Tag Archives: sweet potato

First things First

5 May

#likeagirl A gaggle of  3rd-6th grade girls and I are seated on the floor of the church’s freshly painted, second floor youth room. We stare at a sloppy outline of the upper body, a headless upper body. The androgynous torso, as we are soon to find out, symbolizes the female’s role in a biblical relationship. The children’s minister launches into his lesson, pointing above and below the chalked torso. “Girls are not to rule over or be trampled on by boys.” That’s reasonable, I think to myself. Even though these girls are young, it’s important to start thinking about boy-girl dynamics. But then the lesson takes a sudden plunge into ‘M’ word territory. “If God’s plan is for a girl to be married, she is to be with only one man for her entire life. If it isn’t God’s plan, that’s OK. No encouragement to pray for a future husband, that’s good, I think. But being single…he makes it sound like being God’s leftovers. And then there’s the takeaway message. “Whenever you’re thinking about dating a guy, just remember this image.” You know, of the shapeless torso. I don’t disagree with anything that was said in the lesson.  I do, however, take issue with putting the cart before the horse. Nine to twelve year old girls should not be thinking about marriage, Bride Groom Cake Topperexcept in that ethereal, fairy tale sense which is inherent to us, then slowly corrected by reality. Before marriage comes singleness, and it is not a leftover state. Young girls are particularly fragile. Rather than explain future events that may or may not happen to them ten plus years down the road, shouldn’t we instead remind them of their infinite worth and value to God?

It’s easy for girls to feel worthless. Verizon’s Inspire Her Mind commercial ends with the slightly heartbreaking statistics: “66% of 4th grade girls say they like math and science. But only 18% of all college engineering majors are female.” Girls are discouraged to pursue ‘boy’ activities, like using a drill, and as a result eventually lose interest in ‘boy’ careers, like engineering. As Always illustrated with their #LikeAGirl commercial, to “run like a girl” or “throw like a girl” or do anything else “like a girl” carries a learned, negative connotation. One young girl, when asked what it meant to run like a girl, responded ‘It means to run as fast as you can.” Meanwhile, grown men, older girls, and even younger boys, when asked to run like a girl, made floppy hand movements and wiggled their hips. I witnessed a mother enforce this negative connotation just this past weekend. I was at a craw fish boil, and kids were of course making generous use of the host’s pool. One little girl performed a particularly splashy cannonball. Her mother immediately chided her, saying, “Swim gentler. Swim like a girl, swim like her,” pointing to a more docile girl swimmer.

Fortunately, the Bible has an incredibly affirmative view of women. Christ broke through barriers to reach women treated as second-class citizens in ancient Middle Eastern culture. “Praise be to God. He has not created me a woman” was part of the first-century Jewish male’s daily prayer. Greek men frequently omitted their daughters when asked how many children they had. A Roman man could divorce his wife if she went out in public without a veil. In contrast, a woman was chosen to bring Christ into the world. Women observed Christ’s death on the cross, and were the first to witness his resurrection. Jesus defied cultural norms when he spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well. Much more could be said about the Bible’s affirmation of women, as is done here, here, and here. My point being, our heritage as Christian women is rich, whether we are single or married. Let us first remember and be grateful for this heritage. What would you prefer, the freedom to run outside, in shorts and a t-shirt, or to be married to a man who treats you like one of his cows? I’ll take the former any day. Martha Stewart sure does cook and play house ‘like a girl.’ I’ve adapted her surprisingly delicious sweet potato and cauliflower gratin for today’s post. The full recipe can be found here. However, I left out the sage leaves and used 1% milk, and it turned out just fine. Enjoy!

Say What?

6 Mar


Today I am Ira Glass. Needed only is the Clark Kent glasses, because Ira’s woolly forehead status is fast approaching with my wildly overgrown bangs! In the spirit of This  American Life today’s theme is ‘Not What I Expected’, explored in three acts. Over the past couple weeks, I have had misunderstandings that resulted in a mixture of humor, embarrassment, disaster, and tears. In each situation, I thought I knew what I was getting into, but anticipated wrongly. Each was awkward, messy, and not something I would like to re-live. But in retrospect, they make a nice triumvirate of anecdotes.

Act One: Please Won’t  You be my Neighbor

I’ve lived in three apartment complexes and have never met a fellow resident. We apartment dwellers are not a friendly bunch. I have caught myself avoiding eye contact when passing someone on mr rogersthe stairs, as a preemptive strike against their assumed anti-social stance. It’s strange to think how the people who live directly above and below me, who are literally only feet away when we sleep, and maybe when we eat and watch television, too, are the ones I will never meet. Or rather, never did, until I abruptly broke that cycle last week due to a neighbor’s late night guitar strumming. I was lying in bed at 9:45 pm on a Monday evening, quite happy with myself for getting pillow-chummy earlier than usual. I needed to; I had a sleep debt so large it could not be balance transferred to Tuesday night. But I couldn’t fall asleep, because the sound of music nothing like the musical was hitting my room from somewhere. Sleep does not come easy to me, and I could not tune out the guitar buzz. Finally, I put shoes and coat over utilitarian pajamas and ran upstairs to confront the supposedly guilty neighbor. Last summer, my upstairs neighbor had demonstrated some less-than-neighborly behavior. He pushed his cigarette butts through the cracks of his deck onto mine. When I finally got the gumption to confront him about the cigarette butts, he didn’t answer my door knock. I think this was intentional and have had no respect for ‘him’, whoever he is, since. So this time, when I aggressively knocked on the same door and received no response, I was nothing short of raging mad. I knocked again, louder. A young woman opened the door. “Hi, do you play the guitar?” I said abruptly, still upset about the music but also embarrassed at my curt behavior. “No, I just come home,” she said. “Oh okay, thanks, I’m so, so sorry to have bothered you.” I now felt really bad. She hesitated, then said “Do you live right below me? I think it might be the guy on the first floor.” She was right; it was him. I marched down to his apartment to shut down the horrid guitar playing. The neighbor who had committed this musical atrocity, in my head a pot-bellied, hard-living, belligerent middle-aged man, in reality was a young guy, sheepishly apologetic and all smiles.

Act Two: Ebonics Gone South

This spring, I am the captain of a Women’s 3.0 tennis team. Overall it’s not much work, but creating the schedule became a mini optimization problem. 8 matches and 8 spots per match needed to be assigned to 14 players. 14 is too many, and I was struggling to fit everyone in. One player didn’t know her availability, so I initially had her playing two matches. I texted a teammate about my decision: “Will [Player X] care if I don’t schedule her that much? Our team is a little big.” My teammate responded: “Axe her. She travels a lot.” I thought by ‘axe’ she meant ‘get rid of her.’ But no, she was jocosely using urban slang and meant ‘Ask her.’ By the time I figured out the text’s actual meaning, it was too late. I had removed Player X completely from the schedule, and told her that since I didn’t know her availability, she would be a stand-in player when others canceled. She did not take the news very well, and now I have an awkward quasi-fourteenth player on my team that I don’t know what to do with. Shame on me for rashly misinterpreting text messages!!

Act Three: Stand-up is No Joke

tig notaroWhile doing microscopy drudge work last week, I started listening to stand-up comedy. John Mulaney was my first go-to. When I tired of him, I skimmed through Paste Magazine’s ‘20 Best Comedians of 2014.’ Tig Notaro was ranked number 20. I had already heard a short clip of her on This American Life, so I knew she had good delivery. Expecting at least one good laugh, she instead brought me to tears. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but she sprinkled a touch of humor, in explaining how she interacts with her stepfather, over a tragic event that deeply impacted both of them. Listen here.

In conjunction with my theme, I’m posting a recipe that you would not expect. It is not in-line with my ‘no fuss in the kitchen’ approach, it being a posh Martha Stewart recipe. Cooking for my church small group requires a certain level of healthy sophistication. The potluck supper we share sends me Ellie Krieger and Whole Foods vibes. I’m learning to fit in.

You can find the recipe, ‘Roasted Sweet Potato Salsa,’ here. I actually have the full cookbook, ‘Meatless,’ which includes the nutritional content. There are 55 calories per 1/4 cup serving. I added a can of diced tomatoes to my batch, and had to mash rather than dice my over-ripe avocado. Enjoy!

sweet potato salsa 2



7 Sep

Lately, I’ve been wrestling with my body image. I believe this is in part due to a recent venture into online dating (which will, by the way, fuel a deliciously good future post). When creating my profile, I struggled with the ‘body type’ options, which are: ‘slender’, ‘athletic and toned’, ‘about average’, ‘curvy’, ‘big and beautiful,’ ‘full-figured’, ‘heavy set’, ‘a few extra pounds’, and ‘stocky.’ First of all, it irritates me that there are five or six options that are code for ‘I’m fat’ but only three or four options that characterize the vast array of normal shapes. Second of all, for the sake of accuracy I would have really liked to fill out this section of the profile on a body part to body part basis. From my perspective, my arms and legs are ‘athletic and toned’; my stomach/hips are curvy; and my butt might just be verging into ‘full-figured’ territory. So in conclusion, no, I cannot place my body type into a neatly packaged one to four words.

Based on my life as an American thus far, which I’ve lived across four different states, and a wealth of time spent reading tabloids at grocery store checkout lines, women in our society desire to be lean and toned. On the other hand, most guys I talk to like curvy. Oh, with a flat stomach, that is. Conclusion? The majority of women have achieved curvy, thanks very much…in all the wrong places. And if we ever reach lean and toned, we’ll have to be happy with a flat stomach and diminished good curves. It’s a Catch 22, short of plastic surgery.

I’ve decided that yes, I’m going to always battle with self-loathing. Yes, I’m going to continue to attempt to eat healthy and exercise, then have a brownie binge when I can’t take it anymore. But at the same time, I’m also going to let go and celebrate not being a stick, yet also not being overweight; not being perfectly toned yet also having great arms. I’m not going to always win the incessant battle with my overly negative brain, but I can at least win a couple rounds here and there, right?

2 Days In Paris_Julie Delpy

Delpy, in ‘2 Days in Paris’

This helps, too: watch Julie Delpy in the film 2 Days in Paris. Delpy is in her mid-thirties, somewhat fleshy, and fashion-apathetic. Yet I think she’s beautiful. Maybe it’s her French accent, which causes her to pronounce all of her vowels funny; or her nerdy nuggets of information, such as a theory that people with opposing immune systems are more attracted to one another; or her affectionate yet boisterous relationship with her parents; or the fights she picks in French with a taxi driver she’s assessed to be racist, fascist, and with Nazi leanings, and across a restaurant with an ex-boyfriend who dumped her to sleep around, even with third world 12-year-olds; or how invested she is in every conversation, even if it’s just about her cat’s recent weight gain; or her ability to tolerate a self-involved, fickle, neurotic boyfriend; or her willingness to be made fun of and picked at. All of her idiosyncrasies, vulnerabilities, and causes, even her dysfunction at times, make her far more attractive than if instead she weighed 20 pounds less.

Well, not to feed (literally!) the drive to constantly be thinner, but I’m posting two sweet potato recipes. And as it turns out Matthew Morrison from Glee ate only sweet potatoes for three days prior to his photo shoot for the cover of the December 2010 issue of Details magazine. One recipe is for lunch; the other is for dinner. Enjoy! And don’t feel fat while you eat either of these, please!!



-1 plastic-wrapped sweet potato (these are available at most grocery stores)brocco cheese sweet potato

-2 cups or 4 spears of frozen broccoli, depending on type purchased

-2 Tbs. low-fat mozzarella cheese

-Small amount of ketchup/light mayo, mixed


Microwave the sweet potato for 1.5 to 2.5 minutes, until tender. Remove from plastic and place onto plate. Cut lengthwise. Place broccoli and cheese on top of potato. Microwave until broccoli is warm and cheese is melted. Salt and pepper to taste. This may seem weird, but once I get down to the potato skin, I like to dip it in a mix of ketchup and mayo.




-1 plastic-wrapped sweet potatotex-mex sweet tater

-1/4 cup low-fat mozzarella cheese

-2 stalks green onion, chopped

-1/2 large tomato, diced

-1/4 cup black beans

-1/3 cup frozen corn

-1/4 cup plain, low-fat Greek yogurt


Microwave the sweet potato for 1.5 to 2.5 minutes, until tender. Meanwhile, heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove sweet potato from microwave; place on baking sheet. Cut lengthwise and sprinkle cheese on top. Bake 5-10 minutes, until cheese is melted. Meanwhile, chop green onion and tomato, and thaw frozen corn. Combine tomato, black beans, and corn in small bowl. Remove sweet potato from oven. Top with tomato, black beans, corn. Then top with yogurt. Finally, sprinkle with green onions.