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Girl Scout Cookie Monster

20 Mar
This is just four of the 1,000 boxes of cookies one girl sold this year. These aren't mine.

This is just four of the 1,000 boxes of cookies one girl sold this year. These aren’t mine.

A couple of months ago, you probably saw it. Someone in your office sent out a group-wide memo that their little angel has cookies to sell. But this isn’t just any bake sale. This is the sale to end all sales. Ladies and gents, it’s cookie time.

Courtesy of Tumblr

Courtesy of Tumblr

When I was a kid, I was a Girl Scout. For much longer than most people, I donned stiff polyester uniforms and sashes. I went camping, learned the Girl Scout Promise and paid my dues (literally—we had to drop a few dimes in the bucket at every meeting).

At the beginning of every year, every girl got a sell sheet with a list of your favorites (Trefoils, Tagalongs, Thin Mints) and a few controversial confections (I love Samoas). Once upon a time, girls would stroll door to door to make a sale. I wasn’t one of those girls. My parents pawned my wares at work. At the end of the sale period, I…um, my parents always sold at least 300 boxes.

It never fails that someone’s eyes will be exponentially larger than their stomach. They’ll order like 12 boxes and plan on spreading them out through the year. The cookies do freeze well. But Girl Scout cookies are like Pringles: once its open, the contents are gone within the hour. Now you’re craving more.

Courtesy of Tumblr

Courtesy of Tumblr

If you’re the person who was tempted by site of the familiar goodness, here are few tips to avoid becoming the cookie monster.

Give them away as gifts. Let’s be real: no one needs to eat a dozen boxes of cookies. And since they’re an annual treat, why not gift them to someone who forgot to sign up? You’ll make a new friend and spread the calories around. It’s a win-win.

Make them community property. If you bought yours from a co-worker, chances are said co-worker will deliver them at your job. If your job is anything like mine, bags of chips, cookies and candy are free game if left on a community space. Make your cookie drop off the new watercooler. Discuss the finale of “Empire” (#TeamCookie) over a bite of Thin Mints. Just be sure to grab your cup of coffee to cut back on the sweetness.

Taste tests. If you’re the person who likes to order the new cookie just to be different, start a taste test with co-workers or friends. We occasionally do this at my job where someone will buy a new flavored treat and leave a sheet of paper next to it where people can approve or disapprove. Now you’ve gotten rid of a box of cookies you probably didn’t like and you’ve had some fun. Nailed it!

Fill up the freezer. If there are still a few morsels that you want to keep for yourself, the back of your freezer is your pal. Put them behind that giant back of frozen chicken breasts you’ll never cook. Stick them under the frozen Brussels sprouts that have been crowding your space forever. Out of sight, out of mind. And when you get a craving and start ravaging your cabinets and refrigerator, you’ll be in for a welcome surprise. Score!

What do you do with the abundance of cookies surrounding you this time of year? Which one is your favorite?

Daytime Diva vs. Nighttime Ninja

9 Mar
Courtesy of Tumblr

Courtesy of Tumblr

It’s no secret that I’ve been lamenting the snow-pac-ageddon of 2015. The winter blues have made it all but impossible for me to wake up in the morning. And when I do keep my eyes open longer than 10 minutes, the comfort of my bed won’t set me free. My bed holds me hostage in the morning because it knows that eventually I’ll have to deal with the ridiculous cold that awaits me.

So instead of torturing myself with an early wake-up call, I’ve been working out after work. Sometimes I’ll actually go to the gym if I feel like being a bag lady. For the most part, though, I’ve been coming home to make use of my exercise DVDs and some videos on Hulu (an excellent source of material, btw).

Right as I was getting comfortable in my routine, this happened.


Courtesy of Tumblr


The sun is finally shining! The temperature is finally rising above 12 degrees. I don’t have to wear my grungy puffer coat. With the time change and the impending warmth comes a return to my daytime active lifestyle. We’re in the finicky weather season, so I won’t be getting up too early. But I can feel myself readying for the sunshiny days ahead. Running on the path. Morning yoga classes. Early boot camp.

Being a nighttime ninja served its purpose to prevent me from being too slovenly. For me, though, daytime diva is where it’s at. Still, I learned a few things about myself during the long, dark, cold days of winter.

1. Winter mornings suck. I forgot how depressing it can be to wake up in the morning and it still be dark outside. I don’t have to be at work until 11 a.m. Imagine waking up at 7:30 in the morning and it still being pitch black outside? Nothing makes your bed more comfortable that the dark of night…or day.

2. Population control. There are even fewer people in the gym at night than there are in the early afternoon. Because my work hours are so wonky, I’m coming into the gym right after the post-work crowd finishes its sweat-a-thon. It’s an in-between time where gym staff can really wipe down the machines (not the half-ass wipes they get from preoccupied gym rats). It fills my need for quiet.

3. Hunger games. Working out at home has made me hyper aware of my kitchen. It’s not like I woke up one morning and was surprised by my fridge. It’s moreso that post-workout meals seemed even more important. And those meals seemed to be larger. I’m not on any workout plan right now, so I haven’t been portioning out my meals. So the spinach, chick-pea, pasta salad was run through pretty quickly. As were my Mott’s Mango Peach applesauces. And, of course, my goldfish crackers. Working out in the daytime will definitely give me better dietary focus.

4. I can’t wait for winter to be over. I miss running in the park. I miss not having to strap on 10-15 extra layers of clothes, undergarments and coats. I miss the ease of a morning workout. It seemed like less of a chore when I was doing it in warmer weather. Winter workouts feel like a punishment, especially in the mornings. At night, it feels like a continuation of the workday, not a way to start the day.

There are 11 days until spring. But with the weather warming up, I’ll return to daytime diva status in no time.

Recipe: Curry-Roasted Chicken

6 Mar
It tastes better than it looks in this photo. Actually, it looked better than this photo, too.

It tastes better than it looks in this photo. Actually, it looked better than this photo, too.

Time: 10 minutes to prep, 20 minutes to cook (chicken); 20 minutes to prep (cucumber raita)

Ingredients (chicken)

  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion or garlic salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 4 ounces each)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a baking sheet with vegetable oil spray.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the curry powder, cumin, onion/garlic salt and cayenne
  3. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with the curry mixture. Place the chicken on the prepared baking sheet with smooth side up. Lightly spray with vegetable oil spray.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center.
  5. Serve with cucumber raita (recipe below).

Ingredients (cucumber raita)

  • 1 small cucumber, peeled and seeded
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces fat-free plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated peeled gingerroot
  • 2 tablespoons finely snipped fresh parsley or cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds or ground cumin
  • Pepper to taste


  1. Grate or dice the cucumber. Put in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Let drain for 5 minutes. Squeeze the cucumber to remove excess liquid.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the yogurt until smooth. Stir in the remaining ingredients except the pepper.
  3. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Sprinkle with pepper before serving as an accompaniment to the chicken.


This was actually much simpler than you’d think. The curry seasonings are a rub. You can prepare the seasoning months in advance and but it out when you’re ready for this simple curry dish. The cucumber raita isn’t much different than the cucumber yogurt that goes with the black bean meatballs. This version has red pepper, which I thought made the yogurt too chunky. It did add nice color to the plate, though. I served mine over couscous, which always pairs well with anything curry. Courtesy of American Heart Association  Low-Fat, Low-Cholesterol Cookbook, Third Edition

How (Not) to Lose 10 Pounds in a Week

4 Mar

I rarely gamble. I’m not a fan of it. I play the lottery maybe twice a year. I rarely go to casinos, and when I do, I don’t gamble. There’s a higher chance of failure with gambling than there is of winning. My money does better for me when it’s in my pocket.

I liken gambling to get-rich-quick schemes. There’s always a hidden cost that you weren’t prepared for. Those emails from Nigerian princes asking you to hold their millions in your account? Those phone calls from random utility operators saying you’re paying too much, even though you’re using the only utility available in your area? Publisher’s Clearinghouse? It’s all a scam to make you think that hard work isn’t the way to get things done.

The same thing goes for quick-fix diet scams. “Eat this, lose 10 pounds in a week.” “Just five minutes a day and you’ll drop 20 pounds in a week.” “The only diet pill you’ll need to get bikini ready in just two weeks.” I call bullshit.

Nothing worth having is easy to get. If you read the small print on these ads, they’ll always say the results aren’t typical. Nine times out of 10, you’ll be the rule, not the exception.

People often ask me how I lost the weight. The simple answer is diet and exercise. But if you have a half hour, I can give you a rundown. I started preparing my meals at the beginning of the week and portioned them out so I wouldn’t overindulge. I made sure to schedule my workouts into my day, leaving room for the sudden happy hour or late night at work. I always had a Plan B if my scheduled workout wouldn’t work out that day. I can mentally calculate all the calories I’m consuming versus the amount of energy I’m expending.

That’s just the truncated version, and I still never lost 10 pounds in one week.

You’ll see shows like “The Biggest Loser” and think to yourself, if they can do it, why can’t I? It’s because you have a life outside the show. While you’re sitting at home watching these people’s journey toward a healthier life, they’re on a treadmill or eating one egg white every five hours, with a handful of raw almonds in between. It’s not practical.

We all have lives to lead. I’m not saying losing 10 pounds in one week isn’t possible. Anything’s possible. But does that make it right? I don’t think so.

This journey is a rough one. It is filled with starts and stops. The thing I want people to realize is that you should start with realistic expectations. Ten pounds in one week? Sure…if you chop off your arm. Ten pounds in two weeks? Very possible with a very strict diet and workout regimen. Ten pounds in three weeks? Totally doable, still with a strict diet and workout regimen. Plus, if you hit your target in two weeks, the third week’s weight loss is bonus points (if that’s what you were looking for).

Think about short-term and long-term goals and what’s achievable in that time. Don’t let the stress of losing weight make you gamble on a magic pill.

What quick-fix routines have you seen lately? How do you keep focused on your short- and long-term goals?

Recipe: Spinach, Chick-Pea and Olive Pasta

27 Feb

photo (12)Time: 10 minutes to prepare; 20 minutes to cook


  • 4 ounces dried radiatore or rotini pasta
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach (about 2 ounces)
  • 15-ounce can no-salt-added chick-peas, rinsed if desired and drained
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped bottled roasted red bell peppers, rinsed and drained (about 6.5 ounces)
  • 12 kalamata olives, drained and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil, crumbled
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)


  1. Prepare the pasta using the package directions, omitting the salt and oil. Drain in a colander and run under cold water until completely cooled. Drain well.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients except feta.
  3. Add pasta to the spinach mixture, tossing gently yet thoroughly to coat. Add feta and toss gently.


I love this pasta salad. It’s colorful, tasty and super easy to make. It’s a great summer salad, but occasionally I’ll whip it out in colder months because it’s so damn easy to make. Definitely eat it in the first few days of preparing it, as the spinach will wilt pretty quickly.

Courtesy of Low-Fat, Low-Cholesterol Cookbook, Third Edition