Lastpass – a wake up call after the Heartbleed bug

With the advent of the recent Heartbeed bug found in openSSL servers I believe it is important to share a free and easy way to enable secure password protection using a password manager. There are many password managers out there which you can research through reviews such as from pcmag.  I would like to share my recommendation that my tech-savvy friends also use – Lastpass.

Lastpass is a free web based service that allows you to keep track and use secure passwords without having to remember them.  Easy to use anywhere, even on unsecure networks while travelling.  In fact using Lastpass it is easier to make sure you do not inadvertently allow the next person who uses your public pc to access your gmail or yahoo mail or…  Lastpass is free if you just use it on your laptops or desktop pcs. However, if you want to use the app for your smart phone/devices then you need to pay $12 a year.  If I had a smart phone/device I would not be personally opposed to paying that amount – just saying.  ;-)

Check out this password manager and let me know what you think.

Virgilio’s Twist on Tunisian Vegetarian Stew (45 minutes to your plate)

Ingredients:
(Prep is 15 minutes for chopping carrots, onion, tomatoes; plus getting other ingredients together)
Onion – 1 medium/large
Tomatoes – 2 medium/large
Salt- to taste
Lime – to taste
Chickpeas – 1.5 cups
Corn/Peas/Carrots – 1 cup
Turmeric – 1 / 4 tsp
Cinnamon – 1 / 4 tsp
Coriander – 2 tsp
Black pepper – 1 / 2 tsp
Cayenne pepper – 1
Oil – coconut oil – 1 spoon
Raisins – a handful
Slivered Almonds – 1 / 4 cup

Cooking Process (25/30 min):
In spoon of coconut oil fry chopped onion until translucent. Add spices, fry for a couple minutes, then add chickpeas and other veggies, including tomatoes. Add 1/4 cup of water, and bring to boil quickly, then reduce heat and let simmer for 15/20 minutes.

Notes:
(1) I use all organic ingredients, and rehydrate my chick peas and cook on a stove with electric coils. You can just as easily substitute canned/frozen ingredients, and use pre-chopped ingredients, and even use a different cooking oil to cut prep time to less than 5 minutes. Use a gas stove and you may cut cooking time as well. The idea is to have fun, and enjoy food, not get hung up over the little details.
(2) You can use whatever veggies you fancy. Most Tunisian stews on the web use cabbage. I didn’t have cabbage and so I did not. Perhaps that does not make it Tunisian stew. If it doesn’t then the fact that it is my take on Tunisian stew should mollify the purists. To me it is all about experimenting and playing around. Creating delicious food that looks good too.
(3) For understanding what one means by cooking onions and different stages of cooking them from sweated to translucent to golden and finally caramelized check out http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-onions-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-185575

Filing Taxes the Easy Free Way – The VITA Program

I realize we are in tax season and filing taxes isn’t easy. You may not make much, so spending some of that hard earned dough to file your taxes may be another hardship that you are not sure you can afford. Well, I have the solution for you.  If you meet the income guidelines you can get free tax filing through the IRS VITA program. Most students are eligible, as well as many others. Find out more info, including a location near you, at the IRS VITA website

Fish Pie

It is Lent and we have many Fridays to take us through to the big Day, Easter. Here is an easy dish to make some portable goodness. You can easily make this in a small toaster oven. Or scale it up and make it for a big family, or party.

Ingredients:
Fish – 2lb
onion – 1
chili (hot pepper) – 1
tomato – 1
turmeric
oil, salt,lime, pepper – to taste
eggs – 2
garlic cloves – 3
powdered ginger – ½ tsp

Instructions:
In a pot put one onion, tomato, and chili, all cut fine. Add a little pepper and turmeric, crushed ginger and garlic. Boil in some water. Then add some lime and salt to taste and a little oil. After boiling for a while add fish and cook.. I cook on one side and then another in order not to have too much liquid – remember that this is going to be become a pie. Cool and debone fish, cut into small pieces, and place in 3 cup baking dish. (Easy way out? Use boneless and skinless.) Using liquid you cooked fish in add 2 eggs, 1 spoon of olive oil or coconut oil or whatever oil is your delight, one spoon of flour and mix. Pour resulting liquid over the fish, and place a few bits of butter on top (to help in baking so that it does not burn when baking).

Put dish in oven preheated to 350 degrees for about half an hour. If you use a clear glass baking dish you can see when it is perfection divine..

Plate and enjoy.

Dinner with lots of color the way it is supposed to be.  Fish pie, steamed broccoli and mixed veggies (carrots, corn, peas, green beans), brown rice and rye, and spicy chick peas (garbanzo beans).

Dinner with lots of color the way it is supposed to be. Fish pie, steamed broccoli and mixed veggies (carrots, corn, peas, green beans), brown rice and rye, and spicy chick peas (garbanzo beans).

Lemon Cucumber and Cherry Tomato

We start with the lemon cucumber, that golden ball of sweet goodness – round like a lemon – but no tartness or even the bitterness that some other varieties have.  Perfect raw!  A sweet curiosity and not much more as the nutritional value is low…

Some of the freshly picked veggies from my CSA. Perfect for snacking on.

Some of the freshly picked veggies from my CSA. Perfect for snacking on.

Next we move on to the cherry tomato, getting to the meat of this post. Switching things up I avoid the sweet – red in color – picking the tart orange and yellow cousins instead.  Freshly picked is always the best -refrigeration makes tomatoes lose flavor – so I have my daily pit-stop into work at the u-pick fields of the Full Plate CSA*.  My morning-pick-me upper! Pop a cherry and mouth is merry!

Sorry, couldn’t help myself and made it rhyme.

Want to get your five servings of veggies every day?  Just 7 cherry tomaotoes count as 1 serving.  Tomatoes are low in fat, high in fiber and cancer fighting lycopenes. And the tang of the orange/yellow cherry is a perfect substitute for those crisps your hands reach for when hunger pangs hit. I also found a detailed nutritional profile of the tomato if you are interested in finding out more.

Note: A little background on CSA mentioned in my post. The Full Plate Farm Collective is my CSA .  CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and it is an arrangement where people/community agree to support a farm/s and the farm/s agree to supply the community.  This works out well as it gives a farm the financial support it typically needs upfront to get the harvest, and the consumers/community can get food at a price less than they would pay at a typical grocery store.  While some CSAs get upfront monetary payment, others support other options such as monthly payment plans, or reduced/no monetary payment in exchange for labor.  And there are many CSA types: fruit, veggies, freshly prepared meals, bread (which you can find out about on the Full Plate website)… with more being thought up every day! The CSA model being applied to other local businesses than just the farm, as part of the flourishing cooperative movement.  Indeed it is a great way to support -and be part of – the local sustainable economy!

Confessions of A Fitness Addict: Bench Press, Bicep Curls, and 1001 Sit-Ups

It is easy to want and focus on 6 pack abs, how much you can bench, or even curl.  In the process one easily loses sight of the true end product – the overall self.  I found that out for myself, recently. Here’s my story.

I am a fit person.  I do a few exercises when I get up every morning, and take regular breaks from sitting at my desk while at work.  I have six small meals throughout the day, lots of veggies, some meat, lots of organic food, drink lots of fluids, juice, eat out maybe once/twice a month, socially dance a couple times a week, cycle, go jogging, hike quite a bit in the summer and increase my dancing to compensate for the cold in the winter, have weights that I use at home, do Tai Chi….You get the picture?

Yet my legs are tight from years earlier of lots of running as a kid without investing in stretching/flexibility, when I didn’t know any better.  And using machines for weights have built asymmetries in strength.  Nothing that I think that the average person can notice, and while I knew about these things I did not think it made a big deal.  After all it is normal for a person to favor the dominant hand, to have one side a little stronger.  And if I was tight I thought I was working on it…

Then this year I invested in one on one personal training. I told the people coaching me that I wanted to make sure that I had a strong symmetrical foundation.  Here’s one example. When I did the dumb bell row just minutely changing changing my form with the left row – not allowing my non-dominant left shoulder to drop a fraction of a cm – engaged my back to the same extent as my dominant right.  Nothing that any of my gym buddies ever noticed, or even I myself, for that matter.  However, having someone focusing on my form, correcting and showing me visually the small differences has had a significant impact. No cheating allowed!  Oh, and for the time being I no longer participate or even have time to include the standards of the average Joe, such as bench press, bicep curls, and sit-ups.

Having one-on-one attention makes a significant difference no matter what you do for fitness whether it be yoga, or resistance training.  It is definitely better to do something, rather then nothing, but consider a little one-on-one attention in some way shape or form and see the difference that it can make today.

A quick shameless plug.  If you are interested in partner dance, which is a great way to get fitter while socializing, I teach partner dance.  You can contact me @ Alegria Dance.