Body Image and Males

Real Parenting

IMG_6486I have had many a discussion with female friends whom bemoan the fact that women and girls don’t have the same societal standards for body image that boys and men have regarding, clothes, skin care, hair, weight and cellulite. Unfortunately for our sons, I think they also have impossible standards subjected on them that can cause social anxiety, depression, eating disorders and inter with learning.

Let’s pick it apart starting with clothes. Teenage boys may not care about how dirty their clothes get at the end of the day, but they certainly want to wear the right brands and put on clean clothes in the morning. I’m raising both a daughter and son and can say they both are very choosy when it comes to color, style, fit, brand and latest trend. In fact, boys have this whole thing about athletic shoes that the girls don’t have such as finding the latest Micheal Jordan’s. My daughter certainly never cared about socks as much as my son and even though her designer jeans and Lululemon leggings cost more than his Vineyard Vines pants, national sports team logo wear or goofy lacrosse pants, the label was important and both wanted what they wanted.

Skin care is paramount to both genders. Nobody wants huge, swollen zits. And although, boys usually don’t wear make-up, in a way that’s too bad, since it’s a crutch not available to them to feel beautiful with just application of a few products.

When it comes to hair I think it might be harder for the boys. Most girls wear their hair long with subtle variations with length and bangs, but boys need a hair style and are concerned with the perfect hat if they don’t like their cut.

Then there’s body image, a particularly painful subject for me.  Frequently I hear men/boys don’t have to be concerned with their weight and they don’t struggle with dieting, unfortunately this isn’t true. Maybe boys suffer in silence, as do many girls, but they suffer at increasingly alarming rates and help may be more difficult to access.

Thanks to the pressure that always existed combined with social media postings, it’s no longer safe to think we can just assume indifference to our boys’ emotional state concerning appearance and weight. Women are gaining equal rights slowly in many fields but some of the cultural norms we hold are nothing I want to share with my son.  IMG_6488Body dysmorphia should be eliminated not granted equal rights. Neither my son nor my daughter need to be defined by his or her thigh gap.

Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

Does Falling in love exist after 50?

Real Parenting

Widowed? Divorced? Never Married? Bad Marriage?

Maybe you haven’t been ‘in love’ since your first love.  Maybe you’ve fallen out of love. Maybe there’s no desire to have sex. Or maybe you’ve just given up.

Is it possible to fall in love with someone after a certain age? I’m not talking about falling in lust or falling in love with the idea of being cared.

Is it possible to sexually desire someone? To feel overjoyed at a phone call? To look forward to being with someone?  To feel an attraction so strong that you actually daydream about being with him or her and can’t stop thinking about him?  I’m talking about the whole deal: to want to be with someone because it feels so right and exciting at the same time.

And what about all the baggage we’ve accumulated over the years? Let’s face it none of us look like we were in our teens or even forties.  And even if you’ve had tons of plastic surgery, great dermatological procedures, daily workouts and diligent dieting, the experiences you’ve gone through, can’t be eliminated with a little Botox..

Can love exist for people who’ve gone through heartbreak and lost? Or is love only  reserved for the young, the beautiful, the affluent?

I have little tolerance for bullshit. I want to edit through an individual and get to his core. Maybe it’s because my biological clock is ticking, not for a baby but for the possibility of enjoying the next thirty plus years of my life (hopefully) in love.

Maybe the answer to true love is a website away or maybe it’s a pipe dream and loneliness is better since at least it’s real and not a delusion.

Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

Grilled Vegan Pizza

Vegan Recipes

I admit it. I love cooking with family and friends. And yes I love art projects. I used to joke when I lived in Manhattan that if you were to jump on the sidewalk outside my apartment a cloud of glitter would emerge from its exterior. I love creating with my children. It’s a fun time to explore, joke and play.  Yet somehow at the age of 15 and 18 the glamor of spreading shaving cream sprinkled with glitter on the table top doesn’t cut it with my children.  Instead , I have substituted colorful veggies and play (or pizza) dough. And oh what fun we have. The pizza may not be pizza parlor perfect but I guarantee it tastes as good!

Ingredients:

IMG_6271

  • 1 store-bought bag of pizza dough (about 16 oz.)
  • 1 medium onion thickly sliced
  • 1/2 orange pepper and 1/2 red pepper (any types are fine) cut into large pieces
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup Marinara sauce
  • Olive oil for grilling
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup flour (for your hands and the surface so dough doesn’t stick)
  • Salt and pepper as desired

Directions:

  1. Light the grill.
  2. While grill is pre-heating, decide if you want to make one large pie or smaller individual pizza so each kid can make her own. Let dough come to room temperature.
  3. Lightly flour cutting board and hands so the dough doesn’t stick.
  4. Now it’s time to channel your inner pizzaiolo although I’ve never successfully tossed a pizza into the air. A rolling-pin and hands, is my method of choice.

     

    5. By this time the grill is usually hot enough for grilling the veggies (450º). Grease the grill then add the veggies. After several minutes lightly grease the top of the vegetable before you flip them. Grill for a couple minutes longer then reserve.

     

  5.  Brush one side of pizza dough with olive oil and place oil side down on grill. Cook for several minutes. Then brush oil on the top and flip. At this point I add the cherry tomatoes to the grill.
  6. Brush the cooked side of pizza with Marinara sauce. Leave on grill for several more minutes watching carefully so the bottom of the pizza doesn’t burn.

     

  7.  When pizza is almost done top with veggie and basil.
  8.  Remove from grill and serve.IMG_6300

ENJOY!

Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

 

 

Little Kitchen in the ‘Burbs

Real Parenting

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I’m a city girl at heart, loving the life of the doorman and handyman a buzzer away.  In the city there was no grass to mow. No trash cans to pull down to the end of the driveway. Gardening was done in containers on the deck with the dirt and plants delivered by kind deliverymen who were even kinder with a large tip. And when it was too cold to garden, we didn’t have to worry about shoveling snow or warming up the car. Our chariots were stored in the condominium garage and appeared when summoned with the heater blasting and door open waiting our arrival.

One of the most difficult transitions into suburban living was limited food delivery to our remote abode. Unfortunately for everyone involved, I needed to expand my culinary talents beyond the preparation of Kraft Mac & Cheese dinner and Pop-tarts.

My husband decided he’d be at my side, assisting me in this cooking journey and presented me with the “White House Cook Book.” I guess if Jackie O ate dinners made from recipes in this book, it must be good, but wasn’t she smoking like a chimney and drinking gin and tonics for cocktail hour(S) every night before the meals were presented to her? Ode to Camelot. Chef Verdon didn’t include this tidbit in his recipes.IMG_6304 The only recipe I mastered in the book after several months of trial and error was, “Poularde Francillon,” which my six and three-year old soon referred to as “White House Chicken,” as in “Do we have to have White House Chicken again? I’m soooo sick of it!”  Yet I never grew tired of the cuisine, mainly because it called for a pint of champagne which left half bottle for me to enjoy as I prepared la cuisine. I also applauded the rich flavor from the 3 cups of heavy cream and 1/2 cup melted butter since Atkins was the diet du jour for me back then.

My supportive husband decided I might need more help in the kitchen, so he presented me with “Le Cordon Bleu At Home.” NowIMG_6309 I could learn classic French Cuisine from the masters. All I had to do was complete the course by learning over 70 “simple techniques.” I mastered scrambled eggs but after many meals of “oeufs brouilles,” we soon couldn’t stand the sight of eggs, I particularly disliked the ouefs since they didn’t call for any ingredients from the Champagne region.

Submitting to the young uns’ demands, my husband ordered food from the local Chinese take out. I’m not sure why it was called Chinese but after one bite knew why it was called take out since it was so vile we had to immediately “take out” the food to the trash!

Not one to deny our children good food, my husband’s solution was delivered to me by Amazon several days later. IMG_6445 (1)

However, many of the recipes were impossible to replicate since I couldn’t find ingredients like hairy melon, bird’s nests and shark’s fins at Stop & Shop.

Due to the dearth of ingredients, my husband quickly changed gear and decided to trade in the wok for a pasta rolling machine. This time Gourmet Magazine’s Ruth Reichl joined me in the kitchen.IMG_6452

Her stay was short-lived when my husband discovered her recipe for stuffed breast of veal called for matzoh instead of the traditional Italian stale bread. Obviously her food was ridiculous! I personally grieved Ruth’s departure since many of her recipes called for vino.

Not to fret, Little Italy was soon replicated in my 80’s style mustard yellow kitchen, (upgrading the kitchen was on our to-do list) when the “Bible of authentic Italian cooking” was delivered.  Soon, I discovered why it was called the “Bible.”IMG_6442 (1)

I needed God to intervene when it came to Rotlolo di Pasta, which is hand rolled pasta rolled around stuffing,  then wrapped in a clothe, secured by a string and poached. Only deep prayer and the intervention of God was the way I was going to successfully cook anything from this book.

The culinary world is always evolving and we soon forget the Bible. My husband decided I needed to modernize my entrees . Thanks to another Amazon ‘gift,’ I was to become the guru of wheat juice which incidentally has more carbohydrates than Chef Verdon’s White House recipes full butter and cream and sadly none of the wine.IMG_6448 (1)

Although the vegan period was short-lived, it served a purpose when I served fresh beet and garlic juice. Although no one could drink it, the juice reminded my husband of a time not so long ago when he enjoyed borscht in New York City. Honestly, I hate beets. They have always triggered my gag reflex. So I wasn’t too keen on developing a palatable borscht.  Yet once again my knight in shining armor came to the rescue with yet another gift. We no longer would miss the Russian Tea Room, thanks, honey. IMG_6446 (1)I guess the Russian cuisine ran it’s course after my husband grew tired of listening to my gagging at the dinner table.

By this point my significant other discovered the Food Network and decided I needed to kick it up a notch. Bam!  Just like that the UPS man delivered a cooking book by the Food Network’s Giada De Laurentiis. My husband suddenly developed an insatiable appetite for her style of Italian cuisine. He generously invited me to watch an episode with him so I could emulate her skills.  Boy she had no use for the cleaver with all the cleavage she exposed. Giada was meat eater. Maybe that’s what turned me vegan. The book was returned.

Related image

Some say,  “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”I guess this explains why I’m a widow.

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Vegan Dumplings

Vegan Recipes

 

Everyone loves dumplings and they’re easy to make if you have dumpling wrappers. The only caveat is a lot of premade wrappers contain egg. If you prefer you can use gluten free wrappers if you can find them. I finally found vegan dumpling wrappers at a nearby Asian market.  Joy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet of dumpling wrappers (about 40) thawed if frozen
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped ginger
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped jalapeno pepper( or to taste)
  • 1 package tofu (8-12 oz,
  • 1/2 cup loosely chopped cilantro
  • 1 Tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon sake, dry sherry or white wine
  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce (for dipping sauce)
  • 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar (for dipping sauce)

Directions:

  1. Separate dumpling wrappers and place on a non-stick surface. Then cover with a damp towel so they don’t dry out.
  2. Sprinkle 2 Tablespoons of salt over cabbage and let sit for about 15 minutes to get rid of excess water. Then rinse salt off cabbage and squeezed dry in a a clean dish towel or paper towel.IMG_6150
  3. Squeeze moisture from tofu by placing the block in dish towel or paper towel. Squeeze well and crumble at the same time.
  4. To make the filling, place all ingredients, except soy sauce and rice wine vinegar  for dipping sauce, in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
  5. Stuff dumplings by holding the wrapper in one hand and placing a tablespoon of filling in the center.IMG_6157
  6. Then wet 1/2 the wrapper’s circumference with a finger dipped in water.
  7. Fold in half to make a semi-circle. Crimp edges shut with the prongs of a fork.
  8. Continue until done.IMG_6181
  9. Place a large pot two-thirds of the way filled with water on the burner to boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt.IMG_6187
  10. When boiling add as many dumpling that can fit in pot. Boil until they rise to the top then boil for 1 minute more.
  11. Remove by strainer and boil the remaining dumplings
  12. Mix dipping sauce in a small bowl.
  13. Serve Immediately while they’re hot.

ENJOY!

Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Risotto with Peppers and Green Peas

Vegan Recipes

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Yum, I love comfort food: food that is warm, tasty, healthy, and filling. But it’s no longer comfort food for me if animals had to suffer, or if  the production of some the ingredients is wasteful and environmentally unsound. I guess putting food into my body that causes pain, slaughter, sickness and pollution is not great for my digestion.  My philosophy on sustainable living and loving is summed up in this delicious recipe.  And when you’re done eating you can rest assured that the consumption of this meal has helped farmers and planet Earth.  That’s a mighty good aftertaste.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2 chopped bell peppers (I picked what I had on hand a red and a yellow.)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup green onion
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup white wine divided into 2 half cups
  • 6 cups veggie broth
  • 1 Tablespoon herbs de Provence (Mix of savory, thyme, and rosemary.)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast

Steps:

  1. Warm veggie broth and wine in a pot. (Hint: I freeze leftover wine for later use.)IMG_6103
  2.  Add the garlic, onions and herbs. Saute one minute then add peppers and saute two minutes before adding sliced mushrooms. Saute until mushrooms are slightly browned.
  3.  Add rice and stir for several minutes until browned.IMG_6119 
  4. Slowly add warmed liquid 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until all the liquid is absorbed.

5.  When there’s only about 1 cup of liquid left to stir in add the rest of the ingredients and stir until all liquid is absorbed.

 

Serve immediately.

ENJOY!

Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

Beastly Sliders by Beyond Meat

Product Review, Vegan Recipes

 

 

 

The search for the holy grail for vegans who want a ‘real’ beef burger is finely over, thanks to Beyond Meat, a food manufacturer in California. (Ok, where else? Certainly not Texas.) I’m frequently asked by meat eaters how can I resist a good, juicy, beef burger right off the grill. And truthfully as much as I enjoy a vegan diet, I still yearn for a bite of a ‘real’ burger every now and then at a cookout or when I take my son to Shake Shack. I don’t succumb for a variety of issues including health issues, animal rights to environmental concerns.

My daughter wanted to try the Beast Burger but unfortunately our local Whole Foods was all sold out, but we found two packs Beastly Sliders in the frozen food section. The sliders are the same nutrient blend as the burgers so we bought them.

The problem with most vegan burgers is the texture but Beyond Meat has the texture of  ground beef. It’s also juicy, provided you don’t over cook.  I found about 3 minutes per side on the grill yielded the perfect burger. The taste does not exactly mimic beef but it does have a smokey meat-like flavor due to the added spices, mesquite and shiitake mushroom.  Nutritionally beastly sliders and burgers hits the ball out of the ballpark. They contain spinach, broccoli, carrot, tomato, shiitake mushroom, beet juice, mesquite and pomegranate seed. It also is loaded with B vitamin, calcium and protein.

How does a 4 oz. Beast burger compare to 4 oz. beef burger ?

The Beast burger has 260 calories, 16g fat, 0 cholesterol, 480 mg sodium, 7g carbohydrates, 4g dietary fiber and 23g protein.

A beef burger (80% Lean / 20% Fat) has 284 calories, 22.4 grams of fat, 80 mg cholesterol, 75 mg sodium, 0 carbohydrates, 0 fiber and 19.23g protein.

On the plus side, Beast Burger has more protein and fiber and less cholesterol than a beef burger but on the negative side it has 405mg sodium more.

Next time, when I go to Whole Foods I’m definitely buying the sliders again and hopefully the store won’t be sold out of Beast Burgers and I can get them, too!

Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

Ode to Lacrosse Moms

Real Parenting

laxmomSo I’m packing for a weekend of watching lacrosse for my teenage son and find myself challenged to find, slimming, age appropriate fashionable, decade current  (ie not short, shorts from the eighties, “If you dare wear short, shorts Nair for short, shorts…”) clothing that might fit the bill. In addition to this treacherous challenge, I have to get the drinks, snacks, cooler and directions ready.  Fortunately, my son packs for himself.  Hint: if you want your children to learn to pack on their on pack old super hero t-shirts and too small underwear with cute puppies on them.  I guarantee, they’ll never let you pack for them again.

Back to me,  should I pack a pair of leopard print shorts from J. Crew that I bought on sale, end of season, at least seven years ago when I had a perky derriere, but now they just slide down my hips and show my crepy legs…not! There is a pair of turquoise shorts with red embroidered tulips from Talbots but I’m not sure.  The other day I was wearing them to Stop & Shop and an elderly man collecting donations for the needy told me he’d wear them to play golf.  UGH! Not the image I’m going for. Challenging!

And  this is even before I decide on a swim suit. Ok, all my Speedo suits from back in the day when I was a swimmer have zero support, forget about it! Bikinis? That ship left the port a long time ago. This leaves the safety suit for all us middle-aged women: a tankini with a  little skirt type bottom.  Look out son, Mom’s about to rule the hotel pool!

Now for what my daughter thinks is the watershed moment: the fanny pack. To pack or not to pack, that is the question.  Let’s be real. I’ll be on hot fields for six hours at a shot. I’ll need my iPhone, headphones, tournament field map, instructions,  money (for purchasing countless mini lacrosse sticks and over priced t-shirts) and of course the car keys. There’s no way I’m going to carry a handbag but all the items I need don’t fit into my short pockets; in fact, I’m lucky if a can tuck a slim bill in them much less keys.  The fanny pack is a must, along with a box of wine for back at the hotel. Forget “God Save the Queen.” It should be ‘God Save the Lacrosse Mom.”

 

 

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Vegan Moo Shu Vegetables in Lettuce Wraps

Vegan Recipes

 

 

 

I love traditional Moo Shu Vegetables in pancakes! They’re crunchy, spicy, aromatic, tasty, colorful and have the magical savory taste of umami. What’s not to love? Lots, if you are a vegan and mindful eater.  Most all Moo Shu Vegetable recipes have eggs which of course are a no no for a vegan. The recipes usually contain a lot of sugar, oil and possibly MSG and gluten. In my vegan recipe, we overcome these obstacles and still end up with lots of flavor, nutrients and umami! The secret ingredients include: jackfruit : nutritional yeast and shiitake mushrooms!

 

 

Ingredients:IMG_6036

  • 1 (20 oz.) can of young green jackfruit, drained, rinsed and cut into smaller pieces. (Make sure the jackfruit is not canned in sweetened syrup, brine or water is fine.)
  • 6 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water: drain, remove stem and slice
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped ginger
  • 4 cloves chopped
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 carrot peeled into strips or ribbons
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded cabbage (green or purple)
  • 1 cup mung bean sprouts
  • 1/2 sliced raw white or cremini mushrooms
  • 5 green onions
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (added as needed for sauteing
  • 2 teaspoons dark sesame seed oil
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons hoison sauce, ,divided
  • 1/4 cup white wine or rice wine (sake)
  • lettuce leaves (baby bibb, butter or iceberg)

Steps:

  1. Saute onions, ginger and garlic with 3 tablespoons of veggie broth in large sauce or fry pan for 3 minutes. Add more broth to pan as needed.IMG_6037 (1)
  2. Add jackfruit, 2 tablespoons hoison sauce, soy sauce and about 1/2 cup veggie broth. Cover and cook over low heat for 25 minutes.  You’ll know it’s ready when you can shred all the chunks of jackfruit with a fork.
  3. After shredding jackfruit, add shredded cabbage and carrots and mushrooms, saute until cabbage softens. Add vinegar and a splash of white wine or rice wine.IMG_6044
  4. Add sesame oil, remaining hoison sauce, nutritional yeast sprouts and carrot strips. Cover and steam until sprouts soften, about 2 minutes.
  5. Put into a serving bowl and toss. Add additional soy sauce and hoison sauce to taste. Serve with large lettuce leaves for wrapping on the side.

    ENJOY!

    Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Vegan Sushi Rolls

Vegan Recipes

artisticsushi

I love sushi.  In fact, going out for sushi with my omnivore friends never poses the problem of having to eat the usual vegan fare at a typical American restaurant of a garden salad and pasta with non-meat marinara sauce, yet again. I came up with these easy to make vegan sushi rolls that require little culinary skill other than cutting vegetables, making rice, and rolling. I also have posted a recipe for vegan spicy tuna rolls. If you’re having problems finding the ingredients try an Asian market.

ingredients2

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups uncooked sushi rice or short grain rice (white or brown)
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 ripe avocados cut into strips
  • 3/4 cup green onions finally chopped
  • 10 sheets nori seaweed
  • 1 Tablespoon dry wasabi (or 2 Tablespoons prepared)
  • One large European cucumber (or regular cuke with seeds removed,) peeled and cut into strip
  • One pickled radish
  • soy sauce for dipping

Directions:

  1. Add rice to 3 cups water and cook. I use a rice maker.
  2.  Mix wasabi powder with 2 Tablespoons water.mixingwasabi
  3. Cut vegetables. Rinse cut radish in water several times.

     

  4. When rice is done cooking add rice vinegar and sesame oil, mix.  Try to fluff the rice with a rice paddle or spatula so that it cools down but is still warm and mixes well with vinegar.
  5. Place nori rough side up on a bamboo mat(available in most Asian markets) or rip off a piece of plastic wrap roughly 12″ long. I prefer to wrap the bamboo mat in a paper towel and plastic wrap so that it’s easier to clean.
  6. Place about 3/4 cup of rice on bottom 2/3rd of nori. Flatten so that it’s evenly dispersed. Then place your desired topping toward the middle of the roll.  I like avocado and green onions rolls, pickled radish rolls and cucumber rolls with green onions. You can try asparagus, pickled carrot or any vegetable you like.
    Copyright 2017, All rights reserved.