Travel snacks

Hello friends! Good morning to all of you. I haven't been outside yet, so I can't say whether it's frosty or not, but for the sake of my drive I'm crossing my half-painted fingers. This evening I will be jetting off in my little yellow bug as I head down to Memphis, Tennessee for the United Professional Theatre Auditions. Not one to deny myself some exploration, I have lengthened the trip by a few days, with plans to stop in Blacksburg, Nashville, Memphis, Little Rock, and Tyler, Texas.  It didn't really occur to me until I relayed my plans to loved ones exactly how far I was driving. When they asked about my audition, I replied "I'm driving, and taking a little road trip." Maybe because I'm not crossing or reaching an ocean it doesn't seem that far to me. (Although a pit-stop in the Gulf of Mexico doesn't sound too bad...Bud Light Lime on the Sarasota shore sounds quite divine...!!)

So when I took in the length of my trip, my mind went to one thing: food. And gas. And money.  In the past, when I've traveled cross country, I've stopped at Mom and Pop dive-y restaurants, or sought out Anthony Bourdain's favorite dishes.  In New Orleans, I had Alligator Sausage and Shrimp Cheesecake and a Watermelon Mojito.  This, on top of two entrees I split with my boyfriend at the time, we also had an $80.00 bill. Worth it, but also not your everyday kinda meal.

Food is important to a traveler. It allows you to taste the scenery, examine the culture through another sense.  This being said, I will be sure to nom upon several of the local (and thrifty) eats as I make my way southward, in addition to having my epic baby cooler full of amazing travel goodies. 

1. Dry roasted almonds

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If you've been reading my blog, you are already aware of the slightly-beyond-platonic relationship I am maintaining with almonds.  I never thought I'd be one of those women in the opening montage of The Devil Wears Prada, the ones who wear La Perla and count almonds as a snack, but hell, here I am. They taste really good. I even bought dark chocolate covered ones yesterday, but I don't have a picture because I ate them all in the parking lot.

2. Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate

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If I could have any job in the world, I'd want to be one of those kids on the chocolate cooking show sketch from All That. Do you remember it? They were called Randy and Mandy or Candy or Sandy or something rhyme-y and on the brink of stripperdom, and they attempted to make chocolate inspired recipes, but it always just ended up exploding into chocolate warfare. One time Chris Farley guest starred as a man who was addicted to ketchup. I miss the 90s.

Here I have regular dark, dark with raspberry (because ya gotta get a little crazy), and dark chocolate covered cacao nibs. If you've never had them, I highly recommend. They're crunchy and bitter, providing you with a slight endorphin kick and leaving your taste buds melting in rich bliss.

3. Luna Protein

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One of my favorite things ever are things that are not cookie dough that taste like cookie dough. The raw real stuff will always win, but when it's not around, I find substitutions. Chocolate covered cookie dough bites, cookie dough pop-tarts, cookie dough truffles. I love them all. So when I found Luna Protein offered a "HEALTHY" option, I nearly punched the GNC lady in a fit of joy.  For those mornings when I need to get on the road ASAP and have to skip a proper breakfast (silent tear will fall), these might just do the trick. And then I'll be eating cookies for breakfast, which I was never allowed to do, because Cookie Crisp, while it tasted like a brown unicorn, contained about 60 grams of sugar.

I also bought mint chocolate chip and lemon vanilla, and I'm surprised I stopped there.

4. Kombucha Multi-Green

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YUM! Who doesn't love getting in their daily dose of Algae? This girl does. This is like drinking the cast of The Little Mermaid. There are all these weird green-bits dancing around the bottom, and if you don't think about it at all, then the stuff is amazing.

5. Red Wine

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This is not for the road trip, rather the road trip unwind.  One cannot travel without a way to properly say goodbye to the road each night. You need a comfy bed (or couch, or sleeping bag) and a glass of red. The first, Velvet Moon, is something Trader Joe Guy encouraged me to try.  The second, Red Truck, is one of my favorite wines, rivaling the WalMart Lucky Ducky.  Kate first introduced me to Red Truck when we ate cheese and dried apricots on the floor of our shared bedroom at the Renn Faire.  I brought it to share with one of my good friends, Joshua, and he hadn't had it since college, when they drank it outside of trailers under the Texan stars. It's an easy-going, comforting red blend, that wraps you like a warm cheese and encourages you to sit down and snuggle into an afghan blanket.

6. Granny Smith Apples

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Crunchy and tart, these are the highest one the sour apple scale, and I love them for that.  They remind me of that scene in Sleepless in Seattle where Meg Ryan peels an entire apple in one long spiral. I love them for that even more.

7.  Baby Carrots

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Because what's a road trip WITHOUT Vitamin A?!  Like the apples above, carrots provide a solid crunch. I wish I could say, "studies have shown...", but I heard this from word of mouth so who knows if it's true--crunchy foods relieve anxiety and energize you.  Regardless, this bag will approximately last me one hour of this over-a-week-long-trip.

8. Bubble Tape

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This had to come along for the ride, because sometimes, when you're on the road of some Tennessee Highway, and Jerry Lee Lewis starts playing, the one thing that will perfect the moment is blowing a bright pink bubble.

when the mood swings come a-knockin'

I'm sorry. I'm sorry I'm posting about yet ANOTHER smoothie recipe, but I can't stop.And I have a good reason. 

At times, maybe while running on the treadmill or when I'm murdering my hair with the straightener, I start connecting weird thoughts and sentences. Sometimes these moods instill a feeling of fear, sometimes they trigger beautiful clauses that  I instantly tap into my iPhone's notepad. Melancholic seems too sad. Ambivalence implies something more distraught. I feel at peace, while simultaneously a little useless, and pensive.  

It's almost the sensation of walking on a tightrope. Weirdly balanced, but acknowledging the fall. Seeing the other side. Seeing the hard work it demands. It makes me want to lay on my back and collect golden teardrops in my palms. 

I hang out in these places. Feel the feels. Wonder if it's due to menstruation (about one fourth of the time, it is. And if you are grossed out by reading that, go slap yourself with a car. Kidding. But seriously. If men can talk about the shape of their poops then I'm allowed to bring up PMS.) Once that's all over and done with, I instantly try to think of a remedy, form of comfort, or at least something useful so I don't sit in my brain like a hottub of chocolate pudding. (Hottub of chocolate pudding. OMG.)

And I have found a wonderful solution.

Matcha green tea powder. (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) 

If green tea is the mood-boosting, metabolism-ass-kicking tomboy little sister, Matcha is the matriarch of all things green and delicious. She is Red in Orange is the New Black (**SPOILER**) before all that kitchen shit went down. She is Heisenberg.  She is Beyoncé singing Drunk in Love at the Grammy's. If there was a fictional movie about this stuff, Chloe Moretz would play regular green tea and Meryl Streep would play Matcha.  And then somewhere, Steve Martin would pop up as some trippy herbal shit, and chaos would ensue. 

The point is, this stuff is legit. It gives you clean energy, as well as a natural sense of balanced euphoria. It makes the road seem a little bit easier, especially when the road is pretty damn expensive, and you're planning an eight-day road trip on a post grad's budget. The leaves are grown solely in Japan, and then are powdered down into a fine heap of green dust. You can mix with water, milk, or use it as an ingredient in smoothies (!!), cookies, cakes, or anything else. At a writer's conference last Spring, we ate it in the form of ice cream out of white chocolate graham cones.  I would like try a matcha tiramisu, though this might be the last thing I do ever, because I'm sure the ecstasy from such a treat would launch me into a blissful, and somehow weirdly productive, coma. 

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Kale and Matcha Green Smoothie

½ cup greek yogurt (I like vanilla for this recipe)

1 cup ice

½ orange juice

1 tbs. matcha green tea powder

half a frozen banana

2 bunches of kale, leaves torn

spurtle of whip cream (optional, but not to meeee.)

 Combine in a blender or VitaMix and blend blend blend!!!

There are so many variations on this so I don’t know if this can be improved, I’m sure it can. I may try adding mangoes, or swapping in almond milk. It’s great pre or post-workout, or all on it’s own. 

nourishing the body

Image There is a play I love. It’s called “Melancholy Play” and it’s by Sarah Ruhl. Ms. Ruhl writes very whimsical things, beautiful things; things that I would like to collect in a wicker-basket of words and take on a picnic along a Northeastern beach.  Maybe we would eat lobster rolls.

In this play, the main character, Tilly suffers from constantly feeling melancholic. She falls in love with a woman who writes obituaries, and then she turns into an almond.

“Do you ever have the feeling, when you wake up in the morning, that you’re in love but you don’t know with what?

-Tilly, in Melancholy Play

I’ve recently boarded the almond train. I like almond butter, I like raw almonds,  I like almond milk.  They’re all quite versatile, and provide different yummy satisfactions.  And they’re good for you?!?!

Healthy food gets a bad rep. I think this is because healthy eating often seems boring, or like you aren’t “living your life to the fullest” when you turn down donuts in favors of a breakfast smoothie.  (Don’t get me wrong. I love donuts. My favorite is the ultra-unhealthy, saturated fat laden, vanilla with rainbow sprinkles.) But lets not neglect the breakfast smoothie. It’s over there, waving its little blueberry arms, yelling “HEY I TASTE GOOD TOO, OKAY?”

While one type of food nourishes the soul (microwave nachos, I’m looking at you), the other nourishes the body. Like almonds.

Nourishing the body is so important. I don't think eating healthy foods makes me boring.  No, like a nude photograph of David Bowie, it makes me feel alive. It even sometimes makes feel like a beach dancer with a hula-hoop and the enthusiasm to climb a coconut tree.  The taste of raw almond butter comforts me, and yet I don’t fall into a food coma shortly after indulging in its bliss.

I like almonds in Sarah Ruhl plays. I like them plain, and maybe with a bit of salt.

I like almond butter stirred into my oatmeal, making little tidal waves throughout the creamy oats.

And I really really love love love almond milk in my smoothies.

Espresso Breakfast Smoothie

½ cup greek yogurt

1½ cup ice

½ almond milk

1 tbs. cocoa powder or carob powder.

1 shot of espresso

1 large banana

1 tsp. vanilla paste

1 packet of stevia

(I use stevia because I use unsweetened chocolate, yogurt, and almond milk. If any of these ingredients are already sweet, you probably don't need the stevia at all. Or you could use honey. I like things sweet, because part of me is still a child who mixes Lucky Charms and Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Kettle Corn and calls it dinner.)

Blend everything together in a VitaMix or blender. Taste and adjust if needed; smoothies are personal things! Some people like them icy, some prefer smooth.  This makes one medium sized drink, perfect for one.

Enjoy with David Bowie music and then go dance in a pair of knee high socks.