Weird, But Amazing: Tuna Salad, Bagel Chips, and Peanut Butter

Tuna salad and peanut butter. Together, these ingredients defy logic, and inspire squeamish faces. Courtesy of a Twitter friend, who swore to its deliciousness, I decided to prepare it. For my tuna salad, I used one can of Chicken of the Sea packed in water with minimal portions of mayonnaise and hot dog relish, seasoned with a pinch of salt and chili powder. Because I didn’t have any bread to toast, I opted for gluten-free bagel chips as my carb, and spread a thin layer of natural peanut butter on each chip.

The result:

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And, HOLY FREAKIN’ DELICIOUS.

Unexpectedly enough, the peanut butter’s nuttiness harmonizes with the tang and relish of tuna salad. Though eating it as a sandwich would be amazing, having it with bagel chips made the experience fun (like hor d’euvres at a party). The only thing that I caught myself craving as an improvement was heat- more chili powder, some masala powder, or a clever daub of sriracha between the tuna salad and peanut butter.

Oh, and though it’s possible to use too much mayo, sticking to the bare minimum won’t result in an overly fatty dish. And, as one can of tuna provides 25g of protein, this may well be an excellent lunch choice before the gym.

Of course, you could still be making the squeamish face. But, I swear on my stomach, it’s delicious.

An Unexpected Sense of Guilt: Notes From My Own Life

By all means, I should be feeling completely happy. Close to six weeks ago, I decided to try a trial membership at a gym again after a record time out of one. Like a game of dominoes, that decision spurred others to fall in place like tiles- to join the gym, to change my eating habits, to start cooking again, to try a couple of Paleo recipes.

And, as a result, I feel great. Though my general fitness level still needs work, I feel good when I turn up to the gym and go consistently. The process of researching dietary changes is both fascinating to my curiosity and comforting; coming across people’s blogs with their own stories and journeys make me feel good about my own, and feel as though I have an invisible army of comrades across the Internet who face the same factors I do: prediabetes, reaching 40, and feeling a need to change. My body is starting to show changes after some 20 workouts or so- my legs are toning up, knee is getting stronger (YES!), and my belly bloat is reducing.

The biggest notable change is mental. Since going to the gym again and cutting back on wheat, I feel sharper, clearer, and far less self-critical. I feel like I deserve an A for sticking to a plan I made six weeks ago, as well as some other good grades for trying to implement good eating. In fact, I feel what I’ve striven to feel: happy.

But, just as I reach that peak point of happiness, the place where I ought to feel serene- guilt surfaces.

So then, why do I feel so guilty? Why is it that for every good decision I make, every good change I implement, there’s a small stab of guilt telling me that I’m shallow and frivolous? I no longer feel like I’m wasting time languishing on the couch, but for all the positive things I’m doing, part of me worries that it is just a vain pursuit.

After all, what I’m doing isn’t rocket science. I have no noble goal of saving the world here- I’m not trying to cure world hunger, discover a new cure for cancer, or come across a magic formula that I can hawk in a bottle later on. And, there’s no future boyfriend or husband I’m doing this for, no past ghost I hope to flaunt a new body in front of so that he feels stupid and stupider for being a ding-dong while with me- I’d like This Possible Unnamed Person(s?) to feel that way for other reasons, and not because my ass will look magical.

The only person in this picture is me. If there’s anyone I want to save, it’s me.

And, I feel guilty because using the word “save” seems so dramatic, like I’m in danger of dying, or like I’m some starving kid in a wasteland country. But, I want to save myself from a future where I have diabetes, heart disease, possible colonic cancer from a lifetime of eating terribly (that a beloved boss died from). And, I want to save myself from a present of feeling awful from allowing sedentary habits to continue- a nightly pint of consolatory ice cream, ill-tempered donut binges, or cheap Chinese food I hate eating because I’d rather have an organic meal.

If there’s something I’m coming to terms to, it’s that I’m worth all the effort, the dramatic language, the commitment to better habits outside of my regular comfort zone and day-to-day life. And, though I can readily believe that health is a golden place to be, I am struggling with the belief that I’m worthy of that gold. I am good at eschewing looking good for the sake of appeasing someone else, or a belief that I should be at a far thinner place than my ancestors ever occupied. But, I’m not very good at believing that I deserve to be healthy, happy, and the recipient of the things I dream of deep down.

Just writing this makes me want to cry.

I’m not sure how I’ve come to this place of not believing. Maybe years of surviving the routine obstacles New York tests me with has caused my soul to forget that it had a better song a sing than a routine tune. Maybe it’s been the process of getting older that’s caused me to underrate the passionate things I used to hold dear. And, maybe I simply haven’t invested enough time and nurture into this part of me, and now that I am doing so, I am reacting way more emotionally than expected because it’s about bloody time I got here.

Hell, maybe I’ve just forgotten how it feels to make an emotional connection to the things I don’t just want, but care, for most, and to look at it from this perspective.

So, I suppose the moral of today’s entry is simply this: I need to learn how to believe, all over again. I need to allow myself to enjoy this journey, and fully embrace this pursuit without any guilt or regret. I am worthy of a life where I am healthy and happy; maybe writing it on a chalkboard several times will help me believe it.

I’m a little shaky when it comes to truly feeling like I deserve the rewards of what I’m running after. But, I know I want it, and I don’t plan to stop running after it.

Banana Bread, Round Two

Last night, I decided more banana bread was in order- for me, as well as a friend who wholeheartedly loves it to pieces. So, I once again followed the recipe from Tasty Kitchen blog (see previous entry). And, with a 57-minute bake time and mushier bananas, the difference was amazing. If my first banana bread was good, this second was great (resulting in me eating 25% of it straightaway from the oven).

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I also had a hankering for chocolate, and decided that the longtime resident Nestlé chocolate chips in my fridge needed to be used. I tweaked the previous recipe by substituting chocolate extract in the place of vanilla, and replaced 25% of the almond flour with unsweetened cocoa powder. I also added a tablespoon of espresso powder, and 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips.

The result? A truly chocolatey-chocolate flavor BOMB.

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The bread itself was fluffier due to the cocoa powder and slightly drier than the original banana bread. And, because of the espresso powder, it was as if I’d baked a dark chocolate bread. In making this again, I would probably use sweeter bananas at the foundation, and add some stevia to compensate for the addition of espresso powder. And to possibly lighten the coffee flavor, I could probably use ground coffee in the place of espresso powder.

However, if you’re an espresso-chocolate fan like me, then leave it as is, and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Paleo Banana Bread

Tonight, I wandered further down the gluten-free/Paleo path, and baked a longtime favorite: banana bread.

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To my total pleasure, the bread turned out marvelous. I closely followed this recipe from the Tasty Kitchen blog, and was delighted that the bread was indeed the correct result of the recipe.

My notes: I really suggest using mushy bananas. Mine weren’t overripe, so my bread was less sweet than expected. And, I baked mine for 59 minutes, and could have taken my bread out at 55. I baked with parchment paper, so I didn’t have to grease up (or subsequently clean) the pan. I opted to use both almond and vanilla extract, and I am in utter heaven.

For the next time, I’m thinking nuts would be an awesome addition.

Enjoy :-)

Baked Potato French Fries

Tonight’s treat: baked French fries. So easy, simple, and hassle-free (even with an irritating smoke alarm).

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I took two Idaho potatoes and peeled them. Upon slicing them, I soaked them in some cold water, dried them, then drizzled them with 2 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tsp of sea salt. Put them on a baking sheet and baked them for 35 minutes at 450 (the original recipe called for 25 minutes, but this is done largely on sight and oven calibration).

ENJOY. (And remember, fries aren’t totally bad for you!)

Banana Paleo pancakes!

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Howdy folks! Haven’t blogged in a while, but haven’t forgotten- work, cooking experiments, and getting over my cold have been on my current plate. Will share more soon, but here’s a little something in the meantime- banana Paleo pancakes. Fried in coconut oil (organic) and made of 1 large banana, 1 extra large egg, and 2 1/2 tbsp almond flour* (adjustable depending on size of egg & amount of banana), I was a happy camper. With a bit of maple syrup, it was perfect.