Saturday, July 30, 2016

Roman Holiday

Citizen of the world, breath and gait, I walk through countries among all nationalities and think of how we differ, how we are the same. Traditions dissimilar, languages too, human condition the same. Pause. Breathe.
It was once the land of bountiful harvest and honored kitchens, of slow movements and deep thoughts.
It saddens me to see this country has undergone such upheaval and I feel it is in part globalization and in part economic depression and that which follows organically from both.
In search of vegetables I stumble upon a "frutti vendolo" I must have gone for blocks seeing one supermarket after another before finding an open vegetable and fruit stand, the heat has turned most of their produce limp and bruised. I reach for the only seasonally green leafy vegetable they are harvesting at the moment, a singular green varietal of chard. I think about Whole Foods for a moment, one green leafy bunch after another, dandelion, rainbow chard, mustard greens, kale, bok choy and so on. How did this happen? In part I am happy, living in America, that this is so, but the other part of me mourns the loss of this in Italy. As I walk through the all to common supermarket here I am shocked to see what is going into the shopping carts, prepared foods, plastic wrapped prepackaged lunch meats high in nitrates, cookies, frozen fish and ultra heat treated over pastuerized milk products. This was the America I knew 15 years ago, the one the Italians balked at.
So now in the country where not too long ago  it was meshed into everyday life to spend hours in the kitchen and prepare multi course feasts for each day, it appears more like the America I grew up in. The America where mothers worked long hours and crockpots were invented to make dinner times almost a non effort. The America where microwaves served as ovens but cooked in a matter of minutes instead of hours. It's a natural progression, albeit a stretch to call this progress, from the stay at home mother to the working mother the working daughter and higher level education more prominent among many not only the privileged few.
Somewhere along the way America realized the downward spiral of poor eating, obesity, mental and physical well being and a new surge of buzzwords began to circulate, artisanal, local, free range, organic and so on. Wellness in the form of more whole body consciousness, yoga, namely became a super trend.  A large portion of our society has truly embraced this return to basics, and for this I secretly smile.
So I have gone in search of this here. Early Thursday morning brings me to a sought out yoga class, in the city center a beautifully appointed studio, great windows overlooking one of the main thorough fares between Piazza Navona and Campo Dei Fiori. Unusually large proportioned  white marble busts of robust men holding the capitols like bookends flank the windows to the space, each downward facing dog puts me up close to one of their giant alabaster fingers. The class was a satisfying, grounding class for me, the dynamics of family travel for such a prolonged trip, I needed this. After class hunger pains drove me to find the new phenomena of Bio or organic restauarant/ smoothie cafes.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Wellness through movement

Buddhist temple and monastic zen garden, Tokyo, Japan
Happiness depends on many things at times and at others few. Being kind to your self, practicing Ahimsa or the yogic philosophy of non violence to the self. It's a profound act when looked at carefully, it does not simply mean to park your ego at the door of a yoga class and allow yourself to be happy with what your body can do this day on the mat. It refers also to an awareness of the verbal and emotional damage we do to ourselves each day in the form of guilt, shame, anxiety and self criticism.
Giving yourself the permission to be good to yourself, put love in all that you do and be at peace with all of who you are and embrace loving thoughts about yourself this is really the depth and breath of what Ahimsa means. Practice this, acknowledge negative thoughts you have about yourself and then push them away and tell yourself you are radiant, strong, loving and enough. And then move, make room internally to clear out, breathe and flow.

Dance like no one is watching, 
Love like you've never been hurt,
Sing like no one is listening.

We know it well but do we do it, really indulge the senses? Do it! Just get up and do it! You have no idea how brilliant it makes one glow from the inside out.

This week on the menu in our alkaline kitchen to give you all the energy needed to maintain your practice, your intention..

Arctic Char, bagna cauda radicchio quinoa salad
serves 4

4 pieces or one long loin wild caught Arctic Char 
Lemon zest, pepper, salt, turmeric, parsley, garlic,
1 Avocado
15-20 Snow pea pods
1 head radicchio
2 anchovies
3 cloves garlic
Olive oil
1 cup quinoa
wasabi paste
mayonaise or veganaise

Dry rub the Arctic Char with the herbs salt and pepper that have been minced, set aside for an hour.
Cook the quinoa accordingly using vegetable broth and set aside.
Bagna cauda preparation:
Slice the three garlic cloves and open the anchovies. Some recipes say to wash the anchovies in red wine, so if you choose simply lay the 2 anchovies in a small dish cover with red wine and let sit for 10 min or so.
After saute' garlic and drained anchovies in olive oil until the garlic softens and anchovies disintegrate creating a homogenous mix of the two. Some will actually puree' this mix, it's not a bad idea if you're concerned about texture.

Julienne your radicchio and saute' in olive oil until just wilted.
At this point you can toss your quinoa and radicchio together in a a separate bowl and add the bagna cauda, remember it is both salty and garlicky so you be the judge of how much or how little to add for your taste.

Broil the Arctic Char, line a baking tray with parchment, add a touch of water, or white wine so as not to dry out this delicate fish. Broil on the second rack until just a bit of white starts to form at the edges, this is the fish letting you know it's just about done, let sit on the tray out of the oven to rest while composing your plate. It is a thinner fish than Salmon cooking times will vary but roughly 10-15 minutes.

Blanch your snow pea pods, quickly in and out of about 2 inches of salted boiling water.

Mix 1 tsp wasabi with 1 tblsp mayonaise.

Now compose... one layer of snow pea pods, perch atop these your radicchio, quinoa warm salad, then your fish and two slices of avocado and dress with just a bit of your wasabi/mayonaise.

buon appetito!

Music to move to in my kitchen....

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Santosha and balance

Openness starts from within
Photo credit: Denise Guerin

Santosha means practicing contentment in all things. It is the active practice of accepting the way things are. Santosha encourages us to be satisfied with whatever each day brings, welcoming what we get.

"Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you."
-Lao tzu

This season's cold damp dark days have served as they do each year to bring growth, although each year I seem to forget that this cathartic annual process is hard, intimidating and exposing.  I turn inward, dig deep am uncomfortable, I question, doubt, try to create balance and feel like a yoyo. The human condition, the perpetual seeking for balance. It is comical to me how although each year the cycle is the same I manage to forget and stay so mired in the present that it seems that what comes next may never come, and yet it always does. This year taking on other's pain as my libran nature does became much harder to stay detached and added to the complexity of my winter months. It is critical to be aware of our own feelings and not those of other's negative energy that may surround.  Slowly with mindfulness I choose awareness.  So as the buds push forth from their protective sheaths each spring so to do I un-sheath, unfurl, reinvigorated and new. At once, I spin, un-ravel and nourish mind, body and soul.

This spring's commitment:
 30 days of wellness to start. 

Yoga everyday.

The effort that is put in is the result that comes is not the perfection of the posture as much as it is the effort and the consistency that lead to the eventual mastery of what yoga as a holistic practice has to offer each of us. This practice that has become such a mainstream exercise is often practiced for it's physical benefits and circus like flexibility it can offer, but it is much more holistic addressing spiritual, physical and emotional balance and mindfulness. It is important to know that each yoga class is not treated equally, it is critical to research your teacher and studio. There are many forms of yoga, hatha, vinyasa, Bikram, Batiste, Ashtanga, Yin and so forth, as well as limbs or complimentary practices such as Qi Gong, meditation, tai chi and reiki. Before embarking on a yogic journey do your research for studios and teachers and practices that align with who you are and what you're looking for.

Pure food.

"bright eyes"

I don't mean a detox cleanse I mean back on my apple cart that this winter had pushed me off. We tend to eat for comfort, stews, starches and meats when we are cold, this is not the ideal diet for the body's digestion and absorption. There is a balance for all, hearty warming dishes do more for the soul than the body but sometimes this is just as necessary to pay attention to so listen to your body. I laugh every time I hear how kale has made such an impact on "health minded" individuals that people are suffering from the ramifications of too much of a good thing. Kale is high in thallium, not by any means the only veggie that is but the rule of thumb is everything in moderation, two bunches of kale a week are perfectly fine, two a day is overkill. Vary your veggies, just be conscious of your choices being well rounded.
My aunt once said to me to be healthy one must eat the rainbow, hah! So with this in mind, my shopping cart is colorful, each ingredient serving a purpose to purify, stimulate blood flow and production and always reduce inflammation as I strive to maintain an Alkaline body. Breakfast starts with high powered antioxidant organic fruits and veggies, juicer and Vitamix are necessary.
One of my favorites (pictured above):

Bright Eyes

juice of three carrots, two lemons, two oranges (eye brightener and antioxidant super C)
in the blender pour your juices and add
celery two stalks (anti-inflammatory)
one fist of cilantro  (anti-inflammatory)
a slice of fresh ginger( antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory) 
maca and lucuma powders 1tsp each. (energy and sweetener)
1 tbsp chia seed (fiber)
1tbsp turmeric (accented importantly by a dash of white pepper to activate it) (anti-inflammatory)

Feast for the senses.

 I'm an open conduit after the winter, awake and inspired. Find yours, my inspiration is dance, cooking and new music. Often one can see me dancing across my floor to ceiling windows that face our lake and taking breaks to taste a dish, attend to balancing the flavors or kiss a kid.
I love asking new people what they are listening to, love to see what musical tastes look like. Recently I had the pleasure of actually adding one of these new finds to my own music library, I'm all about sharing so have a listen:

From this tangled web we call life,  we choose to create our reality be it harmony, beauty, love. It is the knitting together of all that we do that makes us individuals. We are all part of a whole but each unique, each with a distinctly different voice informed by our past and our present informed too by our connections to each other. Be mindful of where you are in the universe, and that we are the sum of many not just the one.

Love and light...

Next blog....luscious lunch and beauty regime to erase winter cold and dry!