She doesn’t like alcohol, she enjoys cooking, and she loves Ryan Reynolds.
I’m pretty sure Blake Lively and I are kindred spirits.
Happy Friday, folks!
I have to tell you guys, since I decided that I was going to use this blog to write about whatever I darn well please, I have felt great. You may have noticed that my posts have dwindled from twice daily to daily, to a couple of times a week. Somebody asked me why I never post on weekends and it’s because I like to use my weekend actually living my life and not just documenting it. I don’t get to see Stefano during the week because we don’t live together and his job eats up a lot of his time, so those weekends are precious and I don’t want to waste a moment of them sitting behind my laptop screen.
I came across and oldie but goodie post from Sarah at the Smart Kitchen and found myself nodding and smiling at all the ways she describes that she’s not your typical healthy living blogger. I wanted to say, “that’s me!” at so many of them because it’s true! Behind each blog is a different author but it’s amazing how uniform some of the blogs can be – same foods, same exercises, same recipes. I don’t know if it’s because somebody pioneered the definition of a “healthy living blog” and decided that you must eat and participate in x, y, and z, but it’s a formula that many seem to follow (with success, I might add!).
I tried that for awhile and it didn’t work for me. It didn’t feel genuine and I felt like such a poser. The title (for now) of my blog is Magia e Pasta, emphasis on the pasta. I like real pasta and when I get a craving for it, spaghetti squash just doesn’t do it for me.
Inspired by Sarah’s post, I came up with a list of “typical blogger rules” that I don’t adhere to.
You don’t like kale. With the exception of Post-Modern Foods’ kale salad, I am not a fan of the stuff. I know it’s so good for you and it’s versatile and all that good stuff, but I just don’t dig it.
You hate running. Now this is something that is slowly evolving, but for the most part I am not a fan of running. I have no plans to sign up for a half marathon, a marathon, or some sort of Iron Man race. I love to be active and move and sweat, but, in the words of Frank Short, I just don’t really enjoy the bio-mechanical movement of running.
You take photos with your iPhone. Now good photography is something I aspire to. I love food blogs that have gorgeous photography where the meals seem to jump off the screen and you think, “I HAVE to make that”. Simply put, I’m not there yet. I don’t have the money for a really nice camera and I don’t have the time to create all the recipes I have in mind nor edit all the pictures I do take. Which leads me to my next point…
You have a full-time job that is not work from home/blogging or social media-related. I am at the office from 8:30-5:30 and by the time I go work out and I am home from the gym, it’s past eight and all I want to do is make a quick dinner and call it a night. On the weekends I am spending all my time with Stef because it’s the only time we see each other. Call me lazy (you totally can, there are bloggers with full-time jobs and children who consistently put out quality posts – it baffles me) but I just don’t know when I would create, make, photograph, and post all the yummy foods I’ve got floating around in this noggin’ of mine.
You eat the same things every day. One of the main reasons I decided to call it quits on the standard ‘post what you eat and talk about what your exercise was’-type of posts was because I am so boring. I eat the same foods basically every day (it takes me 10 minutes at Trader Joe’s to get my weekly groceries, it is that routine) and my workouts follow a pretty regular routine. If all I talked about on this blog were my daily eats and workouts, I could virtually copy and paste the same post every single day.You eat real sugar. I can’t tell you how many times I come across a recipe that has a sugar substitute I’ve never heard of. Between Truvia, Stevia, xylitol, erythtritol, Splenda, Sun Crystals, dessert starts to sound like a mad scientist’s lab. Monday I talked about my need for the ‘real thing’ when I’m eating foods. I use real egg and actual cheese and *gasp* sugar when I cook/bake and I don’t plan on changing that. Yes, I enjoy making healthy substitutions when it’s convenient and doesn’t change the taste (shout out to the magical baking substitute, Greek yogurt!), but most of the time it is better for me to eat a smaller amount of the real thing than try to fake it and feel unsatisfied. Some people can feel satisfied with fruit as dessert. I am not one of those people.
You aren’t vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free/Paleo. This is not meant to bash on people who choose one of the aforementioned dietary lifestyles, especially if you suffer from Celiac or Crohn’s disease or IBS. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with not eating meat (I myself only eat meat when I’m out, I never buy it at home) or avoiding grains if that’s your cup of tea, but certain diets (read: gluten-free) are turning into the latest fad and it drives me crazy when people blindly adhere to a specific way of eating as doctrine, especially without doing their own research or seeing if it works for their body. Everybody and every body is different – don’t be a cookie cutter.
You don’t advertise/tweet about your posts/blog all the time or work with sponsors. For many people, blogging is a livelihood and source of income from their families. It’s a business and they run it like one. I totally get it and I’m not knocking it, especially when it’s putting food on your table. It does drive me crazy when I see ten tweets an hour about your ‘What I Ate Wednesday’ post and every single new post you write is sponsored or a giveaway for a company or a free class/conference/trip you got because of your work with a company. I don’t read your blog because I want a review of how awesome that free product is, I read it because I want to know about you and your life! Again, product reviews, sponsored posts, and giveaways are all part of the game if you’re trying to monetize your blog, but keep it all in balance, please?
So there you have it folks: a step by step guide to being an outcast blogger by yours truly. I’m sorry if it came off as kind of rant-y, but it’s meant to be taken in jest and poke fun of some of the generalizations that come with healthy living blogging. I think the blogging community is wonderful and supportive and I am happy to be a part of it, even if it’s not paying my rent or allowing me to spend all day making and eating food (a girl can dream!).
Food For Thought: If you’re a blogger, what part of your lifestyle doesn’t mesh with the ‘HLB’-lifestyle? If you’re a reader, have you noticed that there are particular things that are rampant across all blogs?
My boyfriend has a few things in his life he loves immensely. The first is soccer – playing, watching, discussing – he lives the sport. He loves soccer so much that he agreed to play back-to-back games on a Saturday morning, with the first game starting at the ungodly weekend hour of 8 AM.
The second is pesto. He eats just about everything and in large quantities (case in point: he managed to polish off a 4-pound container of strawberries in just over 24 hours last weekend), but nothing quite gets his heart palpitating like that delicious, basil-green sauce.
Being the youngest child of an Italian mama, he’s had his fair share of quality Italian food and pesto is no exception. This makes him a bit of a snob and he turns his nose up at any jarred/store-bought varieties of the stuff, declaring it decidedly inferior to the freshly ground sauce made at home, particularly with basil leaves that had been plucked from the plant just moments before.
We usually make pesto in large batches and freeze it in small Tupperwares for easy access to pesto pasta or pesto cream sauce. We make quite a bit of it, but the last time it happened was at the end of August, so he’s had to go without for a few months now and it was quickly becoming unacceptable.
After a trip to Costco led us down the nut aisle, he put his foot down and declared that we would spend the rest of the afternoon making pesto. Having no other plans, I agreed and picked up the requisite 5-pound bag of walnuts, but not before contemplating the pignoli sitting just adjacent.
You see, I am a bit of a purist when it comes to food. I am of the opinion that you shouldn’t try to “fake” a recipe and I would much rather plan my daily eats knowing full well that I’ll be indulging in full-fat, dairy ice cream rather than processing a frozen banana and pretending it’s the real thing. I have no problem with people making protein “frosting” or pseudo-cupcakes, but please don’t flood my Instagram saying it “tastes just like the real thing!”
But I digress; my original point is that I like to make food the way it’s meant to be made, particularly with Italian cuisine because they are notorious (along with the French) for cooking things just so because that is how it has always been.
Pesto comes from the Italian region of Liguria, specifically Genova, home of a certain Cristoforo Colombo. The name comes from the Italian word pestare, which means ‘to pound or crush’ in the remote past conjugation (nerd alert). An official recipe for the paste that originated with the ancient Romans was first published in 1863 in a book titled, La Cuciniera Genovese by Giovanni Battista Ratto and if you go to the south of France, you’ll find a similar recipe for pistou, though they don’t use nuts.
The traditionally accepted way to make pesto is using a marble mortar with a wooden pestle (pestle/pesto – get it?). First, garlic and pine nuts are placed in the mortar and reduced to a cream, then basil leaves are added and ground until creamy. The cheese is added at the very end, with some extra-virgin olive oil to help it along the way.
And it is for this reason that I always feel a twinge of guilt when Stefano and I have our pesto parties.
I am a fake.
That is, my pesto is decidedly not how it is supposed to be made.
Granted, my only real flaw is that I replace pine nuts with walnuts and parmigiano-reggiano with pecorino romano, but they are crucial ingredients and any Italian I know would be insulted that I dare call my impostor sauce ‘pesto’.
However, my dietary choices are dictated more by my bank account than Italian gourmands, so I will have to live with myself knowing that I am a gastronomic phony, a culinary charlatan.
Be that as it may, I will share with you my recipe for Poor (Wo)Man’s Pesto Sauce in the hopes that you can save a few dollars and enjoy this with a bit more piece of mind than I can.
If you’re curious, here is the “official” pesto recipe, as decided by the Genova Pesto World Championships.
So after my big “decision” to become more food-oriented on this blog, I have not made mention of any of my recent workout habits. Oddly enough, right around the time I decide to talk more about food, my exercise habits changed pretty dramatically. Here’s what a typical week used to look like:
Monday – Body Pump after work
Tuesday – Spin or boot camp class after work
Wednesday – See Monday
Thursday – See Tuesday
Friday – Rest
Saturday/Sunday – potential treadmill or HIIT workout at the gym in Stefano’s apartment.
When I decided to commit to Chobani’s 10 for 10 goals back in March, my first goal was to attend yoga more regularly and get on my yoga mat at least twice a week.
Well, once I got into it I was addicted. I loved the feeling of being relaxed yet energized and even when I would go into class feeling sluggish and unmotivated I always left feeling challenged and refreshed. In short, it was everything a good workout is supposed to be. The problem? I felt guilty because I didn’t consider yoga a real “workout”. Sure it was beneficial to my body and made me feel great, but up until then it was not a workout if I didn’t get my sweat on.
After a few weeks of grudgingly dragging myself to the treadmill or to classes I wasn’t excited about, I said “screw it”. I was getting so much more out of yoga than I was when I exercised and wasn’t looking forward to it. It was kind of like blogging: once it starts to feel like a chore, you shouldn’t do it anymore. So I ditched the spin and boot camp and now my weeks look something like this:
Monday – Evening yoga, Pilates, walk home (about 2.5 miles)
Tuesday – AM walk to gym, AM yoga, PM yoga, walk home
Wednesday – Walk to work, PM yoga, Zumba, walk home
Thursday – AM walk to gym, AM yoga, PM yoga, walk home
Friday – Rest
Saturday/Sunday – 5k on treadmill in Stefano’s gym
I started supplementing yoga with a brisk walk to and from work and home, which is about 5 miles round-trip. It adds a nice bit of cardio to my day, but it’s productive and I’d rather do an hour walk while on the phone with my mom than crank out a half hour of jogging on the treadmill. Overall, it’s many more hours of exercise, but it’s all fairly low impact and I am noticing how much better my body feels. Before, my body would feel simply exhausted by the end of the week and I felt as if I wasn’t giving it rest. Now, even though I’m moving around for about 3.5-4 hours a day, I feel rejuvenated in the mornings and there aren’t any aches and pains in my joints and muscles.
Is it a bigger time commitment? Yes, but I am enjoying how I am passing my time and I am beyond thrilled with how my yoga practice is progressing. In the past two months I have been able to stay in poses that I struggled with for ages (parsva bakasana, eka pada galavasana) and I can tell that my practice is expanding by leaps and bounds. I look forward to getting on my mat and I always leave feeling like it was an hour well spent.
I’ve also been enjoying the various outdoor yoga events on the National Mall. Lululemon and Down Dog Yoga hosted one a couple of weeks ago for the 5th anniversary of Down Dog Yoga studio and this past weekend was a 2-hour event at the Constitution Gardens to culminate the end of DC Yoga week.
Am I burning as many calories as I used to? No. But I am getting stronger (your own body weight is an amazing strength training mechanism) and I haven’t gained any weight, so I am going to stick with it until it no longer appeals to me.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the best exercise is the one you can maintain. On days that I get a craving for a run, I get on the treadmill or run outside. Feeling some weights? I’ll head to Body Pump. I love having options and it is freeing to know that I haven’t pigeon-holed myself into a prescribed or acceptable workout routine. I encourage you all to do the same.
For now, I am embracing my inner yogi and loving every moment of it.
Hey all! Sorry for falling off the radar the past couple of days – I have been so busy living life that I haven’t had time to document it! I think that’s the best way to do it. I did get up to some pretty great things this weekend, the highlight being Passport DC’s Embassy Tours. The embassies of over 40 countries opened their doors to the general public and I spent most of Saturday going on my very own world tour without even leaving the city! It was very cultural, very informative, very D.C.
My roommate and I started out pretty early in the morning and spent almost the full six hours (it was from 10 AM – 4 PM) touring various embassies around the city. By the end of the day we were totally wiped! We came home with quite a haul, though – a straw fan from Nicaragua, a guide book from Kazakhstan, an apron and some wooden spoons from Mexico, and Nando’s Peri Peri sauce from South Africa! Having no idea that we were going to be given free stuff, we ended up lugging a lot of stuff around from embassy to embassy which made us look pretty put together, I’m sure.
Some highlights from the embassy tours:
The beautiful Embassy of Mexico – each state was represented in tile mosaic along the ceiling.
A carnival costume from Trinidad & Tobago – this thing was MASSIVE!
The most charismatic woman I’ve ever met! Her name is Tebelelo Seretse and she is the ambassador to the US from Botswana. After a wonderful speech about what makes her country a great place to live (and visit), I went to thank her and shake her hand. In reply she said, “I do huggies” and gave me a massive hug. She just exuded joy and listening to her talk put the biggest smile on my face.
Traditional Botswanan food – I tried a mopane worm (top right)! Apparently it’s hugely nutritious (full of protein) and a delicious among African bushmen. It was sort of chewy and crunchy, but I’ve tried worse
I was reunited with my beloved guava juice when we reached the Embassy of South Africa. If there is anywhere to buy fresh guavas in the United States, please let me know! I always eat a kilo of them as soon as I go back to Egypt.
Stopped by the Embassy of Ghana to say hi – Stefano spent a summer there and really enjoyed the people and culture.
Taking a much needed trip to visit my people. I’m a dual-citizen, but this was my first time in the Egyptian embassy!
One of my food purchases was roz bil laban, Egyptian rice pudding. It tasted almost exactly like what my grandma makes. I will have to find a way to replicate it and post the recipe on the blog! This milk-based, creamy dessert is best when topped with cinnamon, raisins, and a healthy sprinkle of shredded coconut.
Egypt being very stereotypically Egyptian. One of the activities was teaching kids how to write their names in hieroglyphics.
An absolutely MONSTROUS woven rug that was hanging on the wall in the embassy – it must have been at least 25 feet tall! It shows all of the major cities in Egypt – I’m from Alexandria, the city at the very tippy top that’s right along the Mediterranean Sea.
This was a painted rickshaw on display at the Embassy of Pakistan. I know the history between Pakistan and India, but it’s amazing how much of an Indian feel goes along with Pakistani music and food. I loved all the bright colors and the message on this display
There were several other embassies, but we only made it to about half before we ran out of time! Next May, I want to make sure and visit all the countries we missed this time around. I’m really looking forward to next weekend when the EU Open House occurs and all the European embassies are open to visit. I’ve been to the French embassy before, but I’d love to visit Italy’s!
The Passport DC event was really one of those times where I gave thanks for the city I live in. Free cultural events happen all the time and for a jet-setter like me who is not doing any traveling anytime soon (this will be my first summer since high school that I won’t be traveling abroad), it is nice to ease my wanderlust a bit by having these activities available. Thank you, DC!
Food For Thought: Have you ever been to any of these countries? What’s the strangest food you’ve ever tried?