Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Road Trips, Earthquakes and Hurricanes Oh My!

Weekend of August 20 and 21:

We had another one of those crazy busy couple of weeks. You know the type where you go from one task to another and there seems to be little time to kick back and relax. On the bright side we did get a lot accomplished including overdue yard work and some plumbing. *woo hoo* Okay not really but I am trying to look on the bright side. :-)

The weather was nice most of last Saturday but Sunday was a bust with more rain. I know we haven’t had much rain this weekend but I wish it wouldn’t come all at one time.

Sunday morning started at the farmers’ market like always. Like usual we came home with a big haul of produce. This time we bought: kale, collards, ginger, portabella, tomatoes, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, habanero, blackberries, raspberries, dill, cilantro, and two types of hummus.

The hummus flavors we picked up this week were wasabi sesame and basil and pineapple pesto, which was apparently not actually pesto since they said there was no cheese in it. Don’t you love the creativity of the hummus dude? He has a restaurant near us, not as close as Ian though, which we plan to check out this week (which Ian is on vacation) so we can tell you how it is. I hear there are a lot of vegan options. ;-)

We ran to the health food store (The Natural Market), the library in Cockeysville and Wegman’s Sunday afternoon. Wegman’s was a madhouse Sunday after lunch. If you are thinking of going to Wegman’s over the weekend stick to early morning (before 8am) or later (after 8pm) which is what we usually do.

Dinner on Sunday included a big green salad with spicy chickpeas. The chickpea dish was very simple. I cooked the chickpeas and while they were hot tossed them with chili garlic sauce, lemon juice and cilantro to taste. Be careful not to add too much at first as chili garlic sauce can be extremely spicy depending on the brand. I also added chopped marinated mushrooms and roasted red peppers to the leftovers to change the dish a little. We ate this cold and it tasted better the next day after it had a chance to sit overnight in the refrigerator.

Week of August 22- 26:

Monday I spent most of the day trying to get things accomplished at home. The weather was SO gorgeous that it was difficult to focus. All I wanted to do was spend time outside enjoying the weather. The weather was nice I had all the windows open to air out the house. The felines and I loved having the windows open all day.

There wasn’t any cooking to speak of on Monday. I ate leftovers for lunch and dinner was green smoothies. We definitely have those days where meals are nothing more than a way to fuel ourselves in the most quick and healthy way possible. In the past I used to focus on making every meal special but I am so busy now that fueling us wins out more often than it used to.

Tuesday started early with a trip to DC with Dan. I don’t like needing to rush to get ready but I do love to go to DC with Dan.

We got to DC at 10am and I stopped in to say hello to the folks Dan was meeting with. After that I headed across the street to get a large iced coffee and soy milk at Starbucks. The weather was gorgeous again on Tuesday so I sat outside, relax, enjoy a little people watching and catch up on my email. What at fantastic way to spend the morning. It is hard to believe that most of life I would have been “locked up” in my office or involved in some boring meeting. I can definitely say that I enjoyed Tuesday morning more because of my prior life. If you are wondering about the barricades in the picture I am sure that is because the Starbucks is in the same building as the US Department of Transportation. Seeing the barricades always reminds me of the world that we live in now. It is a very sad commentary on life. *sigh*

However looking on the bright side I love that DC has so many food trucks. Here they are lining up outside the office building (1100 New Jersey Ave SE). The first truck in the row “Tasty Kabob” had halal food which I thought was great though I did find it odd that it was out given that this is Ramadan and Muslims aren’t eating while the sun is up. *scratches head* DC is very multi cultural in a great way. The last truck “Capital Greenz” specialized in salads, soups and panini. We have some food trucks in Baltimore but not a huge number. Do you have a lot of food trucks where you live? Please share the city and the truck name and location of your favorites in the comment section. Let’s help other readers know where to find them.

Whenever Dan has a meeting in DC that is an opportunity for us to stop at one of Jose’s restaurants for a nice meal so I join in whenever I can. As you may have guessed that we both really enjoy Jose’s food. If you are ever in DC please try out Jaleo. They have a nice selection of vegan options and have not problem leaving off the animal products when you ask.

Just as we sat down to order lunch the floor started shaking. At first we had no idea what it was and wondered if the subway ran under the building but the shaking seemed too strong for that. Then we thought of terrorism and a bomb in the subway. The couple at the next table was from California and confirmed that it was probably an earthquake. They said this wasn’t bad and that they would let us know if it was time to leave the building.

Everyone in the restaurant seemed confused but no one got up to the leave. The crazy thing was that we were watching all the other buildings and restaurants around us clear and we all stayed to eat. What does that say about the food at Jaleo?

Okay back to the food….. Phiet ordered “meaty dishes” and we had a nice selection of vegan foods.  I love restaurants like Jaleo that have something for everyone.

First we ordered the mushrooms with garlic which we both love.

Then we ordered the cauliflower with dates, olives and smoked paprika which is absolutely mind blowing. I need to make my own version of this when I find cauliflower at the market. The combination of the sweet, salty and smoky is magnificent. Can you tell how much I love this dish? We order it every time we come in.

We also ordered the green beans with apples, apricots and grapes but asked them to hold the ham.

The final dish was the sautéed spinach with apple, raisin, pine nut and garlic. This reminds me of my favorite Sicilian preparation for greens.

We took time to enjoy our lunch since we had parked a few levels down in an underground parking lot. There was no sense to run and get the car given the earthquake.

It was about an hour after the earthquake before we tried to leave DC. The operative word in that sentence was tried to leave DC. Traffic lights were out, cell service was down and the city was in gridlock. It took us over 3 hours to go 4 miles. This was definitely not the day to be in DC.

Even the police seemed to not have any idea what to do.

Here is the ATF building whose architecture I find fascinating. Usually we are driving too quickly to get a good photograph of the building. However that wasn’t a problem this Tuesday. I had plenty of time to takes pictures. ;-) There really is always a bright side to things.

We also had to stop at Dan's office to pick up some files to take to Richmond the following day. I took a few photographs of the lobby in his building which I love because of the old architecture. The stainled glass windows you see are Tiffany. They just don't build things like this any more.

Since it took us so long to get home and we had to be up out the door at 6:30 the next morning to drive to Richmond we opted to stop and grab and bite for dinner at our favorite place which fortunately happens to be in the neighborhood. Lucky us!  ;-)

We ordered the antipasti plate, made vegan for us.

Dan had a samosa with the cilantro lime sauce which is one of his favorite foods now.

We finished the meal with the sweet and sour butternut squash salad with pistaschios.

The next morning we were out the door early to Richmond. Dan had a meeting there at 10am and given that the earthquake center was located near Richmond I really didn’t want him to go alone.

I took a picture of the Jefferson and the Pentagon to share with you as we went through DC on our way to Richmond.  Even though the Pentagon often I am always struck by how large it is.  Additionally I am still impressed by what a good job they did repairing it after 9/11. If you didn't know which section was destroyed you couldn't tell me looking. 

Rest in Peace Ian (not chef Ian this was another Ian who was on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon).  I think of you each time I see the Pentagon.  You may be gone but you are not forgoten.  *sigh*

We arrived in Richmond 15 minutes before the meeting and took a couple of quick pictures. I love old architecture in case you hadn’t noticed.

I stopped into the meeting see Richard and give him a hug. Richard is a great guy who is also a licensed captain. He had offered to bring the boat home from Grenada for us but didn't have enough time. It is such a shame that he lives in Norfolk since it means that we don’t get to see him very often.

While Dan was in his meeting I went next door to Starbucks. Tuesday and Wednesday of this week I had more coffee in two days than I had in the last year. It was delicious but my GI system wasn’t too sure it was a good idea. That was a good reminder of why I gave up coffee.

After the meeting we went to lunch with Richard, Rhonda and Terry. We ended up at a little place called Gibbon’s Grill. When I scanned the menu initially I was a little worried that we wouldn’t find anything to eat. However they did have a hummus platter that was easy to make vegan by leaving off the feta cheese.

There was also a veggie wrap that we could make vegan by again leaving off the feta cheese. We ordered the fresh fruit to go with the sandwich rather than the cole slaw (mayo) or chips. We were both surprised by how clean these two dishes actually were. The hummus wasn't fatty and the veggies didn’t have any oil added. We would both go back to this restaurant.

On the ride home we decided it was a good idea to stop at Costco to fill up the car with gas and to pick up a few things to ride out the coming of hurricane Irene. It was disconcerting watching so many generators go out the door while we were there. However we don’t usually have much damage from hurricanes here so we weren’t worried.

Thursday we both had appointments with our internist. You know what that meant right? Yes we had our usual contest to see who had the best results. It pains to me say that Dan won everything but the blood glucose number. Darn him! ;-) However on the bright side my triglycerides were way down (40 points), HDL was up 9 points and scale was down 4 pounds. The doctor seemed a little surprised by the drop in my triglycerides which I think was due to my daily consumption of either flax or chia seeds. I had to explain chia seeds to the doctor whose only reference was a chia pet. *shakes head* Hey, at least he was open to hearing about them and that was better than most MDs that I know.

Friday I spent the day preparing for the hurricane. This meant things like cooking beans and grains to have in the refrigerator, making non-dairy milk, freezing blocks of ice to move to the refrigerator if the power went out, getting rid of the outdoor items that could become projectiles and closing all the storm windows.

August 27 and 28:

The hurricane weekend wasn’t bad at all. There was rain and wind but we experienced no flooding and less rain than most areas of the east coast.

This is the tree that we lost part of in our yard. Fortunately it didn’t fall against the house and we had it cleaned up Sunday around lunch time.

We went for a walk Sunday afternoon and saw this car which was smashed by a tree. This is less than a mile from us. Clearly we were very lucky during the storm.

When we got to the Starbucks we found out that they lost power. We heard the same thing from Troy and Sheila on Monday as they also lost power and still didn’t have it Tuesday morning and they are also very close to us. How we didn’t lose power I have no idea.

Here is another tree that went down in our neighborhood. As expected falling trees was more of a problem around here than anything else.

This is one of our meals from the hurricane weekend. There is a bed of quinoa topped with curried tomato sauce with chickpeas and wilted kale and it is topped with chopped cashews.  I love things like this that I can make in the time it takes the quinoa to cook.  Those ceci (chickpeas) that I precooked before the storm came in handy this weekend.

Making a Healthy Transition:

Thank you to all of you who commented and shared your thoughts and suggestions. Your comments were greatly appreciated.

My advice was to this reader was to educate herself so that she understood the ramifications of eating the way her family desires. Personally I find it much easier to stick to this lifestyle since I know the science. While it is easier to give in and feed people what they want it isn’t generally better for them. I also made sure that she knew that after a month or so everyone’s taste bud would adjust but that only happens when you make permanent changes. If you vacillate between healthy and unhealthy food you never lose the taste for the unhealthy items and that make permanent meaningful change less likely.

Happy Thoughts:

In spite of earthquake and hurricane I still have many things to be happy about:

• Most of this week we have had the most glorious weather. When I went outside this morning I was greeted by temperatures in the low 70’s and a nice breeze. We are definitely coming into fall soon and this is the time when we have great sailing on the Chesapeake Bay. *woo hoo*

• With the fantastic weather today I had all the windows open which gave me a chance to air the house out after being closed up with the air conditioning one for more weeks that I care to remember. If we lived in a different climate I would have the windows open every day since I love fresh air.

• We were very fortunate have little damage from both the earthquake and the hurricane. I was also thankful that I was with Dan during the earthquake because I knew he was okay since I was with him. I would have worried had we been apart.

• We both got good news from our latest doctor appointment and that was also wonderful. I was very pleased with the drop in my triglycerides. This has encouraged me to continue to add either a tablespoon of ground flax or chia seeds to my diet every day.

Signing Out:

Sorry that I disappeared on your guys over the last few weeks. Life has been crazy and I am behind on everything. I have found some time to post on Facebook if you aren’t following me there please doing. When my schedule gets busy it is much easier to post there since it is quicker.

Now I need to run and do a few things here and then write up the next chapter on the book club blog. With a little luck I will get that posted later today.

I hope the earthquake and hurricane didn’t cause too much disruption in your life. I am going to try to get back to daily posting on this blog. Talk with you again soon. :-)


  1. Looks like you had a very tasty trip, Ali!
    Happy Labor Day weekend!

  2. Good to hear about your week & weekend, Ali! Someday I'll go to one of Jose's restaurants.

  3. That cauliflower dish, antipasti, hummus and mushroom dish all look so good! I am glad to start reading your posts again!

  4. I am so glad to hear you are okay, Alicia! I was thinking of you and worried when I hadn't seen a post in a while. It sounds like you got very lucky with the hurricane.


  5. Aimee,

    It has been a very long summer and the last few weeks have been rough. However, as you pointed out, at the food was good. LOL

    I hope you have a great Labor Day weekend too!


  6. Jackie,

    Sorry I have been so busy lately and neglecting the blog. Thanks for putting up with me. ;-)

    Jose does have a place in LA which I think is called Bazaar. He also has a place in Las Vegas. I hope you can go to one of them soon. You will not be disappointed. I adore Jose....but you know that. LOL


  7. Carissa,

    Thanks for understanding my absence. Life has been crazy for me this summer.

    The cauliflower dish is one of my favorites at Jaleo. I would have never thought of the combination but it is mind blowing. Some bites are lightly sweet if they include date. Other bites are salty if you get an olive. All of them are lightly smoky from the paprika. It all comes together with a little acid which I think is lemon juice but could be sherry vinegar. The flavors just dance in your mouth. Can you tell how much I like the cauliflower? LOL


  8. Courtney,

    Thank you so much for your concern. We were very lucky in both the earthquake and the hurricane. Life in general has been extremely busy this summer and I am crazy behind (which I know you understand). However I am trying to get back to normal. :-)

    talk to you later,

  9. I'm glad you weathered the weather! We've been on the road for over two weeks (my father-in-law passed away) and my eating habits and digestive system have suffered. First stop when we return is Earth Fare...then I'll go home and make a wonderful healthy smoothie.

    I've been wondering if your lipid numbers showed an increase in the last 6-12 months, since you seem to be eating out a lot more than before. How wonderful that they have not! Ian's restaurant uses some oil, right? Those samosas look fried and in general the restaurant food pics look oilier than your homemade meals. Maybe that means that some oil doesn't hurt?

  10. Laura,

    I am so sorry to hear about father-in-law and the impact that had on your health. I am sure it was a difficult time for everyone. It is tough to eat healthy when you aren't home particularly if you are upset.

    I am not eating any more than before that I know of. However it may appear like that when I show food when we go out since that is what we order for the table, not necessarily what I eat. For example, the samosas are what Dan eats, I frequently don't even have a bite even though they are baked. Dan likes them so I let him enjoy it. Ian does use oil but he holds it down for us because he knows we don't use oil at home. In general when Dan and I eat out I have anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 of the food we order.

    I will tell you what I changed which I suspect caused the improvement in my lipids (and it wasn't adding oil *LOL*). Because it summer I am much more active this time of year. I am also eating less whole grains and fruit (which increase triglycerides by increased blood sugar). Additionally I am focusing on adding ground flax or chia everday.



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