Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Time of Your Life

Eleven, Eleven, Eleven (11-11-11) has come and gone and the world didn’t end…crap!…because over at The Chameleon’s Backbone, we partied, ate, drank, and blew money like it was our last day on earth.

It was also Mr. Backbone’s birthday, so we pulled out all the stops.

We rented car service…picked up some friends….

Elite Limo Forever Friends

…and hit the town.

Every once in a while, we need to treat ourselves like the rock stars we want to be.  Until now, I’ve never picked a random (or not so random) date on the calendar and acted like I would if it was my last day alive.

Sure…serving food to the homeless might have earned me a place in heaven.  Spending my rainy day fund on some sinful gluttony happened instead. (Where’s that pamphlet I filed about going to Hell?)

Most of our evening was spent at the swanky downtown Pittsburgh restaurant, Eleven.

Eleven Menu

IMG_2710 IMG_2726

(If you ever visit Pittsburgh, the menu at Eleven is fabulous.  The food is perfectly prepared.  The wine selection is unbelievable. The atmosphere is trendy and cool.)

A thought crossed my mind on Eleven, Eleven, Eleven, at Eleven, as dessert was being served at minutes before Eleven p.m.

Salted Caramel  IMG_2744

You have no idea if you have decades to live, just a few years, or a single day.  Whatever it is that you want to do…don’t wait until tomorrow. If you think it’s over-the-top, unrealistic, or too expensive without a coupon, put those thoughts out of your mind. I’m not suggesting that you disrupt your life.  I’m suggesting that you enhance life…enjoy it…stop sitting around in your robe and slippers and waiting for a day that might never come. Minutes turn to hours…turn to days…turn to years…and then it could be too late.

If there’s an 11-11-11-11-11 moment that you’ve been waiting to make happen, don’t delay…put the wheels in motion today.

If you only had one day left, what would you do?

F: The $5 Friday Fish Fry

In and around the City of Pittsburgh, the Friday Fish Fry is a long-standing tradition during Lent.  There is a big Catholic church down the street from my house.  On nearly every street corner there’s a sign advertising their Fish Fry.  If you happen to miss those signs, there’s a huge banner hanging at the main intersection.  Does your neighborhood get bombarded with Fish Fry signs, too? 

Upon leaving my town and going to the next town, there are more signs, for more Fish Fries, at other churches…and fire halls…and restaurants…and markets.  Cost of each: around $5.

Fish Fry Sign 1 Fish Fry Sign 3

Fish Fry Sign 4 Fish Fry Sign 2

No matter where you go, the fish is always Cod.  Never Halibut.  Never Mahi-Mahi.  Never Tuna, or Swordfish, or Salmon, or Shark.  I guess those fishes cost more than $5 or don’t taste good fried.  Plus, Cod rhymes with God so that makes it easy to remember what’s on the menu.

I don’t write about my religion very much because if you’ve read my About page than you know that I hate it when people define me based on a stereotype.  Nonetheless, my religion is Catholicism so I understand the concept of fasting on Fridays. 

Fasting from meat 1 day/week during the 6 weeks of Lent is supposed to be an expression of self-sacrifice.  In today’s super-sized culture of massive consumption, I think it’s good to deny yourself of over-indulging once in a while.  Humans are resilient.  We live happily in many places of the world with very little.  Life can go on for a day without iPhones, and Facebook, and manicures, and yes…even meat.

Personally, I like that fish is so readily available here during Lent.  If I had to pull it out of the water myself, I’d probably starve to death.  I tried to catch a fish once.  All I ended up with was a tangled line and a dead worm.  Do worms count as meat?

Tracy Fishing

Do you ever practice self-denial?  What indulgence would be the most difficult for you to do without? 

Tomorrow’s post based on the letter G will not rhyme with Cod.  Be sure to check back!

If you liked this post, you may also like The Case of the Smoking Salmon.

Meaty, Cheesy, Well-Done…and Oh So Good

Feast your eyes on this…


Quite an image for a Friday.  No?

Lately I’ve been thinking about my collection of friends and all the people who I like to spend time around.  The people in your social circle can say a lot about you and your own personality. 

So, I set out to describe my friends…hoping to shed some light on myself.  The trouble was, many of my friends  have very different and sometimes completely opposing characteristics.  They are young, old, intellects, rebels, physically fit, overweight, beer drinkers, wine drinkers,  men, women, travelers, stay-at-homers, church-goers, and even bad-ass bikers.

I struggled to find the commonalities.  But then, it hit me.  Every single one of the people I enjoy spending time with have four traits in common. 

They are…


They have substance.  They’re nothing like a tofu-dog    just filling up space in a bun (not to hate on vegetarians, but how can they think tofu tastes good disguised as a hot dog –I  just don’t get it)

People of substance believe that their lives have    meaning and purpose.  They care about and talk about   the important things in life, and aren’t superficial. 



Did you hear the one about the elephant who went to Japan?  Every single one of my friends has a funny/ odd/cheesy sense of humor.  Or, they appreciate and enjoy laughing along with the cheesy people around them.  If you’re not cheesy and don’t like your friends     to walk around with a block of cheese on their head,     step aside.



What’s your opinion on rare meat?  I hate rare meat.  I even hate watching someone else eat a rare piece of meat.  I mean, how appetizing can the side of mashed potatoes be when the blood from your steak just rushed on over across the plate turned them bright red?  Super, super gross!  I order my steaks, and my friends, medium-well.   If your raw, bloody emotions immediately spill    out the second I poke you with my fork, chances are,    you won’t stay in my friend-circle for long.  I can handle justified, rational emotion, but I don’t do drama.


…and oh so good

Have you ever tried one of those chocolate lava cakes?  They’ve just got to serve those in heaven, don’t ya think?  Yummy.  Yum.  Yum.  I like to surround myself with people who are  genuinely good on the inside.  They’re well-intentioned, honest, learn from their mistakes, and are naturally compelled to help others.  Even when they do something wrong, bad, or have a  major f-up moment (because we all do), they were well-intentioned while doing it.

Some of my close friends read this blog…and now they know that I’ve just compared them to 3,000 calorie meal.  Sorry, friends…I call it like I see it.

What personality traits are common among your friends and the people who are close to you?  What do you think that says about you, if anything?

If you liked this post, you may also like Freeze Power and Emotional Osmosis.  Have a great weekend!

Images are borrowed from,, and


If you haven’t yet read Wednesday’s post, Picture Your Future Self, check it out below.  Jill at Resolution of Happiness has a great essence of me photo on her site, found here.  I really like the picture she posted because it says something about her.  It’s a great example of what I was talking about in Picture Your Future Self.  Remember, if you post a photo, send me your link so that I can acknowledge your amazing-ness.

Today was a rainy day here in Western Pennsylvania.  Los Angeles is having record heat.  We are having this…

With the turn in weather, many of us are feeling sluggish.  Also, now that the heat is running, your skin may be getting more dry.  Debbie at Food-Loose warns that if you feel tired and dried-out, you may be dehydrated. 

I usually drink water when I’m working out, but since I’ve been a total slacker in that area lately, I haven’t been getting enough.  Where’s the Waterboy when you need him?  Oh…Adam….

  The Waterboy (C) Columbia Pictures

Debbie says…

Whether you think of yourself as a glass half-full or half-empty kind of person, don’t forget to fill it up……6 to 8 times to get the recommended daily amount.  Virtually nothing takes place in the body without water playing a vital role.  Almost all of the body’s cells need water to perform their functions.  Apparently, the Waterboy was onto something.  Here are some amazing facts: 

  • Approximately 37 percent of Americans mistake thirst for hunger because their thirst detection mechanism is weak. 
  • Mild dehydration may slow human metabolism by as much as 3 percent.  
  • And believe it or not, lack of water is the number one trigger of fatigue during the day.

Gotta run, its 5 o’clock somewhere at my water bar! 

I think I’ll book a flight to Los Angeles to enjoy their record heat wave.  When it is hot outside, I always drink water.  But, when the temps turn cold, I tend to forget about it.  I think a little California hotness would put me back on the right track.  And, while I am there, maybe I’ll sneak in a little beach and spa time – both wonderful uses of water in my book.  Time for a little internal and external hydro-therapy.

When the weather turns cold, do your healthy habits go into hibernation?  Do you have any tips/tricks to stay healthy during the winter?

The Missing Ingredient in Healthy Eating

Many things inspire posts on The Chameleon’s Backbone.  This post was inspired by a bowl of fish stew…

There are many websites and blogs about food and healthy eating.  Most of them cover similar topics… 

  • Recipes
  • Healthy ingredient substitutions 
  • Portion sizes
  • Proper fueling after exercise 
  • Emotional relationships with food
  • Individual food idiosyncrasies, like vegetarianism.

Promoting healthy eating is a very honorable and important mission.  Diet-related disease affects many people in this country, especially youth.  I see many blog posts about what to eat, but few posts about how to eat.  

When I see a blog-posted photo of a fabulous plate of food, I often wonder where the meal was eaten, if it was slowly savored or wolfed down, and who shared in the meal.  I rarely see this information posted.  So I ask, why not? 

Take my dinner last night.  It was soooo good that my first inclination was to post a photo of my plate on this blog.  I hesitated because 1) this isn’t a food blog; and 2) the reason my dinner was super good wasn’t because it looked delicious. 

Cut to yesterday evening…

Eating alone is no fun,” Grandma said, as she sat at the kitchen table and chopped vegetables for the family dinner.  I love cooking with her, partly because Grandma is the best chopper in the whole wide world.  I’ve never seen anyone else chop celery by hand in perfectly even, tiny pieces.  With all of the fancy kitchen gadgets available, how many of us chop the old-fashioned way – with an actual knife

For a perfect chop, Grandma’s secret is to slice one end of the celery stalk into thin vertical strips… 

It should look like this…

Then, slice the vertically sliced end of the stalk horizontally, like this…



Ta-da!  Perfectly sized tiny little pieces…

She does the same hand-chopping magic with other veggies too.

When the cooking was done, my family shared a wonderful pot of stew.  As we ate, we sat around the family table catching up on each others’ lives.  We didn’t fill our bowls and sit in silence in front of the TV.  We didn’t divide out portions into plastic containers and head our separate ways.  We didn’t measure out servings based on calorie counts.  We didn’t stuff ourselves while others at the table went hungry.  And we certainly didn’t skip the meal and eat grapefruits instead. 


I think that one of the essential missing ingredients in healthy eating today is good old-fashioned togetherness and the traditional family dinner.  When meals are shared from a common plate, there is a thankfulness and joy that surrounds the table.  Food is passed with gratitude.  It is consumed more slowly.  Portion size becomes a natural tendency of sharing.  Unhealthy habits are harder to disguise.

I agree with Grandma.  Eating alone is no fun.  I challenge you to think more seriously about the value of sharing the table – with family, with friends, with people you care about and who care about you.  Then, look around that table.  Notice how the meal is nourishing health, happiness, and strength.  Food is something to celebrate and share.  Not to fear and control. 

Grandma, have you ever gone on a diet?”  “Nahhh,” she said “your grandfather always liked me just the way I was.”  And with that, she finished her last bite of stew and reminded me about the home-made apple pie she baked for dessert.


Do you think that sharing meals with family and friends can improve the concept of Healthy Eating?


This weekend I did two things worth reporting.  One – I saw the movie “Eat Pray Love,” which was a great story about a woman searching for self-knowledge and self-peace.  I give it a thumbs up.  Two – I ate.  Over-ate, to be exact.  Darn that movie and its scenes set in Italy with all the pasta, and pizza, and……more pasta.  I went directly from the theater to the local Italian restaurant for a sheet of lasagna.

And then, there was the bacon, and I’m not talking about this kind of Bacon:

Part way through the weekend, after trying everything on the buffet at a Saturday afternoon bridal shower (including – you guessed it – more pasta), I called my sister for some intervention.  She has official-like letters after her name, so I always listen to her when it comes to food.

A Note From Debbie, BS, CDM, CFPP

If you want to make healthy food choices with ease, trust yourself.  Use your inner wisdom.  And, don’t be fooled by advertising.  Information from the 36 billion dollar food marketing industry has been shoved down our esophagus so far and fast that it is lodged in our pyloric sphincter.

Eat foods that are as much from their natural state as possible.  No ingredient lists to review on the packaging.  If you are worrying about pesticides and injected chemicals in foods that look natural…..we will save that for another discussion. For now, know this: we are smart and we can trust ourselves. Carrot = Carrot.  No easy button needed.

If you can cut it loose from the ground or a tree, go for it.  It’s what I call Food-Loose. 

After a talk with my sister, I went home, made a salad, and danced around the kitchen singing the song.  Come on, you’ve gotta remember.

♫ ♪ I get this feeling…That time’s just holding me down…I’ll hit the ceiling…Or else I’ll tear up this town…Tonight I gotta cut…Loose, Footloose…Kick off your Sunday shoes…♫ ♪

And for full disclosure, I also sang the part at the end that goes Everybody cut..Everybody cut…dunt dunt…Everybond cut footloose Food Loose as I was slicing and dicing the veggies.  I’m weird.  I know.

We probably spend more time staring into our closets picking out what tops to wear than planning our menus.  What goes into our bodies is more important than what goes on them.  We are what we eat, so Food-Loose will occasionally be featured on this blog. 

Is food choice an important part of your life?  Does eating healthy come easy to you, or is making good food choices difficult or confusing?

I have a tough week ahead…and lots in store to talk about.  My dad is having lung surgery tomorrow, so if you have connections above, look up and shout out a little prayer for him to the Big Man.