Sunday, August 31, 2014

Week 35 of 52: Behold! My head is still attached!!

Email to mum (Aug 31, 2014):
Proof that I still have my head!

Please note: that I'm sitting on a bus with my headphones in my ears and I have not been beheaded by a mentally unstable machete wielding fellow traveler.



No, I have not heard back from mum, why do you ask?!

A few weeks ago, I was brunching with mum and telling her about my awesome plans to visit Nanaimo for the upcoming long weekend (true story). This is how the dialogue went down:

M: How are you getting to Nanaimo?
A: Bus.
M: Are you sure you don't want to drive?
A: That sounds like, I will be taking the bus.
M: (lets out a sigh laced with anxiety) Ok...just don't put your headphones in otherwise you will have your head chopped off with a machete.

[People at adjacent restaurant table drop cutlery on plates in shock at statement]

A: You did not just say that did you?

Oh, yes, my mum did just say that. For those of you who don't know, she is referring to an event that happened on a bus outside Winnipeg. Short recap on event I don't really know anything about other than that it happened: crazy (read: man with schizophrenia) chops fellow passenger's head off with his machete because god told him too?!

I'm sorry, I don't know who told him to do it. I never read much of the story because I knew the media was going to sensationalize this story to hell and back and in the process of such ill-researched reporting would contribute even more to the stereotype that all people with a mental illness are crazy and kill people.

Boiling down to: if you want to improve your chances of survival do not hang out with people with mental illnesses (In other words don't hang out with me because I'm depressed and will take you on bus trips where you are likely to have your head chopped off with a machete...) or don't hang out where mentally ill people hang out (so that would be everywhere?!).
Bus bathrooms scare me more than bus people!

My favourite (read: not favourite - this is sarcasm people) outcome of all this stereotyping is that it increases the stigma associated with having a mental illness and that prevents people from seeking treatment and leads to needless suffering and death.

I'm ranting. I know. I can't help it. I have depression, and this past spring I came out of one of the worst depressive events of my life. An event where I spent 80% of my waking hours trying to convince myself that the answer to end my pain was not suicide but simply the passing of time. When one is depressed and in pain, every second feels like an eternity. There is nothing simple about it and, it pisses me off that some of us feel this way and it makes me more angry that people shame us for something we are. Believe me, if I had the power to spend a day where I didn't think about suicide as a viable option I would fucking do it. No one wants to feel this way. It is not a choice.

So yeah, I decided to skip saying the above-mentioned diatribe to my mum (again), after all people don't really like listening to rants directed at them (but they sure love to read them!!). I instead decide to find the hilarity in the situation instead. I mean the statement in itself is completely ridiculous. And is the exact type of statements that I was raised with. So, if we break it down into how a child would conceptualize this statement, mum is basically telling little Andrea that listening to music will result in her untimely death by machete. And that is funny. Mostly funny because I'm not little Andrea anymore and certainly not because we are talking about death by machete. Just in case I needed to clear that up for anyone.

And a bit of insight is gathered from this story, as now I have a better understanding as to why I'm a basket of never-ending anxious energy and have random bouts of agoraphobia from time to time. This is my life and it is stupid ridiculous.

Hanging out with the crab statute on Nanaimo's Waterfront seawall.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Week 34 of 52: Cool stuff I learned this week

For once this blog post will be quick and dirty. True story.

Cool stuff I learned - item #1: Sometimes a good friend is someone you have known for a long time but have just never had the opportunity to connect in the way you would need in order to establish that good friend vibe. Yes, this is a shout out to the lovely S.G.! Love her! Timing is everything peeps. Just keep that in mind the next time you find yourself frustrated at not being able to form a connection with someone.

Cool stuff I learned - item #2: I set a new record for longest time spent at a party while in training mode. Not hard to accomplish as I typically don’t attend parties while training for half marathons. But still, I clocked in an impressive 3.75 hours before leaving. And I was sober the whole time!

Cool stuff I learned - item #3: Alcohol does not make me obnoxious. I am inherently obnoxious.

Cool stuff I learned - item #4: The second time doing Tabata is way better than the first time doing it. It is not easier, it is just your body adapts quickly to being ok with being tortured.

Cool stuff I learned - item #5: There are such awesome people in my life, that I would even agree to travel to Nanaimo in order to spend time with them. I was surprised too. Not that I have awesome people in my life but that I would travel to Nanaimo.

Nanaimo - bathtub racing capital of the WORLD!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Week 33 of 52: A photo essay on how I worship God

Note on terminology: This isn't so much a photo essay as it is an essay with photos in it, so let's not get all anal about that. As for God, I think it is pretty safe to assume I'm referring to myself in this scenario. However, if a religion was to be started in my name (which would be cool especially if it meant I got to tell people what to do and they listened to me) this is how I would expect to be worshiped. Don't worry I will spell out the worship protocols for you, you may need it for future reference. 

Some insightful words I found today in the bookstore (and no I didn't buy the book!)
Dawn: I awake to the sound of birds chirping and the sun shining. All is quiet in AndreaLand and all is peaceful. (Worship Protocol #1: In the presence of Andrea, you will be quiet and peaceful. Dawn is the most important part of the day in this religion so you will interpret dawn as being in my presence. It is irrelevant that in my corporal form, I'm not exactly a "morning person" because we are talking about my God persona (read: when I'm in good form, i.e. not morbidly depressed). When I'm in God form, dawn is my favourite time of the day and during this time I'm awake, drinking maccha, meditating, practicing yoga or running. So naturally this is the time of day where you give thanks to me for being alive or for other good things that are happening in your life. And yes you can give thanks to me by going for a morning run. If bad stuff is happening in your life, you will ask for my forgiveness and that I will give mercy on your soul. Which of course I will ignore you until you figure out you need to take responsibility for your own life and actions. Once you realize this, you will thank me for giving you that special knowledge.)

7:16 am - FB IM @TheCesspit to see if he survived his night of drinking and that we are still meeting for a run this morning.
7:17-7:55am - catch up on my social media feeds while lying in bed (Worship Protocol #2: you will follow Andrea on Twitter @RunnerChicWC)
7:56am - receive text from @TheCesspit saying he is on his way (that gives me 10 minutes to get ready)
8:07am - @TheCesspit arrives to pick me up to head to our run
8:17am - I arrive at the car, mostly ready. Well, everything I needed was in my backpack. I can get ready in the car ride over to the run route. (Worship Protocol #3: You will be honored to be Andrea's greatness, regardless of her lateness. You will be thankful that Andrea has acknowledged your existence by even showing up to anything where her followers are at.)
(Worship Protocol #4: You will listen to Kanye West as he is the vessel Andrea has chosen to preach her message to the masses. Think of Kanye like Noah or Jesus but way hotter and stylish.)
8:18-8:26am - @TheCesspit and I talk about something that was so important I don't remember what it was.
8:27am - arrive at the start of the run route @TheCesspit mapped for us and this is what I see as we pull up....
The scene of the crime?!
Yeah, basically every movie I have ever seen has this as a setting for murder. Awesome way to start the morning! Thankfully, due to @TheCesspit being hungover and all, I was pretty sure I could out run him if I had to. I obviously assumed he had brought me here to kill me, so he can win this blog competition once and for all. Even though that idea sounds exactly like something I would do (in theory).(Worship Protocol #5: There will be no murder committed in the name of Andrea. When one feels murderous they should go for a run until their anger leaves them. Anyone who murders in the name of Andrea will be murdered by Andrea. Andrea really doesn't like it when you don't listen to her or follow her rules!)

8:28-8:37am: I finally get ready for the run. (Worship Protocol #6: Andrea looks favourably on those who are planners).

8:38am: The run begins and it is fucking hot out and we are tired, some of us (@TheCesspit) are even hungover. (Worship Protocol #7: Even though you don't feel like it, or your sick, or dying or whatever lame ass excuse you have, you are going to get off your ass and worship Andrea. Andrea does not like laziness or excuses!)

9:03 am: I decide I need to use the washroom facilities which I am sure are down this dark path through the woods. A path I have never been on before. (Worship Protocol #8: You will follow the words of Andrea, i.e. Andrea Logic. Even if it makes no sense and there is absolutely no strong rationale for following the words of Andrea you will do it anyway. You will not question Andrea. Doubters will be fed to a pack of starving hogs!)

9:07am: we find the facilities and I use them. @TheCesspit is kind enough to hold my gear while I negotiate the interior of the porta-potty. (Worship Protocol #9: You will obtain yourself a Sherpa and s/he will be there to hold you when you need to be held (including your water belt when you use the washroom), and provide you with useful knowledge to aid you in your most difficult times. Please note: I am not talking about enslaving the Sherpa people for the purposes of worshiping Andrea. I am referring to the slang interpretation of the term Sherpa, which means a person of any ethnic origin (even British) who will listen to you whine about your problems. Basically Andrea would like you to get a friend who will listen to your shit because she simply does not have the time to deal with all of you and your problems!)

9:08:53am: We continue with our run.
9:43am: Photo-op. (Worship Protocol #10: In the presence of Andrea you will be called upon to take photos of her doing an array of cute and adorable things. You will take good photos and you will take many photos and you will not complain during this process. Andrea is very picky about her photos, so be honored that she has chosen you to document her greatness for her Twitter followers.)
Me posing with some statute dude.
 10:52am: The run ends. I'm 5 pounds lighter from all the liquid lost in the heat. But I have survived and most importantly @TheCesspit has not succeeded in having me murdered. (Worship Protocol #11: When you follow Andrea and all her wise teachings, you will run many miles, that will likely involve a lot of hills. It will be painful and you will want to quit several times throughout the journey but you won't because you know that would piss Andrea off. And no one likes a pissed off Andrea. No one. And through this painful journey, we also call life, we will meet many amazing awesome people along the way who will support you in your journey (and some of them may even be British). And although the journey is painful there are many moments of peace throughout, as long as you are open to receiving these moments. And when you find yourself in receipt of these moments, you will get down on your knees and give thanks to Andrea for taking pity on your dreadful soul.)
Survived the run! Now to write my weekly blog post!
Postscript: If you would like to order hard copies of the Andrea Worship Protocols to put in the bedside table of all the rooms in the motel that you own, you may email me with your request. If I feel you are worthy to promote the word of Andrea I will reply. If not, I will ignore you and you will give thanks to Andrea for at least being able to have access to her awesome blog!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Week 32 of 52: Tasty molasses spiced chickpea kale bowl recipe

This past Wednesday, I attended one of Cook Culture's cooking classes with a friend of my great blogger nemesis, Chris (@TheCesspit). The classes are not "real" cooking classes but resemble more of a chill social event. It is like hanging out in the kitchen of a cooking show (the kitchen was stacked yo!), except it's better because instead of being on some lame-ass scripted cooking show you get to relax (participation was voluntary) and learn from an amazing knowledgeable Chef who teaches you loads of stuff about cooking, answers all of your simple beginner cooking questions, and will not criticize your less than stellar vegetable dicing skills (I super suck at cutting vegetables). And then the best part of all of this (other than learning about food and cooking from a Chef) is you get to eat all the awesome delicious food. OMG! So good! 

Molasses spiced chickpea & kale! So yummy!
Although the class was themed around a BBQ cookout and most of the menu items I would not normally eat during half marathon training (i.e. meat, dairy), I made an exception in this case. Mostly because I wanted the opportunity to learn from Chef Michael Williams, whose cooking philosophy is basically aligned with mine: food is to be tasty, nutritious, simple to make, and most importantly it will fuel you (in my case it will fuel my long distance running). Basically Chef Williams is like the gourmet version of Sarah Cuff. Which means he is awesome, in case that wasn't clear. If that was not clear, I encourage you to read my post on Kale Slaw where I explain the awesomeness of Sarah Cuff and kale (obvs). As for me, my dietary preferences fall somewhere in between these two awesome human beings.

Basically, I like to eat food that does not upset my body, tastes good and still meets my specific dietary requirements. My requirements vary based on where my body is at in that specific moment in time (e.g., when I train I stick to an anti-inflammatory diet, which means no meat, wheat, dairy, refined sugar, or coffee).  And sometimes, when I train, I make a rare exception, in the case of the Cookout class and that is ok, it is all part of my new "chill-the-fuck-out-and-stop-being-so-anal" philosophy I'm trying out.

Naturally. what I eat and how I eat confuses a lot of people, as most believe I'm vegan, which I can't blame them, as usually when you see me I'm eating some food stuff of the fruit or vegetable variety. And then those same people happen to run across me when I'm out for breakfast and then see me eat bacon and it just doesn't compute for them. I get it, as I too used to subscribe to our regimented dietary categories, like vegan and meat eater (How can you possibly be both?!). And now, I've decided sure those categories are helpful when you are ordering food on a plane or whatever but for the rest of the time, I don't find it so helpful as I do restrictive/controlling and kind of judgmental actually. I just like to eat what makes my body happy, which is primarily a plant based diet with a piece of bacon thrown in every now and then, which is apparently referred to as the flexitarian diet (I read this on twitter so it must be a real category). I'm flexible with my diet, I refuse to fit into your box, please get over it!

Moving on…

At the Cookout class we made a dish called molasses spiced beef cabbage rolls (of course I volunteered to cook because I wanted to learn stuff and use all the awesome kitchen gear). Basically the molasses spiced beef was the taco filling to put inside taco shells made of cabbage leaves. It was very tasty and surprisingly light. So the next day, I decided to make the Andrea version of this tasty dish.

My latest food obsession!! (King Soba noodles)
So here we go, get ready for yummy deliciousness!

Molasses spiced chickpea kale bowl

Recipe adapted from: Chef Michael Williams’ “Molasses Spiced Beef Cabbage Rolls”

1 small onion (diced)
1 tablespoon of fresh ginger (minced- fun fact you don’t need to peel the skin off the ginger! To wrap my head around this concept, I just think of the ginger root as a carrot)
1 can chickpeas (meat version was 450g ground beef)
2 tablespoons organic molasses (I stuck with the molasses because I was feeling lazy that night but in the future I would like to try this with date puree)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon of sea salt
2 teaspoons turmeric
¼ teaspoon cayenne (use more if you want more spice) 
1 bunch of kale (de-stemmed and ripped into pieces)
8 mushrooms (thinly sliced)
1 red pepper (diced)

I decided to scrap the cabbage taco shell idea and put the mixture on a bed of pumpkin ginger rice noodles (my latest food obsession)

1.     Fill a pot with cold water and bring to a boil (this will be for the noodles).
2.     While you are waiting for the water to boil in the pot, you can pre-heat a large frying pan on medium heat. Add oil (I use coconut oil). Add onion and sauté until onions are lightly browned. Add ginger and sauté for a minute longer. Add mushrooms and red pepper and sauté for a few more minutes.
3.     Add molasses and spices. Add chickpeas and sauté until the molasses and spices have coated everything in the pan.
4.     Around this time you can add the noodles to the boiling water, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes.
5.     Add kale and stir together until the kale becomes bright green and softens (about 5 minutes).
6.     Let the ingredients in the frying pan simmer while you strain the noodles and rinse them with cold water. Place noodles in bowl and pile on as much tasty frying pan ingredients as you would like (PS don’t follow this advice if you are trying to lose weight!)
7.     Eat and enjoy!

Suggested serving: For those with the sedentary lifestyle this would probably make around 6 servings, moderately active I would say 4-5 servings and for highly active/training types (like myself) I go with 3 servings….I eat a ridiculous amount of food when I train. Everyone has different caloric needs, so figure out what you need to sustain yourself and portion your food accordingly!

Comment on terminology: I have no idea if this dish is considered gourmet cooking; however, I do know that it was inspired by gourmet nutrition cooking!That's kind of the same thing right?!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Week 31 of 52: Awesome Kale Slaw Recipe

If you have had the pleasure of speaking to me about food, then you will know about my long standing love affair with kale. I was officially introduced to kale through the lovely Sarah Cuff, a registered holistic nutritionist and personal trainer and marathoner (awesome!), whom I heard speak while training for my first half marathon.

Tasty kale! (photo from webmd)
Already on board with her nutritional philosophy, I'm certainly not a hard sell, I already know how much my healthy diet contributes to my overall well being. However, I frequently visit Sarah's Eat 2 Run website to get access to her non-complicated recipes, food ideas and run tips. If you are a runner or someone who would just like to eat more healthy, visit her site. You will not regret it! And if you do, I'm sorry we can no longer be friends. Actually, I would go as far as to say that if you are not on board with me and Sarah's nutritional philosophy, that would be a deal breaker. There is no future for us. I'm sorry.

As you are well aware (and if you have been keeping up with my awesome blog) you know I don't usually recommend anything so enthusiastically (except, of course, for my endorsement of myself as your benevolent dictator); so obviously, Sarah must be simply awesome.

Anyways, back to the awesomeness of kale! If you do not yet know about the awesomeness of kale, do you listen to anything I say?! Seriously, kale is a nutritional powerhouse yo! And with all the running/training I do, I can say that I rarely get sick now that I have made kale part of my daily diet. Just ask Google God, s/he will confirm the awesomeness of kale if you don't believe me.

So, this recipe was inspired by the kale slaw I picked up one day for my second lunch (yeah, I'm training, I need two lunches) from AJ's Organic Cafe. Apparently I'm not the only one obsessed with this kale slaw, as I have been told, that many have tried to replicate the recipe. The main ingredients are pretty straightforward; however, it is the dressing that is hard to replicate.

I've been told my dressing comes close to the original. Since I'm training, I'm only using natural sugars to sweeten, so maybe if you substitute the orange juice in the dressing for something else it would be more similar to the original. I won't be able to test that theory myself until after Thanksgiving, when I race that half marathon I'm training for (not sure if I mentioned that?!). Until then, this dressing is tasty and so is the kale slaw. Especially refreshing to eat when it's hot out!

Tasty & colorful Kale Slaw! (photo from my iPhone)

Kale Slaw


The Slaw (Ripped off from AJ's Organic Cafe)

1 bunch of kale
1 cup pumpkin seeds
2 large carrots shredded
½ red cabbage shredded

2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1.5 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon ginger juice (made by pressing grated ginger through a strainer)
2 teaspoons orange juice (fresh)

  1. Wash kale, de-stem and rip into bite size pieces. Place in large bowl filled with cool water. Massage kale until it turns to a bright green (massaging the kale takes away the bitterness). Massage kale for about 5 minutes.
  2. Shred the carrots and cabbage with a grater and place into serving bowl. Add pumpkin seeds.
  3. Add dressing and mix everything together.
  4. Eat and enjoy!