Saturday, September 24, 2016

Listen

I generally react only in my head to Facebook posts because engaging in an argument on Facebook seems to be the least fruitful way to spend my time. I don’t even know why I’m writing this now. I guess it’s because I write in order to express myself and the current race relations in America have been clouding my mind for several days now.

There are people that I love on both sides of the debate that are angry. In fact, the whole country seems to be scared and angry and forgive me, but that doesn’t seem right to me.

It occurs to me that the issue is a fundamental disconnect between what certain people believe to be “the problem.” If you don’t believe that racism is inherently engrained into “the system,” then of course, it doesn’t make sense to you why black people are so angry.

So many of us live in a bubble. “Well, I’m not racist so I guess I don’t understand what this is all about.” Here’s the thing, I don’t even think that every white cop who has discharged a weapon on a black person is what we think of as a racist.

In general, we consider racists to be those whacky uncles that live in the boondocks that we only see once or twice a year. Sure, they throw around the “n” word, but they’re harmless, right? They don’t play a role in modern day society. That’s not true. Violent bigotry still exists in the voting booth. Until it doesn’t, it’s a problem.

Systemic racism is a little different than flat out racism. Systemic racism is that thing we don’t really think about. It’s what may make us clutch our wallet when we walk near a black person in the mall or lock the doors when we are driving in the west end. Systemic racism is when we see an image of black folks after Katrina running with groceries and we call it looting but see the same image of white folks doing it and say they were taking it for survival.

Systemic racism happens when we are taught certain neighborhoods are bad. This is also why the media uncovers every bad thing they can find on people being shot by police when they are killed but when a cop is killed, they talk about them being a good husband and loving father. This is why when you see a black person getting shot by police, the knee jerk reaction is to be like, “why didn’t they just do what they were supposed to.”  I’ve thought it too. In my head I’ve screamed, “PLEASE JUST DO WHAT THEY SAY.”

Here’s a fact. This country has a foundation and part of that foundation is that every American citizen has a right to a fair trial. Now, back in the day, black people weren’t considered citizens. Since the law made it clear that they are citizens A LONG TIME AGO, things have progressed in some ways but black people have been fighting a long time to get what the constitution promises: a FAIR trial.

So, let’s for a moment assume that every black person approached by the police had a reason to be followed. Let’s assume that they had drugs in their pocket, a gun on their hip (which is legal in a lot of places) and let’s even assume they said something they shouldn’t have to the cop. Is it annoying that they aren’t following the rules? Yes. Does it mean they don’t deserve a fair trial? No. The truth is, they were also somebody’s family and now they are dead and they can’t get the rights afforded to them by the constitution…which is inherently, un-American.

Are black people the only ones mistreated by police? No, so let’s have more checks and balances. I believe that a majority of cops are doing their best to serve and protect their community. It also seems to me they would want trust from the community so how do we do that?

Well, I for one, don’t get the feeling that any of us are really listening to each other. We live in the greatest country in the world and with that comes a level of arrogance. We are automatically defensive over what is “ours.” Don’t you talk about MY country that way! If we think about it though, we all have issues in some capacity about the way the country is run.

Do you think Hillary is a crook? I know many of you do. I’ve even seen some of you compare Obama to ISIS. Should I call you out and say that you aren’t patriotic? You called our president a terrorist. When people condemned Bush, it was an all out slug fest to claim those people aren’t real Americans.

The point is, America is so much to so many. We can disagree with the way it’s run and still think it’s great. I get so confused by the “Make America Great Again” statement because people are also very defensive about it. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said, “If you don’t like this country, leave” in the past few days. So, is it a country that needs to be great again or a country that is already great and threatened by people wanting to change it?

I feel as lost as many of you do. I get it. I am torn on many levels. I have a wide range of students this year. Some are students at Shelton’s Fredd campus who have been afforded very few privileges in life. They don’t know many basic things that a lot of us take for granted. One student even asked me if I thought he was dumb.

Then, I have some (not all) students at UA who are privileged (not that they should be punished for that) and one of them, out of all the argumentative papers he could have chosen, decided to write his paper as an advocacy of hate speech. In his mind, his version of someone taking his freedom is to not have the ability to use racial and homophobic slurs. I found this mind blowing.

Sure, you have a right to use hate speech and nobody should be able to take that away. If I can admit to that than can we all take a moment and admit that in this country, we have a problem and it’s a problem that isn’t going anywhere. Can we unite and at least agree to hear each other out?

There’s always someone to hate. As a country, people have united against members of the LBGTQ community, the Muslim community and anyone else looking to be treated like a normal member of society.

So many people that are so angry are people who have preached the gospel, shared Bible verses and treated others with kindness. Then they turn around and say some of the most hateful things. I don’t feel the love.

In the same sense, I also don’t appreciate being told what to do. I have seen a lot of people I agree with say that silence is just as bad as racism. I hear you but I don’t necessarily agree. In our day to day lives, we are all trying to just make it through. I have a unique opportunity with young people to listen and engage and perhaps even change some minds. I am doing much more to try and make change in my job than I would do by posting daily articles on Facebook. I’m fine with people who do that…that’s how you speak out but it’s not for me. I guess I just believe that building relationships of trust and dialogue is the most important thing you can do.

Everyone can protest or speak out in their own way. As for me, the American Flag symbolizes soldiers who have died for our country. Therefore, I wouldn’t sit during the national anthem but I also don’t think someone that does should leave the country or is any less American.

Many athletes and rappers that you all follow and worship, grew up in underprivileged communities. They’ve seen some of these things first hand. Who am I to step out of my bubble and tell them what to believe? These athletes and musicians are so important because they are beacons of social change. The kids that are from the neighborhoods they are from look up to them, listen to their lyrics so what they say and do DOES matter.

I know this is long and if you’ve made it this far, I appreciate you listening. I don’t know everything. I do know that I care if there are people who are uncomfortable in their own country. I’m a woman and though I’ve never known what it’s like to be a black person, I have seen wage discrimination first hand, I have had a man grab me inappropriately because he can and I have felt that my opinion isn’t important. I know how that makes me feel and I know the people I love wouldn’t want me to feel that way.

I know that I am proud of many things about this country. I’m proud of the countless men and women in the armed services and police force that do what they can to protect us. I know that there are problems though and I don’t know all the answers but I do know that unless we engage in dialogue and actually listen to each other, nothing will ever change.





Monday, September 19, 2016

Not Tuna in a Can


First, today is my Oma's birthday! I wanted to give her a shout out. I know you are working but I hope you have a great day anyway!


I also need to give an early shout out to Lisa, my brother's girlfriend! Her birthday is Sunday and even though she's a hardworking nurse now, we will still find time to celebrate.


Ok, so my final shout out is a Roll Tide! Alabama broke their small curse with Ole Miss by winning Saturday but not before making me sick with nerves. It was a long and crazy game. Hopefully, since Bama plays Kent State Saturday they will get a bit of rest.

After my Denver trip last week, I was a bit scared to get on the scale but it turned out that I only gained about a pound. I found this to be motivating. My body did me a favor so I've done it a favor and eaten the way I'm supposed to (with the exception of two allotted cheat meals). I am going to a concert tomorrow night in Birmingham which will be a challenge BUT I have to be up on Wednesday morning at 6AM so I'm hoping that will deter me from partying too hard. Essentially, what I'm saying is, I weigh on Wednesday so I am in the home stretch of a potential weight loss and I'm not going to screw it up now.







I'm not sure how long ago it was but at least 10 years ago, I branched out at a restaurant in Chattanooga, Tennessee and tried something I had never tried before: Tuna Steak. I figured everyone was always saying how healthy fish was and I liked canned tuna so I ordered it. I'm so glad I did. It was perfectly cooked and delicious. Over the years, if I see tuna steak at a trustworthy place, I will order it. Well, a couple weeks ago, Fresh Market had 7oz tuna steaks for a ridiculously good price so I got a couple to make at home, which I'd never done before. First, I skip oil in a lot of my cooking just to save calories. I add fat and flavor in other ways. With fish, it's so lean so you need a little oil. I used my toasted sesame oil along with soy sauce and garlic to marinate the fish and then I simply seared in a hot pan for a few minutes on each side. If tuna steak is overcooked, it quickly becomes canned tuna. I like my tuna steak rare but it hops over the line between rare and too done in a hot second so if I could turn back time, I would take off about 10 seconds on each side for both of my tuna dishes. It was still delicious, though. I made a salad with the first tuna inspired by a DELICIOUS tuna steak salad I had at Cosmo's at the beach last year (pictured first). I added feta, green onion, balsamic vinaigrette and sesame seeds. It was pretty and tasty and I loved it.



The second dish I made was pretty much the exact same except instead of a salad with feta, I served the tuna over a bed of rice. Carbs make everything better so I really enjoyed it this way too.

As I said, I'm going to a concert tomorrow night. I get to see Heart which is basically a life long dream of mine because my 7 year old self could be heard belting out, "All I Wanna Do is Make Love to You," and my mom would be like, "Um, let's not sing that in public." I also get to go to my first home game of the season this weekend. I wanted to give my parents a shout out too because out of nowhere, I now have a really nice, new TV for my living room!!! It was a total surprise. Ian is happy because he had fun setting it up and my Dad is happy so if he comes over to the house, he can actually see the TV. I did nothing to deserve a TV really but I'm certainly glad my parents decided to go to Best Buy yesterday.

I hope y'all have an awesome week!








Monday, September 12, 2016

Back to Reality and Low Carb Quesadillas






Hey y'all. I have kind of a short post today as I'm jolted back to my normal routine. Coming back from vacation is never fun. Before I left Denver I weighed about the same. I know that vacation usually packs on a few pounds so I expect to see a gain this week but I'm trying to normalize today and eat normally/drink plenty of water. Going to Colorado/Wyoming was an amazing experience. The weather was beautiful and so was the scenery. Ian and I didn't want to come home. We drove up and through mountains, explored a ranch in Wyoming, ate German food and played in downtown, Denver, I can't wait to go back out west.




All I will share today in terms of food is the Fresh Market quesadilla meal we made a couple weeks ago. As I have mentioned, I'm a big fan of their "Little Big Meal" that is $20 and serves 4. This meal came with tortillas, cheese, guacamole, black beans, salsa, chicken and vegetables. Instead of normal tortillas, I used the low carb/chia/60 calorie wraps that Fresh Market has. I'll be honest, they aren't great. They have a gummy/diet characteristic BUT I do like to use them in cases where I'm going to have a lot of flavor to trump the lack of flavor in the wrap. For the quesadilla, it made sense. Filling it with cheese, black beans and chicken then topping it with guacamole and popping it in the oven, I was OK with the wrap...especially since it was only 120 calories for two to have on top and bottom.

Next week I plan on sharing a more FULL post but today, I'm just trying keep my head above water.

Thanks again to my friend Arianne for letting us stay with you in Denver!

Roll Tide this week as we face Ole Miss...a team that has had our number for some reason for a couple years.

Until next week...








Monday, September 5, 2016

A Mediterranean Twist


Happy Labor Day y'all! I have quite a bit of work to do today but I am grateful I can do it at my own pace from the comfort of my own home. I know not everyone gets that luxury so if you are at work today, cheers to you! I had a fun weekend as friends were in town and Alabama DOMINATED in their first football game but I'm hoping to get a tiny bit of detox in today and tomorrow before Ian and I head out to Denver on Wednesday for a vacation. I'm so excited! I was down about half a pound last week but I know there's a lot of calories in my future in Denver. I plan on taking advantage of the mountains and weather and being super active while I'm gone so maybe I won't gain too much vacation weight.




I am in love with feta cheese and Greek olives. I made a Pinterest-inspired recipe a couple weeks ago and gave my grilled chicken a Mediterranean vibe. All I did was sauté some onions, tomatoes, spinach and zucchini flavored with garlic, salt and pepper and laid it on top of a grilled chicken breast. Then I drizzled some balsamic vinaigrette on top and added Greek olives and feta cheese. Y'all this was so healthy and flavorful! It was yet another way to amp up grilled chicken since we all know how boring that can get.



When I made the chicken, I had a ton of left over vegetables so I used those to make a "veggie toast" the next day. All I did was take a toasted Everything Bagel Thin, add a layer of hummus to it, pour the veggies over and top with a few sprinkles of Fontina cheese. I put it under the broiler and it made for a delicious, filling, vegetarian-friendly lunch. I am a big fan of turning leftovers into something different. Have a great week everyone!




Monday, August 29, 2016

Chicken All Day Every Day

Hi y'all! It's Monday again but this week I am motivated by the fact that I will be in Colorado next week. It's going to be a busy few days but I'm looking forward to exploring Denver with Ian. I weighed last week and the three pounds I magically lost the week before came back. I didn't have a great reaction to this so I don't expect that I'll lose any this week. It doesn't look like I'll hit my goal before Colorado but that's OK, I've set another one for Halloween. I need to work on positive reinforcement for myself and also not reacting by indulging but hey...I have been needing to fix that for years. I'll tell you if I find the magic trick.



I know I talk about chicken a lot and I promote grilling chicken ahead of time to make recipes throughout the week. This post is no different. Chicken is a lean protein that those who are trying to eat healthy flock to on a regular basis. Sometimes it can get boring. The trick is knowing that there are about a million ways to prepare chicken. During the summer, I eat a lot of salads. I can get lazy when it comes to making salads because there's a lot of measuring and chopping but sometimes, I force myself to make one. I used chicken I had grilled for the week, tossed it in my "bang bang" sauce mixture of peanut sauce, sesame garlic sauce and sriracha sauce. Then after that, I added fresh corn from the cob that I had also grilled. Once you lay out your greens and add the chicken and corn, you can make it your own. I added feta, green onions and Greek olives. I used my ginger dressing that I've been using on everything. You really can make a healthy and tasty salad and this is coming from someone who likes a salad that is basically ranch soup with cheese and bacon.


Many fast food places are getting in on the "healthier" breakfast. This is great news for those of us who like to swing through a drive-thru from time to time. So far, the most convenient and calorie friendly option is the Egg White Delight from McDonald's. I've eaten countless EWD's as Cassandra and I call them. Now, Chick-Fil-A is in the game. I eat a lot of Chick-Fil-A. They have something called an "Egg White Grill" that's 300 calories. I've had it. It's got grilled chicken, egg whites and cheese sandwiched in an English Muffin. It's pretty good! I had an easy time replicating it at home using my own grilled chicken as well as a wheat bagel thin. While I do love the convenience of fast food, sometimes, it's just as easy to make it at home. See, you can even have chicken for breakfast!


Finally, I wanted to show you my little baby squash. I have been trying to grow a squash plant all summer. The first round was a complete failure but after making a couple adjustments I tried again. This time, I actually got some results! I was so proud of this plant! Ian named one squash Seth and the other Bubba. Seth is no longer with us and Bubba's health is failing. I'm disappointed but I know the hot Alabama sun and the size of the planter has limited the ability for the squash plant to grow to its full potential. My goal is to take a chunk of my yard in the spring and try planting a few things the right way. I never thought I would be this person but the joy my little squash plant brought me has inspired me to continue my attempt at having a green thumb.

I hope you all have a wonderful, stress-free week. AND ROLL TIDE!!! I can't believe I almost forgot! It's time for football again!


Monday, August 22, 2016

Hobo y'all

Howdy everyone! I am teaching A LOT this semester (my credit card companies will be happy) so on Mondays and Wednesdays I start my day VERY early. I know many of you are used to early mornings but it's going to take awhile to get accustomed to a 5:30 alarm. Things are still quite hectic so I'll be happier in a couple weeks when I've settled in to everything. I weighed last week, a bit nervous about the results and ended up losing 3 pounds. I couldn't do anything but laugh. My body is so weird. The good thing is that the loss motivated me a bit and I've been pretty successful (other than stretching the rules during dinner on Saturday and Sunday) since the weigh inso I'm hoping for decent results again on Wednesday when I get back on the scale. I have made a small goal for myself. I want to lose 5-1/2 pounds by the morning of September 7th when I go to Denver. Small goals are so important to me right now since I've been struggling.





I wanted to share a foil packet meal that I made. I was inspired by a message I got from my friend Carina who sent me a picture of a foil packet she made. I've always wanted to do it and I'm glad I did. It's super easy, and it's always nice to add the smoky flavor that the grill provides. There are no precise instructions for this because it's so versatile. I used chicken sausage that's already cooked so it didn't take too long on the grill. I took a sheet of foil, added sliced chicken sausage and pieces of zucchini, mushrooms and cut up slices of corn on the cob. I flavored it all with salt, pepper and granulated garlic. Then I added just a tiny bit of oil. I wrapped up the packet and threw it on the grill for about 15 minutes (it probably could have gone about 5-10 more minutes but I'm impatient). When it came out, I added some freshly chopped green onion to the top. My only tip on this would be not to put the packet over direct flames because it got a little scorched in some places. This was a perfect, filling summer meal. I have discovered a new found love for fresh corn on the cob from the grill. I'm not a big fan of it otherwise. This was flavorful and easy. You can add whatever meat/veggies you want, it just may change the time it takes to cook. I highly recommend.


Since I've met Ian, he's gone from someone whose culinary skills were limited to grilled cheese and bowls of Ramen to someone I can rely on to have dinner ready when I get home from busy school days. I'm so impressed and grateful for his efforts to cook (especially since he works every day too). A lot of times, he'll get most of it done and then I'll come home, help finish and dinner will be ready to eat in 10 minutes. He doesn't do anything with vegetables because he doesn't eat them and is afraid he will screw them up, haha. Last week, he got everything done and when I got home I threw zucchini and corn on the grill and we ate a wonderful steak dinner. Since we have moved in together, he's become an expert chicken-griller and taco-maker. What more do you need?

I hope you all have a great week!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Bang! Bang! Y'all!

Hey everyone. It's the first week of school so I'm in a mad rush to start classes on Wednesday. Surprisingly, I was only up half a pound after my whirlwind, caloric Nashville trip. I didn't have the best weekend so I am starting fresh today and I've set a small goal for myself that I hope to reach by the time I go to Colorado in a few weeks. I had some pretty fierce moments of self-loathing this weekend and I'm trying to get out of that today. It'll be good to get back on a busy schedule. Staying busy always helps me on my diet struggle.



I am in love with anything that says "bang bang shrimp" or "uptown chicken." It's usually got an Asian zing type flavor but it's always fried. I attempted to achieve that flavor without frying anything and it worked pretty well. It was Taco Tuesday in my house and Ian used ground chuck for his but shrimp was on sale at Fresh Market so that's what I used for mine. I combined peanut sauce, sesame garlic sauce and sriracha and put it in a bowl. I sprayed some non-stick spray in a skillet, added the shrimp and sautéed them at medium heat a few minutes on either side. I removed the tails and tossed them in the bowl to get the sauce evenly coated. I added them to a corn tortilla and topped the shrimp with lettuce and onion. The flavor was great and pretty close to the Asian fried goodness I love so much at restaurants. In the future, I think I'll also add sesame seeds. Oh, and FYI, I also added the same sauce combo to grilled chicken tenders for a spicy "naked" tender effect. Quite tasty. Bold flavors are so important when you are trying to eat healthy.


That same night I decided to balance the healthy shrimp with homemade queso. I've never tried making it before so I found a recipe. It was a combination of white American cheese, fontina, half and half, jalepenos and crushed red pepper. It was so creamy and delicious. It hardens pretty fast but heats up nicely in the microwave with an added splash of cream. It's not a good thing for me to have around the house. I used the leftovers to make Ian a quesadilla the next day.




One thing that I never thought I would love is fruit in a salad. I'm completely on board with that now and decided to make it at home. I found a nice ginger sesame dressing that is only 45 calories per two tablespoons. It's got nice flavor and paired well with strawberries. I added some strawberry halves, the Asian dressing, reduced fat feta cheese and a 100 calorie pack of mixed nuts to a combination of spinach and romaine for a healthy, delicious salad. It was bright and very summer-y.

I am going to have a super busy schedule this semester and it's going to take a minute to get used to it but I'm off and running.

I hope you all have a wonderful Monday/week.

Until next time...

Bye y'all.