned,  I was the best that ever did it. Still am.  Okay, take into account that I did not learn how to smile until well into my 20's.  Every picture I have that same smile.  It took me awhile.  Regardless of the smile,  I wasn't fat.  I just wasn't flexible.  I'm still not.

     Look at that bowl cut.  It was ON POINT. No one back then had a better little boy cut. Maybe they were more flexible,  but as for my hair I was queen.  Like Beyonce,  if my hair would have been recognized for what it really was they would have called me Queen Bey.  Was I fat then?  Nope.  But,  I constantly felt fat. Talia was so tall and lanky,  and I was so short and so stubby.   I was always short. I always had these chubby little cheeks that would make Santa Clause jealous.  To this day I still joke that if I laugh too hard I cry because my cheeks are so chubby they shut my eyes when I chuckle a good chuck.

My weight has fluctuated throughout the years. Up and down, always usually landing at the same spot.   Down, up, down, up, down, up.   I spent a lot of time blaming one of three things:

1. I'm "big boned"
2. I have bad genes
3. I do everything right,  why me!?!

     Of course,  anyone on the same path I am knows these are all outward lies.  I've internalized these lies day after day,  and told myself them day after day.  It's okay Elyse,  your big boned.  It's okay Elyse, you got the shit end of the stick as far as genes go.  It's okay Elyse,  you just had 5 beers,  it doesn't make sense that you gained 1/2 a pound,  it's the scales fault.  Ladies,  let's stop lying to ourselves.  We are in charge of our health destiny.  We decide weather we can be buried in a regular size coffin, or an extra large one.  We decide HOW, WHEN, AND WHERE we reach our fitness goals.  Not destiny, not genes,  and not the "size" of your bones.

     My point in this blog post I think is, there is always someone who is going to make you feel like an inflexible seven year old.  There is always going to be haters.  There are always going to people trying to steal your bowl cut shine.    Don't let them.  Tell them haters to take a walk.  It's your journey, not theirs.

     My second point of this article is...words truly do hurt.  My mom always said kill them with kindness.  Perhaps this gym teacher,  who I have yet to name,  was instead told Kill their spirits.   If you have a daughter or are a teacher guard your words,  for your words become their thoughts.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Crossfit: Pushing through the Pain

 Disclaimer:  if you came to this blog with the hope I renounced my dedication to Crossfit, you'd be wrong. If your here in hopes of hearing how bad crossfit is for you,  you won't get it from me.   Sorry,   Your reading the wrong blog if those were your ill conceived dreams. 

    I used to think how good I was at Crossfit was directly dependent on how hard I pushed.  I pushed,  boy did I push.    I kept my injury a secret for a very long time.  I kept it to myself and pushed,  and pushed,  and pushed.  I announced my pain only in the expression my face gave when I picked up things from the ground.  Even that,  I controlled.  I'd breathe really hard in and out of my mouth to keep from showing the pain.  I sometimes made what people would call a fish face.  It was better than the "fuck that hurt face".   Neither are attractive I assume.   I cannot blame my coaches,  how could they know how bad it was?  I never said a word about it.  I kept to myself,  cracking my usual jokes,  making the group laugh....  until,  it became all I could think about.  I finally had to announce my pain when mid back squat in June I started to silently sob to myself.  I had to walk it outside,  I have an ugly cry face.  I couldn't let my fellow crossfitters see that ugly cry face that they didn't understand.  Why the shit is she crying?  is all I kept thinking.

    Sure I can push press a small man or middle school aged child,  but what did it cost me?  I'll tell you--the ability to bend over and tie my sneakers.  I mostly just tie them when they are off, then violently try to jam my foot into them.   If my windows were open it probably sounds to my neighbors that I am mercifully jamming a puzzle piece into the wrong puzzle place.  Just,  with a ton of force.  Maybe even trying to stomp in said puzzle piece with my feet.

    I'm strong.  It's who I am in Crossfit.  Without how strong I am,  what am I? I am sure as shit not fast.   My nephew Santino who is 8 months old sometimes can move faster than me. Put him in his bouncy thing on wheels and he's basically lapping me.  I never have been fast.  I tried to join the running program at Crossfit Solstice,  but alas had to drop out.   It was fine at first.  I would do the prescribed running and feel great,  until the next day when my back would throb.  It got to the point that every time my left foot hit the pavement,  it was a spike was being driven into my back right around above my ass cheek.  Still..I kept you know what it got me?  The need to attempt to pick up things I drop with my feet instead of bending over and picking it up with my hands.  I've become what most would call a gorilla using my feet for most tasks the require the normal person to bend at 90 degree angle. 

    So,  I'm not fast.  That was decided at a young age when doing the shuttle run in grade school.  I had to be strong.  My friends are all planning their weddings and I'm planning how I can be one of those strong men who pulls a mac truck behind me as I walk.    So,  when I realized my back pain had gotten so bad that I may never be able to pull that god damn mac truck,  I became depressed.  It was summer,  and I wasn't working.  Sometimes I'd sleep until 11,  only to move to the couch to watch 12 episodes of Game of Thrones,  and order take out.  Are you thinking,  oh my god poor baby you couldn't crossfit?  You poor thing (your mocking me assface).

    No, that's not what I was depressed about.  I was depressed because I couldn't sleep.  Sleep, aside from Holly Grimes,  is my best friend.  I love everything about a good night of undisturbed sleep.    Sleep is my crack.  When I got myself this severely hurt,  I couldn't even sleep.    Most nights I'd toss from my back,  to my stomach, to my side, to jamming a pillow between my legs,  to flipping this pillow thing I had created to my other 4am and full blown sobbing.  Like,  the cries of a dying animal.  No, not because I couldn't Crossfit,  but because the injuries I had repeatedly inflicted on myself took away the one thing I love most in the world:  sleep.

   Midway through blog,  are you thinking---Crossfit hurts people.  That's what it does.  No.  Your wrong.  I did not get hurt at Crossfit.  I slipped my first disc when I was 18.  I was drinking (as most stories start) and I fell down a flight of steps.  More then fell, I flew down a flight of steps.  I'm 100% sure I didn't even hit one step on the way down.  From the first step to the cold concrete floor I flew like friggan Peter Pan.  If Peter Pan had drank too much of a $5.25 Vladimir Vodka Handle.    From 18,  I've inflicted and repeated and irreversible damage to said discs.     Picking things up, putting them down. Starting at the top of the stairs, falling to the bottom.

   When examining my MRI there is one disc which would be the red headed step child.  It's black,  and flat,  and pinching my spine.  It took a doctor looking at it and being like "seriously?"  for me to get it.  I started getting epidural shots in my back.  It was like when someone tells Will Farrel that Santa is here in the movie Elf.  I was so excited.  THIS IS GOING TO FIX ME.  Womp,  womp, womp.  First shot didn't take.  For about 45 minutes I felt like I could rule the world.  Then I was back to the couch,  but this time watching Say Yes to the Dress for 12 consecutive hours.   I don't even like those shows.  But once you watch one show,  you must see the entire series.  It's like Law and Order SVU.  SVU marathons are deadly.  I would become a hermit if those were on every single day.

    Do you know when my pity party finally had to end?  When no one showed up to join in my self inflicted misery.  When I had to put on my pants (I was inside a lot,  so I quit wearing pants all together) and prep my meals like Ron Orbin had taught me.  When I had to measure every single thing I ate to make sure I wasn't getting cray.  When Justin Vee told me no.  When he told me I couldn't do something because he knew it would hurt me.   When someone finally stood up to how god damn dumb I was being.  That's what crossfit is about.   It's about listening to your coaches.  It's about trusting that someone else knows what is best for you.  It's also about not always being right.  I thought I was right for a long time.  Because of how dumb I was,  I have to get another shot in my back.

   Pray for me,  and my doctor.  Last time he gave me the shot I apparently talked to him all about Mexican Food while under the influence of that drug propofol.   From here on out,  it's all about modifying and knowing my limits.  It's all about using my head,  and not using my ego to lift weights.  Am I going to miss being one of the strongest women in the gym?  Of course I will.  However,  I miss being able to tie my own shoes and pick up things I drop much more.  I am however getting pretty good at using my feet to pick things up.  I'd make king kong jealous. 

        I miss sleeping the most.  I miss sleep like a fat kid in camp misses cake.  And Gummy Bears. And Twix.  And Peachie O's.  And beer.  Ahh I think I am talking about me now and not the fictional fat kid in camp....

Thursday, August 21, 2014

What Does Plus Size Mean?

   So Tuesday I was bartending and minding my own business,  entertaining my crowd--of two patrons when one says to me "For being a queen sized girl you don't have cankles."  For being someone who likes to drink he appeared to not get the correlation of not pissing off the bartender and the amount of drinks he would be served.  Perhaps,  he learned a little something from me that night about saying dumb shit.

   My first inclination was not even to be offended but it was to think "What the hell does that mean?"  Do all women who aren't tiny have cankles?  Does he know a lot of women with cankles?  Do cankles in some way determine your self worth?  This is all so confusing.  My exact response to him without even hesitating or blinking was  "I'm pretty as shit though".  I know I am pretty.  I feel everyone woman should know they are pretty.  I take very good care of myself,  get my hair done,  do my makeup, always dress nice, etc.  I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am worth something in this world.  I will be damned sure no large man at the bar is going to change the way I feel about myself.


First things first:  
1.  I have fantastic legs
2. I do not have cankles
3.  I am not a size zero
4. What the hell does plus size even mean?

    These legs and regular size ankles can do amazing things.  They can backsquat almost 200 lbs.  These not flabby toned arms can push jerk 150 pounds at a moments notice.  So, I  continue to contemplate,  what makes me "queen sized"?  Is it my boobs?  They are big.  Nothing I can do about that.  I was the first girl to get boobs when I was like 14-15.  It runs in my family.  One day I woke up and I was like...umm what are these?  It was kinda like Big where Tom Hanks wakes up and he's thinking...What happened here last night?  And he searches for Zultar in the machine to solve all of his problems.  Alas, for me there was no Zultar,  just big boobs. 

    I remember when Guess clothing was big when I was like in 9th grade.  I couldn't wear those clothes.  If the shirt said Guess on a small chested girl on me it would say GU on the front and the ESS would be stretched out under my armpit and halfway onto my back.  I still struggle with buttons.  I have accepted that about myself.  When I began my journey to fitness and physical health I lost 60 pounds.  You know where I have never lost an ounce?  My boobs.  They went from being a size 36DD to a size...36DD.  
    I did some research.  The average size of women in the United States is a size 12,  not zero.  So,  by that standard,  I am average.    This is what average truly looks like:

All of the women above are average and still astoundingly beautiful.   TAKE THAT 'Merica.

    Plus size would infer that my size has some sort of plus attached to it.  I have never seen a plus on my clothes.  I have never shopped in a plus sized store of a section of a store that has plus sized attached to it. And even if I did, would that make me less of a desirable woman? and Why?   I am okay with average,  why wasn't this man at the bar? and.....WHO GIVES A SHIT, is what this blogger wants to know.  

    No offense to the size zeros out there.  Go head with your bad self.  I have fond memories of when I was a size zero.  It does however date back to when my mom used to dress me.  I believe it was a size 0-3 months.  Sonny (Santino Joseph the cutest baby to ever live and the light of my life)
used to be size 0-3 months too.  But he grew.  We all grew.  That's what we do as humans.   We cannot remain 2 foot tall and tiny our whole lives.  Our bodies grow,  and if we care for them right we can be AVERAGE AND HEALTHY.    Average just got FAN-TAS-TIC as far as I'm concerned.  If I could feel as good about being AVERAGE in everything else I do as I do about being size AVERAGE my life would be grand.  Of course all of my work wouldn't be spectacular, but hey,  let's not get tangled up in the deets.

   I think because someone is not super model skinny we as a society determine they are not healthy.  This is not true at all.  I recently looked at something someone posted on facebook about "fatkini" and how it was taking over Instagram.  My curiosity got the best of me and I searched the hashtag.  Half the women who tagged themselves as "fatkini" were what I would call AVERAGE.  Not fat at all.  Like me,  they weren't tiny,  but they weren't fat.  Such a shame this society makes average women feel sub-par. Good for them that they except their size.  Just like me,  maybe some of them are super healthy.  I eat mostly organic clean meals,  exercise,  go to the doctors, get blood work, and take good care of my health.  Some  of them were rather large, and did not look healthy.  But last time I checked,  I do not have an MD.  I already owe Universities my first born,  no reason to have to give them my favorite puppy too to pay off my debts.

   I know a lot of skinny people who are not healthy.  Don't judge a book by it's size,  not all books are created equal, blah blah blah.  The assumption that someone is not healthy based on their size may be true in some instances, and not true in others.    My mom is a nurse so I get the health speech quite frequently.  When I was a kid we didn't even have good snacks in my house.  We had diet soda that was only for my mom to bring to work,  Gingersnaps, and hard pretzels.  Needless to say, my friends never came over because I had nothing to offer.  " Hey come on over and watch a movie,  we can eat hard pretzels and drink water as late as we want!!!"  

   I work with blind children and do you know what the most beautiful thing about them is:  they judge others based on how they are treated by them.  My one little girls once called a little boy "kind".  She liked him (as a boyfriend whew whew whew) because he was good to her.  He was nice to her, looked out for her,  and was KIND.  What a different world we would all live in if we based our assumptions of others on how they treated us.

   Back to the jean size thing,  this blogger feels if the world could agree on one UNIVERSAL jean measurement scale that women would no longer be at odds with each other.  We would all get along,  I assure you of that.  I go to Macy's and I buy a perfect $100 pair of size 12 jeans that fit awesome.  My but looks fab,  my thighs look amazing, and I am generally happy as a pig in shit.  Then I walk my size 12 ass down to Urban Outfitters and the girl tells me I'm a size 16 and I need the high rise jeans.  Did I gain 30 pounds on the walk over here?  Hello mom jeans and flat ass (no offense mom,  but let's upgrade your jeans).  I immediately scowl at the girls who suggested I am 4 sizes bigger than I actually am,  and mentally put her on the list of humans I dislike.  If this had never happened,  perhaps her and I could have been friends.  But,  jean manufacturers ruined that notion.  

 I think Meghan Trainer said it best in her new song:

I'm bringing booty back
Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that
No I'm just playing I know you think you're fat
But I'm here to tell ya
Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top

Oh and to the man who called me QUEEN SIZED, thank you,  I've always known I was a queen.  Just been waiting for my crown........

Make it a size 12, please.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Interview with a Crossfitter: Talia Giordano, Crossfit Novem

My next interview in my series is:  Talia Giordano,  my sister.  Her and I did our first ever Crossfit class together.  After,  I had a hunger inside lift more than her.  Although she still out lifts me in some ways,  I am more street smart so we both know I WILL SURVIVE during the Zombie Apocalypse.  Her,  that's debatable.   Although she can lift heavy and run fast,  I see her giving up before me.    Talia's deadlift is 300 something,  mine is like 280.  Talia's backsquat is like 220,  mine is like 195.  The point I am trying to make is..... I have slipped discs in my back.  That is the only reason she is stronger than me at this moment.

Anyway, on with why I chose her.  Talia,  she's one tough bitch.    She has been my best friend for the better part of 27 years.  She has always been athletically inclined,  even when we were kids.  I guess I always kind of looked up to her in that way.    Talia and I could not be more polar opposites.  She is tall and thin,  I am short and stubby. 
She has been through some trials and tribulations and she has always remained dedicated to fitness. She pushed me to keep coming with her to Crossfit even when in the beginning I felt like my legs and arms may fall off if I did.  She'd beep her  horn outside of my house every morning at 5:15am and I would think.... WHAT THE F.  But, I went.  I went almost every day until my back got really hurt.  Then,  after PT she encouraged me to go back.  So,  I went back.  And I keep going back.  A lot of that,  is because of her.

Without further a due,  let me introduce:

Talia Giordano
Affaliate: Crossfit Novem
Age:  28
Birthday:  August 3rd,  1985
Hometown:  Gibbstown, NJ
Current City of Residence:  Philadelphia, PA
Q: When did you join Crossfit?

a. October 2012

Q:  What made you want to join Crossfit?

a. A friend was opening a crossfit gym and suggested I couldn’t handle the workouts. Of course I had to prove him wrong. He was betting I would throw up on my first WOD, which has still never happened (Am I not working hard enough? Fran was the closest I have ever come). I also have always been athletic and was really getting bored of spinning and the treadmill and zumba (yes zumba – the bar saw many a zumba moves when I was attending those classes). Crossfit was becoming big and I saw it everywhere. It was very interesting to me - people really pushing themselves during their workouts – and I wanted that, I wanted something to push me (because the 50-60 year old ladies of zumba weren’t doing it). 

Q:  Can you recall any of your thoughts from after your first Crossfit class?

a. My first class was farmers carry, squats and singles jump rope. Of course my squat was torn apart, I was not low enough of course. I had to squat on a ball (which I loved because I felt like “yaaaayyyy I get to sit in between”). It wasn’t as hard or as scary as I thought and I liked how I was able to compete against others in the class to finish the WOD. I soon found out that crossfit is only as hard as you make it and I am WAY to competitive to not push myself harder and harder each day. My second workout I was taught overhead presses. I used just the 45# bar and it was SO HARD. I don’t remember how many I could do, but I know it wasn’t many. I kept thinking, “I have to do this in workouts? AND ADD WEIGHT????” Now overhead presses are my favorite and I certainly can lift much more than just the 45# bar. 

Q: What motivated you to want to become a certified Crossfit trainer?

a. Who wouldn’t want to be a trainer after doing crossfit is a better question? I love crossfit so much. It is like a piece of me now. It makes just as much sense to do crossfit everyday like it makes sense to be a social worker (my day job). And I want to get better and learn as much as I can. And Camille was one of my instructors so that was AMAZING! After my L1 I felt like I needed to learn even more so I got my crossfit gymnastics cert. That was SO much fun. I basically got to hang upside down and do head stands and handstands all weekend. Sadly I don’t have enough time in the day to work, coach and train, so when I devoted myself to one of those things at 100%, the other two had to drop down in priority. Plus I love sleep and need at least 9 hours a night so that leaves me less time in the day. One day when I’m rich I will be able to better organize my schedule to accommodate all of my passions. 

Q: Has Crossfit or Physical Fitness in General helped you in any other ways in your life?

a. Once i had to deadlift a large rock off of my grandmother to save her life. Another time I had to pull myself up into a tree to avoid a massacre of wild coyotes. Generally physical fitness has helped me in my everyday life by allowing me to walk without getting tired, getting onto and off of the toilet, and handstand walking when my feet are too tired for the job. Crossfit isn’t about helping me out right now, it’s about helping me out in the future when it’s the Day After Tomorrow, War of the Worlds, The Walking Dead, and Shaun of the Dead.

Q:  What are some feelings you had after your first CrossFit class?
a: I remember feeling.. “I should have beat that other person in that WOD! Next time I will try harder” and “thank goodness I didn’t throw up.” Haha, my competitive side got the best of me and I haven’t stopped since.  

Q:  Do you feel as though Crossfit has changed you in anyway as a person? 
a: Sometimes If I look in the mirror at the right angle I have a butt and abs. I think that is due to CrossFit. Otherwise I am physically stronger… like way stronger. I remember when I could barely lift the 45# bar and now I can jerk 160#, deadlift 315# and (newest PR, front squat 200# - holla). It has also helped me reconnect with my competitive and athlete side. You don’t feel like much of an athlete when you are running on a treadmill at the gym, CrossFit has definitely given that back to me.

Q:  Exercise is said to increase a persons happiness,  would you agree Crossfit has helped you with any struggles you've had over the last two years?
a: Exercise increases endorphins, endorphins make you happy, happy people just don’t kill their husbands…. True statement. All exercise has always made me happy and helps me with stress. Going through a divorce (wah wah) definitely requires some exercise to help deal with all of the bullshit that goes with it. Not only has CrossFit given me the post workout happiness, it has also given me amazing, supportive friends that have really helped me deal with all this crap. For instance when I was looking for somewhere else to live, I was able to live with a great friend who I met through CrossFit. Then when I moved to Philadelphia, first time EVER living outside of NJ, I was unsure of my decision to move and was contemplating moving back to NJ… then I met amazing friends through my new CrossFit gym and I am so happy with my decision to be here.

Q:  What would you say is your biggest accomplishment thus far while doing CrossFit? 
a: Usually when I don’t feel like going to the gym I somehow force myself to and end up doing really great. I recently was thinking of going home to nap after work instead of going to the gym, but I somehow managed the strength (totally a pun) to force myself to go. I went and PR’ed my front squat. My first PR in like 10 months!!!!!! Basically my biggest accomplishment is forcing myself to go (almost) every day. Hallelujah.
Oh and getting my shoulder back to almost a completely healthy condition. That is actually the biggest accomplishment since I used to have shoulder pain every day, all day. Now I don’t (after lots of doctors, physical therapy and SHOULDER REST) and I’m back in full CrossFit shape.

Q:  Have you ever competed in a competition for Crossfit?  If so,  how many and how did you do? 
a: Hmmmm. I have definitely competed. Maybe 6 or 8. My best ever was the 2013 Baby Leave the Socks on Competition where I came in 11th out of 50ish for the final score and 3rd in the Deadlift workout.

Q:  What is the heaviest weight you have ever lifted? 
a: 315# deadlift.

Q:  Out of all of the movements that are part of Crossfit,  what would you say is your favorite? 
a: Box jumps & wall balls (thank you height advantage), double unders, sit ups (because who doesn’t love to lay down while working out) and hand stand pushups (because it’s so fun being upside down!)

Q:  What are your thoughts on CrossFit as a Community?
a: You can go anywhere around the country and even world and find a CrossFit gym that will accept you and support you. It’s honestly quite heartwarming (and sappy) to know that I could become a part of another gym anywhere and still get that.  I also think it’s very expensive to have that support – but I guess therapy ain’t cheap. 

Q:  What is one thing you would tell to someone interested in trying Crossfit for the first time?
a: PLEASE DO IT – it’s so much fun and you seriously meet the coolest, nicest, funnest people in the world – and they most likely will house you when you are going through a divorce.


Stay tuned for my next interview with:  Kate Conneen,  Crossfit Solstice

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Flounder Cubano with Tomato Marmalade

OMG, WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE?  I am so sorry I left you guys for so long.  Soooo much has been going on.  I was down the shore, in Chicago, and most recently getting en epidural in my back!  Hopefully I am back at Crossfit by next week.  The excitement of that prospect is killing me.  You know what else has been killing me,  the need to share this recipe with you.  This is a clean recipe,  but I don't want you to think you are missing anything here on flavor.  The flavor profile is amazing,  and you could even serve it at a dinner party and people would never know how health conscious you are.  If you really don't want people to know your dirty little health secret----serve it with a huge chunk of bread to sop up all the sauce.  

This recipe was made possible by my cousin Lisa Dick.  Her husband recently went fishing so we all got to hit the mother load on fresh flounder.  She freezer sealed it into packaging for a bunch of us girls in the family.  Nothing says love like freezer packaged---anything.  Any time someone takes the time to freezer pack something,  thank them generously.  If it's your significant other who freezer packs---marry them.  If you've already married know.

Cubano Flounder with Tomato Marmalade
Prep: 40 minutes (roughly)
Cook: 40 minutes
 2-2 1/2 pounds of Flounder, about 6-7 filets
3 ears of corn, shucked and cleaned
4 green peppers
1 large white onion
4 cloves of garlic
4 large tomatoes (preferably Jersey or Hot House)
1 tbsp chile powder
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp Italian seasoning (weird,I know)
1 1/2 tbsp parsley (dried or fresh,  I like the fresh for the flavor it adds at the end)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp olive oil, divided
Olive or Coconut Oil Spray

1.  Spray a large grill pan with olive or coconut oil and allow to heat over medium high heat for 5-8 minutes until searing.
2.  Place cleaned corn on the grill pan and rotate occasionally, making sure the corn does not burn.   It should take about 5-8 minutes for you to make all of the sides golden brown.
3. While this is happening heat 1 tsp of olive oil over medium high heat in a deep pot that has a lid. 
4.  Remove the corn from the grill pan and set aside.  Remove grill pan from heat.
5.  Dice your tomatoes and place in your deep pot. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and allow to cook down  with the lid on until a tomato looking marmalade has occurred, about 15 minutes.  Remove lid and cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
6.  While your vegetables are cooking,  cut the grilled corn kernels off of the ear of corn.  I've found the easiest way to do this (I learned from Rachel Ray) is to put a smaller bowl upside down inside of a big bowl.  Then,  place the ear of corn on top of the little bowl inside the big bowl and use your knife to cut the kernels down off the cob.  All of the kernels are then caught in the big bowl  :).
7.  Once the tomato marmalade has finished cooking, dice your onion, green pepper, and garlic.  Place another tsp of olive oil, the onion, green pepper, garlic, and corn into the pot with the tomatoes. Season with a tad more salt and pepper, cover with lid,  and allow the flavors to meld together, about 10 minutes or until vegetables are translucent.
8.  While your entire vegetable concoction is cooking down,   mix all of your spices from the ingredients list onto a large plate.
9.  Dry your fish thoroughly and dredge in the spice mixture.
10.  Okay, this may be where you think I'm nuts.  Take all of that fish,  and place it directly on top of your vegetables in the deep pot (try not to overlap fish).   Cover with the lid and DO NOT TOUCH IT AGAIN.
11.  To finish,  remove the lid after 10-15 minutes have passed.  Your fish should be white and flaky.

12.  Per person serve 1-2 fish filets on top of about 1 1/2 cups of the marmalade.  

Dinner, served.