Wednesday, September 14, 2011

healthy habits: read

Change is a funny thing. It's a funny thing that I crave, and dread.

I always have two reactions: excitement, and anxiety.

When we arrived at our beautiful hotel for vacation this summer, I jumped up and down and squealed with delight. But a few hours later, a little naggy creature climbed onto my shoulder and whispered, "But it's not home..." Before I could start whimpering, J was there to swat it away.

With the start of the new school year, that little naggy creature is finding its way back, tugging on my hair and saying things like "You can't handle such a flexible schedule...you'll never get everything done!" and "Don't you miss your co-workers?" and "It's only a matter of time before it gets old."

I really dislike that naggy creature.

Because most of the time, when I think about the changes that the new school year brought, I am elated. And he is really killing my buzz.

So I have a simple remedy.


Books.

There are so many cures for anxiety, but none are quite as reliable or easy as reading. Reading takes me to a different place. I can read things that make me feel like a different person, things that make me focus on the positive, things that make me realize what an enormous place the world is. And while I'm so immersed, the naggy creature usually gets bored and hops away to bother someone else.

And then things seem so much more manageable.

Besides the relief that a page full of words can bring, reading is a great way to get informed about so many things that can make us healthier. So I decided to share some of my favorites for promoting a healthy state of mind. Some address the issue directly, some indirectly, and some just happen to be favorites for making me feel good.


Left to right, top to bottom:

1. The Book, by Alan Watts - Philosophical and faintly spiritual, after reading this, I just felt like there wasn't much point to thinking too hard about anything.
2. Clean, by Alejandro Junger - All about the toxins that surround us, this book promotes a positive message about using our inner resources to heal our bodies.
3. Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling - I really don't think I need to explain this one. All.time.favorite.
4. Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser - This was the first book that got me thinking about the food industry on so many levels. I can promise you that fast food will be much less tempting when you're done.
5. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien - Another that I'm not sure needs explaining. No fantasy world is easier to get lost in than Middle Earth.
6. You are Here, by Thich Nhat Hanh - Though fundamentally Buddhist, this book is much more about practice than philosophy. Whenever I am feeling tense, I can feel the author smiling at me and reminding me to breathe and stay in the moment.
7. A Little Princess, by Francis Hodgson Burnett - This book creates a world that I have escaped to over and over again since I was a little girl. The cold streets of London are at their best in this story.
8. Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert - This book has gotten a lot of flack for many reasons, but it's still a favorite, because while reading, I couldn't help but feel that it's ok to be confused sometimes. And it's clear that one of the best ways out of confusion is through food, prayer, and love.
9. The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss - Any of Dr. Seuss' books will always make me feel wonderful, but this one is particularly poignant, as it's a reminder of the beauty that needs protection in the world, and our inescapable connection to it.

Monday, September 5, 2011

seasons of change

It's a beautiful time of year, isn't it? In the mornings, the breeze through the window teases me with chilly hints of autumn. But by afternoon, I'm still basking in the warmth of the late summer sun. These are the days that are ripe with both the remembrance of warm nights and the anticipation of frosty mornings. The past and the future combine to make a perfectly balanced present.



Labor Day weekend seems to be that pivotal weekend when everyone appreciates two seasons at once. So when I was deciding what to take to a barbecue today, I wanted to capture the spirit of both. In this salad, fruits of summer and the tang of lime are balanced by autumnal tastes of nuts and honey.

 

~~~

Labor Day Fruit Salad

inspired by this recipe

Ingredients:
2 starfruit
1 lb strawberries (except for the couple you eat to make sure they're not poisonous)
1 pint blueberries (except for the little bowl you set aside for your blueberry-loving boyfriend)
2 small bananas
3/4 lb cantaloupe
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped almonds
3 tbsp raw honey
juice from 1/2 lime
1/8 tsp salt


Clean, cut, and combine all fruits except the banana. Stir in the nuts. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, juice, and salt. Cut the banana in slices over the fruit, then pour the glaze over the salad. Stir gently, refrigerate, and serve within the hour. Best when slightly chilled.


I used the fruits I had on hand, the ones that best expressed summer, and the ones I thought might be prettiest! But I'm sure it would be delicious with mangoes or nectarines, raspberries or oranges, apples or kiwis.

~~~

I think I'll miss the farmers market more than anything else as the seasons change. But it'll still hang on for a while longer, and I've heard rumors that as the flowers fade, we can look forward to pumpkins in the stalls...


Saturday, September 3, 2011

breakfast fit for a princess

Maus has a castle made out of cardboard.



This morning, she was guarding it fur-ociously.




She didn't want her prisoner to get away.




So we left her to it. And while Princess Maus was having rabbit for breakfast, J made this.


~~~

This is fast becoming J's breakfast specialty (all credits for this recipe go to him). He didn't come up with the name...but anytime he's cooking breakfast, I can't help but feel a little princess-y! It's so healthy and delicious, and best served with some sweet fruit on the side.

No measurements...it's hard to go wrong. Just use the amounts you have to serve the people you have.

Sweet Potato Princess Hash

Ingredients:
sweet potato(es)
olive oil
onion, chopped
curry powder
garlic powder
salt
tabasco sauce
fresh parmesan cheese
eggs

Poke some holes in the sweet potatoes and microwave in a shallow bowl with a bit of water. This will take at least a few minutes, but check periodically and remove before potatoes get soft. You should be able to pierce them, but they should still be firm. Allow potatoes to cool, and then dice.

Heat your olive oil in a frying pan and saute the onions and the sweet potatoes. Add the curry powder, garlic powder, and salt. Cover, and allow potatoes to cook until they reach desired softness. Then remove the cover and cook, stirring, until potatoes begin to brown. Add tabasco sauce and cheese and turn off the heat.

In another pan, scramble your eggs in some olive oil...no seasoning needed. When done, serve the hash with the eggs.

I really cleaned up my plate.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

healthy habits: say something nice

A Cup of Jo shared this video on her blog yesterday, and I hope she doesn't mind that I am keeping it circulating in the blog-o-sphere. Just watch.


Amazing idea, right? Can you imagine how people must have felt after walking by here? I bet anyone who spoke into the microphone, or listened to what anyone said, must have been smiling the rest of the day.

It's got to be a healthy habit.

It's about love, and focusing on the positive. It's amazing how focusing on the positive makes us happier, healthier, and more well.

So here's the healthy change. Go to someone, anyone, and say something nice. Thank your SO for all the things he/she does right. Compliment your neighbor on her flowers. Tell your cat you love her (check). Tell that stranger that her hair is gorgeous (also, check).

Better yet, think of someone who really irritates you. And then find something in them that you love. Search hard...it's got to be there somewhere. And then tell them.

I guarantee you'll feel good.

Say something nice.