Addicting Appetizer

Here is one of my favorite appetizers involving Wasa crispbread.

I searched Wasa’s recipe page and it’s on not on there, so I’m feeling rather innovative (except that I didn’t create it – the recipe was passed along by a friend of mine, but anyway . . .)

Spread a layer of organic cream cheese on Wasa crispbread.
Add two slices of cucumber.
Season with garlic power and sea salt.
Enjoy.

Blue Zones

Blue Zones are places in the world where people live “astoundingly long lives” – for example, reaching the age of 100 three times the rate of Americans. And suffering a fifth the rate of heart disease. Imagine being able to hold your great-great-grandchild one day . . .

I first learned of Blue Zones when one of the editors I work with went on a “Quest” to the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica, one of the four Blue Zones (the others are Okinawa, Japan, Loma Linda, California, and Sardinia, Italy).

Dan Buettner, a journalist who worked extensively on researching these communities, has come out with a book titled The Blue Zone. I want to read the book in context, so I’m refraining from skipping ahead, but based on the Blue Zones website and other articles I’ve read, I know some of the lifestyle practices of centurions are (1) plant based diets (not necessarily vegetarian, but plant-based); (2) laughter; (3) spirituality; (4) family; and (5) physically active lives (like gardening and laboring).

Just because Washington DC isn’t a Blue Zone doesn’t mean my body and my house can’t be one.

Napping Yoga

After a couple of weeks away from yoga, I wanted to ease back into the practice. So I went to a restorative class this morning. It was a new studio, and I wandered back to the office to sign in as “Drop In.”

“I’m a drop in too,” I heard another woman say. “This is restorative yoga, right?” the woman continued. “The kind where you lay around and rest?”

The yoga instructor smiled. “Yes. I call it napping yoga.”

It’s a fitting name because it’s so deeply relaxing. Today, we opened with a few side stretches and twists. The rest of the class we spent in Reclining Bound Angle Pose, Seated Forward Bend, Waterfall, and Savasana.

It was heavenly

Happy

The other day, I was in a “blah” mood due to my seasonal affective disorder (self-diagnosed). To snap out of it, I came up with a list of ten activities that are fun. Not just enjoyable, but playful and lively. The kind of activities that make me happy, happy, happy.

10 Fun Activities
1. Rollerblading (I can’t help but grin like a fool whem I blade – I absolutely love it more than just about anything)
2. Dinner out with my husband
3. Waterskiing
4. Downhill Skiing
5. Watching a good romantic comedy
6. Tennis
7. Jumping on a trampoline
8. Throwing a Frisbee with my dog (she can leap in the air and catch it)
9. Riding rapids in a river
10. Snorkeling around coral reefs

Reviewing my list, it dawned on my how many were linked to physical activity – things that get my blood flowing. (Yoga isn’t on there because while I do enjoy it – love it, actually – I think of it as more of a calming practice.) I don’t know where the trampoline came from – that one just popped into my head. Well, I’m so getting a mini tramp for my bedroom. When it’s cold and windy and rainy I’ll get some physical exercise and make myself laugh while I’m at it.

Bounce. Bounce. Bounce. Š

Dry Ground

And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. And God saw that it was good. –Genesis 1:9

That verse has been stuck in my head since November.

Outside, I’ll point to our little community yard in front of our townhouse and say, “This hasn’t been dry since we moved in.”

It’s true.

When it’s not covered in snow or ice, it’s a wet, muddy patch of grass. I’m ready for sunshine. For warm air. For dry ground.

Last Saturday, I got my wish. The sun blazed in the sky without a cloud in sight. I was so happy and giddy and overwhelmed with possibilities I wasn’t sure what to do. Should I bike? Rollerblade? Find an outdoor court and play tennis? In the end, I opted for a long walk. I simply wanted to let the fresh air clear my mind.

Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk.

I could’ve stayed on the trail forever.

The day came to a close, and by Sunday morning it was raining again. Our patch of grass was wet and muddy. But there are more warm, dry days ahead. I can feel them. And I’m ready to welcome them with open arms.

Man in the Mud

Panic.

It’s a “sudden overwhelming fear, with or without cause, that produces hysterical or irrational behavior” according dictionary.com.

I’ve certainly been guilty of it. But it usually doesn’t serve me well. Like the time I convinced myself I had appendicitis and went into such hysterics that I passed out.

I came across this story last week – a construction worker in China was buried alive in the mud with nothing but a gap of air in front of his face (his helmet slid down). He didn’t panic. He practiced meditation and survived two hours on an amount of air that should have lasted five minutes.

I wonder sometimes how I would react in certain situations. What if I was eating in Windows restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11? What if I was in one of the hijacked planes? I don’t think a person truly knows how he or she will respond unless in the situation. God willing, that will never be the case, but if it is, I hope I am like the man in the mud.

Hearty Vegetable Lentil Soup

We’ve been making this lentil soup* all winter. We finally have it down:

I pour 5 cups of organic, low sodium chicken broth into the big pot.
Ron chops 2 celery stalks, 1 large carrot, and minces 2 cloves of garlic.
I chop 1 medium onion, 1 red pepper, and 1 green pepper. Then measure out 1 cup of dry lentils.

We toss this first batch of ingredients into the pot and stir. Turn on the burner and, after it begins to boil, reduce it to a simmer for 40 minutes.

While it’s cooking, Ron and I are back to the cutting boards.

He’s got 3 red potatoes.
I have 1 zucchini.
He measures out the curry powder and basil (half a teaspoon each).
I measure out a half a cup of organic tomato sauce and drain a can of diced tomatoes.

Our second batch of ingredients goes in the pot for an extra 15 minutes at the end.

We keep sourdough bread in the freezer, and Ron thaws it out and toasts it up so we can dip it in the soup.

So tasty.

It’s the only part of winter I’m gonna miss.

~~~

*recipe from a Pritikin book I found on my parents’ bookshelf

The Tea Girl

I feel like a dog person who became a cat person . . . a skier who became a snowboarder . . . an evening person who became a morning person . . . because I drink tea now. Me. The coffee girl. Drinks tea. And I like it.

So many colors. Tons of flavors. I can drink it at night and it won’t keep me up until 3am.

I have an “emergency kit” in my purse. It contains essentials like a hair band, dental floss, an extra pair of contact lenses, and quarters. Now it also holds a tea bag. I added it after going to a restaurant the other day where they had three tea choices: icky, yucky, or gross. It reminded me of the days when I used to be a caffeine addict yet was stuck in a meeting where the only coffee option was a stale, burnt cup of sludge.

Anyway, so I now keep a tea bag tucked away for such predicaments. That’s me. The tea girl. Š

Natural Sugars

So, I’m off to see a naturopath. I’m still trying to figure out the fertility thing, and I’d like to learn more about this healing method of treatment. Diet is the first thing a naturopath evaluates (I think) – so it should be interesting to hear what she thinks of my eating habits. My no coffee, no alcohol, and increased intake of fruits and vegetables seems to be going okay (sure, there’s hiccups along the way, but not too many). But the no sugar plan? That’s tough. I’m off it, then back on it. Off. On. Off. On. OffOnOffOnOffOnOffOn. Lately, in order to satisfy my cravings, I’ve been snacking on a little sweet treat in the late afternoons (mostly chocolate). Sugar depresses the immune system drastically. And after reading up on the potential harm sugar can do to my body (feed cancer cells, contribute to autoimmune diseases, weaken eyesight, and so on) I actually felt fear rising inside me. But while fear can be a strong motivator, what really moves me into action is knowing how healthy and healed and clean I’ll be and feel when I eliminate sugar from my diet. I already know the next step. Instead of satisfying my craving with candy, I should switch to treats that have been sweetened with natural sugars, like maple syrup and raw honey. Okay . . . back to the kitchen to experiment with more recipes.