Forgetting the ladies: How the SGA and IFC tailgate system disenfranchised half the student body

aliciamcelhaney:

I wrote this story for Unwind Magazine, a publication on campus at University of Maryland. Check it out!

Originally posted on Unwind Magazine:

By Alicia McElhaney

Photo by Lillian Braun

Photo by Lillian Braun

When the Student Government Association and Interfraternity Council started brainstorming ways make game day tailgates safer and less disruptive to College Park residents last year, the solution seemed simple—to move the tailgates on campus.

Residents of College Park and surrounding areas responded well—less tailgates meant less 8 a.m. mayhem every Saturday, and even less after-game partying.

“This year we’ve found there’s been a real diminishment in noise,” John Rigg, president of the Calvert Hill Citizen’s Association said. “The university has found a way that we can live together with students in harmony.”

Despite the initiative finding success in College Park residents, the SGA and IFC forgot to include one vital group in their tailgates – the women.

The current tailgating system supplies fraternities with wristbands—two per brother, one for themselves and one for a guest—they can distribute to sorority members or even friends…

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Zippy Lime Quinoa with Poached Egg and Arugula

Why hello there. How have you been? Are you enjoying tea season yet or is it still warm where you live? Here in Maryland it’s still pretty warm and humid and definitely not time to throw on sweaters and boots. I’m okay with that. The end of September is cool enough here to actually breathe outside, which is what I’m primarily interested in when it comes to weather. Last night I rode my bike a bit and felt a breeze on my face without being chilled – that’s perfection.

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To be honest, the changing weather has absolutely nothing to do with this post. It just seems like everyone in blogland is all about pumpkin this and apple that and I figured I’d contribute by saying: no, it still isn’t cold yet. CHILL.

Instead, this recipe comes from a major need to eat some real nourishing foods. Lately, my schedule has been wiping me out. I’ve been having some health issues that are causing things to go a bit haywire on top of a crazy schedule that requires a lot of energy. Teaching seven fitness classes each week takes a lot of out of a girl on top of school and interning and running a club. This morning I woke up feeling like the life had been sucked out of me, even though it was just weekend. “I’m taking vitamins! I’m exercising! I slept for 8 hours!” I thought to myself. “What the heck is going on?”

So I decided to make a meal chock full of protein and some veggies I had on hand, and it turned out to be this incredible southwest inspired dish. Quinoa serves as the base for arugula, a lime vinaigrette and a beautiful poached egg. I’ve seen poached eggs everywhere lately – that yolk has had me drooling for one of my own. I used to loathe egg yolks – I didn’t understand the golden glory that comes when you actually salt and pepper them. Now that I know….I’m never turning back. The best part of this recipe is not the egg yolk, though that is a close second. Instead is that I felt noticeably more energetic and full after eating it.

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Zippy Lime Quinoa with Arugula and Poached Egg
Vegetarian and peanut, tree nut, soy and gluten free

Ingredients:
(Serves one)
1/4 cup quinoa, uncooked
1 egg
1 handful arugula
1/2 lime
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Dash of hot sauce (if desired)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Begin by cooking your quinoa according to package instructions. Don’t forget to rinse (I totally did and had to rinse in the middle of the cooking process)!
2. While the quinoa is cooking, bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan. Crack the egg in a separate ramekin. Once a few bubbles begin to rise, pour the egg into the water slowly, then turn off the heat. Cover and wait 4 minutes for a lovely poached egg. For a tutorial including pictures on this, look here.
3
. Once the quinoa is finished cooking, transfer to a serving bowl. Stir in the arugula.
4. Dress with lime, olive oil, vinegar and garlic powder.
5. Top with poached egg. Add salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste.
6. Enjoy, especially when you crack that poached egg and the yolk runs over everything. YUM.

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End of Summer Tomato Pie & Homemade Pie Crust

Are you ready for this? No seriously, are you ready for this? You’re going to go nuts over this pie. First, pie crust. Buttery, flakey, a tiny pinch of salt for flavor. Topped with tomatoes, basil and an unearthly mixture of cheese, melted and golden brown, fresh from the oven. Two words, my friends, tomato pie.

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This recipe has been in my family for years. My mom cut it out of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s food section ages ago – the original clipping is still tucked away in her personalized recipe file. Every summer, just as the tomatoes in our garden turned from green to a yellowish red, they were picked and this pie was made. My sister and I would beg my mom for this pie at the first sign of tomato growth, prod her to make the plants grow more quickly, but this pie was always (and I mean always) worth the wait.

The great thing about this pie is that it makes a hearty vegetarian dinner that yields plenty of leftovers. There are, thankfully, gluten free adaptions for the recipe to, though you may want to use a store-bought crust rather than a homemade one…it’s a bit easier to deal with that sort of dough.

Tomato Pie (With Homemade Crust)
Free of peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, shellfish. Gluten free adaptations below

Ingredients:
Crust:
1 and 1/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
7 to 8 tablespoons ice water

Pie:
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (NOT FRESH)
1 handful fresh basil, cut in ribbons (about a cup)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Black pepper, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Begin with the crust: combine the flour in salt in a medium bowl. Cut in the shortening until the dough resembles tiny peas. Add the tablespoons of water one at a time, working them into the dough as you go.
3. Once the dough forms one large ball – and is not too sticky – spread flour on a flat surface and roll out until the crust is larger than your 10×10 pie plate. Fold the crust in half, then in half again to transfer it to the pie plate. Unfold.
4. Put the crust in the oven for eight to 10 minutes, until it’s slightly brown. Take the crust out of the oven and sprinkle with 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.
5. While the pie crust rests, cut the tomatoes into discs, then dry using paper towels. Arrange the discs on top of the melted cheese on the crust.
6. Next, sprinkle the julienned basil on top of the tomatoes.
7. Combine the mayonnaise with the remaining cheese in a small bowl. Spread this mixture on top of the basil and tomatoes.
8. Sprinkle the pie with the Parmesan cheese and black pepper.
9. Put it in the oven to bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Enjoy!

TO MAKE GLUTEN FREE: Sub a gluten free pie crust (store bought) for the homemade crust and follow the instructions the same way!

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Back to Maryland!

It’s been awhile, no? Summer really got crazy for me toward the end – I was working full time at the Tribune Review, and I took a three-week study abroad trip to Salzburg, Austria that was pretty life changing. Since returning from the trip mid-August, I finished up my internship and packed up my things to return to the University of Maryland and my brand new efficiency apartment. You know what that means? My own kitchen, and cooking meals for one person – myself. It’s been an interesting transition over the past few days, I’ll admit it. I was incredibly anxious to come back to school, especially because this is the place where my eating disorder really took hold during freshman year. However, I have had a lot to keep me occupied in the week before class begins – I’ve been training to teach group fitness classes (7 this semester, I’m going to die!), sharing dinner with friends, visiting D.C. and, of course, taking in a bit of the College Park nightlife.

While I’m excited to see my friends, to begin my internship at the Feminist Majority Foundation and for classes to start, I’m mostly excited about using my own kitchen. While I have more than enough cabinet space and all the refrigerator room in the world to store my several favorite cheeses, the electric stove has proven to be difficult for me to conquer. That being said, I’m going to share my first meal with you, as it ended up being pretty awesome! This meals serves one person and has all the major food groups covered – zucchini fills the role of vegetable, pasta is our starch, salmon, our protein, and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese for dairy. Yum! The best part? This dish took me about 25 minutes to whip up.

Let’s get cooking!

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Lemony Salmon and Zucchini Pasta For One
This dish is gluten free and dairy free adaptable. It contains no peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, soy or shellfish.

Ingredients:
1 salmon cutlet, thawed (I got mine in a family pack from Wegmans!)
1/8 box of angel hair pasta
1/2 zucchini
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lemon
Pinch of garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

1. While bringing water to boil in a pot, set up two separate pans on medium high heat, each with 1.5 tablespoons olive oil warming.
2. In one pan, place the salmon cutlet. Sprinkle with lemon, salt and pepper and cook on each side until it becomes opaque through the middle. If you start to see white, you’ve cooked it slightly too much, the fat is starting to bleed out. When done cooking, cut into bite sized chunks and place in a bowl.
3. While the salmon is cooking, cut the zucchini into thin discs and place in the pan. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder and let brown on both sides. When finished, place in a bowl with salmon.
4. Once the water comes to a boil, cook pasta until al dente. Drain and place in the bowl. If it looks a bit dry, coat with 1 tablespoon pasta water or 1 tablespoon olive oil.
5. Top with parmesan cheese and enjoy!
Adaptations: For dairy free, skip parmesan sprinkling. For gluten free, use gluten free pasta.

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Who is really telling you to lose weight? (And why they might not always be right)

This post has been sitting with me for awhile, not because I’m afraid to talk about what follows, but because I want to give it the time and discussion deserves. Today we’re talking about diets and the people who tell you to go on them. My idea for writing this came from a recent visit to my home gym in Pittsburgh. I went there all the time during high school, and while the bathroom had a scale, it was never super weight loss oriented. Things seem to have changed since I came back. I may be more sensitive to the issue now that I’ve recovered, but I also think that the gym went a little nuts. They hired a supposed “weight loss professional” who promises that the key to happiness is to lose a few pounds. Her magic weight loss plan works not through healthy diet and exercise, though, but simply by having breakfast for dinner and vice versa.

Um….what? That kind of sounded sketchy…and quite possibly like it wouldn’t work. I looked further into her credentials and found that while this woman is a “certified life coach” she has no training in nutrition or dietetics, nor is she a group exercise instructor or personal trainer. Yet, she was posing as an expert in weight loss and nutrition (and by working in the gym, exercise), when she truly had no credentials. I was startled….any person off the street can tell people what’s healthy weight loss? And they can write a book about it? Insanity!

So, I started looking into the people behind the diets we follow more. Houston, we have a problem. Weight Watchers, perhaps the biggest weight loss business in the U.S., hires the local group leaders based merely on whether they lost weight using the program. So when you attend these programs, you really aren’t in the safe hands of a nutritionist who can track what HEALTHY and SAFE weight loss is. Rather, you are working with someone who found success using a point system that may not work for everyone. Yes, I am aware the program works for many people – I cannot bash that. The issue is, though, that they hire people whose only qualifications are having lost weight to handle the weight loss of others. They may not understand the psychological effects of weight loss, or what happens when someone loses TOO MUCH weight.  That’s a problem.

The trend continued when I noticed a girl who I graduated high school with selling “weight loss supplements” (aka dangerous diuretics) on Facebook, promising huge weight loss in less than a month. She, despite having no nutrition or fitness credentials, was offering free consultations to people so she could tell them how to use the pills. Not only are diuretics unsafe to begin with, but to have someone touting these as a safe way for people with different anatomies and disease profiles to lose weight was totally wrong.

It happened on a national scale recently too, as well. Dr. Oz, ever the promoter of this new gimmick and that new method to lose weight, went to Congress to share information on removing bad diet pills from the U.S. market. He apparently forgot that he constantly implores his audience to lose weight, but Senator Claire McCaskill called out the lack of science behind his claims.

“The scientific community is almost monolithic against you in terms of the efficacy of the three products you called ‘miracles,'” McCaskill said. “When you call a product a miracle, and it’s something you can buy, and it’s something that gives people false hope, I don’t understand why you need to go there.”

Yes! Finally, someone in the government talking sense on weight loss. You can learn more about the issue here, but the point is, this isn’t just an issue stuck in my tiny town in western Pennsylvania. And, to be frank, the issue isn’t simply solved by only allowing “professionals” to tout weight loss. First, you have to realize that people are making unscientific, unsafe claims about ways to lose weight. Every body is different – different bodies respond differently to different foods. There is no universal HEALTHY way to lose weight…that’s for a person to figure out for themselves. Secondly, these same people telling us to lose weight hold the belief that weight loss is equivalent to health, which isn’t true. Markers like cholesterol levels, movement abilities, blood pressure and blood sugar – things doctors and nutritionists measure – are far better indicators of health.

Because the gym is for so much more than weight loss!

Because the gym is for so much more than weight loss!

As someone who loves to eat healthy foods, and as a fitness instructor with responsibility to protect participants from these flawed messages, I want this to change. We, as healthy eaters, as fitness professionals, as humans on planet earth, can the tout health benefits that come from food or exercise, but we cannot make claims about weight loss, weight gain or miracle supplements that claim to “cure” fatness. The truth is that each person’s body operates differently. Some will thrive on a low carb or gluten free diet – others will become emaciated. And, better yet, fatness isn’t something to be cured. Diseases that often, but not always come along with obesity are though. Instead of pressuring others to buy into your diet, think first. Then, change the conversation. Think about touting health benefits over weight loss. And if you must bring weight loss up, say this worked for me, but that doesn’t mean it will work for everyone. And for the love of god, please remember, the lower number on the scale doesn’t always mean better health.

What are your thoughts? Has someone ever told you to lose weight who wasn’t qualified?

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Summer Bucket List Update

Have I mentioned before on here that I absolutely adore summer? Because you know what? I do. This summer is shaping up to be a pretty exciting and busy one. I’m doing a lot. Seeing new things. Baking new treats. Meeting up with old friends. Working hard. Going back to my roots. It’s great and without the pressure of school, I’m thriving. Summer, needless to say, is my happiest of happy places.

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Since we’re a little over halfway through the first month of bucket list goals, I decided to check in. Here is my bucket list post so you can check it out!

  1. Go for a bike ride on the Boston Trail. Not yet! Maybe next weekend?
  2. Go camping! I’m going mid-July, the week before my trip to Austria, with my best friend Tessa and our boyfriends. Stay tuned for that adventure!
  3. Get a tan. Halfway there, I say. I have the awkward boob tanline, so that’s pretty exciting!
  4. Learn to roast a chicken, Julia Child style. Ugh, no, not yet!
  5. Swim! Done and done! (though I would love to swim more! :))
  6. Learn to make alterations with the sewing machine. I made alterations on a bikini top already…now onto a skirt!
  7. Go out to dinner for lobster. Still awaiting my chance!
  8. Pick blackberries and bake a pie! It’s not pie season yet :(
  9. Finish season seven of Mad Men. Ugh this one is taking me ages! I did, though, start watching Bob’s Burgers.
  10. Read. A lot. I’m done with Joyous Health and with The Fault in Our Stars (sobbing at 2 a.m., it’s fine). I did get a stack of books from a Half Price book sale (all for $2 each) so I have a ton more to get through!

The list definitely could use more progress, but I’m getting there! In other ways, I’ve done a lot. I’ve seen three concerts since we last checked in – Jeff Tweedy, Ben Folds with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Jake Bugg. I visited the zoo and Sandcastle. I’ve been working out HARD at the gym and feeling good about it. And, of course, I’ve baked a couple of recipes of donuts that I’m eager to share.

I’m excited to cross off more things, and I’m considering continuing the list for each season. What do you think? Whats on your summer bucket list?

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Cheesy Spicy Grits

Grits are weird. They’re at that halfway point between oatmeal and polenta and the texture can seem a little bit funny if they’re not done correctly. However, let it be known that these grits are not oatmeal’s creepy older brother. They have a little spice, but are also super gooey from the cheese, and who can resist that?

The awesome thing about cheesy grits is that they go great with a lot of main dishes. I last served then when I made the avocado compote butter for salmon. A heavenly meal! I used to also make a pretty crude version of these when I was at school. On Saturdays we had a breakfast bar in the dining hall, where they had plain grits. The salad bar was also open, so I would stir in cheese and jalepenos. It was kind of gross, but compared to a lot of the dining hall food available to a girl with allergies and who, at the time, was vegetarian, it was heaven.

Grits

I promise promise promise that these grits are more upscale than that, but also that all the ingredients are easily available. These are gluten free, which is another major plus.

Let’s get cooking!

Cheesy Spicy Grits
Peanut, tree nut, soy, sesame, fish, shellfish, egg and gluten free

Ingredients:
2 cups water
1 1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. salt
1 cup grits
1/4 cup butter
1/2 can Rotel
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

1. Bring water, milk and salt to a boil. Once boiling, stir in the grits and continue to stir until they have the consistency of cream of wheat.
2. Add in the butter, Rotel and cheese. Stir and once combined, remove from heat. Enjoy!

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Mocha Granola (for snacking!)

Unff granola. My addiction to the stuff is oh so real. I shared my favorite granola recipe last year, but my mom and I (both granola lovers) started branching out since then. I have a bomb gingerbread granola recipe to share with y’all when the holidays get closer (put that on ice cream with caramel sauce…perfection!), and I’m hoping to try a tropical version with some dried pineapple and apricots soon. But for today, we’re eating mocha granola.

Granola

This recipe isn’t too sweet, and I prefer it as a snack rather than in milk just because of that. And, as usual, the recipe is not only nut free, but also gluten free. Double win! I am no genius, though. I was inspired by Amy’s Healthy Baking on this one, though I switched it up to fit my family’s allergies.

Let’s get baking!

Mocha Granola
Peanut, tree nut, egg, milk, soy, sesame and gluten free

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup gluten free oats
1 1/2 cup corn Chex cereal
6 tbsp. strong coffee (made from 1 1/2 tsp. instant coffee disolved in 6 tbsp water)
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 tbsp. canola oil
2 tbsp. maple syrup (add extra if need more sweetness)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 inch pan.
2. In a large bowl stir together the oats and Chex. In a separate bowl stir together coffee, cocoa powder, canola oil and maple syrup. Pour over the dry mixture.
3. Spread on a pan and cook for 40-45 minutes, stirring every ten minutes. Enjoy!

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Savory Romano-Crusted French Toast with Compote Butter

Lately I’ve been cooking a lot of egg-centric, compote butter-filled recipes. I made vegetarian migas, then I made some avocado compote butter. This recipe combines the two – a savory French toast (encrusted with romano cheese) topped with a sun dried tomato basil compote butter. Woah. I was inspired by How Sweet It Is on this recipe, though of course, I adapted it to have gluten free possibilities!

All food

This recipe is a little rich and maybe a little fancy. When I told my boyfriend about it, he said it sounded fancy or gourmet. The think about it is, while your ingredients may be a little fancy or gourmet in this recipe, the actual preparation takes less than an hour, and it’s fairly easy.

Compote Butter

I used my multigrain bread to make the French toast for my mom and myself, but for my sister, we used gluten free bread in a separate egg mixture. She loved it just as much as we did, so I figure that’s a success!

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Let’s make savory French toast!

Savory French Toast
Peanut, tree nut, soy and sesame free

Ingredients:
4 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2/3 cup Romano cheese
Pinch of salt and pepper
2 slices per person of gluten free or multigrain bread
3 tbsp. butter

Compote butter:
5 tbsp. butter
Handful of basil, chopped
1/4 cup rehydrated sundried tomatoes (NOT IN OIL), chopped

1. Start with the compote butter. Soften the 5 tbsp. butter, mix in the basil and sundried tomatoes. You can shape into a log on wax paper, or just serve it in a bowl.
2. Now to the egg mixture: whisk eggs, milk, cheese, salt and pepper in a bowl. Separate the mixture if you are serving gluten free and regular eaters.
3. Heat a non-stick pan over the stove on medium-high heat. Add the 3 tbsp. butter to grease the pan.
4. Dip the bread in egg mixture. Make sure it’s covered! Now cook in the pan on each side until they are brown. This may take longer than you expect, especially at first.
5. Top the French toast with compote butter and a little extra cheese. Enjoy!

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Multigrain Bread with Quinoa and Oats

I am a hopeless carb lover. All my comfort foods are carb based – homemade pasta, macaroni and cheese, pierogies, the list goes on. To me, especially as a child, there was nothing better than a slice of bread with butter and a glass of water for a snack. My grandma joked that I liked jail food, but it was really just that I liked carbs.

Cut to today. My newest bread addiction (until about three days ago) was Trader Joe’s quinoa bread. It’s basically like a good honey whole wheat, with the added benefit of protein from the quinoa. Then I saw this recipe over at A Couple Cooks and thought, I can do that. One problem though – their version of the bread contained pumpkin seeds, which I’m allergic to. Not to mention, it had rye flour, which wasn’t around the house. So I did what any good baker does – I adapted. And you know what? I ended up with best, most filling, rustic bread I’ve had in awhile.

Bread

Let me tell you about the moment it came out of the oven. It was pretty late for our family – my dad and sister (the two celiacs) were already asleep. Thankfully for them, quinoa bread is something they wouldn’t have eaten prior to celiac anyway, so this bread event didn’t seem so special. Anyways, the moment the oven buzzer went off, my mom and I peaked inside and found our dough mass had turned into a luxurious crusty loaf – beautiful! Soon after we took it out of the oven, we sliced it and slathered it with real butter, which is somewhat of a rarity in my house. It was a special moment between us. No guilt, of course, just pure enjoyment over something we felt bad reveling in around our family members.

Bread

So isn’t baking bread like super difficult? Well, sometimes. Luckily, this recipe is no-knead, so you can mostly just chill while the yeast does its thing. Let’s get baking!

Multigrain Bread with Quinoa and Oats
Peanut, tree nut, sesame, egg, milk and soy free

Ingredients:
1/3 cup oats
1/3 cup quinoa, uncooked
1/4 cup water
3 cups lukewarm water
1 tablespoon rapid rise yeast
1.5 tbsp. salt
4 cups white flour
2 cups whole wheat flour

1. Soak the oats and quinoa in 1/4 cup of water for one hour.
2. Combine the yeast and 3 cups of lukewarm water in the bowl of a standard mixer.
3. Mix in the salt, flours and mix-ins until just combined. Place that mixture in a warm place, covering with wax paper and a towel. Let the dough rise.
4. On a floured surface, split the dough in two. Form it into two loaves.
5. Sprinkle cornmeal on a pan, then place the two loaves on top of it. Slice a few cuts in the top of the loaves. Let rest for 40 minutes.
6. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Ten minutes before baking the bread, place a baking sheet in the oven and cover with water. Close the oven quickly to create steam.
7. Put the bread in the oven and cook for 35 minutes until brown and crusty. Remove from oven, slice and enjoy.

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