Friday, December 30, 2011

Will You Join Us?

Life is a recipe.
A long list of ingredients
put together in a certain way,
to later be chewed and eventually
Take 4 cups of heartache and
combine with 2 tablespoons of hope 
until heartache is absorbed completely.
  Slowly incorporate hope with
2 cups of hard work
and a dash of good fortune.
Serve immediately, chew fully.

Top of the world in Utah

  Sometimes the recipe that is life needs a change.  Spice needs to be added.  A pinch of salt.  A dash here and there of savory sweetness.  The palate tires of being overloaded with the richness of the holiday season's offerings and it's almost a mandate to slow down and pay closer attention to indulgence vs. overdone.
  I'm not big on New Year's resolutions partially because I never stick with them, and also because I think any time of the year is a good time to make changes.  But, for whatever reason, January 2012 feels like a big, creamy piece of paper in a brand new journal and I want to etch it with the freshest and best ideas.  It goes to reason that a calm, peaceable mind must have a healthy body to inhabit.
  I know that I feel better when I eat fresh, whole foods.  I have more energy, sleep better and have less cravings for sugary sweets and carbohydrate-rich foods.  Knowing this, I proceeded to gorge myself on bottled Cokes, cheese dips, lots of bread and pasta, chocolate, and plenty of cookies during the holidays.  Now I'm experiencing the equivalent of a food hangover: Headache, bloating, dehydration.  Just as after an unexpected night of heavy drinking I have to ask myself: WHY???  Why do we do these things to ourselves?  
  Now, that's a big question with an even bigger answer.  Which is why I'm more interested in HOW I'm going to right my nutritional wrongs and heal myself, than in why I seem to have a genetic weakness for lasagna Napoletana and creamy French cheeses.
  Thank goodness that my favorite Martha Stewart publication has a solution!  Whole Living Magazine has a 2012 action plan that involves a 28-day cleanse.  It is the ultimate purge for the body, with changing weekly menus chock-full of vegetables, fruits and whole grains.  
  Things you have to live without during the cleanse:
  • Processed foods and/or beverages
  • Added sugar
  • Dairy
  • Gluten
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol (Yes, gasp, I know!)

  We have decided to commit to an entire month of the action plan, and all I wanna know is:
Who's comin' with me?
  You can find out all of the details, as well as get the shopping lists and recipes by clicking here.
   Here's some inspiration:
= CarrotAppleGinger Juice!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Right quick...

  Aaand it's December!  The month is starting off as it should, with the mountain range shrouded in thick mist.  I suppose it's snowing up there.
  Before one holiday ends, it seems we are already bombarded with the immediacy of another.  It was hard to ignore the news stories and footage of the chaotic shoppers converging on stores and malls all over the country the day after Thanksgiving.  Record amounts of money were spent on, well, crap.  What is it with this nation and retail therapy?  Maybe it was all paid for with credit cards that can never be paid off, and maybe the national unemployment rate is steadily hovering at 9%.  By golly, my toddler will have that petroleum-based toy that will end up in a landfill in a year.  Have we become the Land of the Gimme Gimme?  Where, what's mine is mine and what's yours is also mine?
  I'm not saying that we shouldn't buy things to show the people we love that we appreciate them.  However, I am asking, and hoping, that we can shop locally, consume a little less and do all of that with the presence of mind that those 'things' are not equivalent to the happiness and joy that those people bring us.  The Venerable Cheng Yen said: 
Happiness does not come from having much, but from being attached to little.
  The great minds of meditation and yoga tell us to 'un-know' everything, and let the sound and motion of the world flow over us as we listen.  That by letting go and learning how to comfortably control the roller-coaster that is the mind, we obtain a greater understanding of our emotions and thoughts.  In turn, we are happier and healthier for it.
  Not that any of that is easy.  It's hard to 'let go' sometimes.  There are times when the mind won't stop, when even the beat of the heart matches the quickly pulsing thoughts and feelings.  To ignore them would be impossible and naive, but giving them free rein would be allowing ourselves to be overcome.
  The simplest, easiest way to ease and calm the mind and the body is to breathe.  Slowing the breath, counting the inhales and exhales, even just being aware of the shallowness or depth.  Taking this time increases our awareness, all working towards that letting go thing.  
  My point with all of this is that, practicing these philosophies in our daily lives can help us to familiarize ourselves with the word enough

  Here are two quick and easy dinners that I made this week using Thanksgiving leftovers.  Sometimes it can be a challenge to find things to do with the leftover turkey, or some of the other ingredients that you just didn't quite use all of.  This week we had lots of turkey to get through and a big container of crushed tomatoes to do something with.
  Tuesday night is Yoga Night, and we don't get home until after 8:30.  So we need something that is fast and semi-good for us.  Here's what we had:

Thanksgiving Turkey Chilaquiles

  You can find the original recipe here, but I'd suggest some alterations.
  • Use blue corn tortilla chips- unsalted is key!
  • Add one can of drained black beans when adding the salsa.
  • Pepper Jack Cheese gives it a great kick.
  • Omit the turkey for a vegetarian meal, and use vegan cheese and sour cream for a vegan meal!
  Last night, I walked the aisles of our minuscule neighborhood natural grocery for a good 15 minutes trying to decide what I was going to have for dinner.  When I realized that I had everything I needed, I left empty-handed.

Tomato Sauce On the Fly w/ Roasted Garlic and Fusilli
    The key to this is simplicity, and using what you have.  I love the warm, rich flavor of roasted garlic!

  • 1 T minced shallot or onion
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2-?? cloves whole garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 3 T olive oil
  • Pasta, preferably whole grain
  • One can crushed tomatoes
  • Dried oregano
  • Dried thyme
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Pinch of sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Make a package with aluminum foil and garlic, drizzling 1-2 tablespoons (or more) to coat cloves.  Place package in the oven, roast for 25-30 minutes.
Saute the shallot or onion in one tablespoon of oil until it begins to soften, 3-4 minutes on medium heat.  Meanwhile, place crushed tomatoes in a pot and put over medium-low heat.  Add minced garlic to the shallots and saute until garlic is fragrant.  Add shallot and garlic mixture to tomatoes.  Season to taste, using thyme, oregano, salt and pepper.  After sauce begins to simmer, add a pinch of sugar.  Simmer sauce while pasta cooks.
Toss cooked pasta with sauce.  Remove roasted garlic cloves from peeling and mash or add whole to pasta.

Here's to December:
 The world is your oyster.  Yes, but in that oyster is the pearl, and to get to the pearl one has to first discard the shell and the flesh.  
~Ian Gardner
 Good luck, my fellow pearl-seekers.