Posts Tagged: for your mind and body

Out of Sight: Proof that Obstacles are Meant to be Overcome

Miranday July via tumblr - fuckyeahmirandajuly

Miranda July via tumblr – fuckyeahmirandajuly

Good morning everyone,

Over the weekend, I found some time for nestling into a corner of our sofa to leaf through the pages of a magazine.  I never expected to find what I did, but as is certainly the nature of life, something pops up when you least expect it to.  The best part was, and call me superstitious, but it felt like the universes’ forces and energies meant for me to see this particular article.  What a wild world!  (Thank you Cat Stevens, now known as Yusuf Islam, for the 1970 hit “Wild World“.)  What was I reading? The bimonthly magazine, Alcalde that is distributed by Texas Exes.  The article I read was “Uncommon Sense“, written by Rose Cahalan, which can also be found on the Texas Exes website or in the hyperlink above.  Below you will find an excerpt from the piece.

One day in fall 2007, Christine Ha tried to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich—and she couldn’t do it. A year earlier, Ha had prepared an elaborate Thanksgiving feast for her family, but now she found herself throwing the sandwich away in frustration as she wiped jelly off her hands. “It was so depressing to go from making fancy dinners to being unable to make a sandwich,” she says. “I thought I would never cook again.”

Ha was losing her eyesight. It started after her sophomore year at UT, when the computer screen at her finance internship had unexpectedly gone blurry. The next four years were a haze of doctor’s appointments and inconclusive tests. Eventually Ha even had to quit her first post-grad job in software consulting.

After she was finally diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder called neuromyelitis optica and told she would lose nearly all her vision, Ha says she felt a measure of relief. “I’m the kind of person who needs a game plan,” she says, “so finally getting a correct diagnosis after four years was a starting point.”

She decided to try cooking again, with the help of a vocational counselor who coached her as she relearned basic skills. Before long she wasn’t just making peanut-butter sandwiches, she was cooking multi-course dinners—only this time with the aid of a talking thermometer, Braille labels on her stovetop, and extra-long oven mitts. The diagnosis also spurred her to change careers.

Read the rest of the article HERE!

In this article, Rose Cahalan–the author–begins by explaining Christine Ha’s experience with making a peanut butter sandwich with just enough detail that we are able to immediately empathize with the story.  We continue reading to find that not only is Christine a lover of the culinary arts but she is also a lover of the written word.  Because of this, I knew I would be thinking about this story for days and I had to find a way to share. My blog seemed like the perfect place!

One of the first aspects about this story that struck me was the most obvious subject-matter, cooking, but more to the point, cooking without sight.  Though my knife skills are improving daily with more precision and ease, I certainly make mistakes and I’m able to SEE those mistakes.   Christine’s ability astounds and encourages me to challenge my other senses more.  Yes, I’ve seen videos of big name chefs who speed dice without looking, but the ability to artfully use their knives takes confidence that is built up with years of practice coupled with the ease of knowing they could look down for accuracy at any time.  All of this to say, when you love something enough–however illogical it may seem to others–find a way to make it work!

Next, I was struck by the manner in which the piece addresses, subtly, that we are all forced to relinquish power at some point in our lives. There are times when the circumstances that surface this ‘release of power’ are more unpleasant for some than others, and oftentimes, not our choice.  In the world of food, there are many certainties–produce tastes better when it is in season– and uncertainties–will the frost this winter ruin the crops?  However, it occurred to me while reading this piece that very few of us recognize what an amazing gift it is to be able to transform a semi-ordinary bundle of veggies into a gourmet meal for yourself or a group of people.  And aren’t we all convalescing due to the abrasions of day-to-day life?  It would be easy to let such a traumatic event turn oneself into a surly person, but Christine’s story implies just the opposite.

Christine Ha - Master Chef

Christine Ha – Master Chef | photo from texasexes.org

On a more personal level; I can say I have not yet experienced anything as traumatic as what Christine Ha went through, however I have certainly had, and still have, obstacles on my food journey. Reading her story has made me all the happier I haven’t thrown in the flag.  We only have one life, and it is our choice to make the most of it, whatever that means to you.  Close your eyes and envision the role food plays in your life, whether it’s on an activism level or right in your backyard. Allow yourself the gift of self-appreciation, as we all do this too seldom.

I hope when you read this culinary adventure tale, you will be just as captivated and moved as I was.  Inspiration shows itself when you least expect it and in the strangest places. Thanks world for not letting me down!

Tell me about a hardship or road block that interrupted your food journey and how you were able to move beyond it or what you are still doing to overcome the set-back.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

Kitchen Letters #1: Creative start to 2014

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Dear world,

How are you feeling?  Do you feel like 2013 was productive and revealing in some way?  Did you come closer to any big goals you set?

The first day of the year is a very special one, but also a day like any other.  Yesterday I awoke early–as I often do–my love still snoozing, our kitty was calm and as time passed throughout the morning small beams of light creeped into our living room where I sat at our dining/craft table.   I was in a quiet and harmonious state when an incredible urge to be creative came over me.

On the final day of 2013, I did what I like to call a cleanse, wherein I exercised my ability to purge our home of unnecessary items; clutter.  This was just one final day, out of many days like this in 2013, where I felt the need to extract unused items from our house.  My closest friend mentioned she had gone through these motions too and she said it helped to clear her mind, and that was a great way to put it.  I must say, on the 31st I may have outdone myself because by the time I was done sorting, tossing, recycling, cleaning, and organizing I was exhausted.

Now we’re back to yesterday.  With a cleansed home and mind I decided it was time to put to use some of my art supplies and move forward on two things I set as a goal for my winter vacation.  One, use art supplies, two, begin my recipe book.  I cleared off our table and took out all the necessary supplies.  In my organizing frenzy on the 31st I came across many underutilized notebooks and I decided I would start there.  Stacks of magazines, my recipes, glue, scissors and most importantly my mind were all sitting at the table, ready to go.  Snip, snip, snip.  After hours of cutting, gluing, precise placement and breaks to read and browse articles I had missed in the past, my very first recipe book was created.  I couldn’t be more pleased.

The final product.

The final product.

Up to this point, every time I have a recipe idea, I scramble to find a piece of scrap paper, a notecard, anything so the culinary creation isn’t lost forever.  Now, I have my book!

Yesterday I spent some time in my kitchen cleaning, preparing meals and resting while drinking a yummy tea creation I’ve made lately.  I reveled in my accomplishment of moving forward in my life as a chef and lover of food and all that it does for us.  It occurred to me while putting together my book that I spent much of the past year doubting.  I’m not proud to say that.  What I am proud to say is that I’m here, now, allowing myself the gift of trust.

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My kitchen and my abilities in it and outside of it are something I should never doubt.  I should feel stronger every day for the creations I introduce to the world and I hope only to improve with grace as time carries on in 2014 and beyond.

Yesterday, I didn’t just create a book I created a chance.

Saw this little lady in the yard of one of my favorite houses on nature gathering walk.  What a beauty.

Saw this little lady in the yard of one of my favorite houses on a nature gathering walk. What a beauty.

I hope this letter finds you well, world.

Much love and gratitude,

 

RAM

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Harvest

A lovely walk to begin Autumn.

A lovely walk to begin Autumn.

Hello Everyone,

There I was, sipping on some hot peppermint tea to offset the cold, drippy day in Texas we all were experiencing, that is quite beautiful in many ways.  What follows are some of my thoughts.

In my mind, there is a still, calm that comes with the darkening of days that makes me feel nestled in nature more than any other time of the year.  I heard someone state on a classical radio station I listen to, that this weather is beautiful to her because we can really see the sheen and color of the newly turned leaves due to the grey sky.  As soon as I heard this, I grinned.  There is something special about being able to see creation or the potential for something wonderful amongst what could easily be considered drab, useless and ugly.

sunrise

My next thought was of a new friendship, but more importantly a comment made by my new friend.  She said–and I paraphrase–‘This is just another season of your life, Rachel, and you have to allow the season to come full circle, naturally.  Like any season, it too will pass.”  I have not been able to forget this simple thought ever since she made it.  What a brilliant way to think of the transgressions in our life, be it big life choices, hardships or good fortune.  She has helped to change my perspective on the idea of infinity and how it can become debilitating and growth stunting, but a better way to look at things is in passes.  Falling leaves that must make their way down on their own at the right time, during the right season.

deadleavesonthedirtygroundfall

What is more, the word harvest sprung to my mind.  Harvest has many meanings, however a couple stand out in my mind.  There is the idea of collecting of crops ripe enough to eat, this act being called harvest, and then the result of some action we take in our life.  As in, after writing on this site all year, I have an ample harvest of posts.  Why do I mention this?  When I think of the harvest of my life in 2013 I am able to come to realizations about what outcome or take-away I have for this year.  As it is Autumn, a time of rest and hibernation beginnings, my mind tends to drift into a still state, which allows me the fortunate ability to focus.

Houndstooth, Hi-tops and chords

Houndstooth, Hi-tops and chords

Our biggest life accomplishment–bigger than winning prizes, opening up businesses of our dreams, writing the next great novel or non-fiction piece, formal education of all kinds–is our body.  Our life has seasons, as does nature, and we have the gift of being conscious of these seasons and their beauty, but also the curse of being able to ignore such beauty.  Most of us spend our life hoping our life doesn’t result in a doggerel, and we forget that our body is the pith of our life.

I often forget that within these seasons, whether good or bad, I have the gift of my body and how I choose to use it, how I choose to nourish it, and I am in charge of this harvest more than all others.

What we eat, how we choose to go about getting the food we eat, the reasons and thought behind every bite we take, the community we share when enjoying our meals or the solitude we embrace in packaged food, all tattoos itself into our harvest.

SO, how can we all produce a better harvest from our body, our life?  I have a few thoughts, check it out!

  • Each month, take the time to figure out where at least one of the foods you eat regularly, comes from.  Do a little research.  Figure out where the specific item came from, be it local or farther away.  Figure out the process of how it was made, packaged, shipped, grown.  Discover its origin story and think about how it became a staple in your diet.  Then, ask yourself why you like eating it, what good–if any–it is doing for your body?  Then, at the end of this exercise, if you’re still content with the comestible, take the time to send a note to the manufacturer, farmer, company, individual who grew/made/shipped/packaged/created it.  Rest knowing you took the time and that is what counts.
  • Grow something and write about it.  Choose one fruit, vegetable, herb or spice to grow this coming year.  Get a head start now and talk with your local nursery or if you are a solo project kind of person, seek out your favorite online videos, articles, blogs and books.  Grow just one edible item from seed to full form and keep a simple diary about the process.  This doesn’t need to be anything too detailed or verbose, just simply the date and a sentence or two on the progress of the plant and your thoughts on being a part of the growing process.  If the plant is perennial, something like tarragon, you could document for just a short while or write about your experience with the growth for the years you are able to keep the plant alive, but if the plant is annual, try to understand the necessity of the plants peak moment and appreciate it while it is there.  This exercise could help with truly following through with growth and understanding the process of growth before consumption.  If you go wild and grow a lot of plants, pass one on to a friend or loved-one.  Spread your bounty!
  • Visit a farm.  At least once within the next year–you could get a head start this December–take a trip to a farm in your city or in a surrounding city.  If you’re feeling up to it, get out in the fields and help them harvest some of their crops, or take some photographs.  Chat with them about the different produce items that pop up each season and try to familiarize yourself with those.
  • Cut out or minimize at least one toxic thing from your diet this coming year and replace it with something yummy and nourishing.  Pay attention to how you feel.
  • Lessen your animal consumption.
  • Create at least one original recipe a month that includes a rainbow of colors and doesn’t include dairy or animal flesh.
  • Drink water and plenty of it.

Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit.  -Henry David Thoreau

WaitsFall

This list is not exhaustive, but certainly a start.  I know that it is easy to lose perspective on life–our body–with the myriad of things we have going on, but the goal is to help alter our mind so that we can start considering our body more, first.  These seasons, they are all influenced by how we perceive, how we feel and how our feelings either hinder or facilitate both good and bad for us.  If we’re to give thanks for anything, make it for the harvest of our life and all that nourishes the environment and our bodies.  I hope this list is helpful, and as you snuggle into your fall and winter weather, I would love to hear from you about actions we could all take to bring more  meaning to what we’re eating and create a better harvest of our life.  Let me know your thoughts below or send me an email.  I can’t wait to hear from you, and remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

 

RAM

A colleague helped in the discovery of this gem!  A random share. :D

A colleague helped in the discovery of this gem! A random share. :D

Thanks Go Out to My New Roots & A Break Away

http://www.jamesmaherphotography.com

http://www.jamesmaherphotography.com

Hi Everyone,

Today I’d like to do something I’ve meant to do for quite sometime, a focused piece on a blogger I follow, who has inspired me or left a sweet feeling in my heart after reading/viewing their blog.  Sarah Britton is just this person and My New Roots is her fantastic blog.  I came across her blog a year or more ago, and the first I saw it, I spent hours rummaging through all of her old posts–from the beginning–because I loved her message so much and what her blog stands for.

As I’ve not come out and said this yet on the blog, 2013 is the year I will call “The Health Trials”,dumdumduuuuummmm…almost as though I’m in a life game, fencing with what ails me.  And because I’m me, I’m going to conquer and get answers!  My New Roots has been such a motivating factor in this plight.  Why is this?  It’s not because she herself–Sara Britton–has made overly confessional posts and twaddle about her life/food/health journey,  it’s because she focuses on diversity in the diet, cleanliness of our pallets–metaphorically–and bursts with helpful recipes that put into action her philosophies.  A woman who truly connects her bites!

Throughout my personal food journey, My New Roots has helped me keep perspective on my greater goals in the ‘food world’, and I cannot say enough about her bravery in reaching for what she wanted in the culinary world.

Enough about what I think, here are a couple of excerpts from her blog that you may find interesting–both are from her ‘fall’ section.

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Below you’ll see sample of A Brush With Health

Dry Skin Brushing is something I learned about last year as I was attending school for Holistic Nutrition. I had never heard of it before then, but the subject surfaced in several of my courses until curiosity got the better of me. Now, dry skin brushing it is part of my daily routine and from this simple act I have seen many positive changes take place…

The skin is the largest organ in the body, and is responsible for one-fourth of the body’s detoxification each day, also making it, one of the most important elimination organs. More than one pound of waste products are discharged through the skin every day! Toxins from everyday soaps, cleansers, antiperspirants / deodorants, lotions, cosmetics and synthetic fibers worn next to the skin, can gather beneath the skin’s surface and contribute to a variety of skin problems and conditions, as well as prevent the skin from breathing. If the skin becomes inactive with its pores chocked with millions of dead cells and chemical residues, then impurities will remain in the body. The other eliminative organs, mainly the kidneys and liver, will have to increase their labor and will eventually become overworked, thus eventually creating disease.

Read more HERE!

In this sample, Whole Food Thinking and Whole Plant Eating, Sarah focuses on eating the entire vegetable, a waste-free message I second!  Beet greens are delicious. 😀

My New Roots

My New Roots

Would it sound strange to buy sneakers without the laces, or a sandwich and throw away the bun? Well, it seems to be in this culture of ours, we’ve grown accustomed to eating just part of a whole food, and tossing away the parts that matter most. We peel our apples, we separate eggs into their respective white and yolk parts, we strip our grains of all their exterior nutrients to make pristine, white everything, and we lop the tops off our root vegetables. Stop the insanity!

Foods are whole for a reason – they are all perfect packages of well-balanced nutrition – designed that way for our benefit. Beets are a perfect example of this. Fortunately, this time of year, you can find them in their whole state, with the delicious green tops attached! It’s like getting two vegetables for the price of one! Here are some other vegetables that you can eat (gasp!) whole.

Read more HERE!

Also, my love and I are taking a vacation to New York and I hope to take hoards of photographs that I plan to share with all of you when I return.  Maybe I’ll even be stirred into yummy inspiration!  I’m more than thrilled at the thought of all the incredible food and food experiences that await us.

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Bite responsibly in the coming October, and I hope to give updates soon!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

 

Copyright 2013 Connect a Bite at www.connectabite.com

Welcome Autumnal Equinox

Good Evening Everyone,

I’ve missed posting for Connect a Bite terribly, but in my absence my love for this blog has grown stronger.  I’ve been a busy woman as of late, but that’s not what tonight’s post is all about.  Tonight I’d like to focus on the season of fall and this special time of year when the sun crosses over the equator and both our day and night are of equal length.  More than spring, for me, fall is a transformative time.  It’s a time for me to reflect on and understand my shortcomings but more importantly, a time to give my self the gift of accepting my accomplishments, even if they are modest.

Additionally, autumn is a time of great harvest and one of my favorite times of the year for vegetables.  I’m on the edge of my seat anticipating what our next CSA box will have in store for us–food nerd alert!  A lovely myriad of fall squashes and so much more.  In tonight’s post, I wanted to share with you the meal my love and I ate to celebrate this lovely transition in time.  Also, what follows are some visuals that display my romantic idea of the fall.

Southwest Black Bean Spaghetti Squash Bowls with Roasted Rosemary Red Potatoes

What was fun about this is being able to reuse the shell of the squash rather than dirtying up an extra dish.

fullfalldinner. copy

 

upcloseskettisquash copy

spaghettisquashdinnerbowl copy

 

…I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house. So I have spent almost all the daylight hours in the open air. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, 10th October 1842

leaveswater

fallhomage

As autumn is certainly the time of year we all face something we need to overcome, I have begun and hope to continue throughout the coming months a journey.  I hope to prepare and share many delicious and hearty meals, and bring my mind and body to a state of calm I can’t say I have felt all summer long.  I’m emboldened to make difficult choices and be confident and steadfast in them.  Yesterday was World Peace Day and World Gratitude Day and keeping this in mind I hope we can all thank the farmers and providers of the nourishing food we eat, to all of you I am immensely grateful.

Let me know what foods connect you most to the fall.  What will you be munching on in the coming months to help nourish your body through the coming chilly weather and shorter days?  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

 

 

 

 

 

Gifs courtesy of:  laceywhispers

Braces & Eating

by:  Charles Schulz

by: Charles Schulz

 

Good Evening Everyone,

Oh, how I’ve missed writing so very much!  There have been many new occurrences and happenings lately in my life that have swept me away, but they are all good changes.  A good shake-up is something I always welcome because as much as we all like to resist and avoid change, I understand it is necessary and wonderful for all of us.

I thought it best to keep up with the ever-changing mood of my life lately in today’s post, which is all about braces and food.  Oddly enough, the mouth–from my observations–is mainly focused on, in the media, as a point of sexual attraction and stimulation, but rarely is the mouth, or the teeth within a mouth, focused on as a utilitarian device for, well, consumption.  There are of course numerous ads for teeth cleaning devices and aesthetic improvement tools for ones lips and teeth, but rarely are these ads aimed at why having clean, less crowded teeth is important. When they are aimed at this topic, the scientific tip is second to the exquisite design of the ad and the beautiful person displaying said product.  My point?  Today I would like to talk about what it means to have those chompers all bracketed up with metals or ceramics and how this act impacts our eating habits which in turn impacts our oral health.  Yes, it’s all connected!

Digestion begins in the mouth as a mechanical process wherein we chew our food, break it down into small particles and then our saliva, which contains the enzyme ptyalin, begins the digestion of starch from food into maltose (a sugar/disaccharide).  Knowing this process is important because having a device like braces in your mouth could potentially hinder you from chewing properly or at all.  The mouth is where all physical consumption begins and that’s why braces can become a true nuisance if you’re not careful.

Here are a few thoughts and recommendations to those of you out there braced up.

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  • First and foremost, CHEW it all up.  There’s a company called HapiLabs that has created a utensil that helps calculate the amount of time you need to properly chew your food by how quickly you do or don’t return said utensil to your mouth.  It’s a fantastic idea and I can’t wait to get my hands on one!  Yes, these sorts of things excite me.  Thanks to a friend who mentioned this ingenious gadget to me.
  • What I’m about to mention may sound very strange to those of you who are brace free, but to those burdened, try to become accustomed to the grooves and feel of your teeth and where your pesky troublesome spots are.  What do I mean?  Where are the spots in your mouth where food gets easily jammed, stuck, squished, notched, etc. Knowing the vexing spots will enable you to become even more of an active participant in eating.
  • Don’t be embarrassed.  Yes, sometimes when you’re eating, some food particles will inevitably get lodged somewhere that’s inconvenient.  This will happen, so accept this fact now and move on.  What you can do is pay attention and have water handy.  A modest swish won’t hurt anybody and it’s not breaking any major etiquette rules.
  • Have hygiene tools readily available.  Depending on your situation, this may or may not be convenient, but my suggestion is to always have tooth powder/paste, a brush, floss and flossers, and those small rubber stick-like flossing devices handy–these are the most convenient for a small bag, wallet or clutch.  At home, I’d also recommend a water-flosser and of course a nice chemical free mouth wash.  I recommend something with tea-tree oil, peppermint oil, or sage oil.

 

  • What to avoid eating:
  1. Anything too sticky or chewy, I would avoid.
  2. Don’t over-do it with citrus foods like lemons and limes because they can impact the exposed enamel and leave markings while the tooth surface area that’s covered becomes discolored.
  3. On the note of discoloration, I would avoid excessive consumption of dark drinks like black teas, coffee, Dandy Blend, dark ales and even red wine.  I’m not saying avoid these all together, but over-consumption without proper home hygiene and regular dental cleanings will lead to more intrinsic staining you won’t find too appealing later when the braces come off.  Additionally, don’t fret too much about some staining you may see while in the braces, this is natural as your teeth are undergoing a slow trauma, depending on the type of staining you can get rid of it later.
  4. Hard and overly crunchy foods are unfortunately a big no-no in the braces world.  So if you’re a big fan of biting into carrots and celery, you’ll have to get accustomed to pre-slicing your food.

    www.animal.discovery.com

    www.animal.discovery.com

  5. I would also stray away from sharp crusts and biting INTO foods.  This was a very difficult point for me to comprehend in the beginning.  That’s what our teeth are there for, biting, right? Wrong, not when you have braces.  Bite sizes, that’s going to be your new best friend.
  6. Gum. I wouldn’t touch gum unless you’re very strategic.
  7. For other obvious body health reasons as well and to assist yourself in NOT getting gum recession, plaque build up and cavities, avoid intense amounts of sugary goods.  If you partake in a sweet-tooth-sweet, have the foresight to keep those handy hygiene tools around to give the ol’ chompers a cleanse.
  • I considered making a list of foods that would be helpful to consume, but to be honest, my diet hasn’t changed that dramatically since I got braces in January.  Most of the nuances mentioned already covered any changes or adjustments I have had to undergo and obstacles I’ve had to overcome.  Eating is something I enjoy greatly and I think it’s incredibly important to understand and enjoy the process.  Today, I can’t think of a better way of getting closer to my food than to understand how my body and those foreign and helpful devices have to handle it.

I hope this post was helpful and gave some of you a better perspective on the many aspects of the eating world.

Sending all of my braced and non-braced friends out there love and un-gunked teeth thoughts!  And remember… bite responsibly (especially with those bracket buddies). :p

 

Healthy Regards,

RAM

My Comfort Foods, Now

Charles Schulz

Charles Schulz

Good Day Everyone,

There are moments when all we really want is something comforting. In fact, our choices are often affected by our moods.  Keeping in mind that ‘comfort foods’ are often associated with cravings, I’d like to share with you all a list of some of my favorite comfort foods as of late and give you a little perspective as to why I’m not turning toward the more grease/processed sugar/gluten-laden/soy-dense foods with any regularity.

First, to address why I try to stray from the aforementioned food categories.  More than anything, my body is so sensitive to even the most remote toxin that I’ll suffer for days in some shape or form. While this may have been something I was willing to put up with years ago, I’m coming to the conclusion that these days of suffering are more than just moments of uncomfortableness.  What do I mean?  Every time I throw off the balance of the pH in my body by some extreme (when I introduce foods I have an intolerance to), I suffer from a myriad of harmful affects that are making pathogenic layers in my body.  Yep, that’s right, layers. That’s how I like to think of it, that is.  I’m really hurting myself long-term if I eat my “naughty” foods often, and nobody else has to live with the aftermath but me.  Maybe you relate to this, maybe you don’t, but don’t forget our body is always talking to us, even if what it’s saying is less subtle.

Second, the list.  These foods are not all necessarily in season as of now, but have been at some point or another, comforting and calming.  I believe in loving what you eat and introducing love with each step in the process of preparing what you eat. Thus for me, comfort foods are a full-circle endeavor.  Let me share some of those foods with you!

  • basic soup:  Round up your broth, miso (white/yellow) for a more hearty less intense soup, and favorite veggies, and have a blast making a simple soup.  Often times, I’ll use up the veggies I think are on the brink of less fresh, and find a way to work them in.  I often serve with millet, brown rice or quinoa over a bed of greens.  This way your greens wilt, only slightly and stay a bright and lively green color.  Balance color if possible, meaning consider the rainbow.  Serve in your favorite large, deep mug, and start sipping and chewing away.

Why eat this?

Brothy soups are full of warm fluids to help flush out a lot of toxins from your body.  According to Chinese medicine, if you carry too much heat in your body, one way to help cool is by adding hot foods.  As strange as this may sound, it’s very helpful and affective.  Try having some hot soup with your cool salad to balance out your body.

  • butternut squash:  Although butternut squash can be cooked in many ways, one of my favorite ways is to roast.  Some days, there is NOTHING better than cubed butternut squash, lightly (and I mean lightly) coated with olive oil, and spices/herbs of my choice on that particular day.  My favorite combo of spices and herbs:  thyme, Himalayan sea salt, black pepper, garlic granules and a dash of paprika.  Mouth watering.  I typically eat this with a salad or by itself.

Why eat this?

CAROTENOIDS!  That lovely, vivid color that you see before your very eyes is packed with nutrients.  It’s also high in vitamin-c and loaded with beta-carotene (that will convert to vitamin A), which helps the integrity of the skin, wards off lung and oral cancers and improves eye-sight.  Color says a lot about a food’s beneficial properties.

  • roasted mushrooms:  More specifically, I work with baby bellas and white mushrooms.  Prepare by slicing them in half, create a light coating of oil, and mix with sesame seeds and Himalayan sea salt.  I typically serve this with a grain of some sort or on a salad.

Why eat this?

Mushibooms help to increase your immune system, so you can stay happy and healthy and boost your vitamin D.  Also, Mushies are loaded with b-vitamins; b-vits are responsible for turning the carbs you eat into fuel; very important!

  • frozen blended banana:  I made this for my mother a few months back when she came to visit us, and though I was initially hesitant to serve this to her, she loved it and immediately wanted the recipe.  (This went overmuch better than chia seed pudding, but I still love that too!) Peal and fragment the  banana into small pieces and freeze. Later, thaw slightly and blend with raw cocoa powder topped with raisins, chopped nuts, cinnamon, coconut shavings or nothing at all.

    Connect a Bite – Rachel Anne Manning© 2013

    Frozen Blended Banana
    Connect a Bite – Rachel Anne Manning© 2013

Why eat this?

Bananas are incredibly healing, easy to digest, and will provide energy without overworking your digestive system.   Additionally, bananas are an essential way to provide your gut with prebiotics, assisting in the proper absorption of helpful probiotics, later.

  • raw chocolate treats:  This is my ULTIMATE sweet tooth, sweet.  For me, there’s nothing better in the food world than a little nibble from a raw cacao  tart or truffle followed by a sumptuous sip from my next item on the list, tea.  Make it yourself or pick them up at the store, either way, these are a MUST, unless you dislike chocolate. :p

Why eat this?

Raw cacao is a better source of vitamin-C than trusty orange juice.  BAM!  Also, raw cacao is incredibly high (in it’s raw form) in antioxidants and (one of my favorites), it will help to balance blood sugar. 😀  Yes, please.

  • tea:  Tulsi Tea’s Red Chai Masala (herbal) or hibiscus chamomile, any brand or make it yourself. (Even better!)  I especially enjoy the red chai masala with  …CHOCOLATE on the side (as noted above)!  Make sure to let your tea steep an appropriate amount of time, typically 10+ minutes, covered.  I often use a small plate if there are no other options.  The hibiscus chamomile tea would also be a lovely afternoon tea, served cool, on a hot day.  Honestly, I feel like I’m treating myself.

Why drink this?

The red chai masala is high in antioxidants, which will help ward off any of those nasty oxidative toxins that have made their way into your system.  Also, this blend contains ginger which will help to aid in digestion or an upset stomach.  Hibiscus chamomile tea helps to sooth and relax, and in the process it assists in lowering your blood pressure.

  • roasted okra:  I know, I know, I’m obsessed with roasted veggies, but when they’re guilt-free and provide a form of contentment, I cannot resist.  I rinse them, chop off the stems and roast them whole, tossed only with olive oil and Himalayan sea salt.  Superb!

Why eat this?

Okra is delicious! What I’d like to highlight about okra is its mucilaginous (why it’s so slimy) quality that helps to relieve digested food from your body so it doesn’t hang around and fester, creating pesky problems.  Need I say more?

Connect a Bite – Rachel Anne Manning© 2013

Omega Bumpin’ Smoothie
Connect a Bite – Rachel Anne Manning© 2013

  • smooooothies: Although I enjoy a variety of smoothies, this particular smoothy is one I’m hooked on lately.  It’s filled with chia seeds, hemp seeds, ground flax, frozen peaches, spinach/kale, banana, cinnamon, olive oil, unsweetened almond milk and coconut water!  (Sometimes I add 1/2 of an avocado in place of the olive oil.)  Thick, nicely textured, not too sweet, and still hooks you up with greens!

Why drink this?

There are a multitude of ways this smoothie is fantastic, but here are a few.  The chia seeds, hemp seeds and flax will provide you with a fantastic source of omega 3 while also assisting in balancing your blood sugar, providing a complete protein source and more.  The olive oil helps to add a little extra weight to the drink, and by weight I mean it aids in making the smoothie more filling.  Also, cinnamon acts as an appetite suppressant, which is great if you’re going awhile between meals.

  • banana with raw almond butter drizzle:  This pretty much sums it up. I will often cut my banana into little chunks into a bowl, and then drizzle the almond butter over it.  Add all the extras you would like.  Sometimes, if I want an extra crunch, I’ll add 1/2 of a gluten-free English muffin, cut into small pieces, and layer the banana on top. Try adding extra fruit, nuts, or seeds to your liking!

Why eat this?

(see above) Although bananas and raw almond butter are not the ideal food combination, eating this delicious snack on an empty stomach, and not directly following a meal, should be ok to go.

  • greens with homemade lemon-olive oil dressing and walnuts:  Simple.  Greens of your choice (spinach, romaine, kale, sprouts, etc…), and toss with this zesty dressing, and for the extra texture/crunch, top with walnut pieces.

Why eat this?

The citrus juice will help you absorb the iron that’s stored in the greens.  Also, it’s a delicious combo. ^___^  If you’re weary of TOO much fat, maybe skip the walnuts, but I say, if you’re eating a whole foods diet, those walnuts (raw, soaked, then dehydrated of course) are your friend because they are just the right amount of monounsaturated fats (those omega 3s) to help your brain.

Whew, I suppose I comfort myself often, but another way to look at this list–and what you’re eating–is that it (consumption) can be a consistently enjoyable experience if you want it to be–we teach our body and our brain what to want.  I hope this list is of some help to you all and if you have any questions or thoughts, shout out!   And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy and Happy SxSW Eating Days,

 

RAM

Thoughts on Eating AFTER the Cleanse

http://milaryn.tumblr.com

http://milaryn.tumblr.com
^_____^

Hello everyone,

As mentioned in my previous post, today’s post will involve what I’ve eaten for the past 28+ days, and why–more importantly–the way I have eaten has changed both my digestive/overall health, and how it has changed my perspective on my old consumption habits and the way I plan meals.  A little perspective; if you did not happen to catch my last post, something I focused on was listening to  your body in a very pure way, hearing out the good and the bad.   Moreover, those messages our body is sending us have the tendency to surface in a myriad of ways, and more than likely the pattern we hold in our eating behaviors are a primary contributing factor.  Now, keeping all of this in mind, we must consider the degree to which we are conditioned by our previous eating habits based on type, texture and combinations on the plate.

More than anything, what I’ve come to understand (although, perhaps I had fooled myself into thinking I already understood) is a couple of things.  Nobody’s body is the same. Duh, right?  One woman’s naughty meal is another woman’s normal.  I’ve discovered that anything that even ranges close to what’s ‘normal’ for most is not going to fly with my body, but I’m finally okay with this.  I uncovered that I too was still a victim of ideals about food combining and texture seeking, when I thought I was immune to those feelings that I once felt.  Hedonism is a part of daily life for most human beings, but hedonism in regards to food is an epidemic that’s out of control in many ways. But who am I to judge, right?  Thus, from day one of the cleanse, my diet became EVEN MORE restrictive, if that’s even possible (news flash: it is), and I was a mad grumpalump.  “Why is something(food) I love and enjoy so much, my enemy? I feel like I’m in a bad gastronomy epic poem that will never end. OH WOE IS ME!”  After my incessant self-pity party, I did a wompledywomp dance (my husband has introduced this into our lives when we’re in a funk) and I saw past the culinary blocks I was putting up.

As the days whooshed by, I began to see more clearly what was going on; my body was happier with the way I was eating.  It really needed a break from some of the food items I was consuming regularly.  What I noticed?  The portion size of my meals was entirely skewed, the pace at which I was eating was inconsistent, I was going on auto-pilot and I wasn’t really getting in touch with where MY body was coming from.  Yeah, that’s right, chatting my body up. :p  Some of you may find this to be ridiculously hokey, please…tell me your thoughts, but I feel quite sure my body was on its soap box with me.

Okay, so finally to the part where I explain what exactly I was eating.  Before I do (yes, there’s more exposition), I want to reiterate something I state often on my blog; everyone’s body is different.  This is about an outlook, not a formula, so please don’t interpret my experience for a formula.  Basically I ate vegetables, fruits and fats (coconut oil, olive, and grape seed oil) with lentils (the only legume I ate next to peas), and brown rice (the only grain I was consuming)…yes rice. :/  I avoided anything processed, soy, corn, gluten, sugars (refined, not natural like fruit), nuts, seeds and other oils.  I think that covers it, but I may be leaving something out. Basically, I gave up any typical control I would have, and I let my acupuncture specialist be my guide.  This, too, was emotionally cleansing.  Now I’m to the part where my perspective started to change.  I began to feel GREAT, and I was completely satisfied by my meals.  Everything but vegetables was secondary, which is something I don’t think I had ever 100% invested myself in, prior to this detox.  I didn’t feel deprived or miserable and I still don’t!

With love and support, I’ve been given the gift of a new perspective on eating, a perspective I couldn’t have gotten by reading another person’s blog, book, or op-ed piece. Nor do I expect or wish for any of you to gain this enlightenment from my blog post.  I hope only to instill some positivity into the journey you might be taking, and I aim to be a sounding board for questions and concerns you may have about resources for what you’re going through.

Here are a couple of sample meals:

Connect a Bite © 17 February 2013

Connect a Bite © 17 February 2013

This was a busy Sunday meal (post cleanse, but representative of how I was eating during):

My favorite part; the perfection that was this grapefruit.  It came from the SFC’s downtown farmers’ market.  We picked up this lovely gem (that is the grapefruit) from an older gentleman and a young lady who were only selling citrus at a small stand.  I scooped away at it with an antique grapefruit spoon my grandmother gave me.  I couldn’t resist; grapefruit is one of my most favorite treats.  What you will notice behind this yummy pink citrus bliss, is a salad of many colors.  It’s loaded up with red leaf lettuce, baby spinach, red bell pepper chunks, garlic stuffed olives, an avocado (yep, the whole thing), and some roasted garnet yam chunks.  Then, I topped it off with a homemade dressing, and I was off. Chow-down city.

Connect a Bite ©  2013

Connect a Bite © 2013

Connect a Bite © 2013

Connect a Bite © 2013

Hooked on avocado and squash!  What you see is half of a roasted acorn squash with mildly wilted lacinato kale and a long grain brown rice medley of garlic, onion, red bell pepper, herbs and spices, all topped with 1/2 an avocado.

Finally, I know transitions of any type are often vexing to some degree, and it is my intention with each blog post to help make your food connections and transitions a little less vexing.  Thanks for reading…and remember, bite responsibly.

 

Healthy Regards,

RAM

 

Your Body is Speaking to You, What is it Saying?

Rosemary Furtak, 1986

Rosemary Furtak, 1986

Hello Everyone, I hope this Friday is bringing you some sort of week-day bliss, and if not maybe this post will help, or at least help to guide.  A variable that often plays into my thoughts in regards to food, is our body’s way of talking to us as a means to send messages. In many ways we feel as though we control our own minds and the messages it sends us, but often we neglect to consider the connection with the rest of our body.

Recently (that is counting today), I decided to go through with a full-blown cleanse.  In many ways I’m always cleansing via various processes, but I’ve never 100% committed until almost three weeks ago(yep, 21 days tomorrow).  What was my driving force?  My tendency on this blog is to not express nauseating amounts of detail, so let’s just say my body’s communications with me were starting to become belligerent and disorderly.  I’ll let you decide what that means. :p  Also, I’m a major advocate of people taking matters into their own hands. Sometimes it’s the only way to make any real progress.  True, uninhibited commitment.

Thus, I embarked on a cleanse that I initially thought would not challenge me that much. On the contrary, it has changed my perspective on the way in which I plan meals (I’ll save this story for another post).  I was also prepared for any number of detox symptoms but didn’t experience nearly as many as I had anticipated.  This was a major relief as I had no desire to add more bodily ailments to my already strange running list of them.

My point?

For years now, leading up to and especially during my cleanse I’ve been honing in on all the sweet lil’ messages my body is giving me.  Rarely are they sent with an ‘xo’ at the end but, for my body, they are bold and make their presence known.  I’m coming out of this experience with a more ‘hands on’ knowledge of what affects me dietarily, more than I ever have before, and it’s a magnificent feeling.

All of this being said (my vagueness must intrigue you), I’d like to go over a couple of brief lists that depict how your body chats you up.  As the details into what each of these signs might mean is worthy of an entirely different post, it is my intention today to just cover the lists in raw form.  I hope soon, to come up with a comprehensive explantation for each topic and expound/suggest sources for scientific information.  I suspect we could all benefit from a little sit-down and heart to heart with our body, and allotting time for this might alleviate our need to blame and panic at the onset of any particular issue that arises. The idea, we try to take a look at our actions and how our body is talking back. How cheeky!

 

Let me hear your body talk.

The More Obvious Bodily Correspondence :  [Just because they are regular, doesn’t mean they can’t be irregular, notice patterns in your body and drastic changes.]

  • urination=  Pay attention to:  color, odor, frequency, feeling
  • bowel movements=  Pay attention to:  color, odor, size, consistency, frequency, undigested food, feeling
  • itching/redness=  Pay attention to:  location on body, frequency, size or spread, degree of itchiness, if pain is associated
  • sweating=  Pay attention to:  odor (odor change), frequency, under what circumstance, (if you’re a woman sky is the limit)
  • chilly bumps=  Pay attention to:  temperature, frequency

Some Less Obvious Bodily Correspondence:

  • dry skin
  • acne
  • dry mouth
  • scalp flakiness
  • headaches
  • sleepy, tired or foggy headed
  • tummy gurgles (tummy is talkin’)
  • gas
  • cramping (could be gas)
  • bloated

Nature vs. Nurture (Heredity vs. Choices)

Although it’s rather simplified to say that listening to your body will solve all of your problems, listening is definitely a strong start.  But if you discover, that much to your dismay, you’re burdened with something more than the unusual tummy ache, or bad zit take a moment, IMMEDIATELY, inhale and exhale deeply, and make the choice to not blame yourself.  It’s easier to walk through life with scapegoats and never take responsibility for one’s life/health.  Don’t use your poor genetic bump, or our environment’s way of creeping into your system and erupting said dormant issue, as a reason for being a grumpalump all the time about what you’re living with.  Each of us carries something, and unfortunately some of us heavier than others, but nevertheless we carry.  If you’re the type who can eat loads of junk food and processed mish-mash without a single repercussion, whoopee for you, but realize what comes may just be farther down the line.  And for those of you who have to monitor and document everything you eat and you still may have an upset, understand that it’s not your fault, and embrace the you that’s speaking to you, begging you to stop eating that naughty food, no matter how good it tasted in the moment.

How do I deal?

Connect a Bite © photo 2012

For starters, I make a choice on any particular day (I take it day-by-day), that I’m going to be happy with what I’m eating, no matter what.  It’s sort of an internal mantra.  I practice appreciating the food I can eat, and let me tell you, it tastes much fresher and crisper.  I’m learning to let go.  Yes, like the Frou Frou song.  Honestly, I take the mighty temptations away from my vision, ENTIRELY.  Some things are around because of my love/best friend/husband, but those items I choose to tune out or associate them in my mind instantly with my body’s ‘tsk tsk’ talk.

Sometimes, I just think of food like this:

WHAAAT & OHHH BROTHER!

Okay, I hope some of this helps you, and if it doesn’t in the slightest, let me know.  Break it down for me and tell me all of your frustrations, I guarantee you, you’re not alone.  And remember…bite responsibly.

Healthy Regards,

 

~RAM~

The Menstrual Cycle: How Behaviors & Consumption Habits Play an Important Role

Lydia Pinkham marketed a vegetable compound that was supposed to alleviate menstrual and menopausal pains. The company was successful because the remedy was sold by a woman to women at a a time when females were considered childish and emotional to have much medical knowledge. Pinkham’s company produced this booklet (with the same title as Bernarr Mcfadden’s well-known magazine), c. 1900. It featured a female athlete flexing her muscles, and was emblematic of the positive and respectful attitude toward their customers.

Happy Crisp and Chilly Morning to Everyone!

Being a woman comes with many perks and many punches, but I would like to think that there are ample ways to align our body and our mind to reach a state of internal tranquility or at least try.  What do I mean by this exactly?  As superstitions do or do not align with science, there are some who believe that a woman’s menstrual cycle is connected with the moon.  What action should we often have to keep in mind to flow more succinctly with the moon and its shifts?  Answer:  What we choose to eat.

Some things all women may or may not consider:  ( I sometimes check a biorhythm calculator online for kicks.)

  • menstrual cycle
  • ovulation or fertile times
  • emotions
  • behavior and view of the world
I’m a firm believer, as you could probably assume, that what you eat affects your mood and how you feel.  Although changing something in your consumptions habits may not deliver results over night, if you stick to a ‘flush out’ routine, eventually your body will find balance.  I would like to focus on some ways in which, as women, we can take matters into our own hands.  With so many things out of our control, menstruation and its toils is one area where I feel women can appreciate having a sturdier grasp on their bodies’.  Granted, what I’m about to discuss is not a cure-all for everyone, but embracing a cleaner diet and understanding its implications in how we feel is the first step to introducing change in the way products are marketing to women.  Women are not commodities.  Remember this.
BASICS:
  • REST.  Sometimes a couple of days or the day before your cycle begins, you may experience disruptions in your sleep, due to a drop in progesterone in your body.  This hormone is highly involved in the amount of restful sleep a woman gets on a regular basis.  If you’re of the age where you’re nearing or in the midst of menopause, you may notice even more troubles in the sleep department for the same reason, but exponentially multiplied.  Progesterone is a key  hormone for a healthy woman’s body, and some young women may struggle with this balance–if you think this is a concern for you, I suggest seeing a practitioner of your choice to talk about options.  I digress.  Essentially, rest for a woman’s body can do wonders for her blanket health, so the more restful sleep you attain in long stretches, the better off you’ll be.  Think of it like hibernation.  Our body needs plenty of time to heal itself both internally and externally, without us overworking it mentally or physically, or with digestion.  Make sure you’re attaining as close to eight hours of sleep as possible, or the most solid block of sleep you can get.  I’m of the opinion that regularity in our sleeping patterns draws an internal balance in our REM cycles that is much more inclined to ‘sound sleep’.  So, whether  you need your midday siesta or  you are strictly a nighttime sleeper, make sure it’s routine, and truly restful.
  • ACTIVITY.  Coupled with rest, physical and mental activity is key to decreasing internal inflammation and strenuous muscle activity (key lipid compound = prostaglandins [responsible for muscle contraction and fluctuation]).  Get those endorphins going by taking a brisk walk or a swift jog, or maybe even some sort of cardio workout, whatever your preference, fight the bad guys in your body naturally, with exercise.  Also, toning your muscles is essential in keeping your bones strong initiating straight passage of calcium andvitaminK2 into your blood stream, key components in a healthy female body.  Imbue yourself with knowledge to not leave any questions unanswered.  This will help with restful sleep, and keep your mind spry.

    G.T. Kombucha

  • FLUIDS.  The right kind of liquids in your body can make all the difference.  Where to begin?  I’d say, start off your day with some hot water (not too hot) and lemon, or a nice herbal tea.  The warm water will flush through your body and will act as an internal relaxation tool.  Understanding that common OTC  drugs like Midol have a form of caffeine in them (caffeine is thought to relax smooth muscle tissue from excessive contraction–the common internal process to expel the uterine wall lining) you may ask yourself, momentarily, ‘what’s up with Rachel telling us to stray away from caffeine?’ Well, think of it this way, caffeine may potentially have the aforementioned effect, but at what cost?  As previously mentioned, prostaglandins are a strong component in the muscle contraction during menstruation, but consider blood vessel constriction and that the intake of caffeine will hinder important blood vessel delivery to your uterus when it’s needed most due to caffeine consumption.  I think one outweighs the other, I’ll let you make up your own mind.  I know this may seem terribly upsetting to many people, but I say, for at least one to two days, caffeine is not your bodies’ friend.  Other important liquids to intake, try the green smoothie, Kimberly Snyder has a great recipe.  I also recommend the G.T. Kombucha, Hibiscus flavor.  It is a lovely blend of probiotics to ease digestive upset, which is often correlated with menstrual cramping, and the chamomile acts as a mild tranquilizing agent in the body with a vitamin C kick from the orange peel–will act as a mild anti-inflammatory.
  • FOOD.  Rather than tell you what to avoid, which is really no fun at all, I’d like to hone in on those foods that are most nourishing for your blood and body.  Also, see some of the liquids I mentioned above.  Focus on complex carbohydrates like whole grains and legumes to boost fiber intake in your body and strain out those pesky cravings.  Spices like coriander, turmeric, and fennel help to lower common PMS symptoms and help ease digestion. Digestion is often disrupted during menses.  Stick to light foods, steamed or roasted.  Again, the same practice in our body stands true.  Don’t make your body work hard digesting food while it’s also working to cleanse your female organs as well.  Do your body the favor of offering the gift of regularity, as well.
Some women see menstruation as a dastardly curse or some other terrible noun, but I see it as a harmonious reminder once a month that my body is or is not balanced internally.  I know this may sound strange, but I think amongst its negative side-effects, being reminded monthly of your internal state is moderately refreshing.  For those of you who never have or never will experience menstruation, there is still much for you to learn here.  Like most of life, we are given tests and so is our body.  If you’re able to cultivate a strong balance in your dietary habits in correlation to your behaviors, I’m sure you will find a self that is much more tranquil and at peace with the world around you.  With every bite and ever gesture, be mindful of its outcome and you’ll nary stray from your path.
Please, let me know your thoughts, I would very much like to hear from you, and remember…bite responsibly.
Healthy Regards,
~RAM~