Monday, April 21, 2008

Blue and Green and So Many Beautiful Things...

As I traveled all around my stompin' grounds, a.k.a the San Francisco Bay Area, this past weekend, I was stopped in my tracks several times, realizing that the primary colors of blue and green were painting themselves in front of me everywhere I went...funny, yet so amazing. In addition to the crystal clear, (and windy) beautiful blue sky, the Eucalyptus trees all around the Legion of Honor Museum perched high above the Golden Gate Bridge, seemed exceptionally green this weekend, as did the lush and dense trees and ferns surrounding the Lafayette Reservoir, along with the multi-shaded greenness that has taken over my alma mater, Saint Mary's College of California. Everything was screaming out to me, "look at us, we're so lush and green"...and when you could stand back and pair-up the gorgeous blue sky with these green beauties, it was simply amazing to be privileged enough to have such a view.

So if those weren't feast enough for the eyes, my friend Laura and I visited the Legion of Honor to view the current Annie Leibovitz exhibit (highly recommend, by the way), and as we walked into the main gallery we were stunned to see this amazing Chihuly glass sculpture in front of us...and just try to guess what the primary colors themed throughout his glass vision were??? You got it, vibrant blues and greens just calling me towards them, oh..and Laura too! We both took turns snapping our version of "artsy" photos of the piece, just trying to capture its complexity and swirls with my tiny Pentax digital camera lens. So, how did we do?

Another thing of beauty that I found at the Legion of Honor was that their museum cafe is safe for Celiacs to sit down and enjoy a delightful lunch, while looking down over the cliffs at the crashing waves splashing about under the Golden Gate bride - WARNING - you just might forget to eat due to the trance this view can put you in! So my friend and I both ordered the delicious Waldorf chicken salad and it was great that I will now attempt to recreate the recipe right here and now for you to try at home...yes, it's safe to try this at home.

Here goes.

Waldorf Chicken Salad

4 Long pieces of Romaine lettuce

1 Cup of boiled chicken cubes

2 Tbsp. Best Foods Mayo

1 Tsp. Thyme

1 Tsp. Cinnamon

1/4 Cup of golden raisins

1/4 Cup of chopped walnuts

1 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar

Simply mix together the mayo and chicken cubes, then mix in the Thyme and Cinnamon. Fold in the raisins and sprinkle in the walnuts. Neatly place the four long leaves of Romaine evenly around a dinner plate and scoop the chicken into the center of the plate. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar onto the plate as desired.

Sadly...I was so distracted by my appealing salad that believe or not, I forgot to take a picture of it for this recipe! Please just use your imagination and taste buds!

In sticking with my all-things-blue-and-green theme, including my salad, I would be remiss if I didn't share some photos that I snapped while wandering around my old stomping grounds of Saint Mary's College and taking in the view of the lush, rolling green hills with our stunningly white chapel juxtaposed against the vibrancy of the perfectly blue sky.

It was during my senior year of college here at SMC, when I first began experiencing or suffering from the severe side effects of gluten intolerance, though I certainly did not have an inkling as to what was really going on inside my small intestine or what lie ahead. I had traveled to Central America for a month to study the Mayan culture and partake in an archaeological dig in Belize and Guatemala. Upon my return, I began experiencing abdominal bloating and several other lovely symptoms that I'll spare you from the details of, knowing that you might be eating your Waldorf salad right now! My doctors were convinced for almost a year that I had picked up a bug or parasite during my travels, followed by the idea that I had Giardia from swimming in Lake Tahoe...the list goes on and on. Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS), surely it must be an eating disorder, wait...maybe it's Colitis?? Holy get the drift.

Thankfully my little villi were able to hang on (somehow) and still absorb what little nutrients they were taking in (given my frozen yogurt diet), long enough for me to have enjoyed my college experience, compete on the women's tennis team and dear God thank you...have been able to drink as many Zima's(ahh remember those...think 7-Up mixed with citrus and some sort of hops)at my graduation party as I liked! My dear pal Laurie can attest to this fact.

Small blessings.

So as I meandered around good old SMC the other day just taking in all the familiarity, while experiencing a multitude of flashbacks from my college days (not induced by Zima, I promise), and I got a chuckle out of the idea that I survived college without ever even hearing the word "Celiac" or having a clue what I would face in the almost-decade of serious illness that ensued. So as I took in all the beauty on my little walk, I said a prayer of thanks for my time spent in this spiritual institution and for the blessings and abundance that being a Celiac has brought to my life, and hopefully to many, many others, as well.

Don't forget to find your own palate of colors and enjoy the beauty all around you today.

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