Food Friday: Chickpea, Canellini & Edamame Salad

So I have now been on the South Beach Diet for approximately two weeks.  It’s been rough, I admit, but I have found some great dishes that make it bearable. Most of the recipes I use as guidelines and end up improvising.  This is one of those times.  This recipe is originally from one of the official SBD books, but I made some changes to it (adding more types of beans) and I like it more this way, and so does my boyfriend.  This makes for a great side salad with dinner, or for a meal at lunch.

Chickpea, Canellini & Edamame Salad

Ingredients:

1 Can of Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)
1 Can of Canellini Beans (White Kidney Beans)
1 Cup of Frozen Edamame (Unshelled)
3-4 Radishes (Thinly Chopped)
1/2 Small Red Onion (Thinly Chopped)
3 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Lemon Zest (Optional)
4 Minced Garlic Cloves (0r 3 tbsp pre-minced garlic from a jar)
Season All for Taste

Preparation:

Drain and rinse the chickpeas and canellini beans.  Set aside.  Begin boiling a 2 quarts of water.  In a small bowl mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, lemon zest and minced garlic.  Chop red onion and radishes.  Mix chickpeas, canellini beans, onion, radishes and liquid mixture in a large bowl (I use a large Tupperware container for easier mixing since I can throw the lid on and shake it).  Mix until everything is evenly coated.  Set aside.  Now back to the boiling water.  Once the water has come to a boil add the frozen edamame.  Cook for 5-6 minutes.  Drain.  Rinse with cold water.  Pat dry with paper towels.  Add to the rest of the salad.  Mix until evenly coated.  Add Season All (or garlic salt) to taste.  Taste test!  If you think it needs more more of any of the ingredients (especially garlic) go ahead and add it!

Serve as a side salad with grilled chicken breasts for dinner, or store in the fridge to take to work throughout the week for a midday lunch or afternoon snack.  Filled with tasty goodness, and it is good for you. Filled with tons of fiber and protein.  And that garlic will certainly help your heart.  Just watch out for garlic and onion breath afterward.  Might want to bring a stick of sugarless gum with you.

Truth Thursday: Week II

This week’s Truth Thursday is all about music.

I DIDN’T GO TO MY FIRST LIVE CONCERT UNTIL I WAS 19

I grew up in small town Vermont.  We don’t have a lot of musical venues there.  If you wanted to go to a concert you would have to either drive to NYC (6 hours) or Boston (2 1/2 hours).  Every once in a while a semi-famous artist would pop up at a venue in Manchester, NH (2 hours).  On a very rare occasion we would get a country artist or “oldies” artist at a state fair.  As a teenager, if I wanted to go to a concert, I would either have to get permission to go by myself (which would never happen) or have my parents drive me (also unlikely to happen).  Additionally, when I was young, large cities and big crowds made me uneasy, so I never really had an interest in seeing a concert.  It wasn’t until my sophomore year when roommates invited me to go with them to an O.A.R. concert at a small venue in Rhode Island.  No clue who O.A.R. was I said yes, simply so I would no longer be a “concert virgin”.  I ended up having tons of fun, loving the band, and even getting a girl thrown out of the club because she was drunk and trying to start a fight with my roommates and I.  Quite an interesting time.

MY FAVORITE BAND IS OF A REVOLUTION (O.A.R.)

After going to my first concert ever, played by this kick-butt band, I absolutely fell in love with O.A.R.  To his day I have only been to seven live concerts.  Four of those concerts were O.A.R. (Coldplay, Death Cab for Cutie and Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers were the others).  Anytime O.A.R. is near where I live (which is not often since they do not tour frequently) I make sure I get tickets.  If I had to describe their music I would say it is Dave Matthews Band meets Sublime meets Jazz Music.  It’s a sound all of their own and it is what makes them so fantastic.  It is not very often you find a band with a saxophone as a primary instrument.  Though their recorded CDs are great, where they really excel is in live concerts where they “jam” and change-up songs on a regular basis.  It is unlikely you will ever hear them play a song the same why multiple times.  Often their live songs last between 8-15 minutes.  Their last studio album was released in 2008, and frankly, I am itching for a new one.  But I may not have to wait long, as it is rumored they have a new one coming in February of this year.  Their older stuff continues to be my favorite (The Wanderer), but their new stuff is pretty great as well.

I WISH THAT *NSYNC WOULD REUNITE

Ok, I am not ashamed to admit it, as a young teeny-bopper I used listen to *NYSNC. I owned all of their albums and would listen to them on repeat quite often.  Unlike most girls, who loved J.C. Chasez and Justin Timberlake, my favorite was Lance Bass (I still love him to this day).  He didn’t get any solos, but without his bass voice the band would not have sounded the same.  When they went on “indefinite hiatus” so that certain members (yes, I am looking at you JT) could pursue solo projects I actually remember getting depressed.  Even though Justin Timberlake is obviously more successful now as a solo artist, I can’t help but wish they would get back together, even if it was just for a couple new songs and a reunion tour.  You can bet I would be there.  Maybe someday.  Hey if the Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block can do it, why can’t they?  By the way Justin, you are a better singer than actor, so can you stick to that?

I DO NOT LIKE RAP MUSIC, EXCEPT FOR EMINEM

Most rap music makes my head hurt.  I admit that these artists have talent, but anytime rap music comes on, I immediately switch the station.  That is unless it is Eminem.  I don’t know what it is about him, but when his music comes on I can’t help but sing along.  I even enjoyed his movie 8 Mile.  I love his old stuff for the hilarity and satire.  His new stuff, however, is absolutely fantastic on an artistic and musical level.  And filled with honesty. I love that fact that he doesn’t rap only about “bitches and money”, like most rappers seem to do.  The first single of his new album, Not Afraid, was so moving and encouraging, I immediately felt a burst of energy whenever I heart it.  And when his collaboration with Rihanna came out, Love the Way You Lie, I listened to that song on repeat for nearly a week.  And the video, absolutely fantastic.  He is nominated for TEN awards at this years Grammy Awards.  I hope he wins them all.

I PREFER LISTENING TO MALE ARTISTS

There are female artists I do enjoy; Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Kate Nash, Regina Spektor, Lily Allen, and Imogen Heap.  However, when I think about what music I prefer to listen to on a regular basis, it is tends to be male musicians and bands; O.A.R., Sublime, Death Cab for Cutie, Muse, Arcade Fire, Modest Mouse, and Kings of Leon (to name a few).  Perhaps it is the kind of music they make?  Overall I tend to prefer Alternative or Indie Rock, rather than Pop or straight up Indie music (though there are some Indie artists I love, like She & Him, Rilo Kiley, Tegan & Sara).  In general there aren’t very many female rock artists, and those that do exist tend to be more classical rock (though Feist is considered Alternative/Indie Rock, and I do love her).  By the way, this isn’t to say I wont listen to female artists, this is just to say overall my musical tastes gravitate towards male artists.

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What music genres do you love?  What are your favorite artists?  What was your first concert?

Writing Wednesday: Acceptance Speech

I was sitting here wondering what I should write about for Writing Wednesday when I received a message from my dear friend Nick.  He had a prompt for me!  One that he thought up last night.  When he gave it to me I knew right away, this is today’s topic.

If you were ever to become famous, and had a moment in the peak of your spotlight to thank a small number of people whom were instrumental in your development and or success, who would you thank?

Some of it would depend on what I was famous for.  Am I a well-known actress with an Oscar under my belt?  An activist who started a revolution?  A kick-butt game designer who sold 5 million copies?  An author who has now spent 12 weeks on the NY Times Bestseller List?  Regardless, I would definitely be thanking my agent and the folks involved in whatever project I am currently working on.  There are, however, a few key people I would need to thank, no matter what I was famous for.

My Mother – For always being there when I needed to whine, or cry, or had serious boy problems that only she could help me with.  And for being my best friend, even though she drives me crazy sometimes.

My Father – For motivating me to be the absolute best I can be.  For telling me to keep on trying and never give up.  And for telling me, on a regular basis, how proud of me he is.

My Alex – For the first time in a very long time I feel completely and utterly accepted by my partner, and that is a great feeling.  And for that wonderful feeling I am extremely thankful and it encourages me to want to be a better person and do everything I can to show him how thankful I am.

My Friends – Ok, this is a bit broad, but I do have a good number of friends that I would want to thank, nearly all of them met online, and each one of them means a great deal to me, has helped me become who I am today, and each one deserves to be recognized.  However, since there are so many of them, and I certainly wouldn’t want to leave anyone out, I would, unfortunately, lump them all together, and afterward, thank each of them individually.

Professor Stephen Prothero – This professor, who I had my freshman year of college, is the reason I chose to study what I did.  After taking his class, Death & Immortality, I fell in love with the study of religion and knew that this would be what I spent the remaining years of college studying.  And I am so glad I did.  My studies taught me to read, write, and think critically, not just about religion, but at world issues and life in general.  So thank you Professor Prothero.

Wandering Minds Theater Group – I joined this theater group at the beginning of my junior year at Boston University.  After that, my life was never the same.  Growing up I was a shy and anti-social girl.  Until Wandering Minds got a hold of me.  I broke out of my shell, discovered like-minded people, and finally became at ease with who I was.  Though I may not currently keep in touch with all of my fellow members, they know they hold a special place in my heart.

My Family – I have a large extended family (comes from my parents being divorced multiple times), and there is no way I could list them all, but they have all supported me, loved me, and let me become who I am, so for that, they deserve thanks.

Now I just need to become famous.  I will keep working on that.  Check back in a few more years, maybe a decade or two.

Who would you thank?

TV Tuesday: Ten Television Shows I Love

So I think I have already made it clear that I love movies.  But guess what, I also love television, and so I introduce, TV Tuesday.  Each Tuesday I will talk about something related to television.  The latest episode of a show I watched, a TV show I am looking forward to, a television actor that deserves more love.  I am not one of those people who can sit in front of the tv for hours on end, but I do have quite few tv shows (old and new) that I absolutely adore and will make time to watch on a regular basis.  At least 1/3 of the DVDs I own (and I own A LOT) are TV on DVD.  These are just a few of those shows that I love and think everyone should watch.

Ten Television Shows I Love (And You Should Love Too)

FRIENDS – I grew up with this show.  It is a defining item of my childhood, teenagedom, and college years.  Though many shows try to recapture the essence of FRIENDS, no one has done it.  This was one of the first sitcoms where you could actually relate to the characters, rather than them being caricatures.  This show made you laugh, cry, yell in anger, and smile in enjoyment.  And let’s be honest, nowadays, nearly any person in their 20s can tell you which FRIENDS character they are.  Me?  I am Monica…and yes, I am totally dating a Chandler.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Another staple of my teenage years, yet I didn’t actually discover this show until it was off the air and on DVD.  I actually began watching it under the recommendation of one of my college friends.  Soon it became a ritual for us to hang out, make Mac & Cheese and watch a few episodes of Buffy.  Ah, the good old days.  Though I am generally not a fan of vampires, I absolutely fell in love with this show.  From the writing, to the characters, to the direction and even the actors themselves, I love everything about BTVS.  And come on, Buffy is one of the most iconic shows of the 90s.  Joss Whedon, you can stop whatever you are doing and continue Buffy now, ok?

Sabrina The Teenage Witch – I remember when I was younger how I used to look forward to Friday nights just so I could watch TGIF on ABC.  Boy Meets World was of course great, but for me, the reason I watched was Sabrina The Teenage Witch.  Whether it was because of the smart-ass talking cat, the magic, the crazy Aunts, or the always unpredictable Sabrina, this show had me firmly planted in my seat for 30 minutes every Friday.  Harvey and Serena forever!  When they started releasing them all on DVD you can bet I bought them.  And yes, I may be 25 years old and the show may be long gone, but I am not ashamed to stay I re-watch this show even today.

Charmed – Ok, so maybe I have a thing for witchcraft.  Charmed is another one of those shows that I can remember watching every week throughout high school and college.  On a number of occasions I actually made plans around the airing of a new episode of this show.  When it announced its final season I remember feeling absolutely devastated.  But truthfully, any show that makes it to eight seasons should consider themselves a success, especially when all the main characters are female, something you rarely, if ever, see.

Star Trek: The Next Generation – It doesn’t matter if you are 60 or 6, Star Trek, and specifically TNG, is a must see.  I personally prefer TNG over the original because I think Captain Jean Luc Picard is a significantly more able captain than Captain Kirk.  I will admit, however, the original does have Spock, and as awesome as Data is in TNG, Spock reigns supreme.  Regardless, to each their own, choose whichever you like, just watch Star Trek gosh darn-it, or else you really aren’t human.

Dexter – One of the absolute best shows, if not the best, on television right now.  The only issue I have with Dexter? There are only 12 episodes per season and nine months between each season.  That’s not nearly enough if you ask me.  Everyone I know who has ever seen this show absolutely loves it.  You wouldn’t think it is possible to love and root for a character that is a serial killer, but you do, and that is what makes this show so incredible.  It has had its weak moments (season three was sub-par compared to others) but this is a strong show that is not going to end its run anytime soon.

The 4400 – Not many have heard of this show, as it only had a four season run on USA, but that does not mean you should count it out.  Though it is a bit over-the-top at moments, the acting is solid and the story is excellent.  Discussing such issues as Utopia, cults, and superpowers, this show honestly has something for everyone.  The thing that I do not like about this show is that its ending feels shoddily done, though this is not the fault of the writers, as USA made a last-minute decision to cancel it.  I am still holding out hope for a movie that wraps everything up, but regardless, it is an enjoyable show to watch, and with only 12-14 episodes per season, it won’t take too much time do so.

Firefly – Fox made a very stupid mistake in letting this show go, and I hope they realize that and kick themselves in the butt over it frequently.  Written by Joss Whedon, this is yet another example (like Buffy) of extremely well written and developed characters in an absolutely fantastic world.  Originally I was quite hesitant to watch this show, as everyone described it as “Sci-Fi meets Western”, neither of which I like.  However, it was created by Joss Whedon so I gave it a try.  It was completely worth it.  Every single character has something to love about them (my favorite is Inara, followed by Mal and Wash).  Beware, however, because when you finish the short and only season, and then the movie, you are going to be wishing for more.

Gossip Girl – I admit, this is a guilty pleasure of mine, and one of the only shows that I will watch as it airs.  I am not sure why I enjoy this show.  By all reasoning it should drive me up the wall, being about rich snobby elitist kids who live in Manhattan, but there is something that I can’t resist about it.  Perhaps it is Chuck Bass?  Yes, I think that is it.  No one can resist Chuck Bass.  Though the characters are over-the-top (even the only character you can remotely relate too is a bit beyond our grasp), and the storyline is often completely ridiculous, it is an hour of time I love to indulge in every Monday.

The Big Bang Theory – You should watch this show for one reason, and one reason alone.  Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper, who is both indescribably annoying and extremely lovable.  Never has a television character been played so well.    This show has become the anthem (if a television show could be an anthem) for all geeks and nerds (whether you love gaming or science, you will feel at home).  Filled with an abundance of references to geek culture, a cute blonde girl, and occasional appearances from Wil Wheaton, The Big Bang Theory will have you laughing the entire way through.  There is a reason this show was just renewed for three more seasons.

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This is just a sampling of shows that I love, and I am always looking for more, so if you have any recommendations, feel free to send them my way.

Movie Monday: The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009)

Movie Title: The Time Traveler’s Wife
Movie Release Date: August 14, 2009
Primary Cast: Eric Bana, Rachel McAdams, Ron Livingston
Genres: Drama, Romance, Mystery, Fantasy
Plot Summary (via IMDB): “A romantic drama about a Chicago librarian with a gene that causes him to involuntarily time travel, and the complications it creates for his marriage.”

Review: This was a movie that was recommended to me by my dear friend Cassie.  I am always looking for movie recommendations and she was more than happy to oblige.  This movie is based on the book of the same name, written by Audrey Niffenegger.  From what I understand the book is quite loved by those who have read it, thus the movie had a lot to live up to.  In some ways, I think I am lucky, as I have yet to read the book, so I had few expectations for the movie (I know how difficult it can be to actually enjoy a movie based on a book if you happen to have read the book).  Still, I did have some hopes for it as I enjoy both Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana.  As always, this review contains spoilers, so beware.

The movie begins with Henry (Eric Bana) at age six singing in a car with his mother as they drive along a snowy highway.  Next thing you know Henry disappears, appearing to have evaporated from the back seat.  Moments later he reappears outside, in the snow, naked, only to watch his mother die in a car crash.  A much older man, who says he too is Henry, appears and tells him that everything will be ok, even if he doesn’t feel it will be right now.  He too then disappears.  Fast forward 25 years or so.  Henry, now an adult, works as a librarian in a Chicago library.  One day, as he is going about his business, he meets Clare (Rachel McAdams), who seems to know everything about him, despite this being the first time Henry has actually met her.  Turns out, when Clare was a little girl adult Henry used to time travel to her in a field outside her house.  Henry is Clare’s best friend and she has been in love with him since she was six years old.  The two quickly fall in love and are soon married, all the while dealing with Henry’s condition, which is actually as a result of a genetic anomaly.  At moments it is difficult for the two, particularly Clare, who has to deal with her husband up and leaving with no notice, sometimes for weeks at a time.  Their love, however, is strong and soon, they decide to have a child.  It is not without difficulty and heartbreak, leaving them both frustrated, and with an interesting incident where Clare sleeps with a younger Henry (it’s not cheating she claims).  As the movie moves on we then begin to wonder, why do we never see Henry, in any of his travels, older than his early 40s?  When we find out, we are heartbroken to learn the reason.

So did I enjoy the movie?  Do I recommend it?  I am going to be upfront and honest.  The first 80 minutes of the movie were a bit slow.  I kept waiting for something to happen.  Henry and Clare fell in love, he traveled, she cried, etc.  Where was the hook?  The climax?  Often when I watch a movie I can tell what direction it is going.  The bad guy is going to eventually get caught, the two lovers will eventually get together, the superhero will save the day.  But with this movie, it honestly felt like we were just going to watch Henry travel throughout time, over and over and over.  Then it hit.  The hook.  The climax.  And then I spent the last 25 minutes sobbing my eyes out.  At the end of the movie my eyes looked like I had been punched, thanks to some non-waterproof mascara.  And so, that 80 minutes of waiting was made null, as those 25 minutes filled me with so many emotions (sad, happy, depressed, exciting, heartbroken, moved) that I could barely think straight.  Well-played, movie, well-played.

The acting of the movie was solid.  Neither of the main characters were a particularly challenging role, in my opinion, however Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana embraced the roles and made them enjoyable, though it certainly does not hurt that they are both attractive to look at.  McAdams is born to play these beautiful, intelligent, loving characters.  It was also great to see Ron Livingston (who played a friend of the couple).  Though his role was not large, he always puts a smile on my face, as I have nothing but fond memories of Office Space.

The direction and flow of the movie was decent.  It was not out of the ordinary, if I am being truthful, but it did not leave me confused or wondering what had just happened.  As I mention earlier, at times it did feel as though as the pacing was a bit slow, but when it comes to time travel, better slow and clear, than quickly and confusing.  Speaking of the time travel aspect of the movie; I thought this was particularly well done.  Whether the credit goes to the directory, screenwriter or author, it was easy to follow and understand.  Often with time travel there are major gaps in the plot, or paradoxes develop that cannot be explained, creating confusion and misunderstand.  With this story, it was always perfectly clear, even if it a bit unrealistic at times.  One particular touch that seemed perfect and made complete sense when traveling through time?  No clothes.  When Henry would travel his clothes would be left behind and he would reappear butt-naked (if you enjoy Eric Bana’s butt then this is perfect for you).  It was the small things like that which made this movie enjoyable.

Overall I give this move a B+. While it had its slow moments, at the end of the movie I can say that it was a 107 minutes well spent and enjoyed.  It’s re-watch value is relatively low, but for a movie night from Netflix, well worth it.  But beware, this movie is not for everyone.  It is not a romantic comedy, in fact there is very little comedy in the entire movie.  It has very little action, and the only nudity is male buttocks.  It is not fast paced.  It is a straight up drama that is meant to tear at your heartstrings.  If you do not like crying, don’t watch it, because I guarantee you will need that box of tissues by the end.

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