Archive | May, 2012

adrienne: the wedding dress

31 May

So, I’ve been busy.

I moved in with my fiancée last weekend (after a two-year long-distance relationship! hurrah!) and in the midst of unpacking, adjusting, and getting the kids geared up for their summer, I’m also trying to tie up loose ends on our wedding which is happening in OHGODFIVEWEEKS. I just had to check the calendar to make sure I was right. Yes. Five weeks.

I HAVE SO MUCH TO DO. OK. Now that I’ve expressed that…

My wedding dress arrived at the bridal shop from the manufacturer two weeks early. Most brides would probably be pleased and excited that for once, something arrived on time! Ahead of time, even!

But no. Oh, no.

This set me off into a panic. The shop wanted me to immediately have my fitting and alterations done. This dress was two weeks early! I was supposed to lose fifteen pounds during those two weeks to be the weight I wanted to be, AT LEAST the weight I wanted to be, when I tried this thing ON, and now they want me to try it on NOW, when I’m FATTER, and I haven’t found a SHAWL, and oh my God my ARMS are BINGO WINGS, and my LEGS have lost their TONE because I haven’t RUN in MONTHS…

… and I don’t even have SHOES.

At least I had Spanx. (Seriously, thank you, Sara Blakely)

I made an appointment. The morning of that day, I forgot my Spanx at home with no way to get them beforehand. Then it was, “Oh God, now what do I do, I’m going to be fatter, I’m going to be lucky if this thing even fits me, because we totally guessed on the size and I AM SO NOT READY FOR THIS. The saleswomen would surely gossip about my arm flab and my huge stomach behind my back, not to mention all the other brides who were bound to be catwalk supermodels.”

just look at that waist!

STOP. Just… stop.

All this time I’ve been prepping for the wedding telling myself to focus on what it’s really supposed to be about: being who I am, marrying the woman I love, entering into a life I’d only dreamed existed. And it took me about thirty seconds to completely lose that focus. Suddenly it was about how I looked and how others would see me. It was about pleasing others and about proving to them that I look better than I ever have. I needed to impress them. I needed to disguise what I saw were weaknesses in order to appear, for the first time in my life, perfect.

It’s hard to suppress those feelings. But I reminded myself that it was my job to make sure that trying on this dress was the joyous occasion it’s supposed to be. What was it supposed to represent? Beauty. Love. Hope. Expectation and heady anticipation.

To alleviate some of my fear, I bought a new pair of Spanx on the way to the fitting. As much as I didn’t want this to be about my body image, I weighed (metaphorically) whether I would be more comfortable wearing them or not wearing them. My comfort at this fitting (and on my wedding day) took precedent over any self-righteous “ACCEPT MEH THE WAY I AM!” feelings stirring deep on my quasi-feminist gut.

Then I arrived, took the dress, and went to the fitting room. Immediately I began cutting myself down in regard to my looks. There were several younger women in flowing gowns–beaded, laced gowns, thousands of dollars’ worth of them–and I had, in my hand, a simple “bridesmaid” dress, a couple hundred dollars’ worth of chiffon. I had, on my body, forty extra pounds.

It was time for another bout of reframing. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and tried to focus on the significance of the moment. I was trying on this dress, the dress I loved when I saw it. I couldn’t wait to be beautiful for my bride, who I knew would be glowing and gorgeous all on her own. I would never dream of judging her the way I judge myself.

I put on my Spanx and the dress and self-consciously exited the dressing room. I watched in the mirror as the seamstress tugged the material tighter and reveled in the fact that I had defined waist and curved hips that looked perfect in what I had chosen. Suddenly I was more beautiful than I ever thought I could be.

I asked for an extra minute just to look at myself in the mirror and smile.

Then I saw it. I was happy. With my flabby arms and my chunky legs, I was still happy. Because wearing this dress was part of my introduction into the radiant rest of my life, like a debutante, something I had never previously felt.

And on the chance of sounding like Linus, well… that is what this moment is all about.

Dasha: Skinny Girls Claiming Fat

29 May

I work with a passel of extremely attractive twentysomething women. We’re talking borderline beauty queens with the clothes and figures to match. I think the largest of a the bunch is a size 6. When she’s bloated with PMS. Luckily, they’re super nice, smart, fun women so I generally don’t begrudge their lack of back fat and their extensive wardrobes (including 3-inch heels, something many overweight women can’t wear without pain).

However, more than one of them has said something like this to me:

Office Beauty Queen: OH MY GOD, I’M GETTING SO FAT. Look at me! Look at all this flab! (Pinches millimeter of skin at waist.)

Me: Uh, yeah. No, you look great.

OBQ: What are you talking about? I’m huuuuuge!

Me (in my head): If you’re huge, you must think I’m a fucking monster.

If you’re overweight, you probably have been part of similar conversations. I’m not going to lie, I find it maddening. To me, it’s sort of like if I started complaining about wedding planning to a lesbian friend who desperately wanted to legally marry her female partner. As a woman in a relationship with a man (I happen to be bisexual, but that’s neither here nor there for this purpose), I had the privilege of being able to legally marry him, with the social approval of just about everyone in the world. Not cool to flaunt it to someone who doesn’t.

I know that some thin women get snide comments like “Eat a sandwich!” Or have friends or family express concern about eating disorders. That sucks and it should stop. But it’s nothing compared to the shit you get when you’re overweight or obese. Not to make this a “my pain is greater than your pain” contest but heavy girls and women deal with some serious crap. Mean comments from strangers, disapproval from doctors, family and friends telling you to lose weight (my favorite was when my father kept spamming me with Overeaters Anonymous emails–THANKS, DAD), the inability to find cute clothes that fit, lack of interest from potential romantic or sexual partners. Not to mention the job discrimination that many overweight women face. Thin women might get the occasional nasty comment but, in general, they are considered to be the ideal by almost everybody in our society. They’re celebrated.

I have to wonder where these women are coming from when they obviously have slender, fit bodies but complain about them. In some cases, I think they’re fishing for compliments. I used to work with a woman I’ll call Samantha, who would complain about her body but in a weird humble bragging sort of way. “I totally hate that I’m so skinny but I have huge boobs,” she’d say and I’d roll my eyes. She did this all the time and after a while I started ignoring her because it was so obvious that she wanted me to say something like, “Oh, Samantha, you’re gorgeous and perfect as is. Never change, my lovely!”

In other cases, I do think that as women we’re so screwed up about our bodies that almost nobody has a healthy self image. That no matter how beautiful and/or thin we are, we always think something’s wrong with us. I mean, think about it. We have the media constantly blaring about “banging” celebrity bodies (or shaming female celebrities who have the audacity to gain a few pounds). We have advertisements forever telling us that there’s something that needs fixing about us. Get whiter teeth! Lose 10 pounds in a week! Get rid of those dark spots on your face instantly!

What’s really interesting is that you will never, EVER, catch me complaining about my body except to a very few trusted friends. As an overweight woman, the last thing I want to do is call attention to my body and its flaws. Besides, I figure that everyone can see what’s wrong with my body. I’m fat. You’d have to have a pretty serious visual impairment to miss it.

The inspiration for this entry came from an article currently on xojane, one of my favorite sites. Julie, a very slender woman, wrote Who Cares When a Skinny Bitch Gains Weight? She’s a thin woman who has gained a few pounds, has outgrown some of her clothes, and doesn’t like that her friends aren’t sympathetic to her issues.

This is Julie.

There’s some interesting debate going on in the comments. Julie states that thin women deserve the same degree of understanding that larger women deserve when dealing with body image issues. Intellectually, I agree. We should all be compassionate and understanding with each other. Body image issues are rampant. But on a more visceral, emotional level, I’m having trouble with the idea.  As a person who has been teased, bullied, harassed and ignored at times because of her weight, I just can’t feel too much sympathy for a woman complaining that her size 0 skirts aren’t fitting any more because she gained four pounds. I want to be the bigger person (no pun intended) but it’s hard.

What do you think?

adrienne: five favorite dips plus five to try

24 May

Dasha and I were discussing dips with a friend yesterday, so I thought it high time to do the post celebrating one of the world’s most versatile food creations:


I love to find ways to make my veggies insufferably unhealthy. Dips are the easiest way to do this, as vegetables are really just Earth’s natural dip delivery mechanism.

Here’s a list of my five favorite dips I’ve made and then five dips I’m cravin’ to be makin’. The links are to the original recipes, but I’ve made suggestions below as to low-fat substitutions in case you feel like being good.


Buffalo Blue Cheese Chicken Dip
I’m a big fan of buffalo wings, and this is all the deliciousness without the bones.

Make it dirty: cream cheese, sour cream, mayo, shredded cheddar cheese, chicken, wing sauce, and blue cheese dressing.
Make it clean: use neufchatel cheese (1/3 less fat cream cheese), nonfat Greek yogurt, lowfat mayo, reduced fat cheddar, chicken, wing sauce, and reduced fat blue cheese dressing

Pro tip: I refuse to use fat-free dressings because they make me throw up in my mouth a little. Wishbone makes some really great reduced-fat dressing that tastes like the real thing (without the crappy aftertaste).

If you hate blue cheese and want to substitute ranch, I suggest using Bolthouse Farms yogurt ranch for a low fat sub.

Pickle Roll-Up Dip
Someone at work used to make those little pickle rolls with cream cheese rolled in ham/corned beef until she realized this was an easier way. And to me, it’s a more delicious one. Pro tip: use dill pickle relish to avoid having to chop the pickles.

Make it dirty: whipped cream cheese, sour cream, corned beef
Make it clean: neufchatel cheese, nonfat Greek yogurt, low sodium ham

Spinach Artichoke Dip
Isn’t this on everybody’s favorite dip list? If not, don’t tell me. I couldn’t bear to hear. I’d suggest marinated artichoke hearts with this for an extra kick.

obviously not my photo
Make it dirty: parmesan cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, mayo
Make it clean: reduced fat parm, nonfat Greek yogurt, neufchatel cheese, lowfat mayo

Nacho Salsa Dip
You know, the kind with the ground beef, salsa, and Velveeta in it? Sorry, there’s no way to make this baby healthy. But damn, is it good. On EVERYTHING. I’m so redneck and I actually do not care.

Let’s make up for that last entry with a better one.

Making your own hummus is an art. I’ve succeeded and I’ve failed at it a number of times. To really get that authentic bite, you need to include tahini (sesame seed paste). I refuse to try any recipe that doesn’t include this essential ingredient. Also, homemade hummus tastes better the smoother you blend it, IMO.

This is already a healthy recipe, but you can change it up in a number of ways. You can go halfsies (garbanzo beans/navy beans, garbanzo beans/edamame) to add fiber/protein/etc. or add roasted red pepper for a richer color and flavor. I say make it your own and don’t be afraid to experiment. You can always take failed dip to work. Someone will eat it. Come on.

Here are five dips I want to try to make soon.

White Trash Dip
Someone recommended this dip to me and it seems like an even worse (and by that I mean better) version of the Nacho Salsa dip. In fact, you could throw a can of salsa in this for good measure.

Make it dirty: fatty-ass bacon, canned Hormel chili, cream cheese, cheddar cheese
Make it clean: turkey bacon, low-sodium or vegetarian chili, neufchatel cheese, reduced fat cheddar

I love the cucumber yogurt dip you get at Greek restaurants, but I never get enough of it because I’m always there with people and I have to share it. ugh. Healthy and easy, especially if you use nonfat Greek yogurt.

Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip
Not sure I need to explain myself here, now do I?
No way to make it clean. Its deliciousness therefore makes up for its badness.

How they can call this BLT without the L, I’ll never know. But I think that shredded lettuce mixed into this thing might kill it, so we’ll let it slide. I think this would be great as a dip or as a spread for a wrap. Maybe that’s how you could fit the lettuce in.

not my photo either
Make it dirty: fatty-ass bacon, sour cream, mayo, shredded cheddar, Ritz crackers
Make it clean: turkey bacon, Greek yogurt, reduced fat mayo, reduced fat cheddar, reduced-fat Wheat Thin-type crackers

Crab Rangoon Dip with Won Ton Chips
If I say that my favorite Chinese food is crab rangoon, would you judge?

Go ahead.

And this recipe is already just about as healthy as it can get. You could go low-sodium soy sauce, of course, but the quantity is already so minute it wouldn’t matter much.

There you go. Ten dips to enjoy.

What’s your favorite dip?

adrienne: plateau is a stupid word and i hate it

22 May

The plateau.

The word strikes fear in the hearts of many. I never thought I’d hit it; I thought I’d be different from everyone else and shoot right past it to my skinny little goal of 150 pounds. I was doing so well! I looked so good in my size 12 pants (down from size 24) and I was only going to get better!

And then I hit it.

November 2011. 176 pounds. Every week at weigh in, over and over. 176 pounds. My body was happy with how I was eating and with my exercise level and nothing would change it. I ate differently throughout the day; I changed my exercise routines. Nothing changed it.

You want to talk about a plateau? My Weight Watchers weight loss graph showed a net gain or loss of 0.0 pounds for six straight months.

one big-ass plateau
the tibetan plateau… the biggest plateau on earth… pretty much my plateau

This only added to what amounted to the perfect storm of weight loss failure:

  • My plateau was frustrating, so I started to slack on tracking my food.
  • It was winter, so I stopped running outside and my body went into fat storage mode.
  • Work entered the busy season, eliminating my Tuesday/Thursday gym time in the evenings.
  • I began having severe abdominal pain, a radiating lump in my lower right abdomen, that would be agonizing by the end of a workout. Sometimes it caused me to double over when I walked.
  • I had surgery to figure out the cause of my pain, putting me out of commission for another month. (this is another entry entirely)
  • By this time, it was March of this year and I had gained seven pounds. Another month and I’d gained five more. And here I am today, now 12 pounds over that plateau weight, not exercising a single day of the week, not tracking my food. Overeating, indulging, and feeling terrible about it.

    And I quit Weight Watchers last night because I hadn’t touched the online program since February and I was tired of paying for something I wasn’t using.

    It was daring and scary to cut that lifeline.

    first Google images result for “weight watchers drop out”… ACCURATE!

    There are many stories of women who have gone on “maintenance” on the program (you’re satisfied with your weight or reach your goal so you adjust the plan from weight loss to maintaining a weight) or women who hit the plateau and eventually backslide out of frustration or complacency. That’s what I’ve been doing. I’m doing it consciously and I know the ramifications of my actions. I don’t want to gain the weight back–I’ve noticed how much worse I feel and that my clothes are now ill-fitting. But I’m not doing anything about reverting back to my healthy habits.

    Sometimes people ask me if I find it easier to relax about weight loss since I’ve lost so much. I wouldn’t call it relaxing. It’s easier to be lazy when you know you’ve been almost 100 pounds heavier than you are at the present. But it’s not relaxing at all. I’m anxious and upset and there’s an undercurrent of self-directed anger that I am letting myself undo all my hard work, one pound at a time.

    I feel guilt when I eat again. I haven’t felt that in such a long time.

    There was a great New York Times article on applying quantitative mathematics to the obesity epidemic last week. It was brilliant (I highly recommend you read it) and hit on a lot of the food/weight loss issues I have. But in regard to plateaus, it offered an especially interesting perspective:

    “… there’s a time constant that’s an important factor in weight loss. That’s because if you reduce your caloric intake, after a while, your body reaches equilibrium. It actually takes about three years for a dieter to reach their new “steady state.” Our model predicts that if you eat 100 calories fewer a day, in three years you will, on average, lose 10 pounds — if you don’t cheat.”

    Three years to reach my new steady state. Given that, I never reached my new steady state on Weight Watchers and I’m in a state of flux right now. It wouldn’t take much for me to turn my trend of weight gain downward. I know all isn’t lost at this point and that I could easily start tracking tomorrow, start running or walking a mile per day this weekend, and I’d lose these 12 pounds and hopefully more. I also know that I want to gain muscle, and that muscle gain = weight gain, but muscle gain also helps you burn more fat in the long run.

    I KNOW all of these things.

    I need another moment like that day at the water park, Orlando two years ago, almost to the day. I need inspiration to hit. My upcoming wedding isn’t doing it. The Warrior Dash I’m doing in September isn’t doing it.

    I’m so frustrated. And sad. Because I know what I want but I don’t know what it’s going to take to get there. It’s nothing anyone can provide for me. It has to come from inside, not out.

    What a battle this has become… has always been.

    Dasha: These Are a Few of My Favorite Things #2

    21 May

    Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend. I did!  Nothing particularly spectacular happened but it was just the right amount of relaxing and fun.

    I have a big, thinky post about fat acceptance, body image, shame, and beauty rattling around in my head like Skittles. But I need some time for it to solidify in my brain. Right now if I tried to write it, I’m pretty sure it would come out as a completely incoherent screed a la the Unabomber. Only 100% less dangerous.

    So, let’s be shallow and fun on this Monday morning! Let’s talk about products that make us feel lovely and happy! GO CONSUMERISM. (Joking. Sort of.) This is what I’ve been loving lately. And no, I have not been compensated for these recommendations. Far from it. Instead I’m going through a beauty product phase that was brought on my shopping for Adrienne’s wedding makeup (THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT, A) that may end up bankrupting us. (Not really.) I only recommend things that I truly love.

    Coconut Oil

    I read over at xojane, my favorite online beauty spot, that coconut oil was good for getting rid of those weird little bumps on your arms. I was skeptical but I bought some and what do you know? Bumps are gone! Now I keep it in the shower, smear it all over and my skin is ridiculously soft and smells like a tropical vacation. You can use any kind of pure coconut oil. I even found some at my super not-fancy supermarket in the Indian section.

    Josie Maran Argan Oil Serum

    Even though my hair is rather fine and mostly straight, in the summer I do deal with some frizz issues. A tiny squirt of this delicious-smelling mix of Moroccan argan oil, jojoba oil, and avocado oil and the frizzies are gone. This product is also organic, vegan, cruelty-free, free of bad stuff like parabens, and a portion of each sale benefits women’s collectives in Morocco.

    Stila Smudge Pot

    I don’t know about you, but I’ve always had eyeliner problems. Unless I use a liquid liner, I have raccoon smudges under my eyes within a half-hour of applying it. And I don’t always want a liquid liner. Sometimes I want something softer and smudgier. The Stila Smudge Pot is perfect for my needs. You apply it with a brush. It goes on smoothly and it smudgeable at first. And then it settles in and does not budge for anything. But you can easily remove it with makeup removing wipes. Problem solved. My favorite color is the bronze, but they have everything from black to cobalt and jade.

    Lavanila Vanilla Coconut and Vanilla Grapefruit Perfumes

    I’ve mentioned that I’m picky, picky, picky when it comes to perfume, right? Once my beloved Aveda Gaia was discontinued, I hardly wore any perfume for years. I couldn’t find anything that smelled right to me. A scent that made me happy just to wear it. Well, this weekend not only did I find a perfume that’s me, I found two. Holy happiness.

    I had read about the Lavanila scents on some blog and I found them at Sephora on Saturday. I found that I couldn’t decide between the Vanilla Coconut and the Vanilla Grapefruit. The first makes me smell like a happy medium between Coppertone on the beach and fresh-baked muffins. The second reminds me of eating fruit for breakfast on the beach in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. My heart was truly torn. And then my mother, bless her heart, treated me to one so I could have both. LOVE HER. I’m telling you guys, if you like vanilla scents, these are truly glorious. They also have Vanilla Passionfruit, Vanilla Lavender, Vanilla Blackberry, and Pure Vanilla. There’s also a limited-edition Vanilla Beach scent (OMG!) that wasn’t available at my local Sephora. But I’ve ordered it. Yeah, I’m a little obsessed but you would be, too, if you smelled this amazing.

    Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey

    About half of you are probably sighing at this recommendation and saying, “NO DUH, DASHA. This stuff has been recommended by every magazine and blog in the entire universe for, like, twenty years! BORING.” But I’m guessing half of you have never heard of this wonderful, slightly sheer lip magic that, yes indeed, does look good on everyone. Just like the ads promise! On me it’s a lovely, rich berry. It’ll probably look different on your but it’ll look good. Guaranteed.

    I’ll be back soon with some hopefully deeper thoughts on all kind of important stuff. I just need some more coffee and a day off. Meanwhile, I’ll be over here sniffing my arm (because it smells so amazingly of vanilla and coconut). Have a great day!

    What are a few of your favorite things? What’s making you feel pretty and spring-like right now?

    adrienne: broccoli slaw pasta

    18 May

    As a kid, I couldn’t stand broccoli. Guessing that’s because my mom made us frozen broccoli by reheating it in the microwave and tossing it on our plates with no seasoning. It was limp, watery, and smelled like a festering gym sock. I would sit at the table and refuse to eat it for what seemed like hours but probably was at least fifteen minutes after everyone had left the table.

    My mother laughs at me now when I feed her broccoli. But making it this way, it’s almost like it’s… not broccoli at all. (dun dun dunnnn!)

    I credit Hungry Girl for introducing me to Broccoli Slaw Pasta. As simple as it is delicious, it takes away my craving for carbs, is entirely filling, can be made in one pan in less than 10 minutes, and is healthy and Weight Watchers Points Plus friendly.

    If you’re leery at the idea of Broccoli Slaw Pasta, let yourself warm up to the idea. It took me a couple of weeks to get the courage.

    serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side
    4 Points Plus per serving, give or take, dependent on cheese and sauce

    You will need
    Olive oil
    One bag of broccoli slaw
    Pasta sauce to taste (pour till it feels right)
    Garlic to taste (1-2 tbsp)
    salt and pepper
    Your choice of cheese (I chose parmesan)

    I start by pouring a wee bit of olive oil into my deep saucepan.

    Okay, this is not a wee bit. I missed the “oil shot” the first time. I took half this oil out of the pan before I commenced my cooking.

    Heat your oil on medium until it shimmers. Coat the pan, then dump your broccoli slaw in. Add garlic and salt and pepper to taste.

    this is half a bag of broccoli slaw, as i was cooking for one. sidenote: cut it out with the red cabbage, bagged salad makers! irritating

    Stir until it all glistens with oily goodness. Cover your saucepan and let your broccoli slaw soften for about five minutes–you want these a little softer than al dente.

    It will turn a fabulous green color. I love how broccoli does this.

    picture does no justice

    When softened, add your sauce. Yeah I use Hunt’s No Added Sugar Pasta Sauce from a can. No shame.


    Then stir.


    Then let it heat up a bit more. Finally, turn off the heat and add your cheese.

    check out that money shot!

    Stir and serve hot.

    The possibilities are endless for broccoli slaw. For a spicy side veg, mix it with salsa verde or regular salsa. Mango salsa would also work.

    I recently saw this recipe on Skinnytaste for Buffalo Turkey Burgers with Blue Cheese Broccoli Slaw. I’m getting on that real quick.

    You can also put it on top of burgers or sandwiches raw for a nice crunch, or add it to salads for extra veggie power. Try it–you might like it.

    Are there any mind-blowing ways you prepare this versatile shredded veggie?

    Dasha: How to Fake an Indian Feast in Less Than an Hour

    17 May

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but trying to cook healthy, relatively inexpensive, yet still tasty dinners during the week can be something of a pain in the butt. Even though I menu plan, I often get home from work, stand at the doorway of the kitchen and think, “I really, really don’t want to cook tonight.” Or, worse, I email Nathan from the office and say, “I have a BRILLIANT idea! Let’s go out for sushi/get ridiculously huge tortas/eat soup dumplings/hit the overpriced salad bar at the yuppie supermarket tonight!” Which ends up being an expensive and calorie-laden meal.

    It’s helpful to me to have a few meals in my repertoire that are so easy, so effort-free, that I can make them even when I’m at my most exhausted and crabby (which is, like, always). This dinner is definitely one of them. Yes, it relies on packaged foods, which some “healthy living bloggers” much more famous than I would probably have an aneurysm just thinking about. Yes, involves the microwave. But it’s quick, easy, and it tastes good. It tastes like you went through a lot of effort to make it without having to make much of an effort at all. It’s a win-win for everyone.

    To make the Fake Indian Feast for 2 with some leftovers you will need:

    Approximately 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. (I like to use the breast tenders because they cook a lot faster.)
    3 tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt
    1-2 teaspoons curry powder (if you’re all fancy about the spices, go ahead and substitute garam masala, turmeric, and other South Asian spices for the curry powder)
    1-2 minced garlic cloves (for the awesomely lazy, use the pre-chopped stuff in the jar)
    1/2 teaspoon minced ginger (ditto)
    A generous squeeze of sriracha sauce (if you don’t own sriracha, I don’t want to know you)

    1 box of Trader Joe’s frozen channa masala
    1 box of Trader  Joe’s frozen palak paneer

    1 package of the flavor of naan of your choice

    1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

    2. In a medium bowl, mix together the yogurt, spices, garlic and ginger. Add the chicken pieces and coat with the marinade. Cover the bowl and throw in the fridge for 20 minutes or so. You can marinate for up to an hour.

    Greek yogurt is thick enough to really coat the chicken.

    2. Spend those 20 minutes or so just relaxing. I recommend Arrested Development reruns and petting a cat or two.

    3. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick spray. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on the baking sheet. The chicken should have a decent coat of the yogurt marinade on it. Place the pan in the oven. Turn the oven temperature down to 375 and set a timer for 20 minutes.

    4. Take out the Trader Joe’s frozen channa masala and microwave according to directions. This is some of the best channa masala (chickpeas with spices) I’ve ever had–spicy and tangy and so good. 

    If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s in your area, you might be able to find another brand of frozen Indian food at your local store. Or you might be able to find the Swad brand that needs no refrigeration. It’s pretty good, although not as good as the TJ’s brand.

    5. Ditto with the palak paneer (creamed spinach with chunks of fresh cheese in it). TJ’s is the best but other kinds will get the job done.

    6. Set out a jar of delicious Major Grey’s chutney.

    7. When timer goes off, remove chicken from oven and check to see if it’s done. If it’s not, back in the oven for 5 minutes. If it is, remove chicken to a plate and throw out the aluminum foil. Turn the oven back up to 400 and wait a few minutes.

    8. Throw your favorite flavor of naan on the baking sheet and put in oven for 4 minutes.  Remove and cut each piece in half. My favorite supermarket naan is the Culinary Circle garlic naan but I’ve found other good brands at various stores. The Trader Joe’s naan isn’t bad either, although I find the texture a little spongy.

    9. Time to eat! I really like eating the chicken wrapped up in a bit of naan with chutney. And maybe some butter if I’m feeling like being daring. Sometimes if I feel like our diets are especially lacking in vegetables I’ll microwave-steam some broccoli or Brussels sprouts to eat with this. But mostly I don’t bother and figure the spinach and the chickpeas are good enough.

    P.S. Nathan informed me that I was remiss in letting you all know that the chicken is really good grilled. I definitely agree with him on that one. When we’re planning on grilling the chicken, he normally prepares the marinade with less yogurt and the juice of about a half a lime instead. He uses less yogurt because the yogurt can make the grill really messy. He also gets all down and dirty and massages the HELL out of the chicken in the marinade. If you plan on doing any chicken massage, marinate it in a zipped plastic bag instead of a bowl.

    Do you have any meals that you “fake” when you’re feeling tired or lazy?

    adrienne: who needs sleep?

    15 May

    Yesterday I had my wellness exam. Ladies, what’s the worst thing you can imagine happening the instant your (hot male) physician begins your pelvic exam? OK, not gas, but the other thing. Need I say more? The appointment sucked more than usual.

    But minutes before that humiliation (period tracking, how you fail me!) I had brought up a number of concerns to my doctor, one of which being memory loss issues. I can’t remember for shit, people. Everything from not recalling most of my childhood to forgetting what I need at the end of the grocery aisle when I reminded myself at the beginning of it. Seriously, I was like

    “Oh! Remember, self, you need bagels!”
    Walks by bagels.
    Two hours later: “SHIT, BAGELS.”

    this would honestly help sometimes

    I asked my physician if this has anything to do with my whacked cholesterol levels (the Google told me it could be related!). He then asked if I had been overloaded with things recently, and I laughed and responded, “When am I not overloaded with things? But yes, there have been more things than usual.” And then he asked me how much sleep I was getting.

    Why is it that these appointments make me feel guiltier than a hooker in a confessional booth?

    Anyway, sleep. Any one of you who has an iota of knowledge about those crazy little beasts known as kids knows that they and sleep do not couple well. My children sometimes hop in bed with me in the wee hours, though I finally got them both to sleep through the night when my daughter was about four years old. Still, they aren’t the source of my problems any more. I’m being awakened by my cat, the most vocal and cantankerous neutered Tom this side of the Mississippi. He wakes me up two to three times per night for water from the faucet.

    Did I mention he does somersaults on my face when I won’t get up? Nothing better than a thud of furry ass to the face when you’re snoozing.

    photo courtesy catladyland. apparently i am not the only one with this problem

    After my appointment I realized my cat is treating me like a newborn baby, depriving me of essential deep sleep during the few hours I actually give myself to rest. Except he has no reason to do this. There is no breastfeeding, no diaper change to be done. He’s just a big ol’ asshat.

    My typical weekday evening:

    Bedtime: 11 – 11:30 p.m.
    Cat bitches: 2 a.m.
    Cat bitches: 4:30 a.m.
    Alarm rings: 5:45 a.m.

    So I allot myself a little over six hours to sleep per night on weekdays. This is not enough. And then it’s interrupted every two hours by my cat.

    The doctor said this is probably the source of my memory problems.

    Furthermore (fancy), I heard a story on NPR this morning that correlated lack of sleep or interrupted sleep patterns with weight gain and obesity. This is old news, but I think I needed to be reminded of it:

    “As sleep researchers, we do believe that there’s an intimate relationship between insufficient sleep and the drive to store fat,” Dr. Helene Emsellem of the Center for Sleep and Wake Disorders in Chevy Chase, Md., told us.

    I find it fascinating the biological functions our bodies have retained past the point of apparent necessity. In this piece, Dr. Emsellem states that our ancestors, when sleep deprived, went into survival mode and stored more fat because sleep deprivation = potential catastrophe and extra fat = survival.

    I don’t really need any more fat to survive. Like, I’m pretty sure I could survive at least a few weeks on what I have. Silly body.

    Sleep is something that is easy for me to control. I could go to bed earlier, but I don’t. Just like I could exercise more and eat better, but I don’t. It comes down to that question that plagues me all the time and I think plagues many of us here: most of us have a large amount of control over how our bodies prosper, yet we make conscious decisions that are disadvantageous to our health. I know I do. All the effin’ time. To think I could achieve better weight loss just by sleeping more and I’m too lazy to even do that? Come on, self.

    So tonight the cat’s going to get luxury accommodations (the kids call it his jail) in the laundry room with his food, water, litter box and blanket. It breaks my heart to do it, but maybe a few nights in the hole will help him realize that he needs to let mommy sleep. And I’ll try to get in bed by 10, a gain of 1.5 hours of sleep, and see what happens after a week.

    I’m going to challenge you to do the same, if you’re in this boat with me. Can you do it?

    adrienne: the fat kid raising skinny kids

    11 May

    long blog today – kind of weight loss journey – lots of issues to deal with here

    New moms have a lot of aspirations for their kids. They start as inklings of hope—of healthy lifestyles, successful careers, good character. But one of the first things I thought of upon getting pregnant was this: I’m never going to let my kids get as fat as I am.

    I’ve heard firsthand stories of mothers pushing their eating disorders on their kids, whether they be restricting or overeating. I’ve seen the results in children, from malnourishment to obesity.

    I worry just as much that my kids will turn out fat as I do that I will push my disordered eating behaviors onto them.

    A lot of my disordered eating at home happens in private. There is deception. I casually ask my child if he or she is done with dinner before I take the plate away, behind a closed door, and shove as many leftovers into my mouth as I can, over the garbage can like I hope that some will drop in and avoid my mouth. Sometimes it’s even half-eaten food. It doesn’t matter to me. And if there is any left, I will have to cover it up with other garbage to guarantee I won’t go after it later.

    This is not okay. And yet the allure of doing it is so great it’s nearly irresistible.

    It pains me to throw away that food (“Clean your plate” was something I grew up with, which in addition to poverty I directly attribute to this strange behavior). It’s like cheating on a test and knowing you will never get caught. The only damage it does is to yourself—to your own integrity and well being.

    In the past there were a few times when I took the food before my child was completely finished—say they left it on the table to play and came back to find it gone. The first time I heard “Don’t eat my food, Mommy!” I started making very sure that they were done before I “cleaned up” after them.

    I know this is behavior I cannot let them see. I don’t want them to wonder why I do it; I don’t want them to think it’s okay.

    So I hide in my own house.

    My kids have always been healthy eaters, but it’s not because they came out of the womb that way. I pushed them into fruits, veggies, raw foods, balanced meals, out of sheer fear that if I lost that control or if I didn’t impress these values upon them from the moment they weaned from my breast, they would become the fat kid I was.

    I didn’t want them to endure the humiliation I felt at the taunts of my peers, the helplessness I felt when I couldn’t get any sympathy from my parents. The feelings that everybody thought there was something wrong with me because of my weight and the need to make up for that in any way possible, even compromising myself for attention. And then, the lack of self-confidence that spawned out of years of feeling inadequate compared to my thinner classmates, even my friends, that led me down paths I shouldn’t have tread.

    And the secret eating. All the secret eating. I used to eat my grandfather’s fruit pies and my dad’s Cheez Whiz and his snack cakes, late at night or when home alone, and pretend they didn’t know they went missing.

    They never said a thing about it, either.

    In high school I once broke down in tears to my mom, so incredibly upset that I was overweight. I cried that I didn’t know how to fix it. My mother seemed blindsided and unable to assist. She told me I should exercise more.

    This is not going to happen to my kids.

    My son’s BMI when he was five was 17.83 (yes, down to the decimal) and the elation I felt was kind of sick, in a way. I patted myself on the back for it. Here was the evidence—he was a skinny kid, not a fat one.

    I stress again, I never restrict my kids—every time they’re hungry, I feed them. Every time they ask I give them something to eat. But it’s healthy fare and we rarely go out to restaurants. We’ve talked about the consequences of eating too much restaurant food and a little bit about the consequences of overeating, but not too much. Because I also don’t want them to hate themselves if they do gain weight. I never want them to hate their bodies the way I’ve hated mine.

    It’s a really tricky balance.

    I’ve taught myself it’s ok for them to have treats. They don’t drink soda and don’t like it, which is a major accomplishment. I used to water down their juice 50/50 until recently, when calories became more important to my son. My kids are still eating out of their trick-or-treat bags from last year because they don’t care to gorge themselves (unlike me, who would go through her bag in two or three days).

    My son’s BMI when he was five was 17.83 (yes, down to the decimal) and the elation I felt was kind of sick, in a way. I patted myself on the back for it. Here was the evidence—he was a skinny kid, not a fat one.

    But we do “after dinner treat” which is a small piece of candy every night. At times I feel guilty about this, like I’m getting them into terrible habits. I struggle with the idea of food as rewards, knowing it’s not the best thing to do but doing it anyway because to me, what is the greater reward?

    My son’s weight has become an issue. Five months ago a dietician told me he was eight pounds underweight. This is not either of our faults at all; he has food-sensitive sensory processing disorder, which means anything but bland, lukewarm, non-mixed food causes reactions like gagging because it overwhelms his senses. He used to only eat about ten things, mostly fruits and bread. After occupational therapy and food therapy, my son has since been on a regimen of gaining weight and trying new foods.

    like this… which he would never touch a year ago

    A big fear of mine, then, is that he will gain the weight he needs and then not stop at a healthy level. The way we have gained weight is through healthy calories, like whole milk and healthy fats, not fast food. I know this helps, but the fear is still there.

    I still have to ask my mom or Miss A sometimes if they are overweight. In my eyes, they look perfect. But in my own eyes for a long time, I was perfect, until others told me I wasn’t.

    All I can do is be the parent I needed at times—supportive and compassionate, proactive in a positive way when it comes to keeping all of our bodies healthy. I can nourish them with good food and love and whatever else they say they need. I can try to cut down my disordered eating in order to live a longer, healthier life for them and to demonstrate healthy behaviors they can emulate.

    They know mommy has gotten smaller. They only recently learned that it’s called “losing weight.” One day I will sit down with them and have the brave conversation about how I gained it and how to treat our bodies with respect and not to be ashamed of ourselves, no matter what size we are.

    But I won’t be ready to do that until I can have that conversation with myself.

    Dasha: Chocolate, Bananas, and Manicures, Oh My!

    10 May

    This is going to be a fairly random entry. But that’s how my brain operates about 92% of the time, with extreme randomosity. <—pretty sure that’s not a word

    1. I have lost custody of my chocolate. I was abusing it and the Chocolate Protective Services (otherwise known as my husband) had to remove the dark chocolate from my care. I will still have supervised visitation of the chocolate in question.

    Farewell, my friend.

    2. Instead of chocolate, I’ve been delving into the crazy world of banana soft serve. In case you haven’t heard of it yet (but I’m sure you have), banana soft serve is frozen banana chunks whipped in a food processor until it, quite literally, becomes soft serve. You’d never know there was no dairy in there. It’s rich, smooth, and creamy without that pesky fat or dairy (for those who have lactose issues like I do). If you care about this sort of thing it’s gluten-free, vegan and raw.

    It’s easy as easy can be to make.

    a) Peel a couple of ripe bananas, cut them into chunks and freeze them.

    b) Throw the bananas into your food processor. (I’ve heard that blenders work for this, although I haven’t tried it myself. You can also buya Yonanas machine but do you really want to waste counter space on a machine that serves only one purpose? Well, maybe if you have a kitchen larger than my postage stamp-sized one.)

    c) Let the bananas process for about 5 minutes until they have the approximate texture of soft serve. Don’t despair if it doesn’t seem to work at first. It’ll look all grainy and awful. You may have to stop the processor a few time to scrape down the sides or break up chunks. Don’t give up hope. You’ll get there.

    When it looks like this, you know you’re there!

    d) Serve and enjoy! You can also add all sort of tasty things towards the end, like vanilla extract, chocolate syrup, maybe a little peanut butter or caramel. Sky’s the limit.

    3. I’m still a little obsessed with my nails. I can honestly say that the only physical part of myself that I like 100% is my fingernails. I was lucky enough to be born with long nail beds (so that my nails look pretty long even when they’re cut to the quick) and they rarely break. In an effort to make myself feel good at a time when I’m not satisfied with my body AT ALL, I’ve taken to making my nails as lovely as possible. Also, it’s almost summer! Time for cute skirts, sandals, and awesome nail colors!

    If you want the pretty nails and don’t want to spend a fortune getting manicures, I’m here to help. It’s completely and totally possible to have gorgeous nails that will last almost a week and do it yourself, saving time AND money. It’s a win-win. And don’t tell me that you suck at doing your nails. EVERYONE sucks at doing their nails at first. I’m so uncoordinated that I had to go to special loser physical therapy sessions in grade school because I couldn’t dribble a ball properly but I’ve learned to do my nails. With a few tips and some practice, you’ll be a pro in no time.

    a) Get the right gear. You’ll need a decent nail file, nail polish remover, and cotton balls as your non-polish equipment. If you want to do fancy stuff to your cuticles, be my guest. I don’t bother so I don’t have good advice for you. My other piece of advice is keep them short-ish. Long, long nails and acrylics are so ten years ago.

    b) Use polish remover on your nails even if you’re not currently wearing any polish. This removes any ambient dirt and oils from your nails and allows the polish to adhere better to your fingernails.

    c) Paint on a thin layer of a base coat. The base coat helps fill in ridges, smoothes out your nail and keeps your polish from discoloring your nails. I use the Essie All in One Base but I’ve had good luck with the Sally Hansen base coat, too. One thing I cannot stress enough: make absolutely, perfectly sure your polish is dry before you apply another coat. If you don’t let the layers properly dry they will smear and look horrible later.

     d) Paint two layers of the polish of your choice. There are a million gorgeous colors out right now. Go nuts! My current favorite polish brands are OPI, Essie, Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure, and Butter London. I don’t love the Nicole Kardashian Kolors at all and if I did I wouldn’t freely admit it.

    These sparkly wonders are totally NOT from Kardashian Kolors.

    Essie’s Turquoise and Caicos, my current polish.

    You want to paint on layers of polish that aren’t too thick and aren’t too thin. Two coats should do it for most polishes, although you may need to do 3 if it’s a particularly sheer polish. DON’T EVEN worry about getting polish on the skin around your nails. There’s a super easy solution to that: The morning after doing your nails, when you’re taking a shower you can just peel off that excess polish on your skin with the tip of a fingernail. It’ll come off fairly easily one your fingers have been wet for a while. Again, make sure one layer is dry before adding another.

    e) Add a top coat. In my opinion, the best top coat on the planet is Sally Hansen Insta-Dri. Accept no substitutes. Not only does it help your polish dry more quickly (although not instantly as promised), it adds a lovely shininess and it helps protect your nails from chipping. This stuff is priceless. Unlike my twice-stated rule above, you want to apply a layer of this while your top layer of polish is still wet. 

    f) Chill out. Don’t do anything much for the next twenty minutes until your nails are fully, perfectly dry. Watch 30 Rock or Parks and Recreation. Eat some banana soft serve. Have a beer. Keep the cats away from your drying nails if you’re a crazy cat lady like I am.

    g) Enjoy your gorgeous nails!

    Do you like doing your own nails or are you a manicure person? Or are you strictly au naturel? What’s your favorite polish brand and/or color? Have any hot nail tips to share (no pun intended)?

    As always, I have to disclaim that I am NOT being compensated at all for anything I’m recommending here. If any awesome beauty companies want to send me swag for review I can be reached at dashaxf at gmail dot com. I have no shame.


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