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.
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.
It’s the only part of winter I’m gonna miss.
*recipe from a Pritikin book I found on my parents’ bookshelf
Have you read the book Skinny Female Dog yet? (That’s not the real title, but I don’t like to cuss on blogs.) I laughed my way through it with advice like “All carbs are not created equal. There are two types: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates suck and are as nutritionally beneficial as toilet paper.” The authors’ big tip throughout the book was to “use your head” when you make choices about eating. They are proponents of no meat and no dairy. I’m of the mindset that I need a little of those food groups for a well-balanced diet (my head says there’s something not quite right about a replacing meat and dairy with soymilk, soy “cheese,” soy “meat,” etc. – BUT that’s just me. The book has some great info in there and is worth the read.)
Moving on, the point I’m trying to make is that I visited the authors’ website the other day. Watch their Video Interview. I loved it. It took one of the author’s seven years to transform her eating habits. The other one – ten years. Their message is so clear and true: the goal is to eat well and do the best you can, but no one is perfect. It’s takes time to change your diet. Taste buds need to be retrained. Moving towards healthier foods is a progression. You give up what you can and don’t beat yourself up when you eat something less than ideal.