Monday, December 22, 2008

The Kindness of Strangers

Have you ever noticed that sometimes the best compliments come from the mouths of complete strangers? My friends and family can praise me to the high heavens, but it often means infinitely more coming from a person with whom I do not have an intimate relationship. Let me explain:

Last week while on one of my many Christmas shopping expeditions, a woman stopped me as I entered the store. She said, "You know, you have gorgeous hair!" This small compliment may seem trivial to many, but to me bore great significance. Before my struggles with anorexia, I had a long, thick mane. Obviously, as my disease progressed my characteristically voluminous hair disappeared. It may seem petty, but losing my hair was one of the most painful parts of my eating disorder; it was a painfully apparent side effect of the damage that I was uncontrollably inflicting upon my body. Thus, to hear a stranger comment on the healthy state of my hair was especially rewarding, even if it has been 3 or 4 years since my recovery. I guess my obsession with avocados and almond butter has benefits besides satisfying my tastebuds:)

Have you ever had a similar experience? Has a stranger ever paid you a particularly flattering or meaningful compliment?

Alright, I better get to the food--I am headed out tonight for an early celebration of my birthday (it's not until Wednesday). Take a look at my nibbles:

I was uncertain as to what kind of smoothie I would be able to make with the limited food available in our lake house pantry/freezer. Fortunately, I discovered some frozen strawberries and frozen pineapple--score! I combined them with soymilk and a packet of berry pomegranate hemp protein that I had brought with me. Truly tropical and tasty.
Before heading out, I made myself a quick Banana Blender. I didn't have any flaked cereal on hand, so I used my favorite "adult" cereal instead, Kashi GoLean. Fantastic! The finished product had the perfect consistency, close to that of pudding. Yum.
After a run around the neighborhood, I refueled with some Peanut Butter Noodles, to which I added some broccoli slaw. On the side, I had a salad with dried fruit and a drizzle of Annie's Ginger Dressing, as well as some clementines.
For dinner, my family decided to order in Chinese food. I opted for a simple steamed vegetable dish to which I added shelled edamame, cashews, and a sweet agave-mustard sauce. I also had some fresh pineapple (and maybe a fortune cookie...)
The smoothie of the evening featured blueberries. I combined blueberry Spirutein, blueberries, soymilk, and granola. SO fab.
I kept breakfast simple but filling, as I was headed to help out with my Mom's Sunday school class. I knew I would be running after 3-year olds all morning! I heated up some almond milk and poured it over crumbled Weetabix; I had a sliced banana with cinnamon-raisin PB.
I scarfed down lunch pretty quick because my family was headed out to see White Christmas at the Alabama Theatre. We have been going every year since I was 11! Anyway, I made a quick Tofurky-avocado wrap with spinach, mushrooms, and whole grain mustard. This was suprisingly delicious! On the side, I had broccoli slaw (dressed with rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and agave nectar) and peaches.
Pizza night! I never made it to the store for a Boboli crust, so I settled for a whole wheat tortilla. I topped it with pasta sauce (Classico), 'shrooms, bell peppers, and reduced-fat cheese. I had a salad with Woodstock dressing and fresh fruit salad as well.
The smoothie last night took on a tropical note again: pineapple, soymilk, vanilla Spirutein, and coconut.
I had plans to go to the gym with my sister this morning (due to the newly arrived 20* weather!), so I made an easy but fun breakfast--Banana Fingers. I rolled sliced banana in cinnamon-spiked yogurt and crushed GoLean. That's almond butter on the side for dipping.
Once we returned from our workout and errands, I prepared myself a recipe from Vegetarian Express, the "filet" of tofu with mustard-dill sauce. I substituted agave for honey and vegan mayo for regular--otherwise, I stuck to the recipe (for once!). I also had a salad with walnuts, toast, and clementines.
Urgent question for you all: What should I make for Christmas breakfast and dinner?? I have no idea what to prepare! I would rather not rely on packaged meat alternatives (as I did for Thanksgiving). I was thinking of making a tofu quiche for Christmas morning, and Christmas dinner is entirely undecided. Any and all suggestions are welcome!!

I will leave you with some pics of my favorite ornaments. The last one is precisely 21 years old--it's from my first Christmas!
Happy Monday!


K said...

I think with strangers, their comments are always the best because they don't feel obligated to say something. Like with my friends and family, sometimes I question if they are saying they like something because they want to make me happy or they are being genuine. Plus strangers comments are always out of the blue!

As always your eats are AMAZING!! Seriously! For breakfast a quiche is usually what we do. Dinner...hmm I always end up eating sides and I'm not quite the chef like you are so I won't be any help sadly!

HAPPY EARLY BDAY!! I'm a holiday baby too but not a Christmas Eve one!

shelby said...

I love it when I get compliments from strangers. Oh gosh I sound so snobby. But I like it better than from family because family is supposed to say all that, strangers don't which makes it all the more special.

I never know what to comment on with the eats, everything always look AMAZING!!!

You have inspired me to eat more almond butters haha. That is one of the things I hate about this ed, my hair is horrible. My hair is so important to me (I'm a leo in the zodiac) and I miss it terribly. I have noticed a difference from eating Larabars though, the little baby hairs are growning back which makes me happy but they are such little pains to keep tamed!

*Andrea* said...

ooh my gosh i totally agree! strangers can be so kind and it's almost better than compliments/nice gestures from your friends because it seems so genuine! just yesterday at the mall a girl said she loved my coat randomly and it made my day ;D

i think you have very pretty hair too! very shiny :) i know exactly what you went through though because my hair thinned and my hairline receded when i was underweight. it totally sucked. i remember sitting in class and picking strands of my hair off my sweater and a girl sitting next to me was like 'wow you shed so much.' sometimes i remind myself of that when i feel the need to restrict. anyways great eats!! loooooove the peanut butter noodles yummyyyy in my tummy

Erica said...

I need to give peanutbutter noodles another try. I made it one time and Josh and I were really disappointed with the outcome!

I agree that compliments from strangers truly mean a lot!!

Happy Early birthday! Love the pics of the ornaments!!

VeggieGirl said...

I'm with K (above) - it's the compliments from strangers that always seem the most genuine, you know?? You don't have to worry about them saying something "because they have to" or whatever. Even though I'm not a stranger to you, I do agree that you have gorgeous hair!! :-)

I love ALL of your eats; but those Banana Fingers are especially fun and innovative - yum!!

SPECTACULAR ORNAMENTS!! My favorite are the "old ones" as well - so much history and meaning along with them!!

Anonymous said...

Are you seriously still sticking to the line that those aren't shirataki noodles?! Fess up! They're even glossy like shirataki noodles!

carolinebee said...

ya baby- love that big C! That is so sweet about that lady- I LOVE getting compliments from stranger, and totally LOVE to give them to random ppl i don't know, and make them smile :D! I think the nicest compliment I got was from someone who said I was really good at comforting people when they're upset or in pain. That's a good quality to have i suppose...I never knew about your struggle with ED, you are so strong and are very inspiring :D

teenageveggiehead said...

i love all of the ornaments! so cute and the plate adds the perfect holiday touch :)

wow all of your food looks so good! especially those peanut butter noodles!!! said...

i love that christmas ornament!!!!! that is so precious :)

strangers comments definitely are the best b/c like what K said - they aren't obligated to say anything so you know that they must mean it if they took the extra time to say it :)

Ruby Red Vegan said...

yay for compliments that leave you with the warm and fuzzies!

and banana fingers! you crazy awesome foodie inventor, you! i love it.

as for xmas morning breakfast, i think i am concocting in my head the most magical bowl of oatmeal possible. my xmas dinner will be practically nonexistent (we have a tradition of eat finger foods & light fare) and most days of the year i wish i could up my portion of oatmeal. so my xmas morning "gift" to myself will be a hefty portion of banana soymilk oatmeal, with some dried figs and justin's maple almond butter. :)

ChickPea said...

K: I totally agree--with strangers, you KNOW they're being sincere.
Ha! I am no chef, but I'll come up with something, I hope.
Thanks for the bday wishes!
Shelby: You don't sound snobby--I think everyone likes compliments, especially from strangers!
Healthy fats are def the way to get your hair in recovery.
Andrea: Yep, I remember looking at my bathroom floor after brushing my hair, and it would just be covered with strands of brown hair. Ugh.
Try the PB Noodles recipe!
Erica: Thanks!
VeggieGirl: You and K are so right--with your family, you always have to wonder whether it's genuine.
Glad you like the ornaments!
Anonymous: Dude, you really need to stop obsessing about this noodle thing. Here is a link to the brand of noodles I buy:
Why would you care if I used shirataki noodles, anyway? It's OK to use them if you like them, but I find them slimy and not very similar to real pasta.
CarolineBee: That IS a nice compliment--and an extremely valuable quality to have:)
TeenageVeggieHead: Yay! I am glad someone noticed my Christmas plate!
LoveofOats: Thanks for complimenting my ornament! I agree about the stranger comments.
Ruby: Haha, I think I'll add "crazy awesome foodie inventor" to my title now.
Hmm a "magical" bowl of oatmeal sounds pretty good actually. I bookmarked your "Ruby's Oats" a while back...perhaps I'll try it on Christmas morning:)
Oh, and maple almond butter with dried figs sounds pretty perfect!

eatingbender said...

I know what you mean about the kindness of strangers. That is such a sweet story about your hair - hurray for healthy fats, right?

Gorgeous food pictures, as always! But the most exciting picture for me is that last ornament because I HAVE THE SAME ONE!! That's so cool!

CeciLiA said...

Wow, it is so sad that you struggled with anorexia so early on ... it must be tough to go through such evil illness when you're that young and I'm SO proud of you (for not going back to old ways and etc) *hugz* Three cheers to you by the way!! :D By the way, if you don't mind me asking, what is the trigger for you?? Is it body image, control or other issues?!? Please know that, it is ok to not answer my question, I 100% respect your privacy!! :)

To anonymous,

SIGHHHHH!!! Read: STOP! Bugging Caroline about the stupid noodles! So what IF it was shiratakki noodles that she's eating, it's HER life not yours!! Phew!! Again, please stop harrasing Caroline about this stupid food questions, let the girl have a great christmas, ok?!?

Oh geez, my bad :/ I tend to blabble A LOT,hahaha!! Have a kick ass christmas Caroline!!!

*Andrea* said...

so i also wanted to respond to anon - i get the SAME exact noodles at trader joes and you should seriously try them! they have spinach ones too that are so healthy for you and taste like pasta! mmmm

Vegan On Stage said...

hi! im so glad you recieved such a positive comment from a stranger. You always know that it is true because there is no obligation form them. Im sure your hair is gorgeous! It is also a sign of your health which is aweomse.

I also recieved a comment the other day. after my show, I was waiting in the lobby for some friends who had seen my show, and a complete stranger came up to mea nd told me that I had wonderful stage presence and that he and his family loved watching me.
its those things that make you feel wonderful!

on a side note, yOUR FOOD IS TO DIE FORRR

ChickPea said...

EatingBender: What a coincidence!! That ornament must have been popular back in '87:)
Cecilia: While it's not fun to suffer from anorexia as a young teen, it's a disease that is detrimental at any age.
My ED was dominated by control issues and the result of a "fat" childhood.
Thanks for standing up for me:) I am fairly certain that people like that are suffering from disordered eating themselves.
Andrea: Yeah, I LOVE those noodles. I like how they come in so many "flavors."
VeganOnStage: What a nice compliment to receive! I am sure you DO have great stage presence--you go, girl!

magpie said...

Thanks for sharing the hair story :) It's really sweet. And you are SO healthy now! Merry Christmas :)

Caitlin (see bride run) said...

i love your thoughts about stranger compliments. i love it when strangers go out of their way to do nice things for you. a women stopped me in NYC and asked if i was lost because i guess i LOOKED lost. it was so nice!!

happy holidays!

vegannurse said...

Delicious eats, as always!

And what great comment about your hair.. it's great when someone does something like that. Makes you feel so much better. :-)

As for your question on my blog:

The cereal I eat is Whole Foods' 365 Organic Peanut Butter Pows. I don't know why I call them Cosmos.. lol, the name just stuck! I should start referring to the brand name, haha. Definitely give the cereal a try. So good!

Merry christmas!

Anonymous said...

Erin over at Vegan and the City did that with the ornaments last week! Such a cute idea! I love the lil baby!


PS....I don't know if you've mentioned this before, but how tall are you? just curious! :-D

lauren said...

all of your food looks amazingly delicious. i agree about strangers...I had someone come up to me one time and say - you know you have a great face?! I was like - huh?! but it was very sweet. and I am all about paying it forward, so it made me want to do a similar thing to someone else!

ChickPea said...

Magpie: Thanks! I hope you have a merry Christmas as well:)
Caitlin: That is so nice when strangers offer a helping hand like that--I am always so appreciative!
VeganNurse: Ah! I have seen that cereal at WF before--now I will def need to try them. Merry Christmas!
Paige: I think ornaments are a great way to share a little bit about yourself--they're so unique and personal:)
I don't think I have mentioned it before, but I am 5'5".

ChickPea said...

Lauren: Sorry, we must have been typing at the same time! That's a great story, and I like your idea of paying it forward, especially in light of the holidays:)

Anonymous said...

How did you get over your eating disorder?

ChickPea said...

Anonymous: That is kind of a loaded question and a question I don't think could be sufficiently answered in a comment section. If you'd like to discuss it over e-mail, my address is