Being obese in a skinny world.

So here’s a post I feel compelled to write. It’s about food but you won’t see one drool-worthy photo of cheese or ranch (well maybe one) and here’s why: I have a food addiction and I want to talk about living with it. 

I was never skinny - but not really chubby either. I was never a size 2. I went from girls sizes to a 6 and was fine with it. I graduated high school at 135 pounds. (I’m 5’ 5”.) 

But I grew up thinking I was fat. My dad always told me I needed to lose ten pounds. He called me “thunder thighs”. I also LIVED  through years of abuse from him. I say LIVED  because I made it through all that shit and got it to stop. 


What I didn’t realize was that even though the abuse stopped I had an unbelievable road ahead. A doctor told me once that people in similar situations often turn to drugs and alcohol or stay with their abuser. He was so impressed that I “had” no vices. 

But I did have a vice. 

I ate. I ate to comfort myself. And I needed a lot of comfort. I didn’t know what a healthy relationship was so I was in lots of unhealthy relationships. And I needed more comforting. More often than not, comfort came in a certain blue box filled with noodles and "cheese powder". 


And here I am (with my friend Vince). Nearly 300 pounds and a food blogger to boot. There’s no “success story” at the end of this. Yet anyway. 

But being fat sucks. 

Today I got on airplane. Airplanes really suck for fat people. And today it sucked a little more. 

You see I’m too fat to fit in the seat belt so I always had to ask for an extender. It’s embarrassing - every flight - trying to be quiet while asking. The sad pity face from the flight attendant as they try and pass it to you like it’s a tampon to your bestie in 8th grade math class. 

Well a year ago - I swiped an extender after a flight. VICTORY! Humiliation gone! I brought my own - bitch! 

Then today happened. I sat in an exit row. Hell - I paid $19 extra for that exit row seat. 

First - I couldn’t fit in the seat. The sides are rigid and were cutting into my now ACTUAL thunder thighs and it hurt. But I wedged in, wincing in pain, and got my extender in place. Then the flight attendant calls me out to the other exit row participants, “Are you using an extender? You can’t sit in the exit row. We'll have to move you.” 

There are rules, blah blah blah. She was nice enough and after walking up and down a full flight on a tiny plane - eyes rolling - she asked someone to switch with me and - thankfully - they obliged. 

I went to my new seat and got settled. Then I cried. 

The flight attendant was just doing her job, she tried to not embarrass me but I was still humiliated. Nobody else on this flight will remember this but me. I’ll remember it forever. 


Society is not made for fat people. I experience it every day. A seat too tight. A chair that I’m sure is going to Shallow Hal on me. A bathroom where I have to nearly stand on the shitter to get the door shut. 

I know I’m the only one that can change my body. But that doesn’t happen overnight just like I didn’t get fat overnight. I need therapy. I need support. Hell, I probably need meds. 

I guess I just want you to be a little extra kind to the next obese person you see. They might have just had to contort themselves into a pretzel just for the sake of peeing and that sucks. 

Weekend Fun in Cincy: Dogs + Beers!!!

There are two super fun events this weekend on the Northwest side of Cincinnati (Glendale + Wyoming) and I have to tell you about them!

First up - look at this face. Seriously - how can you not love her????? 

The Spooky Pooch is THIS Saturday October 14 at Washington Park IN GLENDALE (not downtown). It's on from 11am-4pm and is so much fun. I'm the DJ - so I'll be playing the oddest mix of music you've ever heard - but it's all fun. There will be 80s, 90s, current, Halloween, country and everything else you can think of - I also take requests and will be giving away DOOR PRIZES all day!

The biggest event is the costume contest and parade - bring your pooch in his/her best costume and you could win a big ol' prize basket of goodies! PLUS - you get a fun little swag bag for registering. You can pre-register your pup now for only $10!!

We also have a Creative Grooming contest which is always wild to see the amazing things they can do with the pups. My favorite though is the Lure Course! If you've ever seen the Cheetah Run at the Zoo - imagine letting your dog run it!?! Think you've got a fast pup - we'll see how they do?! Plus the Greyhound Rescue always stops by and it's so cool to see them run the course as well. 

There are food booths, pet vendors and animals up for adoption as well. And I'll be at the DJ booth giving out random prizes - it could be for someone with chewing gum in their purse, it could be for someone with a picture of a cat on their phone - WHO KNOWS WHAT I WILL THINK UP?! 

Also this weekend is the Beer, Wine + Food Festival in Wyoming benefitting the Cure Starts Now! 

The event is Friday & Saturday nights from 5-11pm - so you can Spooky Pooch it up during the day and head over for some beers on Saturday night! That sounds like a plan! 

As always Graeters will be there with Elena's Blueberry Pie ice cream (yum) and there will be other food vendors and bands playing both nights. Proceeds go to The Cure Starts Now benefiting childhood cancer research. 

Recipe: New & Unique Grilled Cheese for Fall

Fall is here and there is nothing better than toasty warm grilled cheese sandwiches. And while I normally go super standard with American cheese - it's time to mix it up! 

Sara Lee Artesano is sponsoring me to go on our favorite TV stations this weekend and I wanted to share the recipes for you guys beforehand! I've shared some yummy with them before (here and there) and now they have a new Artesano Golden Wheat bread variety and I got to try it out!  Here's what I'll be making! 

I hope you enjoy! 

Photo courtesy of Sara Lee

9-layer dip grilled cheese - pepper jack, refried beans, avocado, pickled red onions, tomatoes, cilantro and roasted corn
INGREDIENTS
2 slices of Sara Lee Artesano Golden Wheat Bread
3 slices of pepper jack cheese
1 tbsp refried beans
1/3 avocado, sliced
1 tbsp pickled red onions
2 tbsp chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp fresh cilantro leaves
2 tbsp roasted corn, shaved off the cob
2 pats salted butter, room temperature
INSTRUCTIONS
Add 1.5 slices of pepper jack cheese to 1 slice of Sara Lee Golden Wheat Artesano Bread. Next, layer on the refried beans, avocado, pickled red onions, tomatoes, cilantro, roasted corn, and the other 1.5 slices of pepper jack cheese. Add the top piece of bread and evenly smear the salted butter onto both exteriors of the sandwich and set aside.
Grill the sandwich in either a cast iron skillet until the bread is golden brown and the pepper jack has melted; about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 1 minute before slicing in half.

Photo courtesy of Sara Lee


Halloween Grilled Cheese: Brie, Mascarpone, Chocolate Peanut Butter Candy and Raspberry Jam
INGREDIENTS
2 slices of Sara Lee Artesano Golden Wheat Bread
3 slices of brie
2 tbsp mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup chocolate peanut butter candy, roughly chopped
1 tbsp raspberry jam
2 pats salted butter, room temperature
INSTRUCTIONS
Begin by smearing the mascarpone onto one slice of Sara Lee Artesano Golden Wheat bread. Add chopped chocolate peanut butter candy and 1 tbsp of raspberry jam. Add the brie on top and then cover the sandwich with the remaining slice of bread. Evenly smear the butter onto both exteriors of the sandwich and set aside.
Grill the sandwich in either a cast iron skillet until the bread is golden brown and the brie, mascarpone, and chocolate has softened and melted; about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 1 minute before slicing in half.





Great Halloween Ideas for Cincinnati!

Last week my good friends at Dunkin Donuts invited a bunch of us over to Dent Schoolhouse to see all the creepy delights they have to offer! But they're not the only ones going creepy this Halloween! 

Dunkin Donuts has creepified all of their donuts this Halloween - that's almost as creepy as this Dancing Pumpkin Man! And - just so you know - after a Bengals win - you can get a free iced or hot coffee in the Dunkin Donuts app! 

When I got to Dent Schoolhouse - they were making up my friend Lucy to be zombified! They are experts at this because they have 50-60 people working any given night at Dent.

If you're not familiar, Dent Schoolhouse is an old schoolhouse located on the West side and there's a little history about Charlie the Janitor that is a bit scary. Some say it's just a story...and some...well some haven't been heard from in a long long time...

Dent Schoolhouse is pretty cool they have tons of scenes and rooms that you walk through in one of the most elaborate indoor hauntings in the country! They're open Thursday-Sunday until Halloween - then after they're still open in November! This is pretty cool - in November you can come and get a "touch pass" which means that you're okaying the zombies and ghouls to grab you as you go through! I joked that I might just be there every night for all the feels from strangers!

Before our tour we had a little dinner from Colonel De Spices - he made us a great mac & cheese casserole with chicken and veggies. If you haven't been to Colonel De's - they have three locations at Findlay Market, Jungle Jims Eastgate and a store in Ft Thomas. They have the freshest spices and tons of unique rubs for every occasion!

Then we toured the schoolhouse and I met this girl...uh - we didn't really chat too long. They also do ghost tours on Wednesdays in October - and Bud (the owner) told us they have had some creeper things happen at the Schoolhouse - so that might go on my list!

The bloggers each decorated Haunted Houses with Dunkin Donuts delights and these ghouls were chosen as the winners! They got the coolest prize - front of the line passes! Literally they get to park and go in. Pretty bomb! (You can buy that too if you like!)

So - get spooked this Halloween - stop by Colonel De's for some spicy goodness for your grown up treats and then Dunkin for some sweets and then get the pants scared off you at Dent Schoolhouse! Sounds like a great Halloween to me! 

Enter to win a pair of tickets to Dent Schoolhouse below! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Holiday Shopping Ideas for the Kitchen

This post is sponsored by Groupon and US Family Guide. All opinions are my own. 

The holidays are right around the corner - yikes! Thankfully - there is one way to score easy deals year round - and that's with Groupon!


They have Groupon Coupons now for lots of major retailers and there's quite a few food related ones - which always make good gifts! 


Instead of flowers that die or cookies that add pounds - I love using Edible Arrangements because it's promoting healthy living. They also have some really cute fall arrangements that would make great Thanksgiving centerpieces. 


Hello Fresh is another great gift option - especially for folks that live far away and you're not really sure what to get them! I reviewed Hello Fresh and really loved it - the meals are easy to make and what a fun gift that keeps giving! I might give my mom a three month gift of Hello Fresh to give her some fun dinners to make! 


One last gift foodie gift idea is Omaha Steaks - who the heck would complain about a box of steak being delivered to their door?! And I had no idea - but you can even order Thanksgiving dinner from them! At our house - holiday meals are always a point of contention - there are just two of us and I don't want to cook all day for just the two of us! 
So this holiday season - check out Groupon Coupons and get some deals! Use some for yourself and some for your friends & family!

Recipe: Pumpkin Chocolate + Coffee Filled Overnight Oats

This post is sponsored by Dunkin Donuts. All opinions are my own.

Friday is National Coffee Day which is like Christmas for my friends at Dunkin Donuts! They have BOGO coffee all day! So share the love! 

I struggle with breakfast - when i leave my house - I'm not hungry - but by the time I get to work - i want to gnaw off my arm. So I have to have something packable - and something that will last through to lunch. 

So I decided to whip up a breakfast recipe featuring Dunkin Donut's special Pumpkin Coffee + lots of stuff that is SERIOUSLY good for you!


So simple and oats are a power packed breakfast that you can't help but loved! They're good for your heart and full of energy-driving nutrients! 


The nice thing you literally just mix it all together and put it in the fridge - you can't get any easier! And in the morning - you can eat them cold or heat them up. Then for a little crunch - shave some chocolate and add some crushed pecans. Easy, simple and tasty!


Pumpkin + chocolate + coffee overnight oats

INGREDIENTS

  • ¾ cup Old Fashioned Traditional Oats
  • ½ cup Vanilla Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • ¼ cup Brewed Coffee
  • 1/4 cup Pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tsp Pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tbsp Chia Seeds
  • 2 tsp Cocoa Powder
  • Cacao chocolate, shaved
  • Pecans, crushed
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Combine all ingredients into a jar or container with a lid, mix, and cover.
  2. Set in fridge overnight.
  3. In the morning, add additional almond milk if too dry, and add cacao and pecans

Understanding Farming & Food Labels

If you're a frequent reader of the blog - you know that I do some work with the Ohio Pork Council. In previous years, I've also worked with Certified Angus Beef and even Monsanto. My blog has given me the opportunity to meet with people of all walks of life and find out more about the food we all eat every day and I really appreciate that.

Every time I meet with a farmer - I learn new things.

In 2014, I went to a farm day outing sponsored by Monsanto - I heard horrible horrible things about Monsanto ahead of time. Friends were shocked I would even go! I read up on a few of the stories but - after my visit - I found out that Monsanto isn't the devil! Do they have things they need to work on? Sure - don't we all. But I talked to Leah Beyer and her husband - they were the farmers that hosted our visit. They purchase Monsanto seed for the crops that they grow and they've had a great relationship with them over the years.

This was an instance where I met with real people whose livelihoods depend on agriculture. I heard from them that they trust the crops that they grow and they EAT the crops that they grow. (That was the day I went home with 2 dozen ear of corn from their back yard!)


That same summer, I went on a farm tour with Certified Angus Beef up in Wooster, OH. We met with cattle farmers. One of the first things I learned is that ALL cows are grass fed. Why is that important? You hear a lot of people talking about "grass fed beef" so to find out that ALL cows are grass fed was interesting. The difference is that some cows are given grain during their last couple of months. So the question is WHY. The farmers told us that grains add flavor to the meat. OK...let's keep going with this...(it goes back to the Monsanto visit.)

Some people don't want to eat animals that have been fed grains - because some grains have been genetically modified. Okay - I get that. But I also know that there is a lot of science and testing behind the grains that are going into animal feed. I met with the Beyer family and we discussed it and they are comfortable with the product they grow and whats in them. In the end, I want to eat steak that has more flavor and if that comes from being grain fed at the end of their growth - then I'm okay with that.

These are decisions that each person needs to make for themselves - but it feels good to know a little more about the process to be better informed when making the decision. I don't claim to know everything - trust me - I haven't even scratched the surface - but I'm learning and I want to share some of this with you.


This brings me to this past weekend, which was the catalyst for this post. I was at the Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic and had stuffed my belly full of deliciousness. I stopped at the last booth and we were going to try one more bite before we left. Turns out - it was pork. (Not the photo above)

Honestly, I don't remember the restaurant that had this booth. I do remember that they were a fairly new place. (I truly can't remember which place it was.) The chef handing out the sample told us their bite was pork and I mentioned that I work with Ohio Pork. He said their pork is farm raised and I asked where the farm was in Ohio - he didn't know. He didn't even know if the farm was in Ohio.


Then he told us that the pork was "antibiotic and hormone free". I've been on farm visits and farm tours and farm dinners many times now and I know that federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in pork. So I mentioned to the chef - "Actually - you aren't allowed to add hormones to pork." He just repeated his line that he was (presumably) told to say, "Yes - well ours is antibiotic and hormone free." My friend with me had just been on a farm tour last week as well and said "Well, there are naturally occurring hormones in pork. But do you know the only food that doesn't have hormones?!" (He learned a fact on his farm tour - the answer is salt!)

We ate our bite of pork and went on our merry way home. What I found interesting about the situation was that here was someone representing this establishment that was priding themselves on having "antiobiotic and hormone free" pork. But yet when push came to shove - the Chef really didn't know the meaning of that statement.

Now I'm not faulting him - or even the establishment. It happens - I know I say far dumber things on a daily basis.



I see this as an opportunity!

Let's get to know our food better. Chefs - get out there and meet with farmers! If you're an organic chef that only eats/works with grass fed beef or "hormone-free" pork - go and talk to a farmer that raises grain-fed beef or that raises hogs for a living. Find out more of the story! You might gain new perspectives on the industry that you can share with others.

If there are any chefs out there - or other bloggers - or just folks in general that want to take a farm tour or ask real questions of real farmers - let me know! Post your questions in the comments. Reach out to me. I'm happy to help facilitate the process. I would love to take some chefs out to Uncle Squeals farm and have them spend a day getting to know the pigs that they'll meet in their kitchen some day. (Aw poor piglets...but bacon is so good!)

I hope this is a little thought-provoking and has you rethinking the next label you read. Find out a little more about what it actually means. We don't all need to be food scientists - but every little bit helps!