Easter may have come and gone just over one week ago, but if your house is anything like mine, you may have a bowl or basket of candy still hanging around. You know how it is. You walk past it and grab a few things to nibble on. And then you grab an even bigger handful (or two), sit down in front of the tv, and let the mindless munching begin. I have been known to take it to a whole different level. A few times last week, dinner constituted a giant milk chocolate bunny, two big Reese’s peanut butter eggs and handful of Haribo gummi bears. All washed down with a few cups of coffee.
And I wonder why I feel like hell when I wake up in the morning.
I know it’s bad. And if you have visited here before and read previous posts, you will notice my dietary ups and downs. Hey, I’m human. I believe in enjoying life and enjoying food. But that’s the thing. Part of enjoying life is feeling good. And someone like me, who lives with a chronic illness, well, we need to be extra respectful of ourselves. My chocoholic ways of late have been kicking my expanding backside. Bigtime.
Time to get healthy again. My body is literally screaming for it. For about five days now I have been walking around feeling incredibly stressed. Right down to my core. I just feel heavy, with nagging lower back pain and a lingering headache threatening to bust out into a full-on migraine. Even when I sit down to pee it doesn’t feel all that great. Every inch of me is pissed off.
To add insult to this self inflicted injury, Husband just made some cutesy reference to the upcoming bathing suit season, accompanied by a sly and horny smile. Now I’m really freaked out.
There is good news. I am really motivated. Yes, I feel that bad. I got back on the workout kick two days ago, as a detox step if you will. I do feel a bit more clear physically and mentally. And I actually do enjoy healthy food. But now I need to be more conscientious, and I have to plan. The planning part has a tendency to make me a bit crazy.
When things get like this and I have to get my act in gear, my go-to meal of choice is the very versatile veggie burger, perfect for lunch or dinner. Totally delicious and filling, and when piled high with its healthy buddies like mixed greens, avocado and tomato, it has a way of hitting the spot. Now, I’m not here to push my issues on you. Some of you out there would rather enjoy a burger made with meat. Yes, I personally prefer not to consume my animal friends, and ethics aside, my body feels better when I follow a vegetarian diet. But I do prepare organic beef, bison, chicken and turkey burgers for Husband. See? I’m not a total militant nutball.
I love reading magazines, and my home office is overrun with clippings of articles and recipes. I keep putting my organizing projects on the back burner. But when I received my March 2012 issue of Shape magazine in the mail, I was beyond thrilled when I turned one of the pages and found an absolutely gorgeous image of a veggie burger staring back at me. I tore it out right away and was sure to keep it right atop my desk so it wouldn’t get lost. I was excited to give it a try.
After my epic Easter chocolate super binge (and the subsequent days of self loathing), I ran up the street to Safeway after scanning the ingredients list. I had most of what I needed already. My two missing ingredients: zucchini and yellow squash. I was super pumped up. I had never made my own veggie patties before. With so many delicious varieties on the mainstream market, I can always find something good. We have come a long way since the original Boca patty days, with little else in the store to choose from. I love Morningstar Farm’s spicy black bean patties. I buy mine at Costco. Gardenburger also makes a portabella mushroom patty that’s pretty darn good. But I really wanted to give this a try. The Shape magazine recipe had seduced me, with its sleek photography and its descriptive writing. My favorite thing about it? The sentence across the top of the page that read “a savory burger your body will thank you for.” Well, hot damn! Just what I need! It was about time my stressed out bod got a break. I should be thanking it for putting up with me.
So here is Shape magazine’s March 2012 Recipe Of The Month, created by Executive Chef Marc Boussarie of The Counter in Culver City, California. For the most part I followed the recipe closely, though I did make just a few adjustments on the measurements, which I have listed below in parentheses.
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil (I ended up using 4 tablespoons)
1 onion, diced (I used 1/2 red onion, diced)
3 garlic cloves, minced (I used 2 large cloves, minced)
2 carrots, peeled and grated (I used 3 medium sized carrots, peeled and grated)
1 yellow squash, grated
1 zucchini, grated
1 teaspoon salt (I used sea salt)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (I didn’t measure my freshly ground pepper, but I know I used more than what the recipe calls for, I’m a pepper freak)
1/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained (I used 1/3 cup)
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley (I used 3 tablespoons)
1 & 1/2 cups rolled oats
All-purpose flour for dusting (I used my Bob’s Red Mill stone ground wheat flour)
Level Of Difficulty: Somewhat Easy
I began by heating half the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat, adding the onion and garlic. I then reduced to medium heat and sautéed for about five minutes.
I then mixed in my grated veggies, salt and pepper, cooking for about five minutes over medium heat. Next came my black beans, beaten egg, paprika, parsley and oats. I stirred together thoroughly, reduced heat to low and cooked for just a few more minutes. I then transferred the mixture to a large bowl and allowed it to rest at room temperature for about one hour.
After dividing my mixture into 4 patties, I coated each well with my wheat flour, and proceeded to coating my skillet with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Once my oil was heated over medium high heat, I added my patties and cooked for about five minutes on each side, turning about four times until both sides were golden brown.
The Shape recipe specifies 6 servings. I prefer to make larger patties, hence the 4 servings I came up with.
For lunch I melted both aged swiss and sharp cheddar cheese on my patties, and enjoyed on a multigrain bun with organic mixed greens, pickles, mayo, spicy mustard, tomatoes, extra pepper and a squeeze of Thousand Island dressing. I got fancy on round 2. I piled my burger high with extra carrots, cucumber slices, avocado and red bell pepper, and spread some cool and flavorful tzatziki over the top. The dill and cucumber in the tzatziki made it really interesting and delightful!
The burger was substantial, crazy yummy, and even though it filled me up I didn’t have that gross heavy feeling I have been carrying around for way too long. I felt satisfied for hours. I have to warn everyone that it was messy and fell apart toward the end, but a minor inconvenience for such deliciousness!
So how do I feel? Good! My digestive system is happy for the first time in a week. It really doesn’t take long to feel less toxic. It only tells me my body doesn’t want to feel bad. It is eager and excited to get back to life and feeling great. And I feel quite pleased with myself, finding a fantastic recipe that was easy to follow. I will surely enjoy these burgers again and again.
It is worth mentioning my burgers didn’t exactly look like the photo in Shape magazine. I panicked at first, thinking I did something wrong, but my concerns were unwarranted. In addition to tasting super good, they still looked fab.
For the PDF version of the Shape Magazine recipe and additional serving tips, visit:
All my life I have had this rather odd indifference toward spring. That probably sounds strange. I just never associated it with anything specific. I guess for me it has always been this thing I casually get through, the transition from winter to summer, two seasons I love very much.
Fall and winter suit me. Nothing speaks to my homebody ways like a cold, rainy day or night. What is better than a fire, a blanket, a cozy sweater and a loved one by your side? And yet I love summer just as much. Maybe because I am a tropical girl in spirit. Growing up in Hawaii and California has a way of making you fall in love with the sun, sand and outdoors. Not to mention wearing as few clothes as possible.
Two extremes. The paradox of my life.
So for me, spring has always been that odd man out, so to speak. But that’s not to say it doesn’t have a place in my heart. It always has, really. And this year it feels different, as if I recognize that love I have for it for the very first time. I am at a point in my life where I can see the magic in every day and every season. A moment, a day or a time of year does not have to be a momentous production, nor does it need an elaborate memory attached to it to hold significance in one’s heart. Anything is what you make it. I have been creating memories and the significance of things all my life. And in that regard, spring is really no different from my beloved fall, winter and summer.
Pretty pastel colors. Blooming gardens and longer days. The joy of planning a summer getaway. Moving the cashmere, velvet and wool sweaters out of the way, and giving my light and brighter clothes their long overdue marquee spot in the closet. My beloved sequined black velvet ballet flats acquiesce to my bright, flowery sandals. It is the natural order of things, really. Our bodies, and even our emotions, just know it is time to approach the world differently.
I think my nonchalance toward spring really came to an end when I saw the beautiful flowers displayed in the grocery store right before St. Patrick’s Day. While technically it was still winter at that time, the new season was less than one week away. I spied a lovely pink tulip. And then a yellow one. And a purple one. And then I saw the pale violet hue of the hyacinths. The shocking orange of the calla lilies. I began to deeply contemplate the vibrant color of every flower. The odd yet fascinating shape of the pussy willows. And I was so grateful for what my eyes could see and what my brain could sense, and the unexpected appreciation of how these beautiful things around me came to be. How it all begins as a seed nurtured in the earth and then in its glory finds its way to us. Splashes of light in an often dismal world.
This weekend is a sacred one to many. From Holy Thursday to Good Friday and Easter Sunday, the two billion Christians of the world will heed the true message of the holiday. For me and mine, the focus is family, good food and a celebration of all we are thankful for.
Easter memories are special ones. When I was little, I always had a beautiful dress to wear and a gigantic basket of candy and gifts waiting for me when I woke up. All courtesy of The Bunny of course. And the morning always involved an Easter egg hunt of epic proportions. We don’t have any little ones in our world, at least at this time, so we won’t be having that one-for-the-ages egg hunt this year. Well, actually we can do whatever we choose. Nearly 40 years old, and I just might be on my knees in the grass, searching for eggs on Sunday morning.
At the very least, I will be content with my many beautiful memories. My father always loved to dye eggs. Those reflections of his excitement over such a seemingly simple thing are especially cherished now. He passed away in 2010. When we gather on Saturday and dye eggs together as a family, he will be close to all of us in heart and mind.
And we will be busy making new memories. We have Grace this year, her first Easter with us. The dogs naturally are very excited. All we have to do is say “Bunny coming!” and clap our hands, and they run crazy through the house. The Bunny will certainly come calling, bringing favorite treats and cool things to play with.
My wishes for all of you:
A giant chocolate bunny to bite the ears off of.
The enjoyment and company of many loved ones.
Happy Easter everyone, to you and yours.