Archive for January, 2011

Mindfulness – Mind Your Business…

January 17th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

I was reading the LA Times the other day about Mindfulness Therapy. It’s the new rage, don’t you know?? The premise of it lies in staying in the moment. Sound familiar? Well anyone who’s been following T & T for some time now knows I’m a huge Eckhart Tolle fan. I’m a big believer that each New Year should begin with a re-read of A New Earth. How’s your pain body doing, anyway??

On my morning walk I thought about this and had a chuckle. Being more mindful is SOOOO very basic, yet SOOOO very profound. I likened this new fad to the dawning of bottling water and selling it. HA. I remember years ago when this was first sold I thought it’d go the way of the Pet Rock. Remember them?? Now I have a closet full of the stuff (water, not rocks silly). It got me thinking, hmmmmmmmm.

Yes, staying in the moment and being mindful is the key to a fuller existence – period. You don’t need to be a yogi to possess this wisdom. Just look around you. What do you see??

  • So many people zoned out with earplugs in their ears (see my post on July 25),
  • Many trying to be the masterful multi-tasker with too many balls in the air,
  • Being attached to our cell phones 24/7 and messaging up the whazoo,
  • Taking that last bite of your sandwich while working on your computer, thinking you have another half,
  • People being so busy they’re falling out of touch with family living under the same roof,
  • Finishing a conversation and realizing you can’t remember what the other person just said…

How many people live with regrets? You know the drill, wishing you woulda, coulda, shoulda… When we start to stay in the moment only then will our relationships become richer. This can also be applied to eating, like I mentioned on January 9th – getting the full joy of food. When was the last time you actually tasted your “food wonderful food” to its full extent? Only then will we respect it more, understand our eating relationship better and treat our “Body As Temple” posted October 17 as it was meant to be.

Ahhh yes, now the saying “Mind your business” has a whole new meaning for me to work on being more mindful. Hold that thought…..Ummmmmmmm.

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Pioneering It…

January 16th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

It was one of those perfect Saturdays. You know the type. When you sleep in a little longer than usual, because you can. You linger over that extra cup of coffee with the newspaper in your robe and slippers. When you mull over the day’s possibilities you can afford to change your mind a few times, not being tied to a timetable or your crack-berry. Ahhhh Saturdays….

When I pulled myself together I decided to head out for my daily walk. Yes, it was one of those perfect lazy Saturdays. It would seem that the neighbours were doing the same thing. Just taking their time. It snowed overnight into the day. So I was met with fluttering snowflakes while I slumbered along. I decided to take my grocery list along with some eco-bags to save that extra trip out in the afternoon. I decided to pioneer it.

Amidst the solitude were intermittent snow shovellers, dog walkers and the like. One neighbour was putting cross country skis in the back of his truck. My neighbour passed and waved. Yes I am a weather warrior (written about on April 8), sneaking in my daily workout when no one even realizes it. Ahhh yes, the perfect way to exercise. The stealth approach.

A few blocks from my house is the grocery store, where I ended up, taking a different route. This puts the notion of “buying light” in a whole new perspective, that’s for sure – my milk, yoghurt and cheeses, veggies, salads and fruit, breads and more, all evened out for that last stretch home.

This time I decided to slog through the park with a blanket of pure, virgin snow. Carving my own path. A metaphor of life. I saw two Morning Doves flying playfully through the sky, looking as if they were trying to catch snowflakes. Yes these may be the two that settle in our birdbath at summer’s dust.

As I rounded home I was so hot I could have make a snow angel on the spot. I choose to keep going, not wanting to get snow on my groceries. I decide to treat myself to some of that home made soup I’ve been writing about. Mmmmmmm. Yes, it’s a perfect day. And I feel a sense of accomplishment by pioneering it….

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Flying & Waiting with Minds Wandering….

January 14th, 2011 No Comments Tags:

Ah yes, I found myself in flight again the day after Christmas. This time I had a stopover at the Atlanta Airport – oh joy. It would seem I wasn’t in Kansas anymore…..Dorothy. There were many interesting sights, announcements and characters around, to say the least.

Perhaps I was there on the day eveyone with a low IQ was passing through….a low fashion IQ, that is….. There were many pyjama bottom sightings (on adults), some red fuzzy slippers, a few pairs of 7 inch high disco heels, scuffies on a snowy day, Bo Derek hair beads (that never looked good on Bo Derek), orange cowboy boots (that matched the gentleman’s tie and the “Code Orange” announced overhead). There were no skinny jean sightings, only ones that tried to be….After a while the mom jeans started to look good.

And what about those Ug boots, huh? I saw Ug boots with suede, Ug boots with fur, Ug boots with buttons, Ug boots with knit, many, many kinds of Ug boots. Well you know what I think? Whoever gave them that name knew what they were talking about, because they are ALL very UG-ly….really. In my view comfort does not necessarily equal style. This is one perfect example.

I heard many lame announcements overhead. Some of the escalators have very long, steep slopes and they announced not to sit or lean on the handrail. I don’t know about you, but when I’m looking down a steep, long chute of an escalator I’m not thinking I want to take off like a ski jumper in the Olympics leaning – would you??

There was another announcement about holding on to your toddlers hand. Well hello, thanks for the tip!! I thought “hold on to their hands”? What parent wouldn’t pick up or hold on to their kids in a strange, busy airport? Well, 4 hours of hanging around there allowed me to witness many parents with earplugs in their ears allowing their toddlers their independence by meandering freely where people, security segways, firemen on bicycles etc. scurried through the terminal. Hmmmm.

We changed gates 4 times in as many hours. I think that was a government strategy at work to get people moving. From the looks of it, moving from gate to gate might have been the only exercise many would get for the day.

While I waited I observed so many people with super jumbo drinks. Granted it was pretty dry in there. I don’t know where I’ve been lately, but some of these cups looked like they could hold 32 ounces of fluid, maybe more – WOW! Only people travelling on a caravan through the Sahara Desert need a drink THAT enormous, do ya think?? Just when I thought the cup size couldn’t get any bigger, it would appear that it has…..Perhaps they should refer to drink cup sizes similar to bra cup sizes, “…yes I’ll have my triple D mocha-ma-tazo-nonfat-latte with lots of whipped cream please….” I digress, I’ve been waiting much too long….

Well after 4 gate changes, a prolonged maintenance delay, after delay, after delay a lightbulb went off and I realized why so many people wore pyjamas: because you wait so long you might end up sleeping there :-) I hoped, though, that if aliens touched down on earth on THAT same day, they didn’t do it at that airport, thus judging the entire human race….. please God, no.

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Mother Dearest’s Beef Barley Soup

January 13th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , ,

Ahhh, talk about a soup you can stand your spoon up in and have it “stick to the ribs” on a cold winter’s day. Mmmmmm. This is the one. As I’ve said before studies show that having soup at meals is a proven diet strategy. Not only does it taste terrific, but begins helping you feel full before your main meal. This creation is a perfect stand alone dinner, heats up well for lunch and freezes swimmingly. That’s why I haul out my soup cauldron to make a big batch!!




beef brisket

3-5 washed, peeled carrots

4-5 washed, celery stocks

2-3 peeled, whole onions

1-2 beef bouillon cube

pot barley


I use a big honkin’ pot to make my soup in. Like I say, why not make a bigger batch and freeze some while you’re making mess. My soup pot is 10 inches (25cm) in diameter (across) and 7 inches (18cm) high. Ok, so in this pot I sprinkle salt at the bottom, plunk in a piece of 2 of beef brisket and fill the pot with water, to about 3 inches from the top. Now put it on your element on high and bring in to a boil.

In the meantime prepare all of your vegetables (carrots, celery and onions). When the pot is boiling vigorously remove the foam off the top until there is no more left. This may take some time, but make sure you do it. Now add in your prepped veggies, plus your bouillon. If your fluid level is too high, you may pour some out. Add in the barley. Allow to boil for 1-2 hours.

Once you turn off the element, remove everything from the pot except the stock and barley, then allow to cool. Cut your carrots into coins and slice the cooked onion and add these back to the pot. Remove the meat from brisket bone in small pieces and add that back to the pot. Discard the celery because it’s so stringy.


I remember Mother Dearest telling me to put the barley in a bowl and soak it the day before then rinse and toss in the pot. I leave out this step because I like mine thicker. In all honesty I’ve put too much barley in at times and it looks like porridge…  I don’t think that’s what you’d want, so err on the side of less because after it’s cooked it expands even more and thickens up. I wasn’t kidding when I said the spoon stands up on it’s own…truly!! Enjoy :-)

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Persistence Pays Off

January 12th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

I took my morning walk today amidst the latter part of a winter snowstorm. Must’ve been that clipper from Alaska… Most of the roads along my route weren’t yet ploughed, nor were the sidewalks shovelled, but I slogged through it. While I trudged I was thinking about the notion of persistence. Hmmmmmm. After seeing the news with updates on how Haiti’s doing 1 year after the earthquake and the flooding in Australia and more how could I NOT be thinking of this. Persistence.

When my family took a long drive when I was a kid my Dad used to lead us all in a sing-song….joy :-) Funny when you think about it back then, my sisters and me didn’t have our own Game Boy or TV/DVD set or i-Pod to zone out with. We just had each other. We’d sing REAL oldies like “”A” you’re adorable, “B” your so beautiful….”, “She’ll be comin’ round the mountain when she comes…”, “Daisy, daisy, give me your answer do…” and my favourite “Once there was a silly old ant…”.

I find myself singing this last tune from time to time. It’s about a silly old ant who tried to move a rubber tree plant. And as the song goes “…anyone knows an ant can’t, move a rubber tree plant…but he had, HIGH HOPES, he had, HIGH HOPES….” I think you get the picture. It’s about persistence…. I guess I’m a silly old aunt….

We live in our instant ” I want it now already” world. But there are still real circumstances we face where we need to be persistent, to work hard, to wait and wait and wait and wait and work and wait some more. Sometimes there isn’t an apparent payoff at the end, but we need to endure nonetheless. This is a simple fact of life that is worth embracing sooner than later.

When I rounded myself back at work with “to do” lists, meeting preparations, the phone ringing and demands galore, I received my daily Rev Run message in my in-box – DING. It read:

Rev Run’s Words of Wisdom for January 12, 2011:
Good morning, Inch by inch everythings a cinch.. Yard by yard everything is hard!
God is Love
Rev Run

Thanks Rev! Whatever you’re working toward, your goal, your yearning, your hopes, your dreams, just keep at it. Think about the Haitians or those flood victims, surely your mountain isn’t as high as theirs. Yes, slow and steady does with the race, bit by bit, inch by inch. And don’t let anybody tell you any different, because persistence certainly DOES pay off.

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What’s in a Word…..a Tradition??

January 11th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , ,

I might have mentioned a few (dozen) times that I’m Italian, even though my parents and I were born here. Growing up, we spoke English in our household; however, there were a few odd terms we used that came “right off the boat”. These words weaved their way into our everyday life. My siblings and me found out as we got older; however, that some things were different out in the big world.

One example is the word “mupeen”. In our house when you dried the dishes you used a “mupeen”. That first dinner at a friend’s house when you were helping in the kitchen you realized the cultural divide if you dared to ask for a tea towel using that name….

I remember my Mom sending my sister to the grocery store for some “shkadole” (spinach). We knew what it was when we were under our own roof, but once in a regular grocery store it wasn’t as apparent. As my sister tells the tale she wandered around the store searching for an Italian-looking stock boy who could possibly help her out by knowing this dialect. Alas, I think she came home empty handed….

Then there’s the “skolamacaroon”. Fancy being at a potluck with friends as an adult when you need to strain the boiled spaghetti. You’re met with funny looks and jeers with snickering, no less when you ask for one. What’s wrong with these people? What do they strain their pasta with, a tea sieve??

I had dinner with an Italian friend of mine recently and we compared notes about our various family traditions and funny ways. She told me that in late summer her entire family goes to pick tomatoes right off the vine. Her Mom prepares them to ripen. All family members are “on call” in the fall for that blessed day when they ripen. They gather at the homestead to “do them down”. How great is that?? It brings visions of a small town in Italy ringing the church bell and everyone emerging to help. In this day and age we resort to cell phones, e-mail, posting the announcement on your Facebook page or doing a tweet on Twitter to get the word out.

If you’re an Italian in North America, pick up a copy of the book The Lost Ravioli Recipe of Hoboken by Laura Schenone. There are parts of the story that will certainly ring true for you. A fellow Italian dietitian friend of mine picked me up a copy and it’s is a real keeper.

Ahh our funny Italian ways. Some months ago I was shopping at a local Italian grocery store. Somehow that setting felt so familiar to me. Behind the counter hung a proud photo of the Nona and Papa taken in front of the original store in Little Italy. Seeing it brought a tear to my eye. You see my Mom’s Dad, my name sake (who passed on before I was born) owned a grocery store back then in the same part of town. I solemnly proceeded through the check out I then placed my bags in my trunk. I was thrust out of my misty memory moment when my breadstick hit the trunk button by accident nearly closing the trunk on my arm – OUCH!!

After my Grandma passed away many years ago my God Mother asked me what keepsake I’d like of hers. Funny I chose her blessed wooden spoon. I’m sure she slaped my Dad’s behind with it when he was little. I witnessed her stirring many pot fulls of sougo, bergoles and meatballs in my day and I figured that would be my most cherished possession of hers. You’ve seen it in my post December 8.

Last evening we hosted a dinner with a group of my husband’s colleagues. He asked our Mothers (mine and his) if they would prepare a cultural dish or two to treat our guest. The cooking competition was on like the World Pot of Cooking with the Ukrainians stirring off against the Italians!! Our guests said that it was a draw as they devoured the gnocci, meatballs and sausage in one corner and cabbage rolls and perogies in the other!! We all won and were all down for the count after the meal!!

Ahhh the wonderment of rich traditions. It warms my heart to recount these stories….over and over and over…. Celebrate your heritage folks. I’m sure your traditions are as unique as your genetic code. Do you have a story you’d like to share?? We’d all like to know…..

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Slimming Sidelines

January 10th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Making small changes in your eating, lifestyle and activity add up in your favour. Many people think when they change everything they’re doing that this will help them lose weight. Well it might help in the short term. But it’s difficult to sustain in the long term. I say there are enough challenges in life ,why make it so difficult for yourself. Take a few baby steps at a time and keep moving ahead!!

Eat the Best First
Do a 180 change to your approach to eating. Many people often leave the best food morsel for the last bite. What you end up doing is tuning out of your satiety cues and focusing on that savoury last bite. With the serving sizes morphing to tropo grande these days do yourself a favour and change your approach – eat the yummiest morsel on your plate first. When you feel full stop.

Take Back Your Spare Time
We think we live in a time starved era. But think about how much time slips through our fingers. This New Year work on being the master of your own timekeeping domain. Start with weaning down on any excess TV watching. Focus on your favourite shows, then use that in-between time to work in some extra activity, perhaps. Better yet do some dovetailing with your time and do some exercises while you’re watching the tube. When you do this you are less likely to have food in your family room which is also a good behaviour to work on i.e. not eating while watching TV. Look at all of the calories you’ll burn, and others you will save….

Another strategy is to take time when you eat by savouring your food by thoroughly chewing it. How often do you find yourself hurrying through meals and snacks, neglecting yourself from fully enjoying your food – woofing it down? When you do-the-chew you will not only UP the enjoyment factor of eating but you will begin feeling full sooner. You may become more demanding when you learn to make it a habit to taste your food and ultimately reach for more wholesome food more often and less junk. When you take time to really taste your food fully you’ll realize that junk food leaves a bad after taste in your mouth and makes you feel ug-ish shortly after eating it….really.

Want a Waist
Forget “waste not want not” – aim your focus ON your waist. Aim to eliminate wearing elasticized waist bands and loose clothing to take your focus off your waist and put some focus ON it. When it’s meal and snack time make sure you’re wearing something fitted and get out of the habit of loosening your belt. Not only should you feel better with what you’re wearing but this should heighten your realization of feeling full sooner. Who would have thunk??!!

If you have tried year after year to focus solely on your food, consider changing your approach to how you eat and change some ingrained behaviours on your journey.

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The Motivation Mambo

January 9th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , ,

Motivation is a funny thing. It can be likened to the stock market. Sometimes it soars, sometimes it plummets and sometimes it’s slow and steady as she goes just plodding along.

Motivation works in many aspects of our lives, not just with eating and exercise. We seek it to be the best we can be at work. We look for it in our relationships. We need it when we’re faced with life’s challenges. Motivation…

A friend of mine sent me the photo in this post of apples with the subliminal stickers on them – take a closer look. It got me thinking about motivation and how we can intrinsically attune ourselves to eat better and exercise. Funny, since receiving this photo I’ve had apples on my mind. Actually, I now have a drawer full of them and I plan to crunch into one once I finish writing this post…..

Think about good, wholesome, natural food. It fills up my senses when I shop and cook. Right now I’m roasting tomatoes for another soup I’m making. Keep an eye out for the recipe in the coming few weeks. How fabulous wholesome food tastes and makes me feel when I eat it!! That should be motivation enough, shouldn’t it??

Doing activity is something else to feel motivated about. A family member had a medical procedure on his hip this week and is now convalescing. As long as I can put one foot in front of the other, I will walk every day I can. Being well and healthy motivate me to do so. I took a walk on this cold snowy day today and had a sense of accomplishment for doing it.

Yes there are days when my motivation waxes and wanes, but it’s something I work to sustain nonetheless. We shouldn’t necessarily need extrinsic motivators like the subliminal stickers on the apples. But I guess if it helps, it can’t hurt. By the way, the friend who sent me the photo is a super duper healthy gal who will be delivering baby number 2 in a few short weeks (code name Nick). I guess the stickers worked for her, in more ways than one!!

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More Soup Sassy – Nan’s Acini di Pepe Soup

January 6th, 2011 3 Comments Tags: , , ,

Ahhh soup glorious soup. One fine dish that Oliver wouldn’t mind asking “please sir, could I have some more”, just like the first sentence uttered from my grown nephew Surf “more soup Sassy”!! Studies show that including soup at meals is an effective diet strategy. Not only does it taste terrific, but eating it helps you begin feeling full sooner.

At this time of year when it’s cooler outside, soup is great with a meal or doubles AS a meal. I make a large batch and freeze some for a later date. When I do that I mash the carrots with a fork because once defrosted their texture changes a smidgen and they taste better that way.




beef brisket

3-5 washed, peeled carrots

4-5 washed, trimmed celery sticks

2-3 peeled, whole cooking onions

1-2 beef bouillon cubes

1 796mL (28oz) can stewed tomatoes, crushed

1 bag washed, boiled, drained, chopped spinach

cooked to al dente, acini de pepe noodles (polka dot noodles)


I use a big honkin’ pot to make my soup. Like I say, why not make a bigger batch and freeze some while you’re making mess. My soup pot is 10 inches (25cm) in diameter (across) and 7 inches (18cm) high. Ok, so in this pot I sprinkle salt at the bottom, plunk in a piece or 2 of beef brisket and fill the pot with water, to about 4 inches from the top. Now put it on your element on high and bring in to a roaring boil.

In the meantime prepare all of your vegetables (carrots, celery and onions). When the pot is boiling vigorously remove the foam off the top until there is no more left. This may take some time, but make sure you do it.

Add in your prepped veggies gingerly (not spinach yet!), plus your bouillon. If your fluid level is too high, you may need to pour some water out. Allow to boil for 1-2 hours.

In another large pot prepare the spinach and put it in the fridge until the soup’s done. You may also prepare your noodles and put them in the fridge as well.

Once the soup is finished simmering, turn off the element and remove the meat, bones and veggies and allow to cool.

When cooled cut your carrots into coins and slice the cooked onion and add back to the pot. Remove the meat from brisket bone in small pieces and add that back to the pot. Discard the celery because it’s too stringy. Add in the crushed tomatoes, chopped spinach and noodles to the pot and stir. Mmmmmm isn’t that a site to behold??

Talk about food for the gods!! It’s ready to serve when you are ready to eat!!

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Oh The Possibilities…..

January 5th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

Today was one of those days that I felt like I could conquer the world. You know the type. It started off by waking up before the alarm went off. I felt refreshed and raring to go. I had my humble bowl of porridge and felt good about it, then headed out for a walk with a jump in my step. Ahhhh the sky was clear blue and the silence helped me make sense of it all – a new day, a new month, a new year, with endless possibilities. Yes it’s a gem of a day.

I drove to work with George Michael blaring Too Funky and Freedom, I thought the pedestrians I passed would chime in. What a great way to PUMP UP the enthusiasm. My stomach was grumbling by 10am but I simply ignored it. Pay no mind to that!! You’re not kidding me, tum tum. You’ve been too used to too much this past few weeks and it’s over TODAY. It was a productive day. On the way home I popped in to the grocery store to create more possibilities. Visions of sugar plums are no longer dancing in my head – nay nay.

I hit my mat routine with gusto. It feels super to get back on track. I wished the sales clerk in the grocery store a Happy New Year and she mumbled that it felt like nothing had changed. Well, change comes from within. If you want change in your life commit to doing something to create it. Today is a different day and I am key in making it so.

I love the quote by the business mogul, founder and owner of Boston Pizza Jim Treliving about luck. He said, “…it’s funny, the harder I worked the luckier I got”. Right on Jim!! I thought you’d enjoy this clip to help keep the motivational fire burning within.

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