My husband has been telling me to start a blog for almost 5 years now. He believes that my perspective on food, dieting, yoga, conventional 'anything', and the way we've chosen to raise our children will be of interest and inspiration to you. He believes that my dry sense of humor and my "as-a-matter-of-fact" delivery of my personal truths will be well received. I suppose we'll see.
But since you're here, get comfortable. And welcome to my kitchen conversations.
|Posted on September 28, 2013 at 6:45 PM||comments (0)|
My nine year old daughter came home with the most spectacular homework assignment for the weekend. For a class called Practical Life, she was asked to keep track of all the things she does to take care of herself for three days. She came up with things like brushing my teeth, eating three healthy meals and two awesome snacks, getting a complete night’s sleep, reading a book, watching a show with my Mom, finishing an art project...the list went on and on. It was wonderful to see her awareness build with each act of self-care. It made me wonder...how long would my list be? What would qualify as self-care and what would I simply be adding to the list so that I wouldn’t feel so personally neglected?
Granted my nine year old only has herself to look after, but I believe the lesson can still be applied regardless of our age. So I put myself on a nine day challenge to see if I could tune into the freedom and free-spirit of my own inner nine year old. After three days, I decided that ‘grooming’ would count as one...so of the three days, my longest list was only six items: grooming, eating five small meals (rather than skipping any), enjoying the fall foliage in Vermont on a drive with my hubby, curling my feet under myself on the sofa and enjoying a cup of tea, turning all of my tech off at 9:30pm, and meditating on the front porch in the moonlight.
Now, I’m a competitive, type A yogi...so, I decided on day four, I was going beat my own record. I figure there will be times that I would be able to trade the time spent with my hubby for reading a good book or a girls weekend, etc. So I decided to focus on small things that I might be able to add. On day four, I put on a spritz of perfume. And you know what?...that 10 seconds was time well spent. It really elevated my spirits for the whole day. On day five, rather than immediately going for ‘seconds’ on dinner...I decided to wait 20 minutes and passed the time by chatting with my children while they finished eating instead. Turned out I was already satisfied. On day six, I was really generous, I gave myself a face lift...by chosing to smile at everyone that I interacted with that day. On day seven, I wrote a thank you note to myself and popped it in the mail to my home address. On day eight, I bought a stellar bottle of wine and an incredible selection of cheeses to enjoy as a spontaneous mini-date night ‘in’ with the hubby after the children went to bed. And on day nine...
This is where it got really interesting. Day nine marked the beginning of an on-going experiment that blossomed from this whole Personal Care Challenge.
On day nine, I wrote down 3 mistakes, regrets, booboos, mishaps, and blunders that befell me that day. I read it over, acknowledging them for a 'just' amount of time. Then I ripped that page out of the notebook, crumpled it up and threw it away. I turned to a new page. I wrote down 3 accomplishments, successes, good things, wish I could repeat-ers, and moments of happiness that struck me that day. I pulled that page out, folded it up and placed it under my pillow. When I woke up in the morning, I retrieved that piece of paper from under my pillow, opened it up and read it. Such gratitude! Not to mention a great night’s sleep. I may be 30 years her senior, but that 9 year old taught me a truly fun way to lighten my load, lift my spirits, and be present.
I invite you to take your own Personal Care Challenge and feel free to share your happenings with me on my Facebook page.
If you ride this all the way to Day Nine or simply dive right into Day Nine remember these two rules:
Even if you experience what one might call a shit-storm of a day...only write down three “bad” things. Then rip that page out, throw it away and be done with that. You should sleep easier having discarded those things.
Even if you experience nothing but sunshine and rainbows that day...only write down three “good” things. Start your day with simple gratitude.
|Posted on August 28, 2013 at 6:40 PM||comments (0)|
*This is a re-post of a post I did for Wonder Women of Boston*
Messages from a Type A Yogi: Self Centered and Well
A mantra is a simple word or phrase or chant or, even, a sound that is filled with all the meaning,
inspiration, energy, and clarity you need to remind you of your true purpose, your true North.
While driving down the highway the other day, I had all of the windows rolled down and was
truly enjoying the hum of the car and the wind in my locks. It was exhilarating...okay, okay, I was
speeding. But, eventually, I ended up behind a slow moving, beautifully restored, powder blue,
1950s classic car. I got the impression that the occupants of this car were out for an old
fashioned Sunday drive. So, for reasons that I have yet to figure out (but, likely the Universe
helping me avoid a speeding ticket), I decided to slow down and enjoy their easy pace all the
way to my exit.
While I was behind them, I recalled a story that my husband told me about a friend of his who
would occasionally pull into the break down lane, turn on his hazard lights and cruise at about
10 miles per hour...just to see whatever he saw. When I first heard this, I chuckled at the notion
and thought it might be fun to try one day.
I was intrigued by the image of the traffic dancing along in it’s organized chaos. I imagined how
some drivers would appear to be working ‘harder’ than others — zipping around needlessly
changing lanes, shouting or even honking at others to no good end while others would seem to
be in the moment...enjoying their music or friendly conversation; and still others might appear to
be barely limping along...almost asleep at the wheel. Although all of these drivers were all on
the same path they were certainly experiencing different journeys. And, from my vantage point,
moving slowly, just outside of the fray...it was hard not to notice, regardless of their journeys,
each of them were missing the sweet spots along the way. I know, I know, it sounds like a
modern spin on ‘stopping to smell the roses’. But the point is, this story and it’s resulting
imagery became the source of one of my personal mantras.
“Break down lane. Now.”
This mantra is preemptive. It stands as a reminder that sometimes the only way to truly move
forward is to take a step back....or at least move to the far, far right. By choosing to get in the
break down lane now...you may avoid unexpectedly, and inconveniently, finding yourself there
later. You don’t have to have a reason to get in the break down lane. In fact, it’s better if you
don’t. Acknowledge your goals, deadlines, and ambition, but then practice the ultimate in self
control—listen inward—and chose to feed and nourish your spirit before moving to manage your
latest endeavor. Take yourself to a movie, buy yourself some flowers, have lunch with
yourself...in other words: get Self-centered.
However you get them in, these small moments of Self-centering to slow down and regroup are
critical to cultivating balance in our high paced modern lives. Any practice that gives you that zen-like feeling...whether it’s running, biking, practicing yoga asana, or sitting in meditation...do
it now. Get in the break down lane, now.
And now, you’re saying...yep, sure...I’ll get right on that. HOW?! When? Where will I find the
time? Everyone’s situation is unique, but here’s one idea.
As an executive in corporate America I was given a bank of time off. There were some company
wide set holidays. But the rest of the time was my own to do with as I saw fit; it could be applied
to sick days, vacation days, or holidays. I opted to set some of them aside as Personal Wellness
Days (PWD). I went through the calendar and strategically placed PWDs near the end of each
month. Yep I paid myself upfront...twelve days each year. It appears piddly when you see it in
black and white. But I assure you the time was invaluable.
These days were sacred. They could not be used for running errands, catching up on anything
remotely work related, or to catch up on to-do list items. They were only for doing things that I
truly enjoyed, things that restored my outlook on life. Aside from setting the date, nothing about
the day was planned; it was a practice of living in the moment and letting my heart be my guide.
I didn’t know it at the time, but this is a deeply rooted yogic practice.
Now, be honest with yourself, when was the last time that you woke up without an agenda?
|Posted on July 6, 2012 at 10:30 PM||comments (0)|
Yesterday, I spent 4 hours in the kitchen with my hubby. We prepared an arugula salad, sweet and sour chicken, two batches of zucchini bread and finished off six bottles of microbrew between us.
Needless to say, we talked a lot.
There has been a pause in our Kitchen Talks because I’ve been in the kitchen alone these past several weeks (truth be told, my hubby and I have been alternating). Our schedules had become “too busy”.
But just like all things, ‘busy’ is a choice. Whether we chose to admit it or not. Some of us chose busy. I suppose on many levels, it feels good. While others feel as though they are busy due of circumstances beyond their control. The result is the same, busy is as busy does and busy puts you in future mode. With your sights set on the future, you are more likely to miss an opportunity to savor something truly delightful in the present.
On my drive this morning to teach my 6am yoga class, I noticed the driver far out in front of me, slow down and pull over to the side of the road. The driver hopped out and briskly walked back toward the direction she had come from. She pulled out her camera phone and started taking pictures of some wild flowers blooming with the morning mist in the background.
In my romanticized story, this woman had seen something worth stopping for. Something so breath-taking and memorable that she felt that whatever stood in the future could wait while she savored this moment.
So back to my kitchen, as my hubby and I laughed, sweat (because it was 90 degrees inside and out), and enjoyed testing and tasting our foods, we stopped — looked over the scene and agreed that we would chose space and time over ‘busy’, any day. This moment was truly remarkable.
To get yogic on your behind, notice something worth stopping for every day and opt to add a little bit of sweet to your days to balance out the inevitable sour.
Prepare this Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe to kick off your new approach to bringing balance into your life.
1 (8 ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained (juice reserved)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 3/4 cups water, divided
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp turmeric
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into cubes
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
vegetable oil (frying)
2 handfuls of fresh snow peas
1/2 onion, large (diced)
In a saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups water, sugar, vinegar, reserved pineapple juice, and turmeric. Heat to boiling. Turn heat down. Combine 1/4 cups cornstarch and 1/4 cup water; slowly stir into saucepan. Continue stirring until mixture thickens. Turn off heat and remove pan from stove.
Combine flour, 1 tbl oil, 1tbl cornstarch, salt, white pepper and egg. Add 1 1/2 cups water gradually to make a thick batter. Stir to blend thoroughly. Add chicken pieces to coat.
Heat oil in skillet, wok, or deep fryer. Fry chicken until done.
When ready to serve, combine snow peas, onions, pineapple chunks, chicken and cover with sauce. Enjoy with sticky white rice and a side of min veggie springs rolls (I prefer Ling-Ling, if I’m not making my own). That’s the best Chinese take-in you could ask for...and it’s without the side effects of Chinese restaurant take out
|Posted on April 30, 2012 at 10:20 PM||comments (0)|
One of the very human things that we do is fall in love. To be more accurate, I think that we fall in love with the connections that we have with others. But sometimes we lose sight of the bigger connection. For this, Yoga teaches us to practice vairagya (non-attachment or detachment).
I know; that sounds...well, wrong. But consider this scenario...
You've driven like a mad person to get to your yoga class on time. You dash in to the studio. Skipping the eye contact and the hellos, you toss your name into the air to complete your check-in. And brushing past a few lingering people, you're able to slide into your "regular" spot in the corner of the studio just before the instructor walks in. You look up. And your heart sinks. It's a substitute.
Tell the truth...you have lived this moment before. Now step back...detach yourself from the "reasons" why and look at the situation as if you are watching someone else's life. It's all mush, isn't it?
Yoga is about making space, taking time, and enjoying each beautiful moment as it comes. Yoga is about connections — old and new. Yoga is about setting aside expectations and taking in each moment as it comes.
If we are to practice detachment, then we would value each connection and each moment, equally...never diminished by the last. We couldn't imagine breezing past another individual without acknowledgement. We would find that we were neither glad nor saddened by the presence of a different instructor. At best, we might be intrigued by what the moment has brought. Detachment helps us to live in the moment — unaffected by the past and not hindered with speculation about the future. So the next time you find yourself, rushing to class or contemplating leaving because it's a sub. Practice detachment.
"Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." - Forrest Gump
In the meantime, I hope that you'll settle in for a moment of pure chocolate bliss. Enjoy this wonderful substitute for store bought hot fudge.
Fudging Good Hot Fudge
1 cup of sugar (organic, unbleached)
3 tbs of cocoa powder (I prefer the fresh ground Valrhona chocolate)
1/4 cup of cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup of hot water (I just zap it in the microwave)
3 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
Mix sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt with a very small whisk in a sauce pan on medium-high heat. The whisk will help to break up the cornstarch better than a spoon.
Stir in the hot water and cook until thickens (boils about 3 minutes). Immediately remove from heat.
Add butter and vanilla. Stir until combined. Serve on top of your favorite ice cream or cheese cake. Fudge can be stored in refridgerator for later.
|Posted on April 2, 2012 at 10:05 PM||comments (0)|
Several years ago, my hubby and I were strolling through Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington. It was his first time there so in the spirit of exploration, we truly wandered to every corner of that Market. Along the way, we found ourselves in a spice shop. It reminded me of something that you’d see in a movie. It was tucked way back in the corner and was packed so tightly with racks full of jars and tins that with just three people in the shop it felt crowded. It was kinda dusty looking — but not in a dirty way — it’s just that everything was brown, dingy yellow or rusty red, and it was dimly lit like it had secrets to hide. It was awesome.
We spent a good amount of time picking through jars, smelling and discovering all sorts of wonderful spices that we hadn’t known existed. But soon our noses gave out and signaled the end of our time there. As we made our way to the exit, I took note of the young, gangly dude who was apparently holding down the fort from behind a counter. Behind him there was a wall — literally counter to ceiling — of old-timey ‘period’ spice jars. So figuring he’s the guru of this hole in the wall, I lean over the counter and ask: “do you have any Natural Flavoring?” He blinks once and then twice, “Huh?”. Exactly! So I reiterate, “do you sell Natural Flavoring here? I see it listed as an ingredient on the back of packaged foods all the time and have always wondered where to buy it. Do you sell it?” Now I was just fooling around with the dude. But, I swear this marked the beginning of my questioning what passes my lips as food.
The next time that you’re in a conventional grocery store, look at the ingredients listed on the back of a loaf of ‘big brand’ bread. You’ll note there is more in that loaf than flour, water, and yeast. These fillers are added to the ‘food’ to fluff them out, make them look pretty, or extend their shelf life. To be fair sometimes these fillers are vitamins and minerals that have been stripped out during the process of making this loaf. But in general, to round the ingredients list out you’ll find preservatives, prescriptions, pesticides, or wood pulp. Ingredients should be simple. Simple enough for a child to read. Your body doesn’t need the added work of trying to process these “additives” back out of your system. There comes a point when that ‘food’ item has more filler than food. I call these options “food derivatives”. This is term that I picked up from another counter-guy at a Chili’s restaurant. But that’s another story.
Anyhoo, food derivatives are more prevalent than we’d like to think. The FDAs purpose is to identify and set a safe level of tolerance for substances within the food we are presented. Our job is to choose wisely. But this can be very tricky. And it only gets more slippery as the tolerance levels are adjusted by profit rather than ethics. I’m not saying there’s a conspiracy...but I do find it disheartening that the decline in American wellness seems so proportionally linked to the rise of food derivatives that have worked their way into our markets. I mean...have you heard about Pink Slime, yet? Read up and steer clear (pun intended).
In short, it’s about the quality of the foods you chose. Chose well and it will be easy to taste why my Basic House Burger ranks higher on the Wellness Scale than the burger derivative that’s being served for lunch at our public schools.
1lb organic ground beef, 85% lean/15% fat
1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
2 tsp black pepper, ground
2 tbl fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp red pepper flakes, crushed
salt to taste
juice of half a small lime
Welshire Farms Black Forest Thick-sliced Uncured Bacon (Now that’s a mouthful. And it’s worth it. Don’t skimp on bacon.)
Cheddar, sliced (I’ve found that harvarti and swiss also go well on this Basic Burger)
Simple bun (No random ingredients. Just flour, yeast, salt)
Makes 4 patties. Grill or broil. Toast buns. Place a large dollop of guacamole on the bottom bun. Remove patties from heat, top with a slice of cheese. Place on top of guacamole. Top with crisp bacon and then the top bun. Enjoy with a side of sweet potato fries/wedges or onion rings. If you don’t feel up to making your own fries or onion rings. Alexia offers a nice pre-packaged option in the freezer section.