Monday, June 9, 2008


For every 20-something female in this city and beyond, June is universally known as panic time. The Point of No Return. The Red Zone. The first warm day in the month of June strikes fear in every young girl's heart, because it is the official deadline by which you should have achieved that perfect BBB. That is, the Bangin' Bikini Body. Now sure, we've had months to get this done, its been in the calendar for weeks, and it shouldn't be all that hard, in theory. Get a good running regimen going around March or April, maybe do some Pilates, an ab class here or there, some kickboxing, get a spray tan, a Brazilian wax, and wham, you're good to go. Astoria Park, here we come. Except now its midday on June 7th, a sweltering 95 degrees, and all you see in the mirror is whole lotta ghostly muffin top jiggliness. Yeech. So you launch into Plan B, which includes an obscene amount of All-Bran and water, you start flushing all the carbs in your cabinet down the toilet, and start buying organic, wholestic type foods you once read about in Women's Health. In my own effort to drop the spare tire, I'd adopted a menu of whole grains and vegetables, which not only proved to be surprisingly delicious, but also ridiculously cheap. For example: 1 can black beans + 1 can corn + avocado + a few grape tomatos+ mozzarella + a lil' balsamic vinaigrette = a pretty tasty $6.00 meal.

When reducing oneself to the nuts and berries consumed by our hard-bodied predecessors during the Mesolithic, you really gotta' get creative. You have to open your mind and palate to knew and interesting grains, because honestly, you're going to get sick of Romain lettuce after the first week. Cue my brief romance with the South American seed, Quinoa. Originally found growing high in the cliffs of the Andes Mountains, Quinoa is a delicious alternative to couscous or rice, jam-packed with healthy, satiating carbs and a fairly quick cook-time. I'd run across an Indian-inspired recipe combining it with chickpeas, almonds, carrots, dried cranberries, and a nice lime curry dressing. Like I said, when subsisting entirely on feed intended for ferrets, you need to mix it up a little. The results weren't half bad, (filling, flavorful, one might say a little peaty)...until I awakened the next morning with a stomach ache of EPIC proportions. Turns out Quinoa seeds are coated in an oily substance called saponin, which you're supposed to remove by rinsing and soaking for an hour or so. Thanks a lot, Women's Health. Would have been nice to include that on the recipe card. Or the instructions on the bag, for that matter. For those of you who've never delved into the world of exotic grains, be assured that a Quinoa hangover is probably worse than coming off crack. Something not even a crate of fruit flavored Tums can fix. It took me a sleepless night and most of my workday overcome, thank you very much. And so, I present you #7 on my list of Things That Are For Losers. From now on, I'll be sticking to my gateway grains, things like bulgur wheat and steelcut oats. This South American schwag is way too hardcore.