Posts Tagged: greens

Noshed in a Book: The First Bad Man

“My eyes fell upon the grey linoleum floor and I wondered how many other women had sat on this toilet and stared at this floor.  Each of them the center of their own world, all of them yearning for someone to put their love into so they could see their love, see that they had it.”

niab_1

I’m rarely in step with reading an author’s work within a year of a new release, much less their debut novel, but Miranda July is a writer that I both admire and who’s work I relate to on a subconscious level. Thus, I couldn’t let too much time pass before feasting my eyes on her first novel.  No One Belongs Here More Than You , July‘s first book is a series of short stories that, for whatever reason, took me a few months to get through.  Don’t misunderstand my lengthy drought in reading for exhaustion with her writing.  More than anything, I just wasn’t in the right head space, nor did I devote as much time to reading as I do now.  I go through phases.  All this to say, these stories are not the easiest to digest; they are tormenting and at times confusing.  They resonate because of their raw and intimate understanding of the darker side of the human condition.  My confusion came from trying to understand why July would write such pitiful fictional characters into the world and leave them their, waiting.  The answer? It’s reality.  Life doesn’t tie itself up into perfect bows, most of the time.  July’s writing is the gritty dirt under your toenails and the dried booger you find as you graze your hand under the multi-generational office desk chair that squeaks every time you move.  Now that I’ve left you with this delightful bit of imagery, let’s move on to the novel at hand.

“I had spent years training myself to be my own servant so that when a situation involving extreme wretchedness arose, I would be taken care of.”

niab_2

The First Bad Man by Miranda July

July’s first full-length novel is the kind of book that makes the confident, self-conscious and the self-conscious, wildly neurotic. I was bewildered and engrossed in this book and in Cheryl’s– our protagonist’s–world, if only because she made me once again question why it is we use the word insane to describe those individuals who are mentally disordered, and the word sane for those who are in their ‘right’ mind.  I was once a barista, and one of my lady barista co-workers and I would talk about the saneinsane topic and spout scenarios to one another wile frothing and stirring.  Any book that makes you question ‘things’ has redeeming qualities.  July reveals nothing but fearlessness in her writing and distinguishes the idea that women cannot write wry and honest material.

The text did feel unpredictable at times, but this too felt like a purposeful act by July to create a character within the tone of the book.  However, I cannot say I enjoyed this aspect of it the book.  Countless narratives have a moment of truth and muddy sadness by the middle of the book, and though July took no restraints in making her characters suffer, it felt as though she herself may have been a bit lost in the structure of the book by mid-way.  Fortunately, the story remained intact and the uncensored nature of her writing races you through the rest of the text.  July eloquently, and without excessive crudity, exposes the rigid nature by which many humans handle matters of sexuality, and the gross dishonesty that’s tied to instinctual behavior.  July also presents a realistic impression of the sexual subconscious as a being that’s wild, unwieldy, fickle and unpredictable.  By the end of this book, I felt as though July was setting up a challenge for me to dig a little deeper into the way I manage my perspectives and realities, and for this, I’m grateful.

“I had accidentally been cruel; this only ever happens at times of great stress and my regret is always tremendous.”

“‘I think I might be a terrible person.’ (he said) – For a split second I believed him–I thought he was about to confess a crime, maybe a murder. Then I realized that we all think we might be terrible people.  But we only reveal this before we ask someone to love us.  It is a kind of undressing.”

“There had been options, before the baby, but none of them had been pursued.  I had not gone to nightclubs and said ‘Tell me everything about yourself’ to strangers.  I had not even gone to the movies by myself.  I had been quiet when there was no reason to be quiet and consistent when consistency didn’t matter.  For the last twenty years I had lived as if I was taking care of a new born baby.”

“But as the sun rose I crested the mountain of my self-pity and remembered I was always going to die at the end of this life anyway.  What did it really matter if I spent it like this–caring for this boy–as opposed to some other way?  I would always be earthbound; he hadn’t robbed me of my ability to fly or live forever.  I appreciated nuns now, not the conscripted kind, but modern women who chose it.  If you were wise enough to know that this life would consist most of letting go of things you wanted, then why not get good at the letting go, rather than the trying to have?”

niab_3

niab_4

As for edibles, I chose to make a simple kale dish as a dedication to Cheryl and her system.  I even used the same white plate I served this kale on to eat another dish later, before cleaning it.  We must have a system!  No matter the season, there’s nothing more savory and satisfying to me than wilted greens and I thought there could be no better time to share my recipe with you all than in conjunction with this book.

niab_5

Wilted Kale for Cheryl

Ingredients

  • 1 large bundle kale of your choice (rinsed, ripped into pieces and massaged by hand; I used purple kale)
  • 1 bulb shallots (thinly sliced; mine worked out to about three ‘cloves’)
  • 3 cloves garlic (thinly sliced)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp fleur de sel
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil over medium flame and toss shallots and garlic gently for 2 minutes  (take care not to burn garlic)
  2. Add kale in handfuls, and using tongs, shift kale around to coat all leaves with oil
  3. Once kale is bright and shiny, begin to add fleur de sel, red pepper flakes, and vinegar and use tongs to mix everything together until kale is bright green or mildly wilted
  4. Turn off heat and enjoy!

Notes:

  • I like to use my cast iron skillet to make wilted greens because it adds to the flavor and they cook down perfectly
  • Feel free to use whatever salt you have on hand if easier and cut out the spice if you’re not into spicy foods, but be aware that the flavor will not be as bright and tangy

niab_6

niab_7

niab_8

After reading Miranda July in the month of July, I feel happy to know that I’m on target with new releases and with an artist like her.  I hope you all got as much out of this book as I did!  What are your thoughts?  Did you chow down on anything in particular while reading this book?  Share some of your #noshedinabook photos with me and check out what else I’ve been reading this year.  Join me in my next reading selection, Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty by Diane Keaton.  And remember…bite responsibly!

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

Eat Your Way to Stronger Immune System

http://nintendrawer.deviantart.com/art/feeling-sick-61555501

Although it is still hot here in Austin and in general the weather seems to be tumultuous across the states and I gather that with the onset of September comes a cooler breeze and a change in the season.  In an office, work-place, classroom or otherwise, a change in weather is a red flag to me that a large majority of your cohorts and peers could end up sick or convince themselves that they are sick.  Although I’m not a doctor nor a natural practitioner, I have some hints and tips about how I keep myself ‘up and running’ during the worst of times and the best of times.  I am of the opinion that we are (individuals) totally capable of NOT living in fear every time someone comes up with a cold or some other common illness. Our bodies shut down sometimes, but this is a sign they need to.  However, for the most part, we’re capable of keeping ourselves strong and able with a whole foods diet and few pick-me-ups.
(In no particular order.)
  • Kick-butt tea!  I make this mixture in the evenings mostly, but I double up in the mornings when I am feeling a hint of ick or a significant weather change overnight.
           Peel about 1 to 1 1/2 inches of ginger and cut it into manageable chunks.
           Place these pieces at the bottom of your favorite mug or tea-cup.
           Put the kettle on and just before the water begins to boil.
           Pour it over your chunks of peeled ginger root.
           Add  the juice from 1/2 a lemon  and stir.
           Next, add some stevia and as many shakes of cayenne pepper that you can handle.
           Swirl it all together and drink.
  • GAAAALIC.  Garlic is easily one of my favorite things to eat.  Bonus for me and all of you of course, it’s loaded with bacterial fighting goodness and it doesn’t injure or disrupt our bodies’ natural flora like otc stuff .  Additionally it’s anti-inflammatory, which is helpful for times of stress, exposure to radiation (possibly cancer patients) and for women during their menstrual cycle.  I like to mince a clove or two (or three) up and put it on top of basically anything savory that I’m eating.  Raw, lovely and potent.  I also discovered this method recently.
  • Greens galore!  Our bodies’ function best in an alkaline state, and greens are about as alkaline as you can get.  Drinking greencentric smoothies and juices along with green bedded dishes and salads of verde splendor; you will be on your way to a strong and healthy body.  Just remember to chew it up, even if it’s in liquid form.  Producing saliva in your mouth will aid digestion where it starts, in your mouth.
  • Almond me up.  Fights inflammation and works to ward off mean bacteria, almonds should be on your radar.  I like them raw, soaked and eaten over foods, made into dips and sauces and best of all ground up into almond butter.
  • Orange foods.  I knew there was a reason that many orange and dark-yellow tinted veggies pop up during the fall and winter seasons.  The beta-carotene in sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, and butternut squash (to name a few) helps protect our most aesthetic organ, our skin.  Without healthy skin and a properly functioning way to excrete toxins through our skin, we’d be in bad shape.  I love to roast carrots, sweet potatoes, squash and pumpkin with aromatic herbs and spices.  Pumpkin purée is also extra tasty over some breakfast grains like oats, quinoa, amaranth or millet.  Sweet potatoes also taste great mashed and served with a bit of cinnamon, walnuts and coconut oil.  Try eating these lovely orange veggies with a fat source for proper absorption.
No direct correlation with food, but these remedies are more connected to what you eat than you think:
  • LAUGH and laugh often and with full heart.  Comedic Moments and Films I recommend:
Buster Keaton  – Balloonatic (1923)

Woody Allen – Sleeper (1973)

Maria Bamford – Paula Dean skit (2012)

Lazy Sunday 1 – SNL

Lazy Sunday 2 – SNL

 

  • Liquify!  Drink plenty of water daily–I would recommend an amount, but I believe going off of one’s thirst is the best method, unless your thirst drives you to anything but water–because water helps to flush out excessive waste cells and gunk that builds up in your body.  Water also helps to carry oxygen throughout your body, which will in turn allow you to work at full capacity. H2O works to keep your mouth clean so extra harmful particles and bacteria don’t fester.  There are many more splendid benefits of drinking water for your immune system
  • Sleepy time.  Amongst sleep’s many wonderful attributes, among mammalian species, sleep helps to increase white blood cell count, which equates to a better functioning immune system.  I say, the more we rest, the less stressed we are apt to become.  Stress can lower our body’s ability to defend itself.  It’s all tied together.

I hope some of this will be helpful to some of you in the coming days, weeks, months and years to come.  Remember, all of our bodies are different  If you have any additions to what I’ve stated, please let me know, I would enjoy hearing from you.  Understand that keeping our body strong is something that should and easily can be an ongoing process.  Respecting those around you, the source of your food in connection to its proper season and the quality of its nutrients is an optimum way to keep your body and mind aligned with the earth and its effects on you and those you love.

And remember…bite responsibly…especially right now. ^____-

 

Healthy Regards,

~RAM~