Archive | March, 2013

Three Diamonds and the Elusive Thigh Gap

27 Mar

When I was growing up, a friend of mine once told me that girls should be able to see three “diamonds” between their legs when they stood with their feet together. One between the ankles, one below the knees, and one between the thighs.

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Since then, I have been distinctly aware of the gap between my thighs, or rather, the lack thereof. It has never been something I obsess about, but more of a thought that passes through my brain whenever a Pinterest picture pops up that involves some exercise that’s “guaranteed” to give you a gap between your thighs.

Then this happened:

Apparently I have been living under a rock because there are ENTIRE Tumblrs devoted to worship of the elusive gap between the thighs.

After reading a couple of articles about the trend, I realized that this obsession has permeated through the generations under various pseudonyms: “the horseshoe”, “ITC” (inner thigh clearance). The difference this time is the rampant availability of pictures, videos, and other forms of media to saturate ourselves with body shame.

At least when Molly Ringwald awoke feeling like she was having a “fat day”, she wasn’t bombarded with Tumblr images and “thinspiration” to drive her further into the realm of self hatred.

I have said it many times: the Internet is a magical place. But take heed World Wide Web: with great power comes great responsibility. It seems like every teenager has an iPhone and every child has an iPad, which puts Internet discoveries right at their fingertips. I wonder what goes through a 13-year-old girl’s mind when she sees photo upon photo of skinny girls with overlaid “inspirational quotes” saying, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” or “Everything looks better on skinny girls”.

WHAT. THE. HELL.

It makes me feel bad about my body and I’m reasonable enough to know how ridiculous this ish is.

What is the point???

When are we going to stop worshiping unrealistic expectations about body image?

Some people have gaps between their thighs – their bodies are built that way. It doesn’t make them freaking Mother Theresa and you’re not Satan incarnate if, God forbid!, your thighs dare to touch, to rub against each other, to squish together when you’re sitting down.

STOP.

If you find yourself looking at a magazine and wishing for a model’s thighs or abs or butt, just

STOP.

Your body is what you were born with and when you’re on your deathbed when you’re (hopefully) old and gray, the last thing you are going to think about is “Dang, I wish my thighs didn’t touch”.

Whether you’re skinny and can’t get the curves you want or you’re curvy and want the slenderness that everybody seems to covet, please, for the love of all that is good, just take a deep breath and thank your body for maintaining the delicate balance that is life.

Because life really is miraculous and it’s not worth wasting it obsessing over how your stomach isn’t flat or your boobs aren’t big enough.

Love life, love yourself. The End.

measureofawoman

[Recipe] Baked Flounder with Rainbow Chard and Avocado

26 Mar

During the most recent Costco adventure with Stefano, I took a wrong turn while looking for ice cream sandwiches and stumbled upon the frozen fish aisle. For some reason, cooking fish has always seemed daunting to me and I usually leave it to the professionals when I go out to dinner. Lately I have been experimenting with making fish at home and I have had good success with salmon (one down!). I ended up coming home with some frozen flounder fillets where they were promptly placed in a corner of my freezer and forgotten. I think I avoided the flounder for so long because I had horrible visions of eating this little guy…

How can you eat that face? The “fish are friends, not food” motto from Finding Nemo comes immediately to mind. Eventually, curiosity got the better of me and I was able to put aside the Disney-fueled, finned friends fantasy (try saying that repeatedly) in order to give it a go.

Because I wanted minimal prep time and I was trying not to use too many ingredients hoping to keep the authentic flavor of the fish, I decided to make it in the oven. Minimal work on my part, simple, and delicious.

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Baked Flounder with Rainbow Chard and Avocado

  • 2 thawed flounder fillets (they’re fairly thing, so two fillets is good for a meal)
  • 5 oz. rainbow chard (I used the pre-washed, pre-chopped Kaleidoscope Chard from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Sprinkles of salt, pepper, and any other seasoning you’d like
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  1. Set your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. As your oven is pre-heating, places the fillets on a sheet of aluminum foil and rub with olive oil, then top with seasoning and lemon juice.
  3. Fold the aluminum foil up into a packet and pop in the oven for 25 minutes.
  4. Just before the fillets are done, rinse the rainbow chard and put on plate (without drying!) in the microwave for about 1 minute. The water left on the leaves will lightly steam the chard and cause it to wilt, making a perfect bed for the fillets.
  5. Unwrap the foil packet, place fillets and added juices on bed of chard and add sliced avocado.

If you’re like me then you’re going to have more avocado than anything else, which is not a bad thing. If you don’t want to consume a whole avocado, feel free to only add a few slices as a garnish. The creaminess of the fish pairs very nicely with the texture of the avocado.

You could dress the chard, but I don’t see the need because the juices from the fillet add a nice subtly flavor to the greens without being overpowering.

Total time? 30 minutes, most of which was spent anxiously waiting for the fish to be done. Weeknight meal success!

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Around the World in an Evening

25 Mar

Wow, thank you all for leaving such kind and insightful comments on my last post. Feeling frustrated or lost seems to be pretty common among bloggers at one point or another. At the end of the day, nobody is making us post each day and if it starts to feel like a chore, then that really defeats the purpose of blogging. I really appreciate all the wonderful feedback from people – much love to all of you!

As you may well remember from that post, I revealed that my true passion lies in food, especially through the context of travel and education. I was bit by the travel bug at a very young age (my first international trip was before I was a year old!) and the sickness has continued, virtually unabated, for the past 23 years.

Well, less than two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to travel around the world without even leaving my own city! Thanks to DC Cultural Tourism, Stefano and I were invited to the Embassy Chef Challenge and the International Trade Center, where we ate, drank, and were merry for the whole evening (aside from when my heels were killing me – I am a flats girl, though and through).

When we first arrived, we were seriously impressed with the simple elegance of the building.

IMG_2194[1]The space was large and open, with the different countries and their cooking areas along the side, a bar on the middle of the room, and plenty of space to walk around.

So excited to get our food on!

So excited to get our food on!

Because there clearly wasn’t enough food, they had tons of servers walking around with passed hors d’oeuvres and cruditees.

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200I have to say, every single time they were offered to me, I took one. When in Rome, no?

We finally decided to make the rounds and visited each of the participating countries:

• China
• El Salvador
• Jamaica
• Korea
• New Zealand
• Norway
• Russia
• South Africa
• Trinidad & Tobago

We started with Russia, which turned out to have my favorite dish of the night.

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200I love, love, love duck, so this was right up my alley. It was a creamy stew in a light pastry tartlet and had plenty of fresh duck pieces in each bite. Stick to your ribs and hearty – just my style.

Next up was New Zealand, which was my runner-up and Stef’s favorite: lamb.

IMG_2196[1]Lamb all the way from New Zealand? Sign me up.

IMG_2197[1]The powdery white stuff you see in the spoon is not cheese (like I first thought), but is actually dehydrated olive oil. When you placed it into your mouth, it re-constituted itself and became oily again – crazy!!! This Modernist Cuisine-esque food just blows my mind. The lamb was tender and I loved the relish made from fresh kiwi.

IMG_2195[1]There was quite a line and I ate mine too fast to snag a close-up picture, but the potato and leek soup from Norway was so scrumptious! I loved the pieces of Norwegian cod that added some bulk to the soup without making it heavy. Chef Simon was the youngest of the competitors – only 19 years old!

norwayBy the time we arrived that the Chinese representation, we were beginning to feel the effects of the hors d’oeuvres and first few appetizers. But anyone who knows us is aware that we are capable of putting away an impressive amount of food, so we dug in (in all senses of the word!).

IMG_2198[1]The Chinese plate was a combination of several smaller bites which included barbecue chicken and sauteed prawns.

Plated right before us

Plated right before us

A little bit of everything

A little bit of everything

Note the fork. I am an amateur and cannot eat with chopsticks to save my life – especially not while standing and walking around!

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One of my favorite dishes was that of El Salvador, which consisted of a bright, fresh ceviche of sea bass with mango and coconut.

IMG_2204[1]After lots of heavy, creamy foods, it was refreshing to get a light, citrus-y appetizer. The mango paired so well with the sea bass and a nice dose of citrus really brightened up the dish. I could have eaten the whole bowl with a spoon!

IMG_2205[1]As we walked on, the flavors were getting progressively more tropical. Next up: Jamaican jerk chicken. Sign. Me. Up. I declared my love for Jamaican food on this blog way back in July and I was excited for another chance to try these delicious island flavors.

IMG_2206[1]The chicken kabob was flavorful, with a nice kick of spice to it. I could have done without the accompanying salad which was plain and did nothing to enhance the plate. IMG_2213[1]More chicken!

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While the Korean plate wasn’t my very favorite, the chef’s assistant was my favorite person.

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She was so bright and bubbly, answering all the questions that came at her and telling us about how the Dangun legend roll got its name.

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The roll was very complex – it included kimchi and was pan seared for a nice crisp.

IMG_2212[1]It was back to tropical with Trinidad and Tobago serving corvine (a type of fish) in coconut curry nage with congo pepper.

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200South Africa threw us off because they began with a starter dish when we first arrived and when we looked again, they were plating something entirely different! We had our hands full with the second round, but here’s a peek at the appetizer.

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200

Their main dish was a traditional South African favorite called chakalaka, which can be made mild or spicy. The one we tried definitely had a kick to it! It has lots of peppers, onions, beans, spices, and chilis and can be used as a side dish or a sauce.

As the judges were deliberating and the guests were digesting, Top Chef Carla Hall entertained us all by turning into an auctioneer and putting some great auction items up for grabs. Among them were a beautiful Persian carpet and a first-class trip to Abu Dhabi. Stefano and I made sure to keep our hands well below eye level, lest they mistake our gestures as an okay to take our money.

IMG_2220[1]Mayor Vincent Gray also popped down to talk about Washington and how fabulous it is. Stef and I joked, saying that you know you’re at the event of the evening when the mayor stops by to work the crowd.

IMG_2215[1]In the midst of all these shenanigans, desserts were being passed around – lest any of the guests starve after three hours of straight noshing. You know I ate every single one I could get my hands on. Among the selection were red velvet mini cupcakes, peanut butter brownies, and a divine chocolate cupcake with walnuts and lots of buttercream frosting. My favorite, however, was this adorable grasshopper cake-pop.

IMG_2224[1]Remember the frozen push-pops you ate as a kid? This worked the same way: push up from the bottom and nosh on delicious layers of mint and chocolate mousse. So decadent, yet light at the same time. This is why people pay the big bucks to go to events like these.

In the end, the votes were tallied and the judges had made their decision. The winner was…

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200New Zealand! Clearly Stefano has winning taste and voted for the eventual champion (my pick was Russia). We did agree that New Zealand gave itself a bit of an unfair advantage – who can say no to a succulent lamb chop?

The chef collected his award and invited us all to continue to eat. At that point, I wish I could have, but my stomach was physically in pain from the amount of food I had crammed into it. We said ‘uncle’ and decided to call it a night, but not before I said hi to this splendid lady!

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200Major fan-girl moment. It actually took a lot of effort for me to go up and talk to her – I was so nervous to approach her! I don’t know that I have ever actually met anyone from TV before, so I had to say that I was a bit star-struck. Stefano convinced me to go say hi so he could take a picture of me for the blog (he’s learning!). She was very friendly and just seemed genuinely nice and laid back. Carla Hall totally has a new fan in this girl.

Despite the pain in my stomach and my aching feet (stilettos are NOT the way to go on a cement floor), we left incredibly satiated and so happy to have experienced such a wonderful event. It was one of those nights that reminded me how lucky I am to live in a city that has all these international cultural events and that I can tame my travel bug (a little!) by doing a happy hour at the French embassy or taking tango lessons at the Argentinian embassy. I promised myself that I would get out there and explore all that the international community in DC has to offer.

Thanks again to DC Cultural Tourism for the wonderful opportunity – promise me you’ll let me come next year!

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Epiphany

21 Mar

So the participatory caption post was not a huge hit, but it did kind of serve to remind me that whenever I write on this blog, my words go out into the wide, vast webosphere – accessible to everybody, but more than likely just getting lost among all the rest of the Internet clutter. It’s a good thing I haven’t quit my day job, no?

I have been feeling like something is missing in my writing since I started this blog back in July. At first I chalked it up to “finding my voice” and trying to figure out the way I want to do things, without getting side-tracked by the way every other blogger is doing their stuff. At some points, I felt like I was on the verge of a breakthrough, but I would go right back to scrambling desperately to put words on a page.

Why?

Because I wasn’t writing about what thrilled me. I was cranking out posts in the vain hope that quantity would eventually turn into quality and as such, lost the point of writing in the first place.

The truth is, I really don’t like to write about myself and the day-to-day things that occupy my time. I go about my day and it’s usually the same as the day before. Ninety nine percent of the time, the meals I eat were similar to what I ate the day before and what I will eat the day after. I can only post so many pictures of overnight oats before my brain starts to rebel and refuses to put my thoughts into words on a keyboard.

I just went through my day, the last thing I want to do is re-live it. Well, most of the time. There are instances that are worth living and reliving, but sometimes it’s sufficient to live through Body Pump and end it at that, without the need to re-cap my lunge track in great detail.

This is not meant to be an affront to those who do write about their daily lives – many have heavy readerships and find great satisfaction in using the blogosphere as a virtual diary in real-time. I really enjoy reading many of these blogs and getting a peek into the lives of people who may be all the way across the country but still feel like friends.

It’s just that in my personal experience, I find myself writing a blog post and then laying awake at night, consumed by all the dreams and musings inside my head that never manifested themselves on here the way I hoped they would, causing me to write mental notes with my eyes closed when I really should be asleep.

Notes about how I really need to live somewhere with sunshine in perpetuity. How I should quit my job and work on an organic farm in the south of France or the coast of Italy. How feeding people makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

In my quest for whimsy, I took a wrong turn and ended up at frivolity.

I don’t want my writing space to be an amalgamation of hurried sentences and incoherent thoughts – I want it to be a space for me to showcase my passions through the medium of writing and the lens of food.

Because I love food. Really, I do.

I love travel and new cultures and learning, but especially as it relates to food and eating.

Does this mean I’m abandoning my self-proclaimed “healthy living” and wellness title? Not necessarily. But it does mean that the next time I hit ‘Publish’, I will be proud to know that whatever is being sent out in the world wide web of ours is a reflection of who I am, truly.

Melodrama aside, I am thinking long and hard about where I want this to go. In the grand scheme of things, this is really only a blog and maybe I shouldn’t be over-analyzing the situation so much. But as I find myself becoming more and more immersed in the creative process involved with producing something like this, I think it is worth a moment of reflection.

With that, I wish you all a wonderful day/afternoon/night and I hope that you will still be reading tomorrow!

Much love,

S

Technical Difficulties

20 Mar

My laptop is being finicky and does not want to cooperate with me at the moment, so I’m using my phone to write. Tonight I’m taking a leaf out of my aunt’s book and using this post as a time for you to tell me what you’re thinking in response to a picture.

This is something I saw on my walk to work this morning and I want you to tell me what it means to you.

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I’ll be back tomorrow with your regularly scheduled programming…with a twist. I had an epiphany and I can’t wait to share it with all of you.

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