Tales From A Hungry Life

November 24, 2016

10 Reasons to Be Grateful This Thanksgiving

by Maria Schulz

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

Did you know that being grateful is actually good for you? There’s scientific proof that being grateful can have a dramatic impact on your life—keeping blood pressure low, making your immune system work better, and helping you get more sleep.

That’s good news, because Thanksgiving Day can come with its own stresses. Maybe you’re having a big crowd over and you have a million things to do. Or, maybe you’ll be a guest and some of the folks you’ll be seeing annoy the living daylights out of you. Plus, with all of the food being served, this holiday can wreak havoc on your health.

Everybody loves roast turkey

Everybody loves roast turkey

So…instead of focusing on the things that will drive us crazy today or make us fat, how about finding things to be grateful for? Here are some suggestions.

Family can be fun

Family can be fun

  1. Family

Sure, not everyone is blessed with the perfect family. But come to think of it, is ANYONE? Find me the perfect family and I’ll show you a pack of Yetis with the same last name. Sorry, folks—this mythical family doesn’t exist. We humans are imperfect and tend to get on each other’s nerves. Still, there are ways around this. Is your wacky, forgetful mom bringing her world famous mashed potatoes to the table? Be grateful. Is your annoying, messy, but somehow-still-lovable son home from college? Be grateful. Is Uncle Harry smoking his disgusting cigar outside—and keeping his shoes on his smelly feet inside? Be grateful. You get the idea.

Get out there

Get out there

  1. Friends

Some of us rely on the kindness of friends to make our holidays special. Maybe your family is a pack of psychos or they just live too far away to spend the day together. If you want to spend it alone, that’s great. However, if you are miserable because you feel you’ve been rejected by humankind on this day of thanks, accept an invitation to dinner with your stand-in family—your friends—or go help others at church, a soup kitchen, a nursing home, etc. Don’t just sit there like a Debbie Downer crying over your sad, tiny bird. Get out there and mix with people. You’ll be glad you did, even if those people are watching an awful lot of football.

Don't be that friend

Don’t be that friend

3. You woke up today! Hey, if that’s not a reason to be grateful, I don’t know what is. Be grateful that you’re up and about. Go participate in a local Turkey Trot. Go to church. Smile. Today is a gift. Treat it that way.

Run, run, run

Run, run, run

4. You’ve got all of your marbles. Metaphorically speaking, that is. And if you literally can’t find your pack of marbles, I’ve got good news for you: you can go online and score a big Black Friday deal on some new ones.

I've got a lot to be thankful for

I’ve got a lot to be thankful for

5. Your kids gave you one of those “I’m Grateful For” Turkeys with wonderful things written on all of the feathers. Somehow, you managed to score ahead of the dog, the iguana, and a pack of Legos. Be grateful.

6. When all the cooking and eating is done, you can watch football. Or the dog show. Or you can watch the parade while you cook. The point is, you can do whatever you please. If you have to work today, make plans to celebrate tomorrow or Saturday or whenever you can be surrounded by those you love or at least like enough to challenge to a wishbone-breaking feat of strength.

Or you can make your own "I'm grateful for" list

Go ahead, make your own “I’m grateful for” list

  1. There’s pie! Apple, pumpkin, blueberry, lemon meringue. Why wouldn’t you be grateful?
Best Ever.

Best Ever.

  1. NETFLIX! If watching sentimental movies or football is not your thing, go for Breaking Bad or Orange is the New Black. Turkey-binging and Netflix-binging. Perfect together!
Red, white, and imperfect blue

Red, white, and imperfect blue

  1. We are Americans. We live in a country that is not perfect, but it’s our country. The Bill of Rights lets us practice our beliefs, pursue happiness, and complain thanks to Freedom of Speech. We aren’t perfect and we’re able to say so. That’s a pretty amazing unalienable right and I’m grateful for it.
Plus you can read whatever you want

Plus you can read whatever you want

  1. Laughter is free. Yes, your family and friends may do things that annoy the stuffing out of you. Grandma may eat food off your plate. Your best friend Gerry may bore you with endless football commentary. Your beloved dog may have just barfed blueberry pie all over your rug. So what? Chances are your Thanksgiving Day disasters will live on in infamy. Today won’t last forever, and those people and pets who are driving you crazy won’t be here forever either. Be glad you’re where you are right now and laugh as much as possible.
the muppet movie

They look happy

Here’s a bonus reason to be grateful today: even if you’re watching your weight, dessert on Thanksgiving is MANDATORY!

Where have all the cookies gone?

Where have all the cookies gone?

Recipe: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon clove

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

½ cup brown sugar

¼ cup white sugar

1 egg, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup pure pumpkin

1 cup chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove together. Set aside.
  3. Use mixer (on medium) to beat butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until creamy. Add egg and vanilla.
  4. Turn mixer to low and add pumpkin. Slowly beat in flour mixture until dough forms. DO NOT OVERMIX!
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Use a medium cookie scoop (or a teaspoon) and drop scoops onto baking sheet, two inches apart.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until edges start to brown.
  8. Remove from oven, let cool.

Enjoy!

So many reasons to be grateful

So many reasons to be grateful

So, what makes you grateful? What’s your favorite Thanksgiving treat? What was your worst turkey day disaster? Please leave a comment. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

October 21, 2016

The Best and Worst Halloween Candy

By Maria Schulz

I ventured outside my cubicle the other day and saw that my old nemesis had returned to haunt me. No, I’m not talking about one of my coworkers. I’m talking about this guy.

IMG_0216

Come to me…

Do you remember him? I’ve written about him before because someone in my office takes him out every year about this time and fills him with things I can’t resist: Snickers, Almond Joy, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Three Musketeers, and 100 Grand Bars.

betty-white-snickers-ad

I can’t resist either

I was hoping to research all that candy and get permission to indulge my raging sweet tooth, but instead I found this article that ranks the 52 Best and Worst Halloween Candy.

almond joy

When you feel like a nut.

When I was little, I didn’t worry about eating candy. I simply spent weeks dreaming about getting as much as humanly possible. First. I would spend weeks thinking about what costume I’d wear, assembling the ensemble, and getting every detail just right. Whether I was Snow White (hot plastic mask and all) or Raggedy Ann with red yarn hair, my costume had to be thought out and ready for my big day.

Well, that was the way until I was about 9 and I decided that being a gypsy or bum was the easiest and fastest way to get out the door and begin my quest for more candy than one human could carry in a brown paper bag.

VALUE VILLAGE - Pop Culture Inspires Halloween Trends

Back then, I was guaranteed to walk around the neighborhood for a couple of hours. I didn’t worry about having to burn off all the calories because I knew I’d bring that bag of candy home and six big, hungry boys would eat 95% of it within hours of my arrival.

I miss those days. Now, if I bring home two tons of candy, there’s a good chance that my little family and I will eat more than is good for a small village. So I try to keep the candy out of my house until the very last minute, and then give away big handfuls to anyone who comes to my doorstep. Yes, even the mailman gets Kit Kats and 100 Grand Bars so I don’t eat them myself.

kids playing

Did someone say CANDY?

The fact that Smilin’ Jack is right outside my office door makes it harder for me to stay on the straight and narrow, but I’ve learned something along the way of this “eating right” journey. Deprivation is the mother of all food binges. If I want one tiny candy bar, I have it. That way, I can stop thinking about it. I don’t let that pumpkin scare me anymore. I save my energy for the truly scary things in life.

clown

Now that’s scary

Once I’ve satisfied my craving,  I watch all the people sticking their grubby hands into that pumpkin and I realize…maybe I’m not so hungry after all.

Recipes: Healthy Halloween Ideas

healthy-halloween-ideas

Here are some really fun, healthier treats that you can whip up for your kids (or keep ’em for yourself…I won’t tell). You’ll find recipes for Monster Sandwiches, Frozen Banana Mummies, Goblin Potion, and more.

So, Hungry Lifers: what’s your favorite Halloween candy? How do you avoid eating too much of those little candy bars? What’s your best Halloween recipe? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!

 

 

October 11, 2016

Cooking On A Lazy Day

By Maria Schulz

Some people don’t like rainy weekend days, but I do. Especially a rainy day that comes after a really busy, fun-filled Saturday.

Look! A rainbow.

Look! A rainbow.

I love waking up to the sound of soft rain dancing against the windows and the wind rustling through the trees. Yes, my dog and I still walk in the rain, but not for long.

Short walks on rainy days

Short walks on rainy days

The best part of a cool, rainy Sunday is that I feel free to bake and cook. The last couple of weeks have been so warm that I’ve still been using my barbecue. Turning on the oven was a welcome change.

I baked muffins in the morning. The rich smell of cornflour, eggs, milk and butter made me think of weekend visits with Irene, my mother-in-law. She loved corn muffins.

Fresh from the oven

Fresh from the oven

Sundays are also the perfect time to make a batch of sauce that we can use later in the week. I love putting on a big pot of sauce to simmer on the stove. That smell immediately transports me back to Sundays with my parents. Mom made her sauce while Dad listened to Frank Sinatra on the radio or watched Meet the Press on television. I can still see my mom handing me a piece of bread as she stirred the sauce, asking me what I thought. img_0012

“Perfect!” I’d reply, because Mom’s sauce always was the best.

Later in the day, I made some memories for my own family by making a batch of Chicken Tetrazzini. My husband, girls, and dog always hover near the kitchen as I cook the chicken, stir the sauce, add the sherry, and make the pasta. When it all goes into the casserole dish and into the oven, I have to reassure them that it will be ready soon.

Giada's recipe

Giada’s recipe

My husband even made his mom’s baked apple recipe, filling the whole house with the smell of cinnamon, nutmeg, apples and maple syrup.

Makes the whole house smell great

Makes the whole house smell great

It was a day filled with comforting food, happy memories, and much-loved family.

As Martha Stewart would say, it was a very good thing.

RECIPES:

Chicken Tetrazzini

Giada’s recipe is a lot more involved than mine, but it’s still delicious. I use a lot less butter, no bread crumbs (I put parmesan cheese on top of mine) and I add a quarter of a cup of sherry to my sauce, which gives it a wonderful flavor.

Baked Apples

This recipe includes things like cherries and nuts, which add an interesting texture and flavor to the baked apple. You can go a much simpler route by just cleaning and coring your apples and stuffing them with cinnamon, nutmeg, and maple syrup. Your call.

cornbread-and-muffin-mix

My corn muffin recipe is a little less fussy. I open two packages of Betty Crocker’s Corn bread & muffin mix, double the ingredients (except for the butter–I find that doubling the butter makes them too greasy. So I use 3 tablespoons of butter instead of 4) and bake. Yes, this is an indulgence and doubles the caloric hit but I like a jumbo muffin every once in a while. I have tried every type of corn muffin mix and have even made them from scratch, but this brand of corn muffins is by far my favorite. These are great in the mornings and also wonderful to make as a side dish to a big pot of chili. But that’s a recipe for another day.

So…what’s your favorite comfort food? What do you like doing on a lazy, rainy day? Please leave a comment with your thoughts or your favorite recipe. If you’re like me, you’re always looking for new ones to try. Thanks!

September 14, 2016

Carb Love

by Maria Schulz

For the past year, I’ve been watching my calories and trying to eat better. I have not forsaken all of the things that I love because to do so would send me into the old, familiar spiral of binging on everything I just declared I would never touch again.

Now if this was hanging from the tree...

Now if this was hanging from the tree…

Forbidden fruit was not just Eve’s problem. I would’ve never gotten thrown out of The Garden of Eden for eating an apple. If there were cookies, pancakes, waffles, or donuts hanging from the trees, that’s another story.

I can remember playing in my family’s basement with my twin brother as my older brothers and mother milled about on a lazy Sunday morning. My Dad would walk triumphantly through the door holding a bag that smelled like heaven.

Inside of that bag were 9 glistening donuts. My mom handed me one and I bit into it, feeling the steaming hot dough traveling into my waiting belly as jelly trickled down my fingers and across my face. Meanwhile, my brothers stuck their jelly-laden tongues out at me and smiled with jelly all over their teeth.

D'oh! Donuts!

D’oh! Donuts!

The bakery down the block called to us with its siren song of fresh donuts, Italian bread, zeppole, tri-color cookies, crullers, pies, and pizza. Late at night, when the windows were open and the bakery ovens were lit, you could smell the bread and desserts baking. I could look out the window and see the stars in the skies and drift off to sleep while breathing in what I began to think of as family parties and laughter.

More recently, my cousin Eleanor has invited me over to her home for breakfast on weekend mornings. She and her husband, Bob, make light, fluffy homemade waffles. Each one comes out out thick and fresh, simultaneously soft and crunchy. I smother mine in syrup and eat it with gusto as we share stories from our lives.

From tales of growing up in Corona or Bayside, living in Alaska or Ridgewood, books we’re reading or the current state of affairs in America, there is always great food, great conversation, and lots of laughs.

Eleanor and Maria, a few years ago

Eleanor and Maria, a few years ago

From those early days of jelly donuts to my more recent waffle breakfasts, delicious carbs have always equaled good times. The trick for me now is letting myself enjoy a treat every now and then so I don’t go stark raving mad and eat every carb I can lay my hands on.

Here’s one of the many recipes that I found that offers a taste of the best of both worlds. Take the humble waffle and combine it with your favorite donut flavors, and what have you got? The Wonut, of course.

Yum! Wonuts

Yum! Wonuts

This is a pretty clever way to make an easy dessert with your waffle iron. The article above suggests using chocolate and sprinkles, which I love. Here’s the recipe.

I can’t change my love for waffles and donuts. They are so closely intertwined with happy memories for me that I will never be happy without them. Let’s face it: I’m a carb addict, and when a carb addict dreams, they aren’t dreaming of kale and protein drinks.

My carb dreams include Italian bread just pulled from the oven, ready to be slathered in whipped butter; Boston crème donuts (my favorite, and part of my Slim’s Bagels lunch special during my high school years); and Belgian waffles smothered in vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream, whipped cream, and chocolate syrup.

Did somebody say wonut?

Did somebody say wonut?

So for now, I’m rewriting the script on my relationship with carbs. They can be in my life, but our love affair has to be redefined. In the wise words of that ear-worm song that Selena Gomez sings, “I’m so sick of that same old love. My body’s had enough!” You said it, sister.

Recipe: Wonut with Sliced Strawberries, Blueberries, and Bananas

Ingredients

Waffle

¼ cup Strawberries

¼ cup Blueberries

½ Banana

1-2 tablespoons whipped cream

Let’s face facts: the Wonut is not a healthy treat. Still, you can enjoy one as long as you add some fiber, vitamins, and minerals (not to mention healthy sugars) along with our carb fix, while slashing the calories.

Strawberries are in season, and I’ve got a ton of them. I also just bought two pints of blueberries, as well as organic bananas. Slice your fruit and put it on top of your wonut/waffle creation. Add a little whipped cream and voila! You’ve got a delicious and satisfying treat that isn’t a total calorie bomb.

Yum

Yum

If you’re desperate for some chocolate, melt some and dip your strawberries. Put them in the refrigerator overnight and they’ll be ready to enjoy in the morning, or anytime. Start with a bar of high quality semisweet or bittersweet baking chocolate. Chop it up into squares. Put it in a microwave safe bowl and place it in the microwave for about a minute on medium high. Stir and repeat at 15 to 20 second intervals until it’s melted and has a smooth consistency. You can use it to dip your fruit or just drizzle a little bit over your wonut for a chocolaty hit.

Good eats

Good eats

For those of us without a waffle iron, here’s a trick: use frozen waffles. Try to get one that is higher in fiber to maximize your fiber intake.

To get the full “wonut” experience, take it out of the fridge and toast it. Then, take a large juice glass, press it into the waffle and make a circular indentation. Pull of the edges so you have a perfect circle. Take a smaller juice glass and press out the middle (less bread = less carbs). Or, buy the kind of waffles that are already round. Add your toppings and enjoy your Wonut. You’ve earned it!

So, Hungry Lifers…what’s your favorite carb-heavy treat? How would you decorate your Wonut? What food combination is your favorite? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!

August 10, 2016

Every Day is National Book Lover’s Day

by Maria Schulz

Yesterday was National Book Lover’s Day. I don’t really need a special day designated for this, since it’s almost like saying: “Today is National Get Up and Breathe Day.” Since I was a young child, every day is National Book Lover’s Day.

Tales From A Hungry Life A Memoir with Recipes cover

Available on amazon.com

Reading inspires me every single day. When the memoir category got hot, I read every single book: Glass Castle, Running with Scissors, Angela’s Ashes. It even inspired me to write my own book–Tales From a Hungry Life: A Memoir with Recipes. I wanted to write a book about a happy family. Yes, a memoir topic that seemed harder to find than a Yeti, Loch Ness Monster, and Sasquatch all rolled up into one.

My mother started me on my love of books by reading “Sleeping Beauty” to me every night before bed. I loved the beautiful illustrations and enjoyed the power of that classic fairy tale. I wondered what happened to Maleficent to make her such a meanie…I mean, not getting invited to a party is hurtful, but come on! It’s not like it was Aurora’s/Briar Rose’s/Sleeping Beauty’s fault.

sleeping-beauty and maleficent

I struggled with reading on my own until my third grade teacher, Mrs. Grille, kept me after school every day for a month and helped me. She pointed me towards the box of biographies and got me started reading about John F. Kennedy, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Once she realized I had mastered the mechanics, she set me free to read anything I liked, and I’ve never looked back.

When I hit high school, I was lucky to have some awesome English teachers. They encouraged my curiosity and nurtured my love for reading and writing. There was Mr. Reines, who had us read The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis, and The Great Stories Collection featuring University Days by James Thurber, Willa Cather (Paul’s Case), D.H. Lawrence (The Rocking Horse Winner), The Waltz (Dorothy Parker), The Jilting of Granny Weatherall (Katherine Anne Porter), Tomorrow and Tomorrow and So Forth (John Updike), Everything That Rises Must Converge (Flannery O’Connor), and The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad, among others.

Great Stories

Yes, I still have my copy!

As a book lover himself, he enjoyed talking about the many themes, plot lines, and historical contexts that influenced the stories. The authors and their characters became like distant relatives or friends as we discussed their motivations and flaws. Why did Leora love Martin so much in Arrowsmith? Did he deserve her? Why did Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye complain so much? What was his problem? Why was Paul from Willa Cather’s “Paul’s Case” so desperate? How did James Thurber use himself as a comic foil?

Props to Mr. Reines for engaging this snarky teenager and making me want to keep reading, turning the page, and finding out more about every character I encountered.

I was an English major geek through and through, and even though high school and college are far away in the rearview mirror, I am still a book lover. I read over the short stories that inspired me to go on to an undergraduate and graduate degree in Creative Writing, and every time I re-read them, I understand a little bit more about myself–and how to make my stories better.

I still read every day. Here are some of the books I’ve read in the past that I love and I hope you’ll enjoy too.

12 Great Reads and Must-Reads for Book Lovers Everywhere

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

pride and prejudice

Read the book. Then watch this version

Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis

Molokai by Alan Brennert

molokai

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp

Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon

Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence

Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

the book thief

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobosky

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Recipe: Creamy Rice Pudding

creamy rice pudding

Guess what? Not only was it National Book Lover’s Day, it was also National Rice Pudding Day! I have had an intimate affair with rice pudding since working as a deli cook back in my teen years. My former boss taught me how to make rice pudding that was legendary, but then told me that if I shared the recipe, she’d have to kill me. So enjoy this recipe from allrecipes.com. Read a book, eat some rice pudding, and while you’re at it, read all about my tragi-comic life in my book (of course, my favorite of all): Tales From a Hungry Life: A Memoir With Recipes. Enjoy!

So, Hungry Lifers: What’s your favorite book? Who inspired you to read? Do you like rice pudding? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!

 

 

 

 

July 20, 2016

Finding Beauty

by Maria Schulz

The world can be ugly sometimes. The news is filled with stories of murder,  bloodshed, hatred, racial injustice, cops killing innocent people, people killing innocent cops, despair, lies, plagiarism and politicians. It can really drag you down.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t find beauty if you just open your eyes and look for it.

There’s a song that I learned way, way back in my folk group days in grammar school. It’s an adaptation of the Prayer of St. Francis, and some of the words go like this:

Make me a channel of your peace,
Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope,
Where there is darkness, only light,
And where there’s sadness, ever joy.

O Master grant that I may never seek,
So much to be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love with all my soul.”

No matter what your religious persuasion may be, I think those are some pretty fantastic words to live by. So, in that spirit, I’m going to post some photos that brought me happiness, hope, and joy despite all of the sadness, backbiting, and darkness in the world around us.

From now through Labor Day, I’m challenging myself to find beauty, laughter, kindness, and joy in the world around me. I may not change the world, but I can change the way I perceive it. For the next month and a half, I’ll focus on the things that lift us up and not the things that tear us down.

Recipes:

Beautiful and delicious

Beautiful and delicious

Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint Recipe by Jacques Pepin

Watermelon and Feta Salad from PBS

Watermelon and Feta Salad is one of those things that can turn an ordinary, ho-hum meal into an extraordinary, highlight-reel-kind-of-meal. I’ve seen recipes that included olives (like Jacques Pepin’s), blueberries for another hit of color, and even balsamic vinaigrette. The possibilities are endless!

So, Hungry Lifers…what makes you happy? Where do you go to find beauty? What have you seen around you that brings you joy? Please post a comment and let us all know. Thanks! Have a great day.

June 3, 2016

My Salad Days

By Maria Schulz

Recently, I started trying to get more fruits and vegetables into my everyday eating rotation. This may be a no brainer for most people, but it took some getting used to for me.

Did someone say pizza?

Did someone say pizza?

I’ll admit it, I like pizza (the more cheese the better), tacos (sour cream! Guacamole!), and sandwiches (chicken! Cheese! More please!), fully sweetened sodas, and cookies. My carb heavy lunches were leaving me exhausted and made staying conscious problematic. This would be fine if I spent my days sitting poolside, but HR people tend to get cranky when you’re in a carb-induced coma at your desk.

Too much pizza

Too much pizza

It hasn’t always been easy, but I’ve started to enjoy my salad days. I found out that the more colors you can get into your salad, the better, so I’ve begun adding dark blueberries, bold yellow cherub tomatoes, fire-engine-red strawberries (yay! They’re in season and look so great in my salad), shredded carrots, and purple cabbage. I will admit, I add a couple of tablespoons of beige crotons because I like the contrast between the tan of the croutons and the green of my lettuce leaves. Also, I’m a carb-a-holic. Baby steps, people.

Looks good and tastes good too

Looks good and tastes good too

Since I need protein to get through my day, I add some roasted turkey or chicken to the mix. If my cravings are strong, I will opt for some chopped up bacon or slices of ham. Otherwise, my salad days become BORING.

bacon

Don’t get me wrong. I love a big old cheeseburger with fries and a glass of soda, or even a milkshake. So, every once in a while (like my husband’s birthday or Mother’s Day), I let myself have those things. Ice cream in particular conjures up all sort of happy memories (not to mention the fact that it tastes AWESOME). My parents used to take us to Jahn’s Ice Cream Parlor to get us shakes or sundaes. Those were good times. So naturally. I was delighted by my coffee-flavored shake the last time I had it. Then I found out it had SEVEN HUNDRED calories! Not so in love anymore. For now, we’ve broken up. But next time I bow to that particular siren song, I will ask for a second glass and drink half.

You evil temptress

You evil temptress

The thing is, once I started cutting back on the enormous portions and carb-laden goodies, I actually felt better. So my occasional HUGE cheeseburger, fries, and soda become a small, homemade cheeseburger (I can control what goes into that burger), a measured portion of homemade fries (slash the salt), and a bottle of water. If I am dying for pizza, I’ll have one slice and I try to get it with ricotta cheese and either spinach or broccoli. A regular slice is good too, as long as it’s thin crust (no stuffed crust. Too many calories, too little time).

I use an app on my phone to log the calories since I had no idea how many calories I was taking in. That’s been the most helpful change I made, since I think about what I’m going to eat. If I want to have McDonald’s  or White Castle that day (old habits die hard), I know to eat less calories at other meals. That way, I stay on track and don’t feel deprived.

Take human bites

Take human bites

What works for me may not work for you, but here’s what I found: deprivation awakens my inner BINGE MONSTER. If I am desperate for some ice cream, I have it. The difference between before and now is that I measure it out. I don’t eat artificially sweetened or low fat ice cream. It’s full fat and full flavor all the way, and I don’t eat it every single day. I tap into my inner lazy self and put the carton away once I’ve measured out my portion. Somehow, it’s enough. I don’t need to eat a giant soup bowl of ice cream with a side of angst-ridden guilt.

Portion size is key

Portion size is key

I try to remember that salads can also be calorie bombs, so I look for ways to limit the excess calories. Again, I measure out cheese if I absolutely have to have it (tip: a couple of teaspoons of shredded mozzarella will give you a burst of cheesy flavor with a low calorie hit). Then, I choose a low fat, high flavor salad dressing (Balsamic vinegar to the rescue). I add about 3 ounces of lean protein, and yes, croutons if I want them, and I’m good to go. A glass of wine every once in a while is a much needed treat that I hear can be good for you too.

Less carbs and better choices mean that no afternoon naps are required.

Brain food.

Brain food.

Recipe: Turkey and Strawberry Salad

I love a salad that includes protein, fruit, and vegetables. Be like Mikey from Life cereal fame: try it! You’ll like it!

2 cups greens (spinach, romaine, iceberg…you choose)

2-3 ounces of turkey (or chicken)

½ cup strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced

½ cup blueberries

½ cup yellow cherub tomatoes

½ cup Shredded carrots (optional)

½ cup Shredded purple cabbage (optional)

2 tbsp. croutons

2 teaspoons Balsamic Vinaigrette

Put your greens, veggies, and fruit into a bowl. Add your turkey/chicken, cut up into bite-sized pieces) and croutons. Pour on the Balsamic and toss to coat. Enjoy!

TIP: I work all week, so I find it helps to roast a big chicken on Sunday. I serve that for dinner and then save leftovers for the week. Then, I cut up my greens and fruit and store them in airtight containers. That way, I can pull out whatever I need and make a quick lunch all week long.

Mix it up, people

Mix it up, people

For 10 more fruit and veggie salad recipes and inspiration, go to: http://dailyburn.com/life/recipes/creative-fruit-salad-recipes/

So…what’s your favorite type of salad? Have any healthy eating tips? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!

May 26, 2016

When Driving With Teenagers…

By Maria Schulz

As a mom, I’ve played many different roles: Chef; Laundress; Bottle Washer; Maid; Gardener; Entertainment Coordinator (think Julie from the Love Boat); Procurement Specialist; Captain of the Cheerleading Squad; Disciplinarian; Hand Holder; Head of Emergency Medical Services; Fashion Police; Emotional Support Services; Godzilla Rampaging Through Tokyo; Drill Sergeant; Attorney; Dog Walker; Head Coach; Executive Assistant.

My childhood limo

My childhood limo

But by far, my favorite job has always been Chauffeur.

When my girls were little, they loved listening to music in the car and singing along with me. They enjoyed my witty repartee with their little friends and they laughed at all of my jokes. They danced to songs with me and laughed when I belted out the words to all of the songs they knew.

Twilight-zone-the-monsters-are-due-on-maple-street

Oh…the horror!

But then…they suddenly morphed into teenagers. Enter hormones, lightning-fast mood changes, and constant, inexplicable, irrational thought processes. Too young to drive and too old to be happy having me in the car, it was the perfect storm of angst and outright anger.

That's one angry bunch

That’s one angry bunch

Were you always one of those parents who looked at teenagers and said, “Oh, my little Sally/Richie would never act like that!” Did you look at befuddled parents of teens and shake your head in silent disgust? Now that you find yourself the parent of a teen, do you wonder how you landed in this foreign land, filled with strange beings that sort of look like you? Did you ever think you’d be a source of embarrassment…just like your parents? Geez, if you didn’t have a license, your kids might not even find a use for you.

For those of you who have not yet had the joy of experiencing this phenomenon first hand, don’t worry (too much). This startling transformation can be dealt with, but only if you have a road map, a sense of humor, and a thick skin. In the interest of helping you weather this particular storm, I’m going to give you a Master Class in Parenting/Driving With Your Teens. Think of me as Oprah, only without any money and certainly without any clout.

Welcome to my Master Class

Welcome to my Master Class

15 Things to Remember When Driving With Teens

  1. For the love of God, DO NOT SAY ANYTHING!
  2. While you’re at it, DO NOT EVER SING!

    Sing it with me one more time!

    Sing it with me one more time!

  3. Please, please, please…do not try to interact with your teen’s friends. That’s like, AWKWARD! Just because they don’t make you wear a uniform, that doesn’t mean you’re entitled to certain informalities.
  4. If Elle King comes on the radio, do not show a car filled with teens how cool you are by singing X’s and Ohs. This is definitely NOT COOL. When in doubt, remember Rules #1 & 2.
  5. Likewise, NEVER, EVER share funny little tidbits about your past dating life. Like, EWWWW! #DONTGOTHERE
  6. If Sexy Back by Justin Timberlake starts playing on the radio, DO NOT ASK your teen’s friends if they know how to twerk
  7. And please…do NOT EVER offer to show them how to twerk

    This is what your dancing looks like to them

    This is what your dancing looks like to them

  8. If a new guy or girl gets into the car, DO NOT EVER ask them “where they see themselves in 5 years.” LAME!
  9. When someone you interpret as a gawky teenager whizzes by on his skateboard, do not make chit chat by saying “Hey, who’s that man child riding a skateboard?” Like, he’s Hunter, only the COOLEST BOY in the ENTIRE 12th grade! DUH!
  10. When your teen puts on a 90s station and he/she and his/her friends start taking about how great that era’s music was, NEVER exclaim: “Oh yeah, man. It was great—AND I WAS THERE!”
  11. If and when you offer to drive the neighbor kids to school, please don’t forget they’re in the back seat and start driving away before they get out of the car
  12. DO NOT, under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, yell out the window as your teen walks away: “I LOVE YOU!,” “HOPE YOU HAVE A SUPER DAY,” or “MOMMY/DADDY THINKS YOU’RE THE GREATEST!”
  13. There are some things you should never do. NEVER, EVER reenact the scene from Wayne’s World where they rock out to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody…even if it’s just the two of you in that car

    Party on, Garth

    Party on, Garth

  14. Restrain yourself from beeping, waving, or stopping the car to greet and chat with passing teachers, principals, priests, nuns, parents, relatives, friends, or classmates your teen would rather die than be seen with (basically, that means anyone). NOT COOL!
  15. Always remember: you can drop your teen off at the mall, at school, or at any fast food joint they like, but NEVER at the front door. And if anyone asks, YOU DON’T KNOW YOUR TEENAGER!

Recipe:

Eating Well Frozen Mochaachino

Low Cal and Delicious!

Low Cal and Delicious!

Here’s a great alternative to Starbucks (since you’re not allowed within a thousand yards of it anyway). This low cal, low fat frozen drink rings in at 127 calories (instead of 270 for a small mocha frappuccino) and gives you just the jolt you need to deal with your teen and keep a smile on your face.

So, Hungry Lifers…has your teen ever been EMBARRASSED TO DEATH by the very sight of you breathing? Are your kids too little for you to believe any of this? Have your kids grown out of this phase? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!

May 11, 2016

The Best Sandwiches Ever

By Maria Schulz

Recently, I read an article in the New York Times called “The Best Sandwich Ever.” The author likes to play a game with his kids where he lists his top 5 sandwiches of all time. Wait a minute…I want to play!

I wasn’t sure I could come up with five, but once I started thinking about it, I wasn’t sure I could keep the list down to only five choices. This was hard work! Okay, so I’m not working in a salt mine or panning for gold, but still.

So good!

So good!

Sandwich #5: The Breakfast Burrito

My husband, girls, and I found this little place a few blocks off of Union Square in downtown San Francisco that serves the best breakfast burrito bar none. Eggs, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, avocado, and potatoes are expertly seasoned, cooked, and folded into a burrito shell, for a sandwich sensation. If it had its own cult following, I would join. Wash it down with their freshly squeezed orange juice for a taste of perfection.

Perfect for summer grilling

Perfect for summer grilling

Sandwich #4: Sausage & Peppers

The year was 1987. My friend, Dorothy, and I were in Boston visiting our pal Lisa. Lisa went to college there and took us to see all the sights: Harvard, a new restaurant called Legal Seafoods, and of course, Cheers, the very real bar that served as the fictional home to Sam and Diane of TV fame.

But the thing I remember most about that weekend was walking into Fenway Park. It was so small compared to Shea Stadium and Yankee Stadium, but I loved the intimate feel of the place. There was the Green Monster! (Bucky Dent, I love you still).

Thanks, Bucky

Thanks, Bucky

The Mets were fresh off their World Series win and Boston fans were still smarting over that one. Did I gloat? Well, maybe a little (but only on the inside…I didn’t want to get killed at Fenway Park). I soon realized we had more in common than the sum of our differences when I bit into a sausage and pepper “hoagie” on thick, crusty Italian bread. Smoky and sweet, crunchy and soft, it made me proud to be Italian. (But still not a Red Sox fan).

Sandwich #3: The Gobble, Gobble Panini

It's starting to feel a lot like Thanksgiving

It’s starting to feel a lot like Thanksgiving

My local diner offers this treat that’s truly Thanksgiving on a plate. Take roasted turkey, a thin layer of stuffing, a healthy dollop of cranberries, and just a splash of gravy on hearty ciabatta bread. If you don’t have a Panini press, here’s a tip: place your sandwich in a heavy-bottomed skillet and then place another skillet on top to flatten your sandwich). One bite and you’ll feel thankful too. Sweet potatoes or sweet potato fries make the perfect side.

Ah...summer

Ah…summer

Sandwich #2: Lobster Roll

I’ve had this sandwich at a beautiful restaurant in Mystic, CT as well as at a roadside shack in Northport, NY. No matter what the setting, this sandwich is always KILLER.

Traditional New England Lobster Rolls come with mayonaisse, but I prefer a sprinkle of drawn, melted butter. Season it all well and put it into a soft, chewy hot dog roll and you’ve got magic!

Sandwich #1: Curried Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Yum!

Yum!

A couple of summers ago, my husband and I had a rare day off when the kids were at camp. We spent our morning at the beach and by lunchtime, we were famished. We drove straight to a beautiful restaurant on the water and ordered the Curried Chicken Salad on Crunchy Baguettes and a glass of white wine.

Maybe it was the company (always great) or the sunshine (I love me some Vitamin D), but this sandwich was spectacular. Whenever I have it again, it brings me right back to that happy, sunshine-filled day with a loaf of bread (baguettes), a jug of wine (okay, just a glass), and my sweetheart.

Recipes: Curried Chicken Salad Sandwich

Full-fat version

Low-fat version

So, Hungry Lifers…what would your TOP 5 sandwiches be? Understand that I left off my mother’s meatball sandwiches on Italian bread (to paraphrase Marlon Brando in On The Waterfront, “it coulda been a contender.” This goes without saying, but I would love to have another one of these) and my Aunt Mary’s Eggs and Peppers sandwiches…also the BOMB, and I mean that in the best way. Please leave a comment and let us all know about your favorites. Thanks, and happy eating!

 

May 2, 2016

A Hairy Story

by Maria Schulz

All right, I’ll admit it: my hair and I have had two very separate minds for most of my life. It all started when my cousin Angela asked if she could cut off my waist-length hair.

“Will it grow back in time for school?” I asked. (I was only 7, and It was August, by the way).

“Um, sure!” she said.

the-way-of-love-album-cover

I remember the sheer look of delight on Angela’s face when she was done. I also remember being very cold on the drive home, even though it was 85 degrees out. No worries though. My hair would grow back by September! Or not. I’m still waiting.

I never really had a hairstyle that I loved as much as that Cher-inspired, waist-length, straight as can be ‘do. Although, I did try really hard to find “the one.”

There was the Dorothy Hamill hair cut that I decided to get when every other girl on the planet got one too. Dorothy looked so cute! Look at her with her gold medal and pixie hair cut. I might never win a gold medal, but I was sure I could look equally adorable. Except…I looked more like Tony Danza in Taxi than Dorothy Hamill on the podium.

dorothy hamill

Looks good on her…

Fast forward to the ‘80s. High hair, perms, and mousse ruled the land. The models in the salon posters all looked FANTASTIC with their gigantic hair. If I looked just like those women in the posters, I was sure my life would be so much more fun.

There would be nights on the town! Laughter and merriment! Good times and great people. I got those hairstyles, and I met lots of amazing people, but still, something wasn’t quite right. I looked like a crazy, windblown peasant girl. Or, as my old Stern’s pal and co-worker John B. put it, I looked kind of like this.

lucy grape stomping

By the time the 80s ended, I thought I was over hair fads. So imagine my friend Dorothy’s surprise when I showed up on her wedding day in my bridesmaid’s gown looking like Joan Jett’s twin sister. I don’t think she was happy, but I was (if only I was half as successful at recreating this look the next day!)

Joan Jett

Yes, by the 90s I had sworn off those silly, hard-to-manage celebrity hairstyles for good. Until…Friends became the hottest show on television, and Rachel had the cutest hair. My poor hairstylist had to recreate this look for me (I’m pretty sure she hated it as much as I loved it). I have to admit, this style looked great on me, but it was a gigantic pain to keep up! No wonder Jennifer Aniston hated it.

rachel

Here’s the thing about my hair. It goes where it wants, whether I spend hours on it or let it air dry. Either way, I end up looking like this.

Bram Stokers Dracula

I finally made peace with it. I’m an adult now, and I understand that celebrities have one huge thing that I don’t: stylists! They have professionals spending hours and hours making them look fantastic. I’m lucky if I have 15 minutes to blow dry my hair. It’s time for me to accept the curly, wild, unpredictable, dense mane that the good Lord (and my Mama) gave me. Although these days, I really think I could pull this celebrity hairstyle off.

Betty White

Recipe: Angel Hair Pasta Primavera

I’ve made this recipe on numerous occasions and it’s always a big hit. I like to try different pastas, so spaghetti, penne, or angel hair pasta (my daughters’ favorite) all work. Your call! Don’t be intimidated by the long ingredient list. Pick your favorite vegetables, roast them, and go from there. You won’t be sorry! This is quick, delicious, and very satisfying.

no-cream pasta primavera

So, Hungry Lifers: do you have a love-hate relationship with your hair? Do you have hair? What was your favorite type of hairstyle EVER? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!

Next Page »