Thursday, June 01, 2006

Of course, after that last rant about eating healthier, I woke up this morning craving pancakes--banana pancakes. I’ve had a hand of bananas ripening in my kitchen for the past week as I’ve contemplated what to do with them. I’ve attempted banana bread about three times, and I just can’t get it right. It’s always too dense. Probably because I refuse to put as much oil in the recipe as it calls for, or maybe I don’t use enough bananas. Who knows, but pancakes are something that I can do. And they were goooood. Wierd looking (since I don’t use non-stick pans), but delish. I got the recipe from a cookbook that I used a lot at home, Sheila Lukins’ “All Around the World Cookbook.” She’s the co-author/founder of the Silver Palate company and cookbooks also (great salads, grain recipes, pastas etc.). Anyway, it was a great one for me living on Kauai, because she’s got recipes in there from tropical places like Mexico, Brazil, Chile and other places with fruits and veggies similar to what’s abundant in Hawaii (avocados, oranges, tomatoes...). Speaking of which, it’s pretty ironic that I came to Oregon anticipating eating all of the local produce (cherries, apples, peaches), but what I still eat regularly are bananas and avos. And I’ve been discovering great recipes for things to do with them. Like this simple salad (perfect for Kauai): lettuce, orange pieces, green or red onions, radishes, feta crumbles with a dressing of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, a little of the orange juice left over from squeezing. Top with salt & pepper and it’s a refreshing lunch with some bread on the side. I got that one from a new favorite cookbook “Recipes from America’s Small Farms: Fresh Ideas for the Season’s Bounty.” Super fresh stuff.
I know I’ve talked about nutmeg before, but I love it!! I put it in the pancakes this morning, and in a frittata (w/asparagus, baby potatoes and onions) that I made the other night.

Ahh. Thank you, dear readers, for having the faith to keep checking for new entries, when I had little faith in myself. Well, I’m back, and I’m bloggin’. You could say that I’ve been more than a bit frustrated with things in my life lately—my job, my social life, and especially my eating habits!! Let’s face it, the things that taste the best are not always the healthiest. I know this, and yet, I continue to stuff my face salty, greasy carbs from time to time (more like, from morning ‘till night!). If you tune in to the way that food makes you feel, you might, to the disappointment of your inner glutton, find that, clean food, full of vegetables, grains, makes you feel light and energized, while food rich in salt, sugar and fat, makes you feel like shit. Case in point: one day I’ll go out to lunch and have a “nice” salad, topped with fish or something, and feel bright and ready to take a walk, but if I eat some carb covered with cheese (i.e. my staple: the quesadilla), I feel like my thighs each weigh a hundred pounds. These realizations become ever more apparent in the summer, when the air is hot, and every extra pound of fat feels like an extra sweater layer left over from the winter.

So I decided to cut down. Well, casually cut down. At our restaurant, the food that employees get for free is: bread, salad and soup. The bread, of course, the easiest quickest, is always better with butter (little curls of it sit in ramekins everywhere). The salad, although the healthiest option, has to be prepared by the kitchen, and I have yet to see anyone order one when the cooks are busy making stuff for paying customers. So, I’m left with the soup, which, although tasty, is almost always full of butter and cream. On my first day, a fellow hostess told me that one of the cooks told her “if you’re trying to keep your figure, stay away from the soup.” But what are we hungry girls to do when we have free food in front of us, and only bring home $200 a week? Get fat, I suppose.

Which brings me directly on to the subject of the relationship between poverty and obesity. Well, it’s a huge issue, and I’ll just use my choice for lunch today as an example of the fact, that being healthy is expensive. (There was actually an article on the front page of yesterday’s Oregonian food section entitled “Do You Have to Be Rich to Eat Organic?”). So, I was downtown having coffee with a friend at the largest Stumptown (Stuptown being Portland’s favorite coffee roaster, served almost everywhere, with a couple of coffeeshops by the same name). I splurged on an iced soy latte (trying soy is part of my whole new ‘cutting out the fat’ thing—because, well, milk=fat) for 3 bucks, which is actually less than one would cost elsewhere. Since it was lunchtime, and I was downtown, I was excited about hitting up either the ethnic food carts or another place I hadn’t tried. On my way to the cart row, I passed a place that I had read about: Veganopolis. Yes, a ridiculous name, but an excellent concept—a vegan cafeteria. And it’s a clean and shiny and new inside. Vegan food, that’s healthy. So, I checked out the menu, and found what I wanted, the “raw platter” with daily changing ingredients. Unfortunately, that healthy and no doubt delectable meal would cost me $9.50. And their sandwiches were about $7. I have plans to go to dinner tonight with another friend of mine, and nothing at the food carts costs over $5, so I headed on. When I checked out the vietnamese cart, I noticed that the Ban Mih (no idea if I spelled that right) were only $3! Those sandwiches are usually great—full of shredded carrots, cilantro and cucumbers, on top of the pate and meat. Relatively healthy sounding...Well, mine had tons of roasted/dried out meat, hardly any veggies, and of the few it did have, most were jalapenos. My mouth was red and burning, AND the freakin’ thing had butter on it! It was pretty bad, and I felt kinda gross. Shafted for being thrifty. Prepared foods are expensive. Especially fresh, organic, and vegetarian ones. This needs to be changed, because what goes into our bodies is directly related to our overall well-being. Food, water, smog, everything. The clean stuff is expensive. I’m afraid that the water from my tap is poisonous, but all I’ll spend the money on is a Brita filter, which probably does nothing.