Always Remember

10347422_10203643352258301_4960864177723540751_n

Fifteen years ago, today, the world was turned on its head as the most powerful nation on the planet was brought to its knees.

I remember the 11th of September of 2001 vividly. I remember exactly where I was and who I was with when I watched an aircraft target the New York Skyline. I remember the shock and fear in my big sister’s voice as she called for my brother and me as we were getting ready for school that morning. I remember the adrenaline tweaking my system as my brother and I ran down the stairs towards her piercing voice. And I remember the shock, the confusion, that stopped my blood in its cold veins, as I set my big, childish eyes on the collapse of one of my country’s most iconic buildings. On the fiery demise of 2,996 innocent American lives. On the true American Horror Story.

I remember breaking news updates pouring out of every television and radio, in every classroom. I remember teachers, in shock themselves, talking us young students through the emotional and unbelievable events that had transpired on the other side of our country.

I remember the vision of humans, mortal flesh and bone, jump to their terrifying deaths to escape the collapse of the burning building in which they were trapped.

I remember the skyline suffocated under a blanket of shadow and ash, and the indistinguishable grey and black, tear-stained faces of all the victims and the first responders who risked their lives to save them.

I remember the dunes and mountains of concrete, glass, and steel, imprisoning innocent people in a hellish darkness.

There is a lot I remember of that nightmarish day. And with each year that passes, every year that guides me further from the confusion and fear and anger of the eleven year-old little girl I was, towards the woman I am today, I gain only more grave understanding of what transpired.

Of the importance of all the police, medics, firefighters, and flight crew–of all the first responders–who put their own lives in danger to protect and rescue the lives of others in need.

Today, the 11th of September, 2016, is a sobering reminder of the seriousness and importance of my own career as a flight attendant. Of the hundreds of lives I hold in my own hands every day. It is a reminder of the tremendous thanks and the gratefulness I feel that my own family is still with me. That my big sister risks her life every day in the armed forces to make our country safer. That she is still safe.

Today, I remember all the hurt and fear and heartbreak of the 2,996 Americans who lost their lives, and my heart goes out to all the loved ones who have lost.

Always remember.

IMG_1060

Pasta Salad, the Series

14212588_10208700716409244_2897196276272682999_n

Mexican Pasta Salad, too pretty to toss…almost.

I usually try to stay away from pasta (i.e. simple carbs) not because I don’t like it, but because I love it. But because it’s easy nowadays to find more healthful, complex options on the market, and–let’s face it–pasta makes for easy cooking, I’ve welcomed it back into my life joyously.

Lately, I’ve gotten really into pasta salads when I’m prepping for my trips. It’s so easy to keep your ultra  menu PHresh by mixing up limitless different flavor combinations; it can be served cold, so I don’t need to worry about heating it up on the plane; and it’s really cost effective, which definitely matters to me because, well, I don’t do this job for the money.

A couple recipes I like to throw together are Mexican and Balsamic pasta salads. You can take these as recipes or mere guidelines for your own creations.

FullSizeRender

A healthier version I don’t have to feel guilty about eating.

Mexican Pasta Salad with Cilantro Dressing

Ingredients:

1 pound pasta (I used brown rice and quinoa fusilli, which has more fiber and protein than traditional versions)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup corn (I roasted some frozen corn over the stove to add a little smokiness)
1/2 cup black olives, sliced
1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
3 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup cilantro dressing (I used the Trader Joe’s brand)

IMG_6788

Creamy Cilantro Salad Dressing from Trader Joe’s. They really ought to start paying me…

 

Directions:

  1. Cook your pasta al dente, according to the package instructions. Drain, rinse, and let cool.
  2. Mix all ingredients.
  3. Serve.

Too easy! Nobody can say they can’t cook.

 

Balsamic Pasta Salad with Hot Italian Sausage

Ingredients:

1 pound pasta
1 lb. hot Italian sausage
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup fresh mozzarella, cubed
1 cup black olives, sliced
1/2 cup marinated sun dried tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned or torn into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil, plus a little for browning sausage
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

 

IMG_6786

This is the best balsamic vinegar out there! So delicious.

Directions:

  1. Set two pots of water to boil: one for the pasta, and one for the sausage.
  2. Cook pasta according to instructions on package. Drain, rinse, and let cool.
  3. While pasta is cooking, add whole sausages to the second pot of boiling water. Boil about 10 minutes until sausage is cooked through.
  4. Remove sausage from pot, slice evenly. In a pan over medium-high heat, brown with a little olive oil, a minute or two each side.
  5. Combine all ingredients and mix it up.
  6. Serve.

Remember to let your creative energy flow and make each recipe your own.

To be continued…14212588_10208700716409244_2897196276272682999_n

No-Bake Monster Cookie Energy Balls

13934723_10208578211426696_5858382318047010481_n

Every time I pack my cooler for a trip, it appears as though I’m looking through a veil of health consciousness, which clouds my vision and makes me believe that salad alone will keep me satisfied along my journey. Then, invariably, when I’m 35,000 feet up in the earth’s atmosphere, my enthusiasm for raw cauliflower seems to dissipate. When I start to lose interest in my rabbit food I fall victim to sweet cravings, and those hyper-processed, sugar-laden plane “muffins” start calling my name.

The story always ends the same. I give in and break into a forever-soft banana nut muffin. Halfway through the calorie bomb, I become aware of two developments: my energy has both peaked and crashed, and my stomach is suffering the consequences of sugar over-consumption.

So I learned quickly that I need to come prepared with some quasi nutritious options of my own in order to avoid that regretful feeling–both literally and figuratively–in my gut that comes from caving. I learned that I needed to bring a snack because sugar abstinence is not realistic for me. But I also learned that my sweets should hold some other nutritional value because I am an adult. Protein would be the key to stabilizing my blood sugar while I satisfy my unruly sweet tooth.

Monster trail mix has always been a favorite cheat snack of mine. I love the salty sweet balance between the peanut butter, raisins, and chocolate, and the protein keeps me full and energized for more miles on the trail. So I deconstructed the picky-kid friendly version of the snack and reassembled its parts into bite-size, protein-packed, no-bake monster cookie energy balls to energize my miles in the sky.

This is a really easy recipe to mold to your taste and your pantry inventory. So, replace whatever you don’t have or like with what you do and enjoy your creation.

Ingredients

1 cup oats (I used the gluten-free ancient grain and super seed oatmeal blend from–you guessed it–Trader Joe’s)
1/2 cup nut butter (I ended up mixing in sunflower seed butter when I ran out of crunchy peanutbutter)
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup mini M&M’s or mini chocolate chips (for a cleaner version, try some cacao nibs)
1 tablespoon chia seeds or flax seeds

Mix all your ingredients up in a bowl and form into bite-size balls. Refrigerate, or freeze until you’re ready to pack them.