I enjoy having food cooked and served to me, as long as it’s something that will make my body happy, something that tastes good and is healthy. It’s very disappointing to be offered food that isn’t really what I want or need. This past week I was fairly happy with most of the meals I had while away, though I would have liked more choices of protein for breakfast than hard-boiled eggs. Generally, though, I felt supported by the food provided. Today, traveling by plane without the opportunity to prepare or even purchase food for the trip, I was not so happy. Apples, leftovers, honey roasted peanuts, a protein bar, and a caffe’ latte were not really satisfying. I’m looking forward to cooking at home again, and some of my favorites that were not available, like Greek yogurt.
I want to be flexible and adapt to whatever situation I’m in. I want to be able to take good care of myself without that distracting from the experiences I’m having. Sometimes it’s difficult to balance those, and that becomes an opportunity to do the best I can and not get stressed about the parts that are not what I would choose in an ideal situation. But it’s good to be home!
I took the time to prepare food for my flight, knowing that I would leave mid-day and arrive late in San Antonio, where I’m teaching and mentoring with Saybrook University’s School of Mind-Body Medicine at the residential conference. I made a big salad, a frittata, and a small chopped salad. I ended up eating the chopped salad for lunch, with a bag of baby carrots for a snack, then the big salad for dinner. The frittata stayed in the hotel room refrigerator and made a great breakfast this morning.
My experiment last week with saving all of my planned indulgences for one day and just eating what I wanted that day was interesting (see 1.19.2013, the next photo). When I’m generally avoiding bread and baked goods, that’s what I’m drawn to, along with high fat foods like halvah and cheese. I’m not sure it works for me to eat that much of those things all in one day. I may return to a more moderate pacing on planned indulgences, though so far this week I seem to be satisfied with just the healthy choices I’ve been making. I will wait and see how it goes over the next few days.
I have been careful this week in my food choices and amounts, and I am feeling more energetic and lighter in response. Looking forward to a bit more range in my choices on Saturday–a planned indulgence day! I am pleased to have made an accountability agreement with a friend to check in with each other by email each night about our morning self-care time and our day’s food choices. It really does make a difference to have that connection to support commitments we are making to ourselves.
I rushed from the airport Wednesday afternoon (just arrived from visiting family in North Carolina) to the Santa Cruz Farmer’s Market to gather produce for the women’s singing and yoga retreat with Heather Houston and Jaclyn Long at Skyote Mountain on Saturday. Lots of winter squash! And Happy Boy Farm still had the wonderful watermelon radishes I had shared with my family in NC last week.
Saturday morning I made chai for the group, perfect for the rainy, foggy day. I make my chai without the black tea or milk–that way each person can add what they like. I offered organic 2% milk, coconut milk, soy milk, or almond milk, along with honey, organic sugar, or stevia for sweetener. My mix doesn’t really need sweetener, as the licorice root and star anise sweeten it enough for most.
For 6 cups
2-inch piece fresh ginger, cut into thin rounds (you don’t need to peel it, just rinse first)
2 cinnamon sticks
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
½ teaspoon whole cloves
10 whole cardamom pods (crushed a bit in a mortar & pestle)
1 tablespoon dried licorice root
A few star anise
6 cups cold water
Bring a pot of water to a simmer with the spices in it and simmer for about 20 minutes. You can just put everything directly in the pot and then strain it out when it’s done. I usually use a large tea ball for the peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, and licorice, then add the ginger and cinnamon sticks directly to the water.
When it’s ready, add as much milk or alternative milk as you like. If you are adding a lot of milk, you might heat it first so it doesn’t cool down the chai. The mix without milk can also be stored in the refrigerator and then mixed with milk before heating up. If you want it with black (or green, or white) tea, just pour the chai over the tea and brew for the appropriate time before or after adding the milk. (Remember that the casein in milk may diminish the antioxidant effect of the tea–studies appear to be inconclusive on this).
The dinner menu:
Butternut Squash & Kale Lasagna with Hazelnuts
Roasted Broccoli & Red Onions
Salad of Happy Boy Farm Baby Greens with watermelon radishes, carrots, cucumber
1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Cook milk in a small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat to 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil). Remove from heat; keep warm.
Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Melt butter in a medium nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Add onions; cook 2 minutes or until tender. Reduce heat; add flour to pan, and cook 5 minutes or until smooth and golden, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add about 2 tablespoons warm milk to flour mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually add remaining warm milk, about 1/2 cup at a time, until mixture is smooth, stirring constantly with a whisk.
Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and cook until smooth and thickened. Remove from heat. Mix in chopped hazelnuts. Cover and set aside.
Preheat oven to 425°.
Place squash in a large bowl. Add vinegar; toss to coat. Add 1 tablespoon oil; toss to coat. Arrange squash in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and thyme. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes.
Combine remaining 1 teaspoon oil, red pepper, and garlic in a Dutch oven over medium heat; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add kale, about 1/3 at a time; cook until wilted, stirring frequently. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook until liquid evaporates, stirring frequently.
Reduce oven temperature to 350°.
Spoon 1/3 cup milk mixture in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Arrange 3 noodles over milk mixture; top with kale mixture, 2/3 cup milk mixture, 1/2 cup Asiago, and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano. Arrange 3 noodles over cheese; top with squash mixture, 2/3 cup milk mixture, remaining 1/2 cup Asiago, and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano. Arrange remaining 3 noodles on top of cheese; spread remaining 1/2 cup milk mixture over noodles. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.
Much water is flowing and the wind is swirling and moving the trees outside. I am making a commitment to myself to drink more water, as I know I feel better when I do. I’m actually making an effort to remember to have wine more frequently as well, having read recently about a study at Oregon State University indicating that wine is helpful for bone density.
I have finished the last of the nectarines, and there are just a few more plums in the fruit bin. Pomegranates and persimmons and pineapple guavas are taking their place as my daily fruits, and of course apples and pears. I am grateful that these new delights are here to ease the disappearance of the summer fruit.
It does take time to pull out my cell phone and take a photo of what I’m about to eat, and to put them all together at night, just before bed. But I have come to appreciate that time; a moment to breathe before taking in food, 15 minutes to review my day, with eating times as landmarks. I really did miss it during the time I skipped my photo-taking, and the sense of “not enough time” affected much more than whether or not my food collages were part of my day. That was symptomatic of a larger sense of squeezing in too much, and finding time to re-establish this ritual is a message to myself that my self-care routines are worth doing.
My mom and step-dad celebrated their 50th anniversary this past weekend, and family and friends gathered from all over. Pictures from the past filled with family memories flashed above us, stories were told, and different parts of their lives had a chance to reconnect or even meet for the first time. I was struck, watching the slide show we’d put together spanning 65 years of their lives, at how quickly all of our lives seemed to go by. And it does seem that way to me more and more, that time has compressed. Amazing how much seems to happen in so little time!
I had no Passover seders to go to this year, so I did what I usually do in that situation: I took care of bringing a mini-seder essence of Passover to whoever I was with. We were with a small group of friends who have become extended family over the many years we have gathered with them (since 1987 for some, 1992 for the others in the group). I made charoset (symbolizing the mortar used for building the pyramids when the Jews were slaves in Egypt) and brought something to cover the symbols on the seder plate and matzo (the unleavened bread, symbolic of leaving Egypt before the bread could rise). There was at least one person there who found my simple introduction to Passover educational, as she had not known any of this. A reminder to me that what I take for granted is not always common knowledge. It was a good day, with a walk through the Berkeley Rose Garden and Cordonices Park before our meal, then a shared potluck after my Passover introduction, then improvisational sounding and singing after. Not the traditional Passover, but I felt satisfied to be with community and share meaningful time together.
Both universities that I teach for right now are primarily online (though I just finished spending time with some of them this weekend face to face as we began the Spring Quarter for the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology’s MA in Spiritual Guidance). This means we spend one week on each discussion topic; one week to probe a few questions, speaking and listening to the group wisdom and thoughts about a particular idea. It goes by very fast, and I am grateful to the students who post early in the week to get the ball rolling. By Sunday night, as the stragglers get their posts in, I have a sense of frustration that there really is not enough time. In that last rush to get something said before we move on to the next topic, there are openings and possibilities for further conversation, but we are moving on.
It’s like that with my food collages, too. I manage to keep up and then realize I have a whole week’s worth that have not been posted. I throw them all out here, and there’s barely time to look at each individual day or meal. And yet, there are patterns that emerge and something is gained by just looking at the flow of the week. Both in the student discussions, and in my eating patterns. And then we move on to what’s next.