Tales From A Hungry Life

October 19, 2017

The Lovers, The Dreamers, and Me

by Maria Schulz

Someday we’ll find it. The winning lottery ticket…

Have you ever participated in a work place lottery? It’s an interesting social experiment. The personalities that are revealed and the conversations that come up with co-workers are always kind of amusing, enlightening, and sometimes disturbing.

I like to classify them in terms of tribes that run the spectrum from “High Hopes to Shattered Dreams.” Here are the 5 tribes of coworkers you will meet when there is $50,000,000.00 on the line. Ready? Let’s go.

Get ready…

The Puppy Dogs (usually young. Possibly hipsters): Should this person win, he/she will open up a chain of awesome youth hostels and explore the world! Will definitely come back here and add cool work features like a ping pong table and Friday beer pong, bicycles for group lunch outings, “thinking rooms” with couches, TVs, and X-Boxes, the best snacks ever found, and an all-you-can-drink soda bar. Will allow half days for massage therapy and in-house tarot card readings. Vows to return, because he or she would miss you all too much!

Life is great! Let’s play

The Lovers: (sort of young, but can’t remember their college schedule like they used to. Thinks retirement is for old people): Loves their co-workers. Enjoys putting bringing in candy, cookies, and cheesecakes for them. Thinks putting money away for children’s college and pensions is fun. Will never retire. Loves nothing more than scoring coupons and getting a deal. If this person wins the lottery, he or she will keep his/her job and live off the interest from the winnings. Plans to continue working here and might even spring for 2-for-1 bagels if they win millions.

blah blah blah

The Optimists: (been around for awhile. Slightly beaten down but still manages to look on the bright side of life, just like Eric Idle as he hangs on the cross in The Life of Brian). Looks at retirement like an oasis: beautiful but a mirage all the same. Always sees the good in people, even those he or she would rather shoot with a 10,000 gallon fireman’s hose every time they open their mouths. No matter how bad things get, he or she will always think people are essentially good to their core. Will most certainly pay their mortgage and get new siding and a patio if they win tens of millions of dollars. Give up their jobs? Never.

Look on the bright side

The Pessimists: (has had their last ounce of human kindness drained by corporate life). Was possibly once an artist. Now rails against anything and everything. Thinks the deep state is out to get him for sins committed at Woodstock. Yearns to lie on a beach for days and not leave until they are a toasty brown color. Can see the darkness that lurks in every co-worker’s soul. Sends out vile emails about how stupid the boss is and cc’s them. Sole reason for living may be stirring the pot of office intrigue and sowing discontent. Wants nothing more than to be fired but has no back up plan. Would dream of staging a hostile takeover if he or she had any imagination, which of course he or she does not. When asked what he or she will do with the many millions, he/she replies: “Doesn’t matter. We’ll never win anyway.”

Always looks as sad as Charlie Brown did in “Snoopy, Come Home”

The Burnouts: (started work at the age of 3 in a coal mine. Hates people, especially co-workers. Was once a Puppy Dog): Usually named “Steve” or thinks they are a Stevie Nicks look-alike. Used to be a go-getter/bright-eyed youth, then a starry-eyed dreamer, then an avid optimist, then someone who sent vile emails to the boss. Now a total burnout who thinks life is better when he or she is anywhere but his or her desk. Would rather work at the North Pole under a tyrant named Santa than here. When asked if he or she will buy the company and liquidate it if they win the lottery, The Burnout looks up, smiles for the first time in years, and says: “Yes. Now take a good look at me, because if we win, you will never see me here again.”

I’m outta here

Where do you fall on this worker spectrum? Are you in the “high hopes” camp or the “shattered dreamers” camp? Take this quick test and discover which group is your “tribe.”

I can’t wait to get there

When you get up in the morning, the first thought you have about work is:

a) I love work! I can’t wait to get there

b) Work is all right. It’s better than living under an overpass

c) I wonder what’s going on in Iceland right now?

d) Gotta get into work and undermine…well, everyone.

e) Why isn’t Warren Buffet my father?

Will anyone notice?

About 11 am, you suddenly think:

a) I am so energized by meetings! I love having one-on-one time with my colleagues

b) If I have one more meeting today, I will run screaming from this f!@#king building

c) I wonder if I can binge watch Game of Thrones without anyone noticing?

d) People are essentially good…right? Of course I’m right!

e) I wonder if I could die at my desk without anyone noticing

Let’s eat

It’s lunch time! You take this opportunity to:

a) Go outside and walk briskly so you’re energized for the afternoon work shift

b) Sit at a small, sad table in your windowless cafeteria and wonder how everything went so wrong

c) Stuff your face full of burritos at Chipotle

d) Carefully unpack the nutritious lunch you brought from home because saving every penny is the way to nirvana

e) Plot your escape

Healthy and Delicious

It’s 3pm and you’re at your desk. You:

a) Scrounge up change to raid the vending machine

b) Wonder how on earth you will ever make it to 5 pm

c) Wish you could have siestas here

d) Refuel with granola and Jolt

e) Eat the economical snack you brought from home

One last task to finish

It’s 5 pm. You:

a) Linger at your desk, getting everything straightened out before heading home

b) Write a 6 page memo about the lottery and ask co-workers to light a candle/pray for a bashert/call-out to Vishnu/put your religious ritual here so that we can all win and split that $50 mil seven ways to Sunday

c) Have disappeared, possibly hours ago. No one noticed.

d) Wake up and run as fast as humanly possible to your car

e) Send one last vile email to your boss, because you enjoy tempting fate

Score:

  1. Your Predominant Answer is: A
  2.  

    You are a Puppy Dog. Congratulations! You are overeager and self-assured. Your endless striving and enthusiasm is relentless and irritating, even though everyone admits puppies are cute.

    Your Predominant Answer is: B

    You are either a Pessimist or a Burnout. But never fear! You still have the smallest ounce of optimism in you (hence the prayers for lottery winnings)

    Your Predominant Answer is: C

    You are either a Lover or an Optimist with strong Pessimistic tendencies. But overall, you are not a soulless shell. Congrats!

    Your Predominant Answer is: D

    You are a Puppy Dog that will soon be a Lover. Don’t cry. It happens to the best of us.

    Your Predominant Answer is: E

    You are without a doubt the most Pessimistic Burnout on the planet. You enjoy dreaming about stealing all of the winnings from your co-workers and running away with every last dime. You are a soulless corporate drone who will never get fired or win the lottery. But you knew that already, didn’t you?

If you have a weird mix of answers, congratulations! You’re human. Robots need not apply.

 

Recipes:

Great Lunch Ideas…When I’m not scarfing down Chipotle (because I really am a Puppy Dog at heart)

So good

These Cheap, Healthy Lunch Ideas for Work from Eating Well look great. I like the BLATS (bacon, lettuce, avocado, and tomato sandwiches), the Mediterranean sandwich, and even the vegan Buddha bowl. They are perfect for anyone who wants to pack healthier options…and it appeals to the Lovers inside of us all.

So…where do you fall on the Hopes and Dreams scale? Which tribe do you belong to? Which healthy/cheap lunch idea is your favorite? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!

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February 7, 2017

7 Things You Must Learn From Your Old Dog

by Maria Schulz

There are few things in life as wonderful as bringing a brand new puppy into your home. Puppies are adorable, funny, and curious. Even when they screw up royally by eating the kitchen cabinets or chewing a hole in your couch, you can’t stay mad at them forever.

All of that is true, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: puppies are great, but old dogs are fantastic too. It’s easy to understand why: they’ve gotten most of their bad habits out of their systems (let’s be honest: are all of your bad habits out of your system?) and over the years, you will have developed a mutual affection and understanding.

Where's the cheese?

Where’s the cheese?

As my dog has moved into her “golden years,” she has reminded me of all the ways she has been a blessing in my life. Here are some of the life lessons I’ve gleaned from watching her get through her days.

  1. When You Don’t Feel Good, Lie Down

This seems like a no brainer, but silly humans keep going sometimes instead of listening to their bodies. I am one of those humans. My dog, however, will curl up in a ball on her bed and stay there until she feels better. Who’s the smart one?

  1. When the Sun Shines and the Temperatures are Mild, Let’s Walk

Extremes are not for the old dog. High temperatures or brutal cold bother my dog, so it’s in and out in a flash. But a beautiful day demands participation. We walk for a while, taking in the sunrise or staring at the stars. It’s the best medicine in the world.

Hot, hot, hot

Hot, hot, hot

  1. Medicine goes down better when there’s cheese

Remember Mary Poppins? A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down. Or in my dog’s case, cheese does the trick. Don’t skip out on the very thing that will make you feel better. Find a way to tolerate it and even look forward to it.

  1. Express Joy When Your “Peeps” Come Through the Door

Maybe you can’t jump up and greet them, but you can always let them know how delighted you are to have them around. My dog wags her tail just because we’re sitting close by and watching TV. She’s never shy about letting us know that she’s happy.

You're here!

You’re here!

  1. Some Days Will Be Better Than Others

Every day won’t be a party. Arthritis, stomachaches, headaches, bad hips, or bad knees will sometimes make today a non-participatory day. But tomorrow may find that old dog bringing you her favorite hedgehog toy and playing hide and seek. Live in the moment. Be patient and understanding…just like your dog will be when your bad back leaves you stranded on the couch.

Let's play

Let’s play

  1. Greet Old Friends and Make New Ones

My dog is blessed with a bit of Marilyn Monroe beauty even now. People will stop us to say hello, pet her, and ask how she’s doing. My dog happily accepts all adoration and is delighted when there’s another dog on the other end of this admiration society. Thanks to her, I have met more people than I ever would have if I were walking alone. Sure, puppies bring scores of people to your side…but old dogs are also magnets for the very best people: those who are kind, compassionate, and want to give you and your dog a little support as you walk slowly towards home.

Let's walk

Let’s walk

  1. Every Day is The. Best. Day. Ever.

My old girl doesn’t spend her days worrying about what tomorrow may bring. She wakes up everyday and is ready to eat, walk, and head out on an adventure. She doesn’t dread the numerous vet visits; instead, she charges gleefully through the door. She is the only dog I have ever had that gets excited when I say, “want to go see Dr. D?” She still barks ferociously and protects the people and home that she loves. Every vet visit, car ride, sunrise or starry night is waiting for her, and it’s going to be AWESOME.

I’ve heard it said that people wish they could be half the person that their dog thinks they are. Well, I wish I could be half as optimistic as my old Lab. In the meantime, I’ll follow her lead and enjoy our life together right now.

Recipe: Grilled Cheese

Tomato soup and grilled cheese. A perfect marriage

Tomato soup and grilled cheese. A perfect marriage

50 of the Best Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Nothing makes my dog shimmy and shake quite as much as the sight, smells, and sound of a grilled cheese. These recipes all look delicious and include 50 versions of this time-honored favorite, including the classic grilled cheese, bacon and tomato, pesto, Mediterranean, Gruyere with Sauerkraut, and more.

So: what have you learned from your old dog? Leave a comment and share your thoughts. Thanks! I hope that today brings you your own great adventure.

January 4, 2017

New Year, Same Old You?

by Maria Schulz

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

While ringing in the New Year, I often think about those pesky resolutions that I made last year that never stood a chance. Why can’t I be like those superstars out there that go from couch potato to Marathon boy and girl wonders? Why do I continue to be derailed by Hershey’s Krackle and Mr. Goodbar? How come I never went skydiving, saw the Mona Lisa in person, or ticked off any boxes on my Bucket List?

Wise words from Calvin and Hobbes

Wise words from Calvin and Hobbes

I turned to research for the secrets to New Year’s resolution success, and here’s what I found:

92% of people will not reach their goals this New Year. That’s right! You are not alone. Those lousy 8 percenters are!

The reason most people will fail is because they never make specific goals. If your goal is to “feel better,” “look great,” or “get in shape,” here’s a tip. The more specific you are about what you want to achieve, the better. Instead of “feeling better,” determine that you’re going to stop smoking by March or drop 10 pounds by April to lessen the strain on your joints. Get your hair trimmed and colored every 4 weeks so you don’t look in the mirror and see your grandma looking back. Measure your arms, legs, abdomen, and thighs—and set a specific, measurable goal of losing 2 inches, 4 inches, or however many inches it takes to make you feel less like the Michelin Man. That’s how you will keep track of your progress, and make real time adjustments when you’ve stalled or gone backwards.

New-Year-Resolutions

Don’t make it harder than it has to be. Don’t tell yourself: “I will lose weight, eat better, and climb Mount Everest,” and then give up a day or two later because:

  1. a) You don’t even know how to begin losing weight
  2. b) Is only half a bag of potato chips better than the whole bag?
  3. c) You hate climbing the hill outside your house. Who really believes you’re going to climb Mount Everest? Not you, for starters.

Reset your expectations. Choose to lose 5 pounds. Once that goal is achieved, choose to lose another 5. Keep going until you hit your intended goal. Saying “I’ll lose 100 pounds by March” this January only sets you up for failure. And P.S.: skip the potato chips. Eat an apple.

Stay away

Stay away

Know thyself. If you’re like me and you know your triggers, do yourself a favor: don’t let them anywhere near you. I can’t have a bag of chocolates in my cupboard because their siren song lures me to their rocky shoals. Keep those b*tches out of your house!

Give yourself a break. Any big change comes with successes and failures. Yes, you will be stoked when you take three steps forward. But will you throw in the towel when you take two steps back? Make believe you are your own child. Would you berate them for failing or encourage them to keep going? Be kind to yourself. Everybody screws up. It takes courage to forge ahead.

Get moving

Get moving

Ditch the “all-or-nothing” and “Weekend Warrior” attitude. You can have a cookie but you have to cut the calories elsewhere or you will not succeed later. You can also exercise a little bit all week long instead of trying to compensate by exercising like a maniac over the weekend. This will only lead to injuries. Do a little bit every day and you’ll see results. Just like the tortoise and the hare: slow and steady wins the race.

 

Replace Bad Habits with Something Fun. Lying on the couch, having an existential crisis (why oh why haven’t I become the next J.K. Rowling???), and wondering what TV show I will watch next gets boring. But popping in Just Dance and figuring out the steps while I rock out to Bruno Mars is never dull. I know it’s funny, because my kids can’t stop laughing.

Are we having fun yet?

Are we having fun yet?

Congratulate yourself for a job well done. Did you accomplish even part of your goals? Give yourself the proverbial gold star. Yes, folks—I am an 8 percenter! I lost 18 pounds last year and I haven’t managed to find them again (yet). The only reason I achieved this goal was that I took the time to:

  • Download an app that lets me log my food intake every single day. Yes, that becomes a drag really fast. But you know what’s a bigger drag? Blindly trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong when the pounds stop coming off. All I have to do is look at my food log and I know what the problem is. Potato chips and chocolate are usually the culprits.
  • Keep up that gym membership. Yeah, I don’t really love the gym. I wish I did, but let’s face it: I’d rather be lying on the couch. But you know what? I’m always delighted by myself after I’ve finished. So, I pull my slug-like body up, lace up those sneakers, and go before I’ve talked myself out of it.
  • Bring lunch to work. I still go out with my friends, but since I’ve already eaten, I don’t need to eat a burrito that is almost as big as me (sometimes I give in to the burrito’s siren song, because being good all the time is an equally big recipe for disaster)
  • I can’t lose weight if my four food groups are McDonald’s, Burger King, Five Guys, and IHOP. I signed up for lots of newsletters that give me great recipes that are healthy, delicious, and fast so I’m not tempted to get take-out…and lay on the couch afterwards berating myself.
Get your gold stars here

Get your gold stars here

I may not have met Mona Lisa face to face yet, but the year is young! Now I’m off to make a plan….

Recipe:

Steak and Blue Cheese Wraps

Delicious!

Delicious!

You can also use sirloin steak (instead of flank steak, if you prefer) and reduced fat mayo with blue cheese crumbles (instead of the dressing). But either way, these wraps are delicious and satisfying.

 

So, Hungry Lifers…are you one of the 8 percenters? What goals are you trying to achieve this year? What’s your favorite healthy dinner recipe? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks, and Happy New Year.

 

November 17, 2016

12 Thanksgiving Ideas that are Fun for Everyone

by Maria Schulz

Popcorn and toast, anyone?

Popcorn and toast, anyone?

Thanksgiving can be tricky. Sometimes, it’s a day when families catch up, laugh a lot, and enjoy their time together. Other times…not so much. There’s always a fun story about a drunken uncle, a bossy mother-in-law, or a whiney friend who sucks the life out of the party by telling everyone at the table about his recent bout with hemorrhoids or scabies.

Let me tell you about my latest illness

Let me tell you about my latest illness

Most people I know are NOT going to have the quintessential “Kennedy-esque” game of touch football on the front lawn while their giant turkey cooks to perfection. Come to think of it, the Kennedys probably weren’t even that happy to be together, touch football or no touch football.

We look just like the Kennedys

We look just like the Kennedys

Whether you’re off to a large gathering or just a small, intimate celebration, it’s always good to have ice breakers and conversation starters on hand. In that spirit, I thought I’d share a few ideas to keep your special day from going off the rails. Here are some of my suggestions.

Ready? Here we go...

Ready? Here we go…

Twelve Thanksgiving Games that are Fun for Everyone

  1. Take Bets. How long will it be before Grandma tells you how she worked 12 jobs at your age and you’re a lazy loser? How many male relatives will fall asleep with their pants undone while they snore in front of a football game on TV? How many lumps in Mom’s gravy? You get the idea.
Get your game on

Get your game on

  1. Break out the board games. That turkey is going to take a while. Why not get in a quick game of Life? Uno? Scattergories? Pictionary? Truth or Dare? Who’s Most Likely To? Never Have I Ever… (or Would You Rather… if there are kids around)? Cards Against Humanity? You can keep it clean for the kids and have lots of laughs.
  1. Set up a Group Pool/Prize. Yeah, maybe Aunt Sally couldn’t care less who’s playing football today. But I bet she’ll care if there’s money at stake, and it will keep people busy while you cook the turkey. You can also bet on the outcome of the Dog Show, a corny holiday movie, or murder mystery. $5 per person and the winner doesn’t have to help clean up.
While you deep fry your turkey

While you deep fry your turkey

  1. Play Telephone or the Minister’s Cat. Yes, these are oldies, but they’re always fun.
  1. Go outdoors between dinner and dessert. Play Bocce ball or Running Bases—adults and children alike can use some fresh air. Walk the dog while you’re at it. And yes, you can even channel your inner Kennedy and play a game of Touch Football.
Run off that turkey dinner

Run off that turkey dinner

  1. Stay inside. Play Wii bowling, football, or Olympics. Go on Playstation and play Walking Dead, Batman, Just Dance, or Dancing with the Stars.
You too can score a "10"

You too can score a “10”

  1. Use your cell phone and download the app for HeadsUp. It’s really just Charades, but you hold the phone up to your head so that everyone else can see the word, and the other people in the room try to give you clues about it. You have to guess before time is up. It’s quick, fun, and very addictive. Hint: if you don’t have a smartphone, you could just write words on cards and hold them up to your head while everyone else gives you clues. Sometimes old school is the right way to go.
  1. Play “Two Truths and One Lie.” Each person around the dinner table tells everyone two things that are true about him or her, as well as one lie. If someone guesses the lie, you take a shot (or eat vegetables, pie, etc.)
Are we having fun yet?

Are we having fun yet?

  1. Another great game is What If? This app comes with fun what if/but then scenarios that a person has to answer. The results are usually hilarious.
  1. Plan a TV or Movie Marathon! Choose a holiday themed comedy like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles to get everybody laughing (who doesn’t like John Candy?). Or, binge watch The Godfather Trilogy or Orange is the New Black together. Your call!
Those aren't pillows

Those aren’t pillows

  1. Put a slip of paper with a question on it underneath everyone’s plate. Before you pass the turkey, ask everyone to pull out the slip and, one by one, read and answer the question on it. Depending on the crowd, the questions could be, “What are you most thankful for?” “What are you least thankful for?” “Where did you spend your worst Thanksgiving (hopefully the answer isn’t your house).” “What was your first girlfriend’s name?” “What’s the most embarrassing thing you ever did?” “What was your worst job—and why?”
Better than a Magic 8 Ball

Better than a Magic 8 Ball

  1. Experience Your Own Version of Karaoke Madness. You know you want to unleash your inner Beyonce. Go ahead, make their day! But don’t take this one too seriously. It’s always better if you’re not very good.

Recipes:

Thanksgiving Appetizers

FNK Flat Content; 3-Ingredient Thanksgiving Appetizers; Opener

Let’s eat

Find everything from stuffed mushrooms and deviled eggs to ricotta stuffed bacon wrapped dates, spiced pecans, and goat cheese with fresh dill. It’s the perfect way to set the mood for a fun party that everyone will enjoy.

Cocktails!

What I'm Thankful For

What I’m Thankful For

If you want to do drinking games or just have some fun cocktails on Thanksgiving, check out these recipes on Food Network. There’s a Pumpkin Pie Martini, Bourbon Negroni, Apple Toddy, Cider Punch, and dozens more cocktail choices.

I've got a lot to be thankful for

I’ve got a lot to be thankful for

So, what are your family traditions on Thanksgiving? Do you eat and then crash on the couch until dessert is served? Watch the parade and dog show? Watch football games in between bites of turkey? Do a 5K Turkey Trot? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Happy Thanksgiving!

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 24, 2016

8 Great Ways to Pursue Happiness

They look happy

They look happy

I just read an article about happiness that got me thinking.

A Harvard psychologist says that too many people have got this happiness thing all wrong. Instead of sitting around thinking up ways to be happier, the researchers say that you should just go out and live your life. Stop thinking about it! It’s okay to be unhappy, just don’t sit around worrying about how to be happier. The key finding was: in order to find happiness, you have to be okay with being unhappy sometimes. Just accept it. Sometimes, you’re not going to be happy. Embrace it, man! It’s okay. Don’t sweep those bad feelings under the rug. Apparently, the key to a happier life is being emotionally agile and becoming your true, authentic self.

Um…what?

I am no psychologist. I don’t even play one on TV. But I have to ask…do we really need to research this kind of thing? I thought everyone was basically unhappy anyway. To paraphrase another Seinfeld episode (substituting the word happiness for humor) “happiness is like gossamer. One does not dissect gossamer.”

Ready? Here we go...

Ready? Here we go…

So, in the interests of helping the unhappy be more authentic and tap into their happier selves, I’m going to offer my:

8 Great Ways to Pursue Happiness…Or At Least My Version of It

  1. Laugh. A lot. Life can be frustrating, energy draining, infuriating, and disappointing. So what? If you can’t find something to laugh at in the idiocy all around you, you’re just not trying hard enough.
  2. Feed Your Soul. Whether you like to paint waterlilies or sing the entire soundtrack of Grease, do it. You don’t have to be perfect. Just do what you love and that happiness thing will come a’calling.

    Just have fun

    Just have fun

  3. Feed Your Face. Yeah, I’m going there. I’m not suggesting you bury your emotions in a gallon of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, but if you’ve had a rough day and all you want in the whole world is some Chunky Monkey, HAVE IT. Don’t make it bigger than it already is. And the key to not making yourself bigger than you already are is Portion Control. The key word here is control. You’re in charge.
  4. Remember: You’re In Charge. That’s right. No one else is responsible for your happiness. It’s all on you, baby. Own your mistakes. Own your disappointments. Only you can change what makes you unhappy, and only you can identify what you need in your life. So what are you waiting for?
  5. Don’t Ignore Your Inner Cynic. Listen to what he/she has to say, because you will probably learn what you really need from him or her. But by the same token, don’t always listen. Your Inner Cynic is a jerk sometimes.

    Hello, I'm your Inner Cynic

    Hello, I’m your Inner Cynic

  6. Get Out of Your House. And while you’re at it, get out of your head. Want to meet people? Tired of being lonely? Think everyone but you is having a good time? Leave the house! Unless you live in Grand Central Station, chances are all the fun stuff is going on elsewhere. Get out there and find it. Join a bicycle club, running club, baking club, whatever. Don’t go there with the thought: I have to meet my one true love! Go there thinking: I’m sick of watching The Bachelor. Que sera, sera. Just go with it.
  7. Volunteer. It’s true: doing things for others is a really great way to find happiness. Walk dogs at the local shelter (they’re always desperate for help); attend a Special Olympics event and cheer on people who are competing; help the local food pantry stock their shelves. There are a million ways to help other people. Go find one that is meaningful to you and reap the rewards.

    Don't you want to walk me?

    Don’t you want to walk me?

  8. Change the World. Or at least your corner of it. Campaign for a worthy candidate. Raise funds for your school at the next bake sale. Go down the block and clear trash out of your local park. Don’t just sit there waiting for love, romance, happiness, and meaning to come to you. Go find it while you’re not looking for it.

If none of these suggestions work for you, that’s okay. I never said I was a Happiness Guru. It all goes back to #4 (see above). You need to figure out what you can do for YOURSELF. You don’t need to read about ways to make yourself happier. Get lost in pursuing your dreams or making life better for others and that happiness thing will naturally take care of itself.

So good!

So good!

Recipes:

Chunky Monkey Ice Cream

Banana and Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Get that monkey off your back and have some of this delicious ice cream! You can follow these recipes from allrecipes.com as is or make modifications based on reader comments–less sugar, more ripe bananas, etc. Follow your taste buds and I bet you’ll be happy!

So, Hungry Lifers…what’s your favorite way to be happy? Are you in touch with your authentic self? What comfort food makes you smile from ear to ear? 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!

 

 

 

 

August 6, 2016

This is My Idea of a Good Morning

by Maria Schulz

Everybody starts their day in a different way. Over at The Daily Post, they challenged bloggers to take a photo that says “morning” to us. Here’s one of mine.


The nearby pizzeria gets their morning delivery of Italian bread from the local bakery. You can smell the fresh bread from blocks away. There’s a coffee shop next door that’s another hot spot for the neighborhood. Freshly roasted coffee and egg sandwiches make it a delight to pass by.

My dog knows she’ll encounter some amazing smells in the morning, so she moves as fast as she can towards the stores. She is getting older now, so I know it’s a great day when she can walk all the way towards the sights, sounds, and people she’s always enjoyed seeing.

img_0010-1It’s a very good morning indeed!

Recipe: Eggs, Herbs, & Tomato Omelette


Make the morning even better with fresh organic eggs plus tomatoes and herbs picked fresh from the garden.

Ingredients

2 Eggs

1 tomato, chopped

Italian Parsley leaves, chopped

Basil leaves, chopped

Sage, chopped

Oregano

Thyme

2 tablespoons Olive oil (or Pam)

Cheese (Cheddar,mozzerella, or goat cheese, optional)

Spray Pam or add Olive Oil to heated pan. Beat the eggs and add them to the hot pan. When the eggs have begun to firm up, add the tomatoes, herbs, and cheese. After about two minutes, flip it and brown the other side. You can eat this as is or add it to a low carb wrap. You can also add broccoli or spinach if you like.

To read about how other bloggers spend their mornings (and see their photos), check out Morning at the Daily Post. Enjoy!

So, what’s your favorite way to spend the morning? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks, and have a great day.

 

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