i’m a celebrity judge at 2 competitions this weekend: cooking up change & big taste

I don’t like using the term “celebrity” when it comes to describing anything about myself–it makes me shy and feel slightly diva-ish–but “celebrity judge” is the title I’ve been given by the press/media and the two organizations whose competitions I’ll be “celebrity judging” this weekend.

It’s only April, and I’m already slated to judge four culinary competitions this year, all of which will take place in my hometown of Houston. I guess the fact that Gordon Ramsay said, “[Christine] has an extraordinary palate,” lends me some credibility when it comes to knowing good food. Two of the four events are being held this coming weekend, so come join me for some competitive culinary fun.

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crawfish, o crawfish, you are so tiny this season

Here’s another “everything in moderation” (read: not-so-healthy) post for you.

If you’re from the deep south, particularly from Louisiana or the surrounding states, you not only know what crawfish is, you love it. Sure, those little mudbugs give some the heebie-jeebies, but not us from nearby Cajun country.

I can’t recall the first time I’d ever had crawfish straight out of its exoskeleton. I was probably in college or a recent graduate. Once I got over the miniature lobster-looking things, all bright red and steaming with their miniature, cute, harmless claws, and once I’d caught a whiff of the spicy garlic Cajun flavor, I was hooked.
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in the breville: matcha green tea ice cream

I’ve been writing a lot lately about healthy living, but as I’m a firm believer in the saying, “everything in moderation,” here’s a nice, fatty post for you this week.

The best ice cream I’ve ever had was in San Francisco. Let me preface this by saying gelato is different from ice cream—in a nutshell, gelato has less fat and churns at alower speed, thus has less air incorporated into it (read the more in-depth explanation of ice cream vs. gelato from Serious Eats)—and I’ve definitely had some amazing gelato in Italy. I’m also not referring to the ice creams I can find in supermarkets across America (Lord knows I love Ben & Jerry’s). Today, I’m talking about ice cream shops I’ve discovered during my travels or even strolling around my hometown of Houston.

In my 2011 trip to SF where I ate my way through the Bay, a friend who loves food as much as I do took the hubs and me to Bi-Rite Creamery, a little ice cream counter inside the Bi-Rite Market. Who knew a bunch of grocers could produce ice cream so heavenly?

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help with relief efforts for sxsw car crash victims

SXSW is an Austin music festival that has, in later years, morphed into a huge multimedia conference with events in industries like film, tech, and art.

This year’s SXSW, however, was struck by tragedy when 21-year-old Rashad Owens, in an intoxicated attempt to flee from the police, drove straight into a crowd, injuring more than 20 fest-goers and killing, as of today, three victims.

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the sochi 2014 paralympic winter games

The Paralympics always take place a week after the Olympics in the same town. The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, the eleventh of its kind, just saw their closing ceremony Sunday. Forty-five countries participated in 72 medal events in five sports: alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, ice sledge hockey, and wheelchair curling. 2014 also marked the debut of my favorite winter sport, snowboarding. The USA sent 74 Paralympic athletes, and it was the first Paralympic Winter Games for Brazil, Turkey, and Uzbekistan.

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in the vitamix: banana berry smoothie

I’ve been writing a lot recently about athleticism, getting fit, and staying in shape. Don’t worry. This week won’t be another post on what you should and shouldn’t be doing with your life. Sort of.

This week’s post is a recipe for a delicious smoothie I created when I came across some strawberries in my fruit crisper, left over from when a friend made chocolate covered strawberries for my little Oscars viewing party.

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how to guide the blind

Last week, I discussed some of the things I’ve been doing to get in better shape and my dislike for blind running. The AFB offers some good tips on how to guide a blind runner, and to follow up on the matter, I found the YouTube video above about Paralympics track and field.

But guiding someone who is visually impaired extends way beyond the jogging trail. It’s part of the daily routines of my family, my friends, and mine. When my eyesight decreased to the level it’s at now, the boyfriend-turned-hubster had to learn how to guide me when walking around. He was never one to make me feel handicapped, so he was not super attentive when guiding me–”tough love,” he calls it. My friends have also since learned how to guide me, and most of them are very good. Some are more attentive than others, often holding both of my hands and walking backwards through a crowd, while others are easygoing and merely mention a change in terrain when they deem it absolutely necessary. I myself prefer a middle ground.

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getting fit

It’s nearing the end of February, and judging by the crowd I encounter on the evenings I hit the gym, people are still keeping up with their 2014 new year’s resolution to get into shape. I’m not one to make resolutions, as I believe goals should be made when a person finds the desire and is ready to do so. I don’t believe in waiting until January 1st to stop smoking, start eating healthier, start exercising, etc. If you know you should stop drinking two liters of Coke a day, and you’re ready to take that plunge on December 8th, then do it on December 8th.

Ever since I turned thirty and grew a muffin-top, I knew that I would soon have to undergo some lifestyle changes. No longer were the days when I could eat fried chicken, pizza, eggrolls, and pan-fried noodles to my heart’s content without worrying about my waistline, cholesterol, blood sugar, etc. But I wasn’t ready to take that next step to getting fit. I wasn’t ready to drink kale juice and enroll in bootcamp classes.

Until the summer after I turned 34 last year.

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blind athletes: motivation to get moving

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know the winter Olympics are going on now in Sochi, Russia. Growing up, I loved the winter Olympics. My favorite sport to watch was figure skating. It was a pastime I enjoyed with my mama. But now that I can no longer see, the Olympics on TV have dropped on my list of enjoyable activities. But since they only happen once every four years, I figured I should try to have some idea of what’s going on, so this past week, I’ve tuned in my television to the Olympics, if only to listen to the sportscasters narrate the competition.

I do wish I could see the snowboarding sports though. I used to live in L.A., which must explain my fondness for surfers. And the winter alternative to a surfer is a snowboarder. And ever since I picked up snowboarding, my affinity for the sport has grown.
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video footage from the gjcf 2013 nmo patient day

Back in November, I’d gone to the 2013 NMO Patient Day hosted by the Guthy Jackson Charitable Foundation in L.A. It was the fifth year for the gathering/reunion, and personally my third time attending. However, it was my first time attending post-“MasterChef.” This time, I was asked to close the day’s panels and workshops with a talk. By now, I’ve done a good number of these, but I still get a little nervous all the same. It helped to remember that everyone there is happy to see and hear from me, especially because they, too, either have NMO or loves someone with NMO. Keeping in mind that I had the room’s full support helped me face the crowd with a smile and less shaky knees. It also helped to hear Victoria Jackson call me her hero. *sniff*

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