Archive for March, 2011

Spring Forward – Cultivating Relationships

March 31st, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

I have done my share of writing about the importance of connecting with friends and family over the year (April 7 and June 24, 2010). We had a catch-up dinner with my bella familia this past weekend.

Last evening was another one of those classic, connections with my good friend Joan. We have been friends for decades now and come hill or high water we get together regularly, just like family….through thick and thin….

I always find how my spirit is lifted after our get togethers. What is it about the bond of fab friends, family and special camaraderie that fills me up?? For some reason there is never a lull in the conversation…. surprise, surprise….

When Joan comes over our connections begin smack dab in my kitchen – belly up to the bar with Sirius Radio’s Spa channel resonating, the water wall and stories spilling while the wine is pouring. Our visits always begin with a cheese tray to whet our appetites and See Ya Later “Rover” red wine if it’s on hand. We “clink” our glasses to cheer one thing or another every hour or so – a birthday celebration (this time it’s Joan’s), an old friend’s opportunity, a family member update, a new baby, reminiscing about past trips together, our mutual love of rigatoni….I’m surprised the glasses aren’t chipped by now from all of the dang clinking!! Like a true blue friend, if you ask her what she thinks, she ALWAYS tells it like it is. Yes as Thelma is to Louise….or is it the other way around, I forget….

There is no guest easier to host than my friend Joan. We could follow the cheese tray with tea and toast and end with Nan’s famous biscotti and she’d be delighted. A kind Irish lassie she is, that’s for sure. I’m sure if I fussed and fumbled over the details of getting together through all of these years we’d barely connect as often as we have.

It’s spring folks and time to renew all things, especially bonds of friendships and family. Make a date with good friends and family if you haven’t lately. Assemble a simple cheese tray and turn on the serenity tunes. Our bodies might need all of the micro and macronutrients found in food for renewal, but it’s only with connections between loved ones that our spirit becomes fully nourished – to cultivating relationships!

Cheers to making the next dinner date…..see ya later…..probably sooner, I suspect!!

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Don’t Make a Big Canzone

March 30th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Yes, folks, this is another one of those cherished Italian words I wrote about on January 11 – “canzone”. No I’m not referring to a calzone – the recipe I posted on January 26 but a cunzone. I’m not sure if I’m spelling it right because spell-check doesn’t have a clue about what I’m trying to say here. Is there an Italian dialect dictionary to check?? I really don’t know.

What it means is “don’t make a big deal”. So very basic yet so profound. How much energy do we all spend fretting about the silliest things? Did you see how she looked at me when she entered the room? When’s that dang traffic light gonna change? My boss didn’t say “good morning” when she arrived today, I think she’s mad at me? My kid wants to spend so much time with his friends and less with me, perhaps he doesn’t love me anymore. And the list goes on and on and on, like an Olympic sport without a medal. Time!

I’ve been mentoring a bright dietitian-to-be lately and the last time we met we went over case studies for interviewing. In this one scenario I posed to her, she provided a very detailed answer that began with “….well first of all, I’d give the doctor the benefit of the doubt….” The benefit of the doubt, I thought, then I began to hear angels singing. I know there’s a song that says “what the world needs now is love sweet love”, which is true, but I think we could use this “giving the benefit of the doubt” thing too in spades, don’t you think? It’s so important, in fact, that I think God should make an 11th Commandment saying “Thou shalt give thy brother and sister the benefit of the doubt”. Amen!!

How often are we judging what people do, what they wear, where they travel, how they spend their leisure time, where they go for dinner and who they hang with? Ya I know I’ve done my fair share of writing funny stories about what I observe, but I too can learn a thing or two from moi.

So everybody, let’s think the next time we’re going to make a big canzone about anything and give one another the benefit of the doubt.

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The Addict in All of Us

March 29th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

Whether we like to admit it or not lying deeply in all of us is an addict. For some it’s highly processed food, others it’s shopping or spending money, perhaps it’s gossiping, gambling, alcohol, medication, texting, caffeine, Facebook, salt, sugar, the sports channel, white flour, power, the TV and more. Anybody hooked on phonics??? I didn’t think so!! But when it comes to food when we are trying to eat healthier I think it’s important for all of us to become aware of any potential addictions to food and drink and decide what you’re going to do about it.

If your body’s telling you you’re longing for a multitude of unnatural stuff take stock of what you’re hearing. Take some time to process this information objectively then think about making some goals and let the weaning begin. I’m not suggesting weaning all of your vices. I am suggesting those that are standing in the way of your goals. For some you’ll re-establish some reasonable ground with your relationship with these. It’s your choice.

It’s funny how a multitude of our robotic habits can accumulate over time, like a pile of dirty laundry, don’t you think?? I have said many times that all foods fit, but if foodstuffs are calling the shots about your decisions around choice you can do yourself a favour and get in the driver’s seat and be the boss of your decisions. I think it helps to do a 3-5 day food record every once in a while, then find the time to look them over.

If you’ve had an avid interest in nutrition you may be able to review these on your own. If not, invest in a consultation with a registered dietitian to do the work for you and together you can set a priority list of what you’re willing to work on over time. Bit by bit, step by step you’ll find that various components of food and drink aren’t the boss of you anymore.

How freeing it will become to make decisions based on what your body actually needs rather than what those internal demons are demanding. It’s certainly worth a try.

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Food Revolution Roasted Peppers

March 28th, 2011 No Comments Tags: ,

Anyone who knows me understands my love for bright colours. Well the same holds true when I pick a peck of peppers, I choose red, orange and yellow. So colour coordinated, nutrient rich and food-taste forward, they can’t be beat. I make these as a side dish often enough. They go well with meat accompaniments and if I have any left over I use them in a fratatta (posted June 15, 2010).

Ingredients
1-2 each of red, yellow and orange peppers, washed, cored and sliced
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare the peppers, add seasoning and oil then pop in the oven while you’re doing other food preparation. Every 20 minutes or so, remove the pan and gently redistribute the peppers so they cook thoroughly, until soft. They take about an hour to cook through, depending on the thickness of the pepper slices. You can serve these hot or at room temperature.

Commentary
Roasted peppers are both beautiful and flavourful veggie. They go well with meats as a side dish. They dress up an anitipasto or platter or cheese tray. They’re perfect with eggs as I mentioned. They taste great in a sandwich as is. Make sure you don’t cook them on high heat as they’ll burn. Enjoy!!

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Earth Angel

March 27th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

Last week was World Water Day. This weekend was Earth Hour. This got me thinking of becoming an Earth Angel, hmmmmmmm. Truly, there are so many worthwhile and important causes to help save and preserve our Mother Earth. All we need is an open mind to adopt new practices to help pitch in. Every little bit helps.

Last year, for example, in my province the retail stores instituted a 5 cent charge per plastic bag. In no time, this shifted many consumers to get in the habit of bringing reusable bags when shopping. It didn’t take long to round up an array of canvas sacks that double as grocery bags. Now my truck is chocked full of them. Easy peasy on that.

For some years now my neighbourhood has supported a recycling scheme with different bins to separate the organic wet waste from bottles and papers from garbage. What started off as a seemingly pain in the butt has turned into a regular routine – no problemo. It has become so second nature I feel frustrated when I find myself in a place where these programs are NOT in place.

From our dietary practices we can be mindful of food miles and carbon foot prints, sustainability, packaging, organics, moving toward being flexitarian (eating less meat) or doing the full monty and becoming vegetarian.

Truly though, there are so many ways to green up and get your Earth Angel on. It doesn’t need to be on St. Patrick’s day either!! From small changes like deciding not to buy bottled water anymore to big changes like becoming vegetarian, every bit counts and makes a difference. I sometimes think of the mound of garbage saved by doing these easy things, and it motivates me to aim to do more. As each of us make small changes these will save mountains, deed by deed for dear Mother Earth.

What act of green has your Earth Angel done lately? We’d love to know.

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Activity Change-up – Swimming to the Past

March 24th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

Well, my foot is slowly feeling better day by day. I needed to resign myself to the fact that I had to change things up. So I returned to my mat routine with arm weights, stretches, ab crunches and push ups (written April 28, 2010). I decided to do an exercise change-up to help burn off steam and keep my foot “on the mend”.

By the time I suited up and found my goggles I had this lap pool to myself. I can’t remember the last time I swam lengths. As usual, I followed my tortoise mantra “slow and steady” and got started. My favourite stroke is the easiest – the breast stroke. I get into the easy rhythm going from end to end of the pool.

As I stroked into a rhythm I found my mind wandering back in time, hmmmmm. In my teen years I occasionally swam laps in our pool at home. Back and forth I would go, doing the breast stroke, pulling myself suspended in water from end to end. I could go on forever, well until my fingers would shrivel. I never worried about my hair colour fading back them….. My mind would wander in a meditative hydophilic suspension. Somehow my Dad would find his way poolside with his newspaper in hand, seemingly not paying attention, but being fully aware. What a fond memory……

Poof, then the sun peaks through the clouds awakening me from the breast stroke of the past into that of the present. There are clear blue wave shadows moving rhythmically on the bottom of the pool. As my head bobs up and down I see billowy candy floss-like clouds hugging the hills beside the Lake in my current location. I hear intermittent sounds of seagulls and the engine hum of the single propeller plane landing on Lake Okanogan.

How nice it is to change your exercise routine, sore ankle or not. It feels invigorating to use different muscles and become one with the waves at my own slow pace pulling myself from side to side of the pool. I had no idea how much time was spent in suspended animation but just plodded along until I felt I had enough. The smell of chlorine brought back fond memories of family days gone by. Back then I began following the “just for today” mindset that still holds true for today (written about June 14, 2010). Some wise principles never get old……

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Food Origins

March 23rd, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

A lot has been written about getting better acquainted with our food. I am all for getting up close and personal with it, that’s for sure. Here here!!

There are people who have never had the pleasure to grow a bean stock or yank a carrot out of the ground. Nothing smells better than a home grown tomato or freshly cut herbs from your garden. MmmmmMmmMm. When you venture into your local grocery store one might never realize that their honey came from a bee hive, milk from a cow, chips from a potato or bread from wheat.

There’s something rather romantic about cozying up to your food. A newfound respect emerges, don’t you think? I love the feeling of meandering through any weekend fresh market. The best companion to bring along with you is an open mind and creative spirit for oh the possibilities – what you can make from these treasures you bring home. Nary a package among them….

This weekend I ventured to the Carmelis Goat Farm in Kelowna, British Columbia. There are new kids among the old goats in the barn – each with their characteristic personality that captivates the spirit tugging at your heart strings. Hmmmmm, sample some of the hard and soft cheeses will surely fill up your senses.

Making a cheese tray of any kind is a lovely way to start or end a meal, or can be the center piece FOR the meal. Add some to a sandwich for that special kick, in a main dish like lasagna (December 15, 2010), on pizza (posted May 14 & July 21, 2010) or in a salad (June 23, 2010) to jazz it up. Yes the possibilities are endless and it’s certainly all good.

If your kids’ (i.e. children) only brush with nature is surfing past David Suzuki’s show on the TV, consider cozying up to your food with them in toe. Take a little drive to a farm, enjoying the countryside. Plan to grow a little garden this season. You don’t need to be a green thumb to give this a try. You can do this on your apartment’s balcony once the seeds get started on your windowsill. Commit to using your earthen wares in your meals with the kids and watch their appreciation, pride and interest flourish.

And oh, aim to take the time to watch David Suzuki’s A Force of Nature. It will captivate the mind and spirit for all who view, without a doubt. Food for thought, that’s for sure…..

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HAIL Liquid Luxury – World Water Day

March 22nd, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

Today is World Water Day. How appropriate it is to be mindful and take stock of this most valuable resource. A lot has been written about this liquid luxury. Having been brought up near a lake may in fact have you take it for granted, perhaps. However, we do not have an unlimited supply.

If you have had the privilege to travel to a place where water is already in limited supply makes you painfully aware of this sobering fact. The simple act of brushing your teeth with a small bottle of water instead of running the tap endlessly surely makes you think. Not to mention limiting it’s use in everyday living as well, then when you return home…..

Our bodies are predominantly made up of water. Yet when we meander down the bevy aisle of the grocery store there are numerous beverages of many colours and concoctions that we pour down our gullet for hydration and enjoyment purposes – from soda pop, to juice, to fruit drinks, to latte, coffee, tea, not to mention the water variations galore. It’s surely staggering.

It’s easy to forget that water, H2O, is required for optimal bodily functioning. A master regulator. Medium of key components and functions in our bodies. So benign yet so powerful. Do a rethink of your drink and raise a glass of the plain stuff in homage.

Hail to water, whether drunk boiled with lemon, straight up or on the rocks be mindful of this most valuable nonrenewable resource. Pay it the respect it deserves, today and everyday. Cheers!!

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Food Revolution – French Toasted Cheese Love-wiches

March 21st, 2011 No Comments Tags: ,

Oui oui mon ami, this is one special recipe that’s one of my weeknight faves. I love it so much!!! This is perfect when you don’t have much time (what else is new) but still want the eating satisfaction. We discovered this recipe from the Milk Calendar circa 1987. Memories of being married for less than one year, oh my dear…..I had this on my 50th birthday eve to help ring in the next decade just right. It always aims to please.

Ingredients
8 slices of French-stick or whole wheat bread
1/3 cup butter, softened
1T dijon mustard
6 oz medium Cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
2 eggs
3/4 cups milk
1/4 cup butter

Instructions
Combine the softened butter and mustard and lightly spread on both sides of the bread. Make sandwiches with the cheese slices and press the bread together firmly. Beat eggs and milk in a large dish and dip the sandwiches into the mixture. Heat butter in a large skillet and cook the sandwiches until well browned on both sides with the cheese oozing melting in the center. Serve hot.

Commentary
Yes folks, this certainly is one love-sandwich that can be served up at lunch or dinner. Last week we served up some hot tomato soup on the side (I wrote about on January 20, 2011) and this went swimmingly with the bella-sand-a-wicha. Other times I make a side green salad posted on June 23, 2010. We made a few extras to have on the run the following days. As I always say, while you’re making a mess, it may as well be a good one. These were flipped with our new Darth Vader spatula. How better to find the force :-)

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A 1-Year Blogging Journey…..

March 20th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , ,

Well folks, March 18th marked Thick and Thin Blog‘s first anniversary. How appropriate that an ultra-full moon emerged to celebrate this milestone!! My writing journey has been an enriching one, to say the least, weighing in on eating, lifestyle and you. Me and you, that is. This blogging quest got me thinking about food, eating, cooking, working, celebrating, travelling and just plain having fun more deeply 278 posts later.

If I have learned one thing this past year it is that you cannot simply focus on food and eating without focusing on life. The news might put various aspects of food and diet under a spotlight, but you need to juxtapose it in a context of real life to make any of it meaningful, don’t you think??

Many people want to lose weight yet need to superimpose seemingly simple goals in the context of complexities of life. Our lives have a characteristic ebb and flow that can work with our goals or wield us off the proverbial “dieting wagon”. As I searched my soul through blog stories this year I never quite realized my gratitude for a positive attitude that helps keep me motivated and gets me to regroup threw it all. I have realized that staying motivated is like glue that keeps me on track.

We have seen that you can be a successful loser by following many different regimens. As I often say, there are at least a 1,000 ways to do the same thing right. But all successful losers need to find ways to keep motivated by lighting that fire within – challenge after challenge, day after day, week after week, month after month. It all happens by getting through cloudy Mondays, business travel bupkiss and monkey business at work, eating out, celebration days and seasons, high holidays and low tide. That is the fabric of life for all of us, like the patches of a quilt.

It’s so easy for life’s challenges and temptations to “throw us under the dieting bus” like a game of Snakes and Ladders, sending us back 15 steps. Life IS a journey, not a destination. So what’s your outlook for this coming year? Have you made some goals or are you venturing through like a ball ricocheting in a pin-ball game? Well whatever your plans I look forward going through it together, through thick and thin.

Thanks for following!! Feel free to share how your year has gone or your goals ahead. We’d love to know….

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