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Archive for May 31st, 2012

HAPPY THURSDAY!

We’re almost there!!!

The meat of today’s post is a review for the May Peanut Butter Fingers Book club book, hosted by the blog’s mastermind Julie!

I absolutely adore Peanut Butter Fingers—Julie has a positive, balanced outlook on life that is rare to come by these days, and her site is truly a wealth of food/fitness/mental health knowledge!

Fair warning: This is a wordy review. If that’s not your thang, go ahead and scroll on down to the gem at bottom :).

Synopsis: on the day she was abducted, Annie O’Sullivan, a thirty-two-year-old Realtor, had three goals: sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her ever-patient boyfriend. The open house is slow, but when her last visitor pulls up in a van as she’s about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all. Interwoven with the story of the year Annie spent captive in a remote mountain cabin — which unfolds through sessions with her psychiatrist — is a second narrative recounting the nightmare that follows her escape: her struggle to piece her shattered life back together, the ongoing police investigation into the identity of her captor, and the disturbing sense that things are far from over. The truth doesn’t always set you free. Still Missing is a shocking, visceral, brutal, and beautifully crafted debut novel about surviving the unsurvivable — and living to bear witness. (Source)

 I hate to be a Negative Nancy two reviews back to back, but the above description, though technically accurate, makes this book out to be way more glamorous than it actually is.  Like Sarah’s Key, there are two stories running in Still Missing, and I felt differently towards but equally disappointed by both.

The primary narrative takes place through a hokey construction of conversations with her anonymous therapist. I assume that the author intended this as a way to follow Annie’s recovery from a uniquely personal point of view. Unfortunately, it did nothing for me, except to add another character with an ill-defined role into the mix.

Annie’s pre-abduction boyfriend Luke and best friend Christina begin as promising antidotes to her relentless negativity. But the undercurrent of competitiveness between Annie and Christina isn’t convincingly absolved by their cheap declarations of friendship in the last chapter. Luke is promoted as her “rock” throughout the novel, and then she ditches him at the end to pursue a sickly Freudian relationship with the silver-haired officer that solves her case?!

And her mother—oh, her mother—is such a painful caricature from the very beginning, that I could barely muster an eye-roll when she is eventually pegged as the mastermind behind her daughter’s abduction.

Stevens tries to make Annie’s struggle to regain her life poignant, with moments such as the following:

 “There are all these books that say we create our own destiny and what we believe is what we manifest. You’re supposed to walk around with this perpetual bubble over your head thinking happy thoughts and then everything is going to be sunshine and roses. Nope, sorry, don’t think so. You can be as happy as you’ve ever been in your life, and shit is still going to happen.”

Suspending my personal opinions on the matter, I might have found this credible, if Annie were presented to us as ever having been a positive person. You get the sense that she’s, well, always been a sourpuss! Even before the death of her father and sister, Annie admits that she was the shadow behind her happy-go-lucky sister.

Perhaps I’m being unfair, but the bottom line is, I wasn’t on Annie’s side from page one. And I happen to believe very strongly that positivity begets positivity, which isn’t to say that terrible things don’t happen to good people—they sure do. However, I am convinced that maintaining a hopeful mindset through the tough times does, in fact, make them easier and help to breed happiness out of them.

Now, regarding the other narrative that takes place in this book—the grotesquely exhaustive account of Annie’s abduction…

Honestly, as a curious human being, I was riveted by the dirty details in a car-crash-can’t-close-my-eyes sort of way. But, other than to quicken my commute for several days, the dark, meticulous narrative did not help me to understand Annie’s “deeper” struggles.  In fact, I think the extensive detail takes away from the (intended) seriousness of her recovery, as the reader can only focus on what act is next in the “Freak’s” carnival show.

Perhaps I need not say it, but I would not recommend this book. Even for the thriller aspects of it. This is simply because I cannot promote  a book that calls to and indulges our basest instincts without some sort of redeeming quality.

Now, to quickly lighten things before you vow never to return to my blog—may I share with you the INCREDIBLE recipe that I whipped up last night?!

I had a ton of basil leftover from my Basil-Peach Chicken Breasts, and pesto immediately sprung to mind as a way to use it. However, I reaaally didn’t want to have to buy anything else! Using the magic that is Tastespotting.com, I found the perfect solution:

Almond-Basil Pesto:

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup ground almonds
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • scant 1/4 tsp salt
  • plain unsalted almond butter
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • juice of 1/4 – 1/2 a lemon

Instructions: Skin and squash the garlic. Add everything except the oil into a food processor and process until a green mush forms. Scrape down once and add your olive oil. Blitz again until oil is fully incorporated. I like my pesto chunky and not super-oily, but feel free to continue to add oil and run machine until you reach your desired consistency.

Voila!

I had a feeling that this stuff would be good, but nothing could have prepared me for just how absurdly delicious it is! The almonds/almond butter provide a creaminess that I worried might be missing without Parmesan cheese. I am a pesto-fanatic in general, but I think this combination might be my favorite yet.

I couldn’t resist adding a blob to my basil-peach chicken last night, but it would also be fabulous on fish, vegetables, crackers, or mixed with a bit of extra olive oil and tossed into couscous or salad greens. Frankly—it’s tasty enough to have been be eaten by the spoonful!

I hope this recipe has redeemed me every so slightly from my scathing review above. Trust me though, just as you KNOW when I like a food, you will hear equally lavish praise when I adore a book.

Have a lovely night, all!

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It’s WIAW!!!

Click HERE to read more about this awesome phenomenon in the Healthy Living Blogger world.

I’m gonna keep this post short, sweet, savory and visual!

Breakfast: Under-toasted whole wheat English muffin, 1 side with butter butter and the other with nutter butter! (Honey Cinnamon Flax AB); plain Chobani with Splenda, cinnamon and sliced banana–the riper the better!

Douugghhyy butters sandwich. Could eat for every meal.

1/2 pulpy OJ, 1/2 seltzer. I’ve been battling allergies for the last few days, and needed this soldier

Lunch Part I: Nearly finished my bowl o’ veg before thinking to snap a pic, but it was this X about 10! The orange-cherry(?) tomatoes were sweet as candy!

Sandwich queen throws a lunch curveball!

Lunch Part II: Giant falafel ballz over a bed of israeli salad, dressed in an amazing sesame-tahina sauce, with a side of UBER-DOUGHY whole wheat pita bread!

I ADORE the restaurant where this came from, Tabouli Grill! From their website:  “Tabouli Grill uses only fresh, wholesome ingredients—no trans fats, no preservatives, lots of veggies, whole grains, extra virgin olive oil, simple grilled meats and fish—foods you can feel good about eating!

And I do! I don’t mind fried food a’tall, if I trust that it’s been cooked using heart-healthy oils (and even the bad stuff’s ok every now and again :)).

Milky mint tea and a square of TJ Pound Plus 72%. I drink the tea sort of AS I eat the chocolate and it melts and is heavenly.

Daily fruit infusion

New slamalammin’ snack courtesy of my friend Sara at Sarasmiles. Cottage cheese with Peanut Butter Nature Valley bar crumbled a-top!

Banana scarfed in Grand Central

Insanely delicious dinner: Chicken breasts from my Basil-Peach Chicken with an addictive blob of recipe-to come :). Leftover Israeli salad mixed with hummus and sesame tahina sauce, carrots dipped in extra sawce!

Slice of Lemon 1-2-3 Cake artfully baked by my roommate Carina; Greek yogurt mixed with Vanilla Instant Sugar-Free Jello pudding, vanilla extract and cinnamon. If you haven’t tried this combo yet (any cake flavor!)–I implore you.

And that’s all for now, folks!

I have to say, this was a rather delicious day from start to finish :).

Have a fabulous night!

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