A Dish for Any Meal: The Versatile Frittata

Okay, so it’s probably not an actual frittata. I have only one good frying pan, and while I’m pretty sure it’s oven safe… I have only one good frying pan.

It all started with the usual: me pondering what a good, quick-pack meal would be for my weekday lunches. Something pre-made, obviously, and something I could eat for other meals if I wound up not eating it for lunch.

I was tired of just veggie/meat dishes, and nothing with legumes was jumping out at me, and then, I remembered that one of my favorite Starbucks breakfasts is the spinach-feta wrap. The one with the egg white.

But I didn’t want any bread.

Heyyyy, frittata!

I went on a grocery run later that evening, and within fifteen minutes, my kitchen smelled like heaven and within an hour, I had an easy meal for the next four days.

The ingredients I used:

  • Open Nature chicken sausage with sun-dried tomatoes and provolone
  • arugula
  • Monterey Jack cheese
  • common white mushrooms (fresh)
  • sun-dried tomatoes (mine were jarred with oil and herbs)
  • diced red, yellow, and green pepper
  • cayenne, black pepper, oregano, basil, and the Spice and Tea Exchange’s “Italian Street Fair” seasoning

The instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Dice the mushrooms and chop the sausage (I used 2 of the 4 sausages in the pack). Sauté the diced pepper, mushrooms, and sausage for seven or so minutes in two or three teaspoons of olive oil with a bit of garlic powder. Let sit. Whisk the eggs in a bowl. Add two handfuls of washed arugula, and a half-handful of your cheese of choice. Add a few sun-dried tomatoes (I used maybe 7 halves). Stir. Pour in the sauté and stir again. Pour into a greased casserole dish–mine was a shallow 9 x 9 square. Sprinkle a little more cheese on top, and add a few shakes of each seasoning/spice/herb. Bake for 30-40 minutes, depending on how done you like your eggs.

I’ll confess, I had a bite while packing my first serving away to grab tomorrow morning. It was delicious. 10/10; would make again.

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Health for its own sake

If you’ve seen me in person, it’s pretty clear that, like Meghan Trainor, I ain’t no size two.

I don’t want to be, either—not because skinny people are bad, but because with my broad shoulders, ribs, and hips, that would look weird. Like, really weird.

I could, however, definitely stand to drop a few sizes.

Now, I’ve been told that I’m beautiful the way I am. And I’m gonna toot my own horn here, but I really don’t disagree. To further quote “All About That Bass”, I’ve got junk in… well, most of the right places, anyway. I can stand in front of a mirror and have my first thought be “I look good!” in most situations. But there are a few places I have junk that I’d really rather not have it, or as much of it, anyway. From a previous weight loss journey, I can tell you that my body has more or less the same silhouette at most sizes, but a bit bigger or smaller depending on the weight.

(Yeah, I’ve lost weight before. Yes, it came back. That was not a happy time in my life. Or rather, the not-happy time fed pretty handily into gaining back some weight.)

But now, I’m getting married, and there’s all this stuff out there about looking perfect for that day… and to be honest, that’s a part of the reason. I mean, I’ll look amazing anyway, so that’s certainly not the whole reason, or even the majority, but I’m not going to deny that it’d be nice.

I just want to be a little healthier. I mean, I’ve always been healthy as a horse, even (or perhaps especially? Despite?) concerning issues that are primarily weight-related. The most any doctor has ever been able to tell me is that it’s probably a good idea that I lose some weight. Sure, my blood pressure is good now, but it may not be. Sure, I may not have diabetes or heart problems or arthritis now, and yes, I know that losing weight in and of itself may not necessarily spare me any of those issues, but weight can be a factor, and gosh darn it, like any person, I want to make whatever effort I can to keep myself healthy.

I don’t really subscribe to the “Healthy at Any Size” ideology. There are a wide variety of sizes at which humans can be healthy, but one must account for personal variance (again, I would not be healthy at a size two) and admit that, at some point, organs, joints, and muscles start having difficulty operating. However, I also acknowledge that, going with the whole personal variance thing, it truly is more difficult for some people to gain or lose weight. Now, we as people can certainly help or hinder ourselves, but not all metabolisms burn or store equally. Sure, you want calories out to exceed calories in, but I swear there are people who can expend a hundred calories merely by yawning, and people who are lucky to expend one calorie yawning. (No, I am not a nutrition/biology expert. My guesses are probably wrong. It’s called hyperbole, people—you get my point. Anyway…)

Here, I guess I should note that I don’t really look at the scale for “healthy”, despite having talked about weight. I can do a 6:30 minute mile on an elliptical with rolling hills, level 5/10. (Usually, I do between 15 and 30 minutes, still with 6:30 minute miles.) I can do 110 kettle swings, 110 crunches, and still go back for a 45-second plank. I could probably skip rope for a good few minutes without really breaking too much of a sweat or breathing too hard. And when I start finding these things too easy, I up the difficulty. It’s more that I want to be fit, and weight does play a part in that. I want to keep on being able to climb stairs without breathing too hard (in fact, at work, I fast-jog up 4 floors to get a 3-oz cup of frozen yogurt. No jog? No fro-yo.) or running several blocks to catch the bus if need be.

But more than that, I want to be able to travel some with the fiancé and walk around all these awesome places. When we start thinking about kids, I don’t want a doctor to look at me and go “yeah, about that…” When we actually do have kids, I want to be able to keep up with them, and set a good example. And again, I know that, in the end, I might not be able to out-run, out-crunch, or out-lift certain conditions.

I also might not be able to out-healthy-diet them, though I try to keep that up, too–tonight’s dinner was a some of that sausage-veggie bake I love so much, and fire-roasted-tomato sloppy joe stuff on top of baked beans. Freaking delicious. I try to go heavy on the veggies, whole grains, and protein, and lighter on the dairy and starchy stuff as a rule, but I’m also a firm believer in a little indulgence so that I don’t grab a chai latte every morning or generally over-indulge on sugar when offered.

But even if I can’t out-healthy everything, putting in the effort does pay off. I sleep better. I feel happier. I feel more satisfied, confident, and fulfilled. I don’t feel so guilty about spending a little time playing video games. Life is just overall better. As much as I appreciate hearing that I look good, I appreciate knowing that I feel good even more, and most of all, that I’m being responsible and making the effort to stay that way.

So many salads…

I’m trying to eat healthier. It’s not that hard–I like my fruits and veggies. But still, keeping it creative can be a little challenging.

My sausage-veggie bake is a pretty good start, and is great for winter.

But during these warm summer months, it’s nice to not heat up my kitchen.

This is where salad comes in.

I love salad. There is so much to do with it.

So, without further ado, here are two of my more recent creations:

Greek-style salad with French flair:
Combine and toss:
–a bed of Safeway’s fresh herb salad mix
–5-6 dry salame nuggets, cut into chunks
–black olives
–1 small-ish roma tomato
–an agreeable amount of cucumber
–half an avocado, cut into bite-size chunks
–Safeway’s cucumber-tzatziki dressing
–crumbled chevre (just found out this is a thing, OMG…)

Green fusion salad:
Combine and toss:
–a bed of Safeway’s fresh herb salad mix
–5-6 dry salame nuggets, cut into chunks
–red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, cut into bite-size chunks
–1 small-ish roma tomato
–an agreeable amount of cucumber
–half an avocado, cut into bite-size chunks
–Private Selection (QFC/Fred Meyer) miso orange sesame dressing
–crumbled chevre (just found out this is a thing, OMG…)

You may have noted, these salads have many ingredients in common.

I love the herb salad mix, but I think the second salad might do well with some dried noodles and some cabbage instead, and the tomato could be removed. Grilled salmon or chicken would substitute well for the salame, and it could be grilled teriyaki chicken or salmon in the second salad, and lemon and pepper for the chicken in the first salad. Both could stand the addition of snap peas. You could substitute pretty much any crumbled or cubed cheese for the chevre, or remove it entirely in the second salad.

The point? The possibilities are endless…

Panic attacks suck, and so does trying to explain them

When I tell people I have the occasional panic attack, this is usually met with one of two reactions. The first, something along the lines of “Well, aren’t you diagnosed/treated?” (Answer: no—I’ll get to why in a while) usually leads right into the second: “You just want attention.”

No. No, I don’t. I feel like I freak when I’m shaking uncontrollably, when I’m having trouble breathing, when I tense up to keep myself from passing out, when I start having tunnel vision. It’s embarrassing to have attention paid to me for it, and it’s incredibly distressing when nobody seems to notice. (Incidentally, more often than not, people seem not to notice.) It’s not something I’d imitate for the fun of it, knowing how it feels. The fact that I don’t get them all that often makes it even scarier, even though I know what triggers them: stress (which should be no surprise) and being physically off-balance for an extended period of time.

I’ve never had exceedingly poor balance, but ever since I was little, I’ve always had something a little weird with my balance. I remember vividly reading a pediatric chart (when my records were being transferred from one provider to another) saying that I couldn’t balance properly enough to do the “duck walk” when I was a toddler—something I should have been able to do with ease. I can do it now, but it’s still a little tricky, and I don’t always get it right. However, as I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed that I get motion-sick more easily. I don’t enjoy riding in elevators, especially high-speed ones, because the sudden acceleration and deceleration throws me off.

This quarter, I’ve had a class in a room where the podium and projection screen are on a raised platform. For seven of the ten weeks of the quarter, I sat up front during class. However, between needing to look between my notes and the screen constantly, the up/down motion, combined with the seats being constructed in such a way that I feel as if I am falling backward by sitting in one, I’ve been reeling every day. I would come out of the class sore and tense from trying to hold myself in the position that made me feel least like I was falling. I would have trouble concentrating because I was trying to find a position to hold myself in. One day recently, I stopped trying to do that, and all hell broke loose. The shaking started, my vision started to gray at the edges, I felt like I couldn’t breathe because my body was so focused on trying not to fall backward even though I knew I wasn’t.

Since then, I’ve been sitting in the back of the classroom, which is raised slightly above the level that the podium rests on. I still feel a little like I’m falling backward, but I have to sit more toward the front of my seat, which seems to be a little more level. I haven’t had a problem since.

And it’s not just that classroom. I don’t like movie or IMAX theaters for the same reason. Sitting in the car can be uncomfortable at times.

Even though this has been going on for eight years, I’ve never been diagnosed with or treated for an anxiety disorder. The closest thing was realizing that a mild lactose intolerance was causing constant stomach upset (and thus, anxiety) in my freshman year of high school—after learning that and cutting back, the frequency of panic attacks dropped to what it is now: infrequent. They don’t occur on a schedule; they occur when triggered, and, other than sitting in that classroom, I never really know when that possibility will come up until I’m already in the environment.

I’m not anxious all the time—not even half. While my worries can get out of control, it’s easy enough to talk me down. I don’t think I need to be treated for that. As for my balance problem, I should probably get that checked out, but it’s so mild that I’m not sure anything can or even should be done for it. But just because a doctor hasn’t handed me a jargon-y diagnosis doesn’t mean my experiences aren’t real. I know saying that is a slippery slope; that I could totally be lying, so I guess I just have to ask people to trust me when I say I’m telling the truth. It’s been hard to explain why I’m not sitting up front anymore because I don’t have a handy diagnosis that I can just spit out whenever I get asked why I’m having a panic attack, or why I’m doing something to prevent one, and it’s clear that there are a lot of people who don’t believe me, some to the point that they’re probably thinking something else is wrong with me. It sucks, but, in the end, their beliefs about what I’m saying are their choice, and my coping methods are mine. It’s not that I’d rather cope than have friends—I’m just much easier to be friends with when I’m not busy trying to calm myself down.