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'Goodnight Food' (With apologies to Margaret Wise Brown)

Wednesday night, I joined in on a Google Hangout with some great peeps who had an amazing conversation during this past FitBloggin'. It wasn't a scheduled session or keynote speech -- it was merely a late-night lobby chat that got real and emotional and cathartic. We promised each other that we'd try and keep the conversation going, and some of us did that last night.

I mentioned that after I get done cleaning up the dishes and getting myself something to drink and maybe an apple or a cheese stick, I will actually, out loud, say "Goodnight, kitchen!" and turn off the light.

Which got me to brainstorming, and to writing my version of "Goodnight Moon."

  Decorative-line

GOODNIGHT FOOD

In the great big room

There was a fridge

And a broom

And a picture of edible flowers

And almond butter with magical powers

And a bowl of pears

And four kitchen chairs GK mushroom brush

And a mushroom brush and a box full of mush (well, steel-cut oats, which are not really mushy unless you cook them too long, but I digress…)

And a middle-aged lady whispering hush (to her growling stomach).

 

Goodnight kitchen.

Goodnight fridge

Goodnight broom

Goodnight flowers and almond butter with magical powers.

Goodnight peanut butter

GK pearsGoodnight pumpkin butter


Goodnight grass-fed butter

(What’s with all the butter?)

Goodnight pears

Goodnight chairs

Goodnight muffins drawing my stares

Goodnight food

Goodnight moon

And goodnight growling stomach noises everywhere.

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Goodnight food graphic


A post-FitBloggin' call to action: WHO'S WITH ME?

Most of my FitBloggin' friends have been posting wonderful recaps of last week's conference in Denver, and I love reading them as well as seeing all the great photos. (If you're unfamiliar with FitBloggin' you can find out more about it HERE. Over the past six years, it morphed from a healthy living blogger conference into a social media lovefest with around 175 of your closest friends.)

 I posted lotsa stuff on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, including this picture of some of my fellow Enell ambassadors showing off our Raspberry Zest sports bras.

Enell ambassadors

But I'm doing something different. I'm going to toss out a little tough love (something we talked about at FitBloggin' 14) and toss out a call to action.

Three hundred and sixty-something days.

That's how long we have to make a real difference in our weight-loss/fitness/health goals before FitBloggin' 16.

I was watching the Today show yesterday morning and Penn and Teller were on, doing their magic schtick. Before the end of the segment, Penn Gillette talked very briefly about his 100-pound weight loss that he accomplished in the past year. 

I thought to myself "Shoot, I don't have to lose 100 pounds -- maybe half of that. Why don't I do that this year?"

No, I never expected Penn Gillette to be my weight-loss inspiration, but there ya go.

I've been taking a different approach to eating this year -- finding out what foods work for me or against me, which foods make me feel great and which ones make me feel gross. I've become largely dairy, wheat, peanut and sugar free, and my gut has never felt better. (I say largely because I don't have any serious intolerances or allergies to those foods -- I just feel better with less of them.)

After I got back from Denver, I met with my dietitian to go over the results of a really detailed blood test I took back in last May. Instead of the garden-variety blood test that checks the stuff your doctor wants to know (cholesterol, thyroid function, etc.), this test checks your blood for antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, amino acids and even things like mitochondrial function and toxic exposure.

To my surprise (because I eat healthy and pound down supplements LIKE A BOSS), I discovered I was low in B vitamins and REALLY low in vitamin D. What am I full of? Vitamin C, zinc and plastic residue. But I'm heavy metal free! (It pays to be paranoid about tuna.) So I'm fixing the deficiencies with some vitamin D drops, better vitamins and more, more, MORE plants.

With these results in hand, I really feel like I know what I should be eating more of. What should I be eating less of? To keep things simple, basically things that are not plants. 

So, getting back to the call to action: I, you, we ALL have plenty of time to either get to a happy weight or make great strides to get closer to one. 

image from baseballnewssource.com
Scale twinsies!


How will I personally accomplish this? I will make it my JOB to get to my happy weight, whatever that may be. Right now I weigh approximately the same as Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton. But he's 6-foot-6 and I'm 5-foot-5. What I'm getting at is while 240 pounds is perfectly fine for a jacked home-run producer, it's too much for a middle-aged mom. 

While I was flying to and from Denver, I decided to finally start reading State of Slim, which I bought last year, before I was willing to really make the tough choices and really clean up my eating. Now that I discovered that I won't wither and die from just setting aside some foods for a certain period of time, I feel ready to embrace the book. In a nutshell, State of Slim looks at why Coloradoans are so darned fit and healthy. It's written by weight-loss experts Dr. James Hill and Dr. Holly Wyatt, who are associated with the Anschutz Center for Health and Wellness at the University of Colorado (which we passed many times in the car while we were in Denver; I made sure to genuflect in their direction).  They studied thousands of people who have successfully lost weight and kept it off, and the book outlines what people need to do to repair their metabolisms that have been "broken" from years of dieting.

So, that's what I'm doing. Nothing faddish, no miracles. 

OK, here comes the tough love.

Like I have said COUNTLESS times, I've been at this since age 10. While at FitBloggin' this year, I saw a lot of people getting emotional over weight and body image issues. I don't get emotional about weight any more, probably because I had that talked out of me from a few years of therapy. Instead I still get frustrated and, frankly, amused at how difficult losing weight can be. 

Let's stop crying about it and do something about it.

I'm pretty sure by now we know what to do. Let's apply all that knowledge and GET THERE.


Weight Watchers Wednesday: Crowdsourcing some success

Broken seesaw

I am going to promise that this will be the last see-saw metaphor I will use on the blog, because I'm tired of going up and down on the scale. This week I went up 2 pounds and immediately texted my sister, who lost 3 pounds this week.

Screenshot_2014-12-03-20-18-44

So I'm sitting here at 8:45 p.m. with a Camelbak full of water, and I haven't eaten since dinner. I'm really, really, REALLY going to do the "pie-hole shutdown maneuver" after dinner because that is my one and only problem area. 

But I'm feeling a rumbling in my stomach that I don't know is true hunger or just some Pavlovian reaction.

Also, I got a press release yesterday from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies (science!). It says confining eating to an 8-12-hour period could stave off high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity. You can read the press release HERE or you can watch a video about it:

This study just screams "ME, ME, ME!" I stay up too late, eat too many healthy snacks and basically bollocks up all the good stuff I've done during the day.

So in addition to asking the advice of my sister, I thought I'd crowdsource some tips from some of my FitBloggin' pals. Here they are, and they're great:

  • Brooke Birmingham (Brooke Not on a Diet): Lately I've been drinking hot tea in the evening to curb the snacking. It seems to help.
  • Deb Eber Roby (Weight for Deb): I plan my night time eating so the calories and macros fall within my guidelines. Normally it's a piece of fruit and some nuts. I also craft at night. It’s hard to eat and knit at the same time.
  • Jennifer Sader (Perfect in Our Imperfections): I have to say that a lot of times I give in. Air-popped popcorn is my go-to, but I have been trying to look at my healthy checks and fill them in. So if I am short a dairy and a fruit, I might have a pear and a string cheese. I should say that I try to make sure that I'm really hungry and not just falling into "if you're ___ and you know it, have a snack!" That commercial has definitely been in my head since I saw it.
  • Margo Porras (Nacho Mama’s Blog): I always try to set goals for the holidays that are NOT scale based. "I will take a 20-minute walk no matter what." Or, "I will NOT use my aunt's snarky comments as an excuse to finish a whole pie on Christmas Eve." At night I often resort to crafting instead of snacking. This year I may finish that Rainbow Loom hammock!
  • Thea Mortensen Rudland (It’s Me Vs. Me): Journaling helps, or chewing a stick of gum after dinner, but sometimes I just snack and get on with it.
  • Roni Noone (Roni’s Weigh): I'm like Jennifer - I usually give in but have "go-tos" -- air popped popcorn, apple with cheese, cocoa dusted banana bites. Things like that. 

Stalwart

image from quotes.lifehack.org
Stalwart. I love that word, so I thought I'd write an ode to it today.

It popped into my head because, as I was thinking about last week's FitBloggin' conference, I looked back at the people who attend. The first group are the newbies -- people who just started blogging or are thinking about starting a healthy living blog. Some of them return to next year's conference but many are "one and done." 

I worry about the "one and dones" -- they have the best of intentions to blog, to make healthier habits, to get in better shape. Then something happens, they hit a speed bump, and they're gone. 

But as I decided in this year's "tough love" post, it's not for me to worry about other people's weight loss -- I need to focus on my own.

Then there's the other group of FitBloggin' friends -- the stalwarts.

We're there year after year, reconnecting with our "blends" (blog friends), singing karaoke, supporting each other in our sessions and even leading those sessions.

So why are we there year after year? Why are we so loyal? (Especially those of us who don't return as a stunning success story.)

Because, in the words of Winston Churchill, we never, never, never give up.

Even when the scale doesn't budge, or goes up, or (like me) goes down in itty bitty increments.

Even when we're sidelined by an injury or illness or an overwhelming desire to binge watch "Orange is the New Black."

Even when the road to hell is paved with fried green tomatoes.

image from claimthevictory.orgWe eat those tomatoes and jump back on the horse. (OK, maybe not that horse -- he looks crazy.)

(Which is to say I actually lost a pound while out of town and yes I did eat fried green tomatoes, and fried okra and other things that I don't usually eat.)

#nonhumblebrag

Because I am resolute in my efforts to finish losing weight and I have friends who are equally stalwart (I linked to some of their "tough love" blog posts in my post.)

stalwart (ˈstɔːlwət)

adj
1. strong and sturdy; robust
2. solid, dependable, and courageous: stalwart citizens.
3. resolute and firm
n
4. a stalwart person, esp a supporter

It takes those qualities to not throw in the towel and give up. We don't give up, even when it seems ridiculous or frustrating or really, really REALLY slow.

And if you're thinking of giving up, all I have to say is don't.

It's going to happen -- Winnie says so.

image from quotes.lifehack.org


Why I love carb cycling

Food cycleThis week's jury duty kinda threw a monkey wrench into my plans (turns out I'm a stress eater!) but I really am liking the concept of carb cycling.

What do I like most about it? Uh, the carbs.

But that's what makes eating this way doable. There's no "waah, waah, I want a muffin." I know that there are a couple of higher carb days during the week and I can get my carb on then, while enjoying things like avocados and lean proteins on the lower carb days. Plus, whether you have a low carb day or a high carb day, you get to start the day with a smoothie. And once a week I can eat whatever I feel like, within reason. 

So there's no feeling of deprivation; no reason to be "on" or "off" anything.

But those two long days of jury duty made it a little hard to stay perfectly on track, although being walking distance to the cool two-story Publix made lunch time less garbage filled. But since I was on a jury, and we had someone's liberty in our hands, I felt myself wanting to shove tiny bunny pretzels in my face at night. That''s the stress eating, since I couldn't exactly vent about the trial to anyone. (I'm a good citizen.)

Now that I'm off jury duty (and staring at yet another mountain of laundry), it was back to the gym and back to my eating routine. 

I'm also gearing up to head to Savannah, Georgia, for this year's FitBloggin' conference. I haven't missed one yet, and this year is the fifth annual fitness blogger conference/reunion/hugfest. While I'm not at my goal weight, I am around 5 pounds lighter (and 2 inches smaller in the waist) than last year, so I did make some progress. 

I always make some grand pronouncement to myself that next year I'll shock the world and show up to FitBloggin' in a golden glow of goal weight glory but, alas, it ain't happening this year either. But the halo is a bit narrower.

As for the carb cycling, I'm going to try my darndest to keep cycling while I'm out of town. Salads and other produce can be tough to come by, especially in the land of the deep-fried everything.

Is there a Publix nearby? :)

 

 


Link love: Hank is a winner

My Fitbloggin' pal Hank Hanna writes at the blog The Business of Losing Weight, and today he has a great post about his victory:

My kids will never know me as unhealthy dad.

I started this weight loss journey for many, many reasons. And the benefits to my health, attitude and life have been innumerable. But they ALL fail in comparison to the benefit that my kids are getting from this. They are getting a healthy father who is demonstrating a healthy lifestyle to them. And that is how kids learn. By watching what we do as parents.

You can read the rest of the post HERE.

 


My post-Fitbloggin’ lament and love letter

 At the first Fitbloggin’ in 2010 I was 250. In 2011 and 2012 I was in the 240s. This year I was in the 230s.

Progress, yes, but GLACIAL.

Inconvenient truth
Not at goal: My inconvenient truth.

(Actually, the glaciers are probably melting quicker than my saddlebags, with climate change and all.)

While the weight loss has been slow, this sister has been shrinking and, yes, I was smaller than I was last year. But while I heard a few “You look greats,” all I could think was “yeah, but…”

I’m not there yet.

Where is “there”? I used to think it was 150 pounds, but really, all I want to do is get below 200 right now (like RIGHT. NOW). Last time I was, I was a size 12.

That has been my Fitbloggin’ lament year after year – I want to be one of those inspirational success-story bloggers, not one of the strugglers on their “weight loss journey.”

Ugh, how I hate that phrase. Margo of Nacho Mama’s Blog and I share the same view of that phrase. Instead of a journey, which could go on for-freakin-ever, we refer to it as a weight-loss project. Projects have end points and project managers and I am going to project-manage the heck out of this one right now because my deadline is next June for Fitbloggin’ 14.

OK, that’s the lament – now the love letter.

Fitbloggin13 collage
The people: Kymberly and Alexandra, and Susan, and Roni, and Heather, and Sharla -- you guys are the best.

Year after year, Fitbloggin’ never fails to fill me with joy. The people, the discussions, the workouts – it’s like a battery recharge for my soul. And this year my motivation battery seemed to get recharged, too. I took part in a lot of great sessions and discussions that gave me new tools and sharpened the old tools.

So I wasn’t “there” at this Fitbloggin’ but, and I’m putting this out there in the universe …

I WILL BE THERE FOR NEXT YEAR’S CONFERENCE.

{boom}

That’s the sound of my proclamation hitting the universe.

As of this weekend, I’m only 37 pounds from that particular goal, which makes me giddy with hope.

One thing I noticed while we were on vacation (and what I notice every vacation) is that I lose weight away from home, and I need to take that vacation vibe and use it at home.

  • Perhaps I should replace the full-size refrigerator in my kitchen with a tiny mini fridge stuffed with expensive booze and sodas?
  • I could put outrageous price tags on all the food in my pantry, just like the hotel room. ($10 for a handful of almonds? No thank you!)
  • I could ditch the car and walk everywhere. (But, alas, we live in the ‘burbs and there’s not much to walk to.)
  • I could plop into bed at a reasonable hour, exhausted after a fun and productive day. (Now that I can do; perhaps I should retire my night-owl ways.)

So you heard me, universe. I will be THERE.


The yin and yang of eating on vacation, or ‘Yay me!’

Sorry for the late post today. We spent the day doing exciting things like getting me new tires (I’m  HORRIBLE at maintaining my tires), grocery shopping and celebrating the teenager’s birthday (15! How’d that happen so soon?).

But I did get on the scale this morning, gleefully, I might add, because I knew this would happen:

0705weight
I nearly always lose weight on vacation. I think it has to do with lots of walking, lack of boredom, no late-night kitchen to call to me, and a laserlike focus on balancing healthy choices with little indulgences here and there.

That means if a restaurant has excellent fried calamari, we split an appetizer three ways and I order a veggie-egg white omelet. Or if we want to check out a boutique ice cream parlor we go there FOR dinner instead of AFTER dinner.

EAT ALL THE VEGETABLESI also seek out what I call “vacation vegetables.”

No, these are not tourists on lounge chairs. 

I make sure that every chance I can, I find some vegetables or fruit to cram into a meal. It's very easy to go an entire day with nary a bit of greenery when traveling. Salads, veggie-packed omelets, extra vegetables on subs, fresh fruit -- I look for them all. It greatly helps balance out the carby, meaty, saucy stuff. 

This may seem a bit food-obsessive, but what follows are some culinary stops along the way of our trip to the Pacific Northwest with my reasoning behind my choices. Maybe it'll help you find that happy balance between egg whites and ice cream.

 

Diy nori rolls
A DIY nori roll with edamame, sticky rice and nori sheets at Cafe Yumm in Portland. I skipped the sauce and kept it clean.

Diy nori rolls
A banh mi from a Vietnamese food cart in Portland. I got extra cilantro, which didn't add a load of veg but it's high in micronutrients, and I love the stuff.

Diy nori rolls
A few of us popped into a sushi place in Portland. I had already eaten dinner, but there's always room for a seaweed nightcap! (I kinda have a thing for seaweed.)

Loaded quiznos
Road tripping to the mountains, we stopped at a Quiznos and I loaded up a small turkey sub with every vegetable they offered.

Loaded quiznos
The cool thing about this pulled pork and slaw sandwich at the Urban Farmer restaurant in the Nines Hotel was that it was "happy hour" sized. Perfect little, toddler-sized gem of a sandwich, which I paired with a chilled white gazpacho-type soup.

Loaded quiznos
The Portland Penny Diner has a really creative selection of breakfast sandwiches. This one is the Hipster, which features egg, pepperjack cheese, tomato and hazelnut romesco sauce. The sandwiches were so good that I was pleasantly full before I could finish it, so I didn't. That's the great thing about eating real food; a little goes a long way.

Loaded quiznos
Across from Pike Place Market in Seattle, we found Tom Douglas' Rub With Love Shack, where I ordered a barbecued chicken sandwich topped with a vinegary slaw.

Loaded quiznos
Nope -- no vegetables to be found here. But I really wanted to try Portland's Salt & Straw ice cream shop, so we went there for dinner. I got a scoop of Stumptown Coffee and Burnside Bourbon, and a scoop of Sea Salt Ice Cream With Caramel Ribbon. Indulgent? Sure, but I figured we saved hundreds of calories by skipping the meal and cutting right to dessert.

 


Happy fitbitYes, we did more than eat our way through Washington and Oregon. We walked a lot, even getting in a 2-hour hike, which seemed like it was uphill all the way. 

The centerpiece of the trip, for me at least, was the fourth annual Fitbloggin' conference, which involved daily workouts, sometimes more than a couple. I walked, Zumbaed, danced, got my butt kicked by a Total Gym, and pounded the pavement in nearly 100-degree heat (Portland? What was up with that?).

What I'm trying to say is it's all about balance, balance, balance. The celery and the ice cream. The gin and tonics and the ice water. The doughnut samples and the 5K's. The bacon and the ... bacon. (Oh, hell, that hotel bacon was good.)

But I had two slices of bacon, not a plateful. I didn't beat myself up about anything; I made sure I logged everything in My Fitness Pal and checked my Fitbit throughout the day. 

And it all worked out splendidly.

 


I don't cry anymore

 

No crying allowed
Cheer up baby, and go for a walk. (You can walk, can't you?)

At last year's Fitbloggin' conference, I was sitting in a session next door to one titled "When You Have a Lot to Lose." While I teeter on the edge between "a good amount" and "a lot" to lose, I chose to attend the other session. While we were discussing keywords and SEO, the sound of crying was wafting from the room next door. 

I thought to myself "Man ... I don't cry anymore when it comes to weight."

But that steely resolve took years of work. 

Losing weight sucks -- know anyone who enjoys the process? And in the past, if a doctor, or a friend or family member would talk to me about it, after a while, the lower lip would start trembling and then the waterworks would start. 

Looking back on that now, I think "boo freakin' hoo." 

What is there to cry about? Crying turns you into a victim. It doesn't solve anything, and mastering weight loss is about solving stuff.

Besides, you'd have to wail and cry for hours and hours to burn any significant amount of calories. :)

The last time I got emotional about my weight, I was able to pinpoint what set me off, and it was just pure frustration. Take my eye off the ball and BLAMMO, the weight comes right back.

It's freaking tiring to weigh and measure food, to write stuff down, snap barcodes on your phone, to tell the waiter to put the dressing on the side, wrap it in lettuce, take off the sauce -- all that crap. But is it worth crying over? Hell no.

(You'll notice that I haven't mentioned exercise because I absofreakinlutely love it and when it comes right down to it, exercise is only about 20 percent of weight loss. As the bariatric psychologist at Cleveland Clinic Florida told me "You exercise for health; you eat to lose weight.")

This may just be my own case, but freeing myself from attaching emotions to weight loss involved accepting the shitty truths of losing weight -- I am hungry a lot, because for me to lose weight, I have to keep the calories low, given that I have the metabolism of a manatee. I can choose to eat more calories but those days will not be weight-loss days. Or, I can strap on the running shoes and pound out a few miles to earn more calories. 

Please don't take offense to this post if dealing with weight issues still brings up overwhelming feelings. It did for me for a long time. But after a few years of working issues out with a psychologist who herself has lost more than 100 pounds, we carefully pulled the thorns out and I can tackle the situation with a relentlessness that transcends any plateau. 

I don't give up. Like ever. Calories don't take a holiday just because I'm on vacation. There is no "vacation mode."

Just last night we went to a Seattle Mariners game, and we circled the concession stands until I found a place that served something "safe" yet enjoyable. (It's gotta be enjoyable. I don't ascribe to the "food is fuel only" school of thought.) I ordered a grilled salmon sandwich with "dry" slaw on top. I told them to hold the tartar sauce and gave the top half of the ciabatta roll to the skinny teenager. Halfway through the game, the kid and I had a little frozen yogurt, but I knew I could because we hiked through the woods for 2 hours that morning and we burned beaucoup calories.

Those occasional plateaus aren't a mystery; bodies aren't that complicated. Calories have consequences and some days it's damn hard to keep a lid on them. But instead of throwing in the towel, you grab the wheel and steer it back on the road.

Lids, towels, steering wheels -- whoa, what a pastiche of metaphors!

So to all of you who are arriving in Portland for Fitbloggin', find me and say hi. I may pop into the "When You Have a Lot to Lose" session -- I'll be the cynical one in the corner offering tough love; I know I'll be sitting in on the Tackling the Taboo of Therapy" session because I talk about therapy the way others talk about getting their hair did.

And now for a musical interlude:


What, no crabcakes? (My Fitbloggin' recap)

Because there may be some readers who aren’t bloggers, I’ll keep my tale of Fitbloggin’ short and sweet.

I hit the ground running with a pre-conference tour of McCormick’s kitchens just outside Baltimore. My plane got in late, so I joined the dozens of other Fitbloggin’ attendees after they enjoyed a fantastic-sounding lunch, seasoned of course with all things McCormick. I came in on a discussion of consumers’ taste preferences (the tongue is a highly complex body part – not just for blowing raspberries).

Mccormick chef and dr wendy
Chef Mark Garcia and Wendy Bazilian, RD, discuss how awesome vegetables can be.

We learned about the flavor profiles of “red cap” cinnamon vs. Saigon cinnamon with an applesauce taste test (I am partial to McCormick’s Roasted Saigon Cinnamon, because I am a cinnamon FIEND).  We also met with McCormick chef Mark Garcia and registered dietitian Wendy Bazilian, who discussed the joys of vegetables, especially roasted ones.

The whole point of our McCormick tour was that you can add loads of flavor to your cooking without adding extra calories – all you need is a well-equipped herb and spice collection. You can find more about McCormick and pick up some great recipes at McCormick.com.

After a little dessert finale, it was back on the buses and over to the Hyatt for the start of Fitbloggin’. Some highlights:

Working out with Cathe Friedrich: She’s known for her super-tough workout DVDs but she toned things down a bit for us. We did an hour-long workout that featured resistance bands and sliding disks that we put under our feet for extra slippy-slideness.

Saturday’s Zumba workout: At last year’s Fitbloggin, Sue O’Lear (Mrs. Fatass) did a Zumba class and was immediately hooked, and in the past year she went from Zumba fan to instructor (and a great instructor). She and her fitness biz partner Samantha Collins (Simplifying Sam) led a class of probably more than 100 bloggers, some of whom have never Zumba’d before. And thanks, Sam, for teaching me the secret to the “body roll.” Excellent instructors!

Catching up with my pals:  Among them, Heather (Yummy Sushi Pajamas), Josie (Yum Yucky), Brandi (Diets in Review), Kia (Bodhi Bear), Robby (Fat Girl vs. World; my sister in spinal insanity) and of course my roommate, Kenlie (All the Weigh). I also got to catch up with Leslie and Melissa, fitness PR pros extraordinaire.

And no, I did not get any crab cakes this time. I did have a great deconstructed shrimp and grits at a very cool restaurant called 1010.

Hummus and veggies
Gotta make it fancy!
But I did get on the scale and lost nearly 2 pounds, so SCORE!

My first dinner last night was an ode to chickpeas -- I had some kale and chickpea soup I had stashed in the freezer and paired that with cukes, grape tomatoes and some jalapeno hummus (I'm totally not brand loyal to hummus, and right now my fave is Pita Pal).