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coconut curry quinoa + 5 ways to cook quinoa
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Weeknight mealtimes have been sort of iffy lately. Most times,  I manage to plan ahead for my evening meal.  Sometimes, I just wing it with what's in the fridge and pantry. Since quinoa is something I always have on hand, it makes frequent appearances alongside or underneath whatever else I've cooked. Occasionally though, I like to give the little grain some more attention. You know, zhoozh it up a bit so it doesn't always fade into the background. Here's one of my favorite ways:

Coconut-Curry Quinoa

makes about 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups quinoa (I like to use a combo of regular and black quinoa)
  • small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • roma tomato, chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 - 1 Tbsp of curry powder (vary amount according to your tastes)
  • small can of coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
In a pot, heat olive oil. Saute onions and red bell pepper for a few minutes until onions are tender. Add tomato and curry powder and stir to combine. Add the quinoa and stir well.  Add coconut milk and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, then cover and lower heat to simmer. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.
Here, I served coconut-curry quinoa with some Thai-flavored roasted 'shrooms and lemony roasted Brussels sprouts for a Meatless Monday meal:
Since I do use quinoa a lot, sometimes I'll cook up a big batch at the beginning of the week, and use it throughout the week in different ways. Here are some simple suggestions for using cooked quinoa creatively:

5 Ways to Use Cooked Quinoa:

  1. Quinoa mac-and-cheese - A more protein-packed version of the classic dish. I use the quinoa mac-and-cheese recipe from Moni's Meals as a guideline.
  2. Quinoa stir fry - Stir fry peas, diced carrots, diced green onions, and any other veggies you like with crushed garlic and ginger. Toss in cooked quinoa, soy sauce, and sesame oil.
  3. Quinoa salad - Toss cooked quinoa with diced cucumber, tomatoes, fresh basil, feta cheese, and a vinaigrette. Add more veggies and salad fixings as you like.
  4. Quinoa cakes - Mix cooked quinoa with beaten egg, minced shallots, and grated parmesan cheese. Shape into small cakes and pan-fry. Serve as a snack or appetizer.
  5. Quinoa burgers - Mix cooked quinoa with ground beef or turkey, egg, and seasonings. Shape into burger-sized patties and cook as you would cook burgers. It's a nice way to add a little whole grain to your meal.

 

cheers,

k

top photo: Quinoa with Chickpeas, Curry, and Lime

what i wish i could tell you about natural hair
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what i wish i could say

Having been natural for ~15 years, I often find myself being treated as something of a nappy hair ambassador by my fellow brown girls who’ve decided to embrace their kinks, coils, and curls.  While I love sharing my experiences on damned near anything to damned near anyone who’ll listen, some of the questions and stories I get from ladies who are either considering transitioning to natural or who’ve recently made the transition often leave me scratching my head (yes, pun intended). Usually, I downplay my befuddlement, and try to provide as much meaningful info as I can in as supportive a manner as possible, but I often I wish I could tell them what’s really going on underneath my naps.

 

What I Wish I Could Tell You… But Can’t.

Your boyfriend/husband/significant other/potential suitors won’t be turned off by it.

My telling you that would require me to presume that you’re not the type who picks douchebag guys to begin with. Since I can’t assume that, I can’t assure you that some douchebag guy isn’t gonna try to  make you feel like you’re less attractive or desirable without a chemical relaxer, straightening comb or weave. Yes, guys have preferences on skin color, hair styles, and body parts just like women do. And most of the times, the person that we guys and girls end up loving isn’t the person who meets all of our physical ideals – it’s the person who is worth investing time and energy into because they bring a wealth of positive, non-physical qualities to the relationship. So, if changing your hairstyle or texture is enough to send your beau into the arms of another, or to have him stop showing you affection or giving you compliments, then your relationship probably wasn’t as solid as you imagined it was anyway. Simply put, real love is hairstyle-independent.

 

cat digs nappy hair

 

What products will work for your hair.

I can tell you the products I like, or the products that work for my hair. But, that doesn’t mean you’ll love them too. Same goes for relaxers or hair extensions or hair products for any other hair type. The brand that someone else swears by may not be the brand you think is best. It’s a matter of trial-and-error, experience, and personal preference based on your styling habits and grooming routines. Before going natural, I used a variety of styling products based on my evolving hair needs/wants over the years, and that concept hasn’t changed for me since going natural.

(incidentally, a little shea butter, coconut oil and a really good conditioner are enough for me about 90% of the time)

 

How you can get your hair to look like mine.

Half the time, I never know what I’m going to do with my hair until it’s done. I try different techniques and methods, and work with it until I feel like I like what I see in the mirror. Sometimes people I pass look bemused by my style du jour, and sometimes, I get something along the lines of:

See, now… I like your natural. How do you get it to do that?

Or,

I wish I could get my hair to look like that.

I never really know how to respond to that. It actually makes me feel squirmily uncomfortable when women say that to me. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that I realized why. I was in a conversation with 2 other natural-haired ladies, and one of them asked that question. The other smartly replied to the effect of… ‘the reason you go natural is because you want to wear YOUR natural hair, not someone else’s’. Wise advice, I thought. I think it’s nice to be inspired by other people’s hairstyles, but you have to make them your own. Wearing a natural hairstyle sort of implies that you’re ok with embracing your natural self, not trying to completely copy someone else’s natural self.

 

How you can be more comfortable with the decision to go natural.

This one baffles me. If you’re not comfortable with it, why the hell are you even considering it!? There’s no law requiring every black woman on Earth to wear her hair natural. There’s no shame in wearing your hair straight or long or any other way you want to wear it. So why are you trying so hard to convince yourself that you should do this? If the thought of wearing your hair a certain way makes you feel skittish, or scared, or irritated, or weepy, here’s an idea: stop thinking about it. Oh, I see. You can’t. Cuz being natural is what’s hot in the streets right now? Carry on, then.

difficult decision

 

What I CAN Tell You:

 

Hair typing is for suckas.

Of all the natural hair hype out there today, hair typing is the one that pisses me off most. In case you haven’t heard of it, hair typing is a number- and letter- based system of classifying hair curl patterns. What irks me about it is that it really serves no purpose other than to force women to try and put their hair into neat little boxes or categories, or to make them wish they had hair type 1A instead of 9F (or whatever the hell). Hair typing really doesn’t even do much good in helping you decide which hair products you can use (as this article explains, there are so many other factors that come into play). And to further confuse things, there’s so much disagreement and debate about whose hair is what type that it’s often the subject of heated debates. To me, the whole hair typing neurosis smacks of the antiquated idea of good/bad hair. And yet, all over the interwebs I still see women touting their ‘hair type’ like some type of kinky ID card. Ridiculous. In my opinion, there are really only 2 hair types – the type of hair that ‘stands up’ even when it’s wet, and the type of hair that ‘lays down’ even when it’s dry. Marinate on that for a minute.

hair typing hype

 

It’s not for everyone. Nor is it for ever.

natural hair mafiaI’m not one of these natural hair Nazis that thinks that if you don’t wear your hair natural, you’re a sell-out or self-loathing (unless you ARE a sell-out or self-loathing). Hair is a matter of self-expression. If that’s not how you want to express yourself, so be it. If you want to express yourself that way now, but decide on a different form of self-expression later, go right on ‘head. I like to mix it up myself, and for that reason I have 2-3 wigs that I put into service for special occasions, or whenever I feel like totally changing my look for a day or two with very minimal effort.

 

It’s a relationship.

Natural hair is the kinda thing you’ll probably be into if you’re into that kinda thing. There will be good days, there will be bad days. There will headwrap days and ‘hot damn I’m smokin’’ days. You will have to learn what you can and can’t do with your hair based on the weather, your skills, or your time constraints. Your hair will let you know if you aren’t treating it or yourself right. And as a result, you’ll develop a relationship with your hair. No, that doesn’t mean you’ll go out on dates with it or make out in the corner with it, but… you may find yourself stroking it quite often and getting a great deal of pleasure out of it. :)

cheers,

k

photo: Nappy Hair by shekouvillage, on Flickr

photo:IMG_1362 by Sasquatch I, on Flick

photo: Hair Type Hype, courtesy of sisterswithbeauty.com

photo: Nappy Mafia, courtesy of Zedhair.com

summer travel: 3 travel junkies share their travel philosophies
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I’m starting to get that itch again. The travel itch. I find myself perusing travel sites multiple times a day to see what specials or discounts are being offered. I stare enviously at other folks’ online photos of their recent trips. I refresh my mental inventory of friends across the globe… “Who do I know that lives in (insert faraway city here)? Wonder if they’ll let me crash in their spare bedroom?”

I know I’m no exception. It seems most everyone I know is stricken with travel fever during summer. But some folks have that fever all year long. They are travel junkies, so to speak.

Since my budget and current work schedule are severely limiting my ability to scratch my travel itch, I thought I’d live vicariously through 3 travel junkies whose unique travel styles seem to reflect their attitudes toward life in general.

 

Travel Junkie # 1: Rue Mapp

Rue is the founder and Chief Outdoor Enthusiast of Outdoor Afro – a nationwide community of Black nature lovers. Growing up between urban Oakland and a northern California ranch, she developed an early love for outdoor activities like hiking, camping, fishing and hunting. Through Outdoor Afro, she fosters local communities of Black outdoor adventure seekers, and creates events that encourages them to reconnect with nature.

How would you describe your travel personality?

I am a nature historian. I connect with land not only because of its beauty and potential, but also by relating to connected people, culture, and ecology.

 

What is your favorite summer vacation spot?   

Any place near a lake! I particularly enjoy going to Buck's Lake in Northern California each year as part of our annual family camping trip.

 

What are your favorite online tools for traveling / travel planning (e.g., couchsurfing, AirB&B, Kayak, etc.)?

I prefer to just put the word out in my personal network, or via Outdoor Afro, which I founded and manage. I trust people to share with me based on something they already know about me and what I care about.

 

How many countries have you visited?

Just 3 - although I am quite the Americanist!

outdoor-afro-logo

Any other thoughts on travel?

One goal I have is to go to Brazil with my three children before they are grown - so any leads/tips to make this happen would be appreciated!

Visit the Outdoor Afro website

Follow Outdoor Afro on Facebook

 

Travel Junkie # 2: Walter Allen

Walter is a good friend of mine who really knows how to blend business with pleasure. His job takes him out of town and out of the country quite often, and he takes advantage of the opportunity to do and see more, either by extending work trips to do some personal sightseeing, or by using all that mileage he’s racked up to chart his own course to adventure. We joked recently that he’ll probably spend a good portion of his summer checking in at Hartsfield-Jackson airport here in Atlanta.

How would you describe your travel personality?

I am the laid back, do what you want to, when you want to type of traveler.  I am one for new cultures and adventures as well.  I take the "try it once" approach to traveling!

 

What is your favorite summer vacation spot?

With me having a "try it once" approach to traveling, I can't say that I have a favorite summer spot.  I will say that when I am traveling during the summer, I tend to look for a beach location. The beaches/locations I have enjoyed the most have been: Haulover Beach in North Miami, Canary Islands, Cayman Islands, and Santos, Brazil.

 

What are your favorite online tools for traveling / travel planning (e.g., couchsurfing, AirB&B, Kayak, etc.)?

Delta.com, Hotels.com, Expedia.com, Orbitz.com, islandhideaways.com

 

How many countries have you visited?

12+

 

Travel Junkie # 3: Greg Gross

Greg is not only a travel junkie, he’s also a travel evangelist. His mission? “To encourage all Americans, especially Americans of color, to see more of the world.” He spreads his gospel via his personal blog, I’m Black and I Travel!, which is a blend of Greg’s personal travel accounts and his insightful commentary on destinations and experiences of interest to travelers of color. Both his travel and writing styles are intriguing, as evidenced by his winning the title of ‘Best Travel Blog’ in the 2011 Black Weblog Awards.

How would you describe your travel personality?

My travel personality is eclectic. I'm equally comfortable in a 5-star hotel, a cruise ship, an all-inclusive resort or a sleeping bag in a tube tent strung between two trees. Lively metropolis or peaceful forest. Group tours or independent travel. I'm fine with all of it.

 

What is your favorite summer vacation spot?   

Only one?  In that case, I'll say San Francisco, followed VERY closely by Vancouver.

 

What are your favorite online tools for traveling / travel planning (e.g., couchsurfing, AirB&B, Kayak, etc.)?

I've learned not to have favorites when it comes to online travel planning. The field changes constantly. I use what works best for me on a given day. Over the years, I've had success with Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, Hotwire, Priceline, Kayak, CheapoAir, Momondo and Dohop.

 

How many countries have you visited?

20

Any other thoughts on travel?

These days, my travel is no longer confined to summers. I may go anywhere at any time. But for me, the ideal summer travel is one that gives me everything I'm looking for in a destination, but with a minimum of crowds. Not easy to find! But then, what's life without a challenge, right?

Visit Greg’s blog: I’m Black and I Travel!

Follow I’m Black and I Travel! on Facebook

 

cheers,

k

photo: "Where I've Never Been"- graphic illustration available for purchase from 3LambsIllustration on Etsy

the summer fling - how to find one and work it like a pro
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Nothing says summer like a hot, steamy, and ultimately temporary romantic escapade. As youngsters, it was relatively easy to find a summer fling. Your parents would ship you off to summer camp or a multi-week stay with distant relatives, and before you knew it, you'd hooked up with a cute guy or gal who you clung to with all the intensity of someone who knew they had a limited-time offer on their hands. But, that was then. Now that you're all growed-up, it can be downright difficult to find a casual companion to spend the sweltering summer months with. Never fear, Dear Reader. These tips should help.

 

Show Some Skin.

This doesn't imply that you should go for the plungiest neckline or the shortest shorts you own. Skin-showing is an art that, if done poorly, can be more offensive than it is attractive. Some smart ways to show skin? Put your hair into a easy updo to show off the nape of your neck. If you're a jeans-everyday kinda guy or gal, work in some shoulder- or ankle-revealing sundresses or seersucker pants. And, if you've got a beach-ready body, by all means, break out your bikini and hit the pool or sand to soak up some rays (and Bobs, and Davids, and Erics...)!

If you want to practice your skin-showing (or viewing) skills, might I suggest:

Elevate - the weekly summer pool party at the W Atlanta Downtown, hosted by DJ Mike Zarin. Starts June 24.

 

Ditch Your Pals (Occasionally).

If you're always surrounded by people you know, you'll be less likely  to encounter someone you don't know. Leave the pack behind occasionally and go solo for a spell.  Great places for solo outings? Coffee shops. Meetups. Conferences / conventions. Wine / beer tastings. Dog parks (but only if you have a dog, otherwise it's just... weird.) And even the bar/lounge of your favorite restaurant or hotel. If you're bold enough, try a solo vacation (the growed-up equivalent of summer camp). Or if you're the shy type, volunteer events offer a great, low-pressure way to meet people while not being totally self-serving. 

Might I suggest: United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta's Day of Action - June 21

 

Go With a Group

Only stalkers and serial killers are solo 100% of the time. There are definite times /places that are ideal for being with a group of friends, and also being accessible to meeting a special new friend. These include:  festivals, backyard BBQs, and club meetings.

Might I Suggest: Life’s a Fish and Then You Fry - the ultimate summer fish fry complete with fireworks, waterslide and live music. I believe there will also be fish. :) - July 7

 

Work the Right Props.

With all the skin-showing, sweating, and crowds, how ever will you catch the eye of a potential fling? With the right summer 'prop', you can make yourself stand out and catch the eye of someone who's eye is worth catching. Some simple summer props include: a popsicle, an ice cream cone, a saucy summer hat, a cube of ice. My personal favorite summer prop, however, is the hand fan. It's not only eye-catching, it's quite practical

Might I Suggest:

FancyHand Fans on Etsy

Olele - handcrafted Spanish hand fans

 

Get Back to Nature.

Even with the right props, there can still be a lot of competition that makes snagging a summer cutie that much more difficult. One way to solve the over-crowding issue? Get away from the singles scene and answer the call of the wild.

Might I Suggest: Raft. Hike. Camp. - a weekend excursion including whitewater rafting, hiking, and camping near the GA/TN border - July 14-15.

 

Cast Your Line.

Yes! So you finally got that cutie to look your way and engage in some flirty banter with you. So, how do you seal the deal? Perhaps the best way is to say something along the lines of: 'I typically do (totally interesting thing I like doing) alone, but it would be really nice to have an activity partner. Could I call you the next time I'm doing (totally interesting thing I like doing)?' Or, if that doesn't suit your style, maybe one of these 'best pickup lines' from Jezebel would work.

 

A Final Word of Advice.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember when scouting a summer fling is to be absolutely clear and upfront about your intentions. Don't go into a fling by pretending that you're looking for something long term. And don't avoid the topic of relationships altogether. By addressing your true intentions early on, you can avoid future misunderstandings and missteps that might spoil an otherwise fabulous experience.

Once you've got your summer fling, play it cool and casual. Don't get all relationshippy. Its a fling, remember? Be adventurous, flirt like crazy, have fun, and don't completely neglect your other friends or social circles. When fall approaches, make sure you and your summer bunny start cooling things off. See him/her less. Find other things to occupy your time. But if you'd like to keep the romance going into the next season, you might simply say: 'I've really enjoyed our time this summer, got any plans for football season?'

 

cheers,

k

photo: Summer Love by Geekr, on Flickr

how to make black eyed pea salsa (inspired by crooklyn)
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crooklyn movie

Though Crooklyn is probably one of Spike Lee's lesser-known films, it's nonetheless one of my favorites. The main character of the film is Troy - a 10-year-old girl growing up in Brooklyn. Set in the early 1970s, the coming-of-age story centers around one summer where Troy encounters everything from bullying older brothers, to neighborhood dope fiends, the strange customs of Southern cousins, and tragic family loss. Even though I'm technically a child of the 80s, I was born in the 70s, so this film sparks a lot of nostalgia for me. Plus it features some very fine performances by Zelda Harris (who plays Troy), Alfre Woodard and Delroy Lindo (as Troy's parents), and a brief surprise appearance from my fairy godmother, RuPaul.

If you've seen the movie, you may remember the following comical scene involving one of Troy's brothers and his dinnertime dilemma with a plate of black-eyed peas.

When I saw this recipe for black-eyed pea salsa on The Pioneer Woman's blog, it seemed like just the right snack to go along with a viewing of Crooklyn - not only for the black-eyed pea reference, but also because salsa and summer go hand-in-hand, in my opinion.

black eyed pea salsa

This salsa would make a perfect accompaniment to grilled chicken or fish or just eaten on its own with some blue corn tortilla chips. And a big hunk of sand cake for dessert (just watch the movie, you'll get it).

 

cheers,

k

Watch Crooklyn on Amazon Instant Video OR on iTunes

View the Black-Eyed Pea Salsa recipe on Pioneer Woman

how to survive a zombie attack
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The recent flesh-eating incidents in Miami and Maryland may have you wondering. The zombie preparedness kits issued by the CDC may have you questioning. But believe me, Dear Reader, zombies are real*. They are already here. And… they’re coming to get you, Barbara. You may have even had a few run-ins with zombies already and survived those incidents based on nothing but sheer luck. Well, let me tell you, luck isn’t gonna get you to the end of the movie with all your limbs still intact. Know-how will. So, since I’d like to see you on the other side of the closing credits, I thought I’d share these 10 tips for surviving a zombie attack (aka, 10 tips for dealing with the people and situations that suck the life out of you).

 

  1. Learn How to Identify a Zombie

Aka, ‘What You Don’t Know, Might Eat You’. Some folks find it difficult to spot zombies since zombies kinda look like everybody else. But it’s actually pretty simple to identify a zombie once you know how. Zombies move very, very slowly and they stumble and stagger about without any sense of where they’re going. They always seem dazed. Everything that comes out of their mouths is either a foul, disgusting mess or incoherent babble. If you find yourself in the company of someone like this, you might be chopping it up with a zombie. No need to excuse yourself. Just bounce.

 

  1. Don’t Go Where Zombies Go

This can be difficult to adhere to, since zombies can be almost anywhere. But there are certain places that zombies seem to have particular affinities for, such as: places where there’s not a lot of intelligent life around (like graveyards and shopping malls); Dark, smelly places (like graveyards or strip clubs); and places where there are a lot of plump, slow-moving humans to feed on (like crappy Chinese-food buffets and South Florida). Try to stay clear of these places as much as possible.

 

  1. Wear Protective Gear

Even in their decaying state, zombies seem to have pretty strong choppers. They can chomp right through bone, flesh, and organs. A full-body suit of impenetrable armor probably isn’t practical, but you can minimize your risk by protecting your most vulnerable spots from suspected zombies, namely:

  • Your head / brain – brains are zombie delicacies, remember?
  • Chest/heart – without your heart, you’re useless
  • Feet / hands – the two things that will allow you to either escape or fight off a zombie

 

  1. Learn to Use a Weapon

Doesn’t matter if it’s a rifle, a pickaxe, a bow and arrow, or a slingshot. Get skilled at using something to defend yourself against the zombies when you can no longer outrun them. And the # 1 weapon you should learn to use? Your brain. It’s the one thing they’re after and the one thing you’ve got that they don’t.

 

  1. Keep a Light on You

Zombies hate fire. Make sure you always have something on you (or in you) that burns brightly enough to send them scurrying away like roaches.

 

  1. Go to a Deserted Island

Aka, ‘Go to Your Happy Place’. You ever seen a zombie swim? Me either. Find a place in the middle of a vast, deep ocean that the zombies can’t reach.

 

  1. Get a Redneck Friend

If, during your zombie-fighting adventures, you encounter someone who regularly wears a cowboy hat or boots, speaks with a Southern twang, or sounds un-self-conscious saying the word ‘y’all’, stick to that joker like white on rice. A good redneck friend can be just what you need to help you survive in zombie land. They generally know how to make do in the worst of circumstances without letting it get them down; They’ve likely been shooting and killing things since they were knee-high to a Junebug; and they’re pretty much guaranteed to have a kick-ass batch of moonshine one them, which you’re probably gonna need to take the edge off. Just be sure to make sure your redneck buddy isn’t a zombie before you ride off into the sunset together.

how-to-survive-in-zombieland

 

  1. Travel in a Group

It can get lonely in zombie land. So, if you can, find some like-minded non-zombies to keep you company. You’ve got the added benefit of safety in numbers, and you can even share strategies for zombie survival with one another. And remember, if and when the zombies attack, you don’t have to outrun the zombies, you just have to outrun your slowest friend.

 

  1. Be Ruthless

As I mentioned earlier, zombies kinda look like everybody else. In fact, a zombie could be someone you thought you knew. Sure, that re-animated corpse looks like your Great Aunt Thelma, but it’s actually a brain-eating pile of rotting flesh. The zombie apocalypse is no time for being overly sentimental. If Aunt Thelma starts trying to nibble on your brains, don’t get all weepy and start screaming, “Why Aunt Thelma? Why!!??” Do both of you a favor, and put her out of her misery.

 

  1. If All Else Fails, Blend In!

Yes, I know I said you shouldn’t go where zombies go, but in the off chance that you find yourself surrounded by them with no immediate way out, blend in. It’s pretty easy to fake like a zombie. Anybody with half a brain could do it (refer back to #1 if you’re not sure). Just be very careful with this tactic and use it only when you have no other choice. Because the longer you pretend to be a zombie, the more likely you are to end up a zombie.

 

*Of course, I don’t really believe in zombies. And neither does the CDC, in case you were wondering. But we’ve all encountered people who made you question that belief. You know them. People who drain your energy, people who’d chew you up and spit you out and think nothing of it, or just people who seem to be wandering aimlessly about in life without a thought for you or even for themselves. It helps to have some strategies for dealing with those kinds of people or situations, and I hope this tongue-in-cheek list of tips not only gave you something to laugh at, but also something to think about.

 

Also – If you’re looking for a little break from zombies, I’m helping to coordinate a ‘get away from it all’ trip next month in the great outdoors. There will be rafting (no zombies in the water), hiking and camping (essential redneck stuff), and of course, a campfire (zombies hate fire). You should check it out.

cheers,

k

photo: Zombie Barbies by niallkennedy, on Flickr

photo: zombie-warning by This is Awkward, on Flickr

amuse bouche: how to live an umami life
umami-diagram.gif

umami diagram Umami, the so-called 5th taste, is described as savory, meaty, mouth-watering. Umami taste sensors are said to be in the center of the palate, surrounded by the other 4 taste sensors for salty, sweet, sour, and bitter.

Which makes me wonder: Maybe the savory life so many of us crave can only be attained by balancing the salty, sweet, sour, and bitter aspects of living?


 

umami life

i am sick of the cold, metallic taste of unwarranted fear in my mouth. i spit it out in favor of a hot-blooded, adrenaline-spiced passion. a flavor that never fails to make my mouth water

cheers,

k

how to celebrate your birthday
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birthday traditions and games

 

Everybody knows somebody who absolutely hates the holidays.

"Oh, I don't celebrate (insert holiday here). It's just made-up, anyway."

"Everything's just gotten so commercial!"

"It's just an excuse for a bunch of drunk crazies to go out and cause mayhem."

No doubt you've heard a similar statement from one of your friends or associates about a holiday they hate.

What probably pisses you off more than having to hear that person go on and on about why they hate said holiday, is the fact that they're usually kinda right.

Most holidays are either:

  • such a mishmash of different religions, cultural traditions, hearsay, and poor recordkeeping, that they bear little resemblance to the actual event being celebrated,

(see also: How December 25 became Jesus' birthday)

  • a reason for retail establishments to whip you into a frenzy so you feel compelled to spend more,

holiday birthday traditions

  • or, an excuse for a bunch of drunk crazies to go out and cause mayhem.

So, I've decided that the only true holiday, the only one that you can pretty much guarantee is accurate and as commercial-free as you want it to be, is... your birthday. Actually, your birthday is the only holiday that matters, since without it, those other ones wouldn't really mean much to you, now would they?

Plus, birthdays have one major advantage over other holidays. You call the shots. There are no trite traditions you absolutely have to follow, no obligatory rituals, no excessive spending required. Of course, if you're into those things, that's ok too. It's your birthday.

As I wrap up my personal holiday season, I thought I'd share some of my favorite birthday traditions:

Walking Down Memory Lane

Most of my pictures and mementos spend their lives thrown in a box tucked way back in the closet. Birthdays are a good excuse to get them out, whether just to reminisce or to use as party decor like this:

and this:

birthday decor picture tree

A Day Off

It should be considered a sin to work on your birthday. I can only remember one birthday that I spent at work, and I'll never do it again. It's nice to have my entire birthday to spend exactly as I see fit, even if it's just sitting at home and watching some of my favorite movies.

 

Travel

Travel - especially to some place you've never been before - keeps you young. I like to go to a new place every year. When I step off of the plane into a location I've never visited, I see the world with fresh eyes. I have to get my bearings and learn the language. I taste foods I've never had before and make new friends. All it takes is a birthday trip for me to be a baby all over again. Some of my favorite birthday trips:

Riviera Maya

London

Mom's Birthday Trip to Panama

 

A House Party

I have many different circles of friends that would probably never intersect on their own. A house party is the perfect excuse to bring them all together in one place (with some music and adult beverages) and watch what happens.

 

Birthday Games

Nothing beats a good birthday game. Once you've got those different circles of friends at your house with a couple of drinks in them, why not do something with them? Some of may favorite birthday games have been: Birthday Girl Trivia, Battle of the Sexes, and Finish that Line (the hip-hop edition).

 

Gift Giving

Receiving gifts is always nice, but giving a gift feels just as good, if not better. I'm all for selfish selflessness, so when a friend shared his tradition of giving a gift to someone else on your birthday, I thought it was a tradition worth adopting.

How do you celebrate your personal holiday? Do you have any favorite birthday traditions?

cheers,

k

how to live happily ever after
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I saw a funny-but-true statement on the internet the other day. It went:

Question: What’s the difference between a Northern fairy tale and a Southern fairy tale?

A Northern fairy tale begins with, “Once upon a time…”.

A Southern fairy tale begins with “Y’all ain’t gonna believe this sh*t!”

Well, y’all ain’t gonna believe this sh*t, but… I think I’ve discovered the secret. You know, the big one. The one everyone searches to find from the minute they realize that life is a search to find something.

I’ve discovered the secret to living happily ever after.

Ok, ok. So I didn’t really discover it, I just borrowed it from this guy named Kierkegaard. But hey, if Christopher Columbus can say he discovered America….

Wait a minute, Kisha. Who’s this Kierkegaard guy, and what’s he all about?

Oh. Sorry. I’m getting ahead of myself.

soren kierkegaard

Well, to keep it brief, Soren Kierkegaard was a 19th century Danish philosopher (apparently back in the good ol’ days when philosopher was actually a valid job title). In his book ‘Either / Or’, he explains this idea that one has to progress through 3 stages on the way to becoming one’s true self (aka, living happily ever after).

Here’s my summary:

Aesthetics (Love of Pleasure) – The First Stage

In this stage, one is concerned with maximizing pleasurable sensory experiences. Music, food, drinking, sex, travel, art, poetry, pleasurable memories, and the like. Even the anticipation of pleasure is maximized by someone in this stage. The primary purpose of this pleasure-seeking is to combat boredom. But since pleasure is usually temporary, the person at this stage is constantly pursuing the next pleasure to battle the boredom that always returns.

 

Ethics (Love of Others) – The Second Stage

At this stage, one is concerned with how his actions affect others. Instead of being driven by self-pleasure or personal gain, the ethical person is driven by pleasing others, adhering to a certain set of social principles, and doing things for the good of society as a whole.  The ethical person is in a constant battle with anxiety – the anxiety of not being good enough, or not being accepted by society.

 

Religion (Love of God) - The Third Stage

In this stage – which Kierkegaard considered the highest plane – one is concerned with her personal, spiritual quest, or her personal relationship with God above all else. Unfortunately, very few reach this stage because of the distraction of large-scale religion which discourages personal relationship with God, and encourages being ‘falsely religious’ by adhering to one-size-fits-all doctrines. The person at this stage battles the despair of trying to live an authentic, spiritual life in a religious world.

Kierkegaard proposed an either / or approach – that is, you either dedicate your life to love of pleasure, love of others, or love of God. But instead of either / or, why not ‘all of the above’?

You see, living happily ever after means you get to have it all. You don’t have to choose between one way of living or another. It’s your fairy tale. You own everything!

you own everything

 

In my opinion, to live happily ever after you have to find a way to balance all 3 of these loves. Thinking and living in terms of ‘either/or’ will almost certainly lead to a life of excess or imbalance. With the either / or mentality, something will always be lacking, missing, or given up. So, how can you start to move from 'either/or' to 'all of the above'?

The Path to Happily Ever After

Appreciate More – Or, exercise your 'pleasure muscle'. Instead of pursuing or chasing pleasure, derive pleasure from more and more things – even the simplest things. This will likely require a shift in perception, maybe even a slowing down. Instead of rushing through traffic or hurriedly gobbling down a meal, or speeding through your household chores, take time to savor something about every moment you experience. The more you do this, the more you’ll realize that pleasure isn’t something that has to be chased down, it’s something that has to be tuned into.

 

Give More – Now, I want to be clear here. I’m not necessarily suggesting that you sign up for another committee to save the world or keep going out of your way to be all helpful and savior-ish to everyone you know. On the contrary, I think many people (especially women, since we are often trained to be over-givers) should be more conservative with how much of themselves they’re giving away and who they’re giving it to. What I’m talking about here is giving more of the things that you have – whether they be material things or abstract things. Give more compliments, give away more credit (even if you did the work), give away more ideas, give away more of your belongings. Remember, you own everything, so why should you be so concerned with clinging so tightly to it all?

 

Meditate More - It takes a tremendous amount of energy to just sit still and shut the hell up. To calm your brain, cancel-out all the inputs and just be in silence (not even in deep thought). If you’ve ever tried meditating, you probably know that even seemingly harmless, little itty-bitty thoughts can quickly balloon into monstrous distractions.

stay puft marshmallow man

By meditating more, you develop the discipline and strength you need to find God or your spiritual center even in the midst of all the distractions that life presents. Imagine More – Or, exercise your 'faith muscle'. Imagining is a way of reminding yourself that everything is possible. Even the seemingly absurd. Many of us SAY that God is the source from which all good things flow or that the universe is abundant and overflowing. But the way we ACT is that God or the universe is judgmental, demanding, and always ready to punish. The reality is YOU’re the one doing the punishing, the demanding, and the judging by believing you’re not worthy of good things, or by not having faith in the idea that almost anything you think of, can happen in real life. Think of it this way, whenever you  present something to God (or the universe, or whatever you choose to call it) the answer is always yes. If you continually present ideas that affirm negative thoughts about you and the world around you, the answer will be, “yes”. Whatever you focus your mind on has a way of materializing. So instead of using your mind to focus on the negative, dedicate time to imagining the best possible things you can, and watch for the “yeses” to roll in.

as you wish

cheers, k

readers' comments on health and good living
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I really had no idea what kind of response I would get when I shared the story about my health concerns and my personal health manifesto. When experiencing a life event like this, it's easy to think you're the only one who has gone or is going through it. But I was pleasantly surprised, encouraged and occasionally moved to tears by the comments that came from friends, neighbors, and readers of this blog. Not only did these folks send words of support for my journey, many were kind and bold enough to share stories of their own health challenges.

I was so moved by them, that I asked if it would be ok if I shared a few of them with you here.

from Kimberly: "Your story kind of sounds like mine. About a year ago now, I was diagnosed with abnormally high cholesterol which threw me for a loop because there was nothing else going on with me in terms of my vitals. My doc and I went through my diet and came to the conclusion that much of it was attributable to stress (I *really* hated my job). She didn't prescribe meds (first time high cholesterol and too young), but she did ask me to monitor very carefully my diet and get rid of the stress.  To make the story very short, fast forward to January of this year, I decided to change my diet to a plant-based, low-fat diet (essentially vegan).  I never felt unhealthy before, but in these three short months, I know the change has brought about renewed energy and my body now feels really great. Admittedly, I haven't recently had my cholesterol checked, but I know leaving the classroom and changing my diet have worked for the best."

"I know you're highly knowledgable on issues of food, health and related things, but I've found docs such as Esselstyn, Joel Furhman, T. Colin Campbell and others helpful as they all attest to and celebrate a plant-based diet and its power to heal the body of many "food-borne" illnesses (e.g., high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease) naturally. They've been in several documentaries (maybe a little biased) promoting their findings, including the most recent Fork over Knives...."

(sidenote: I watched Forks Over Knives the day after I received Kimberly's message. I agree with her comments, and definitely recommend the film.)

 

from Melanie: "We are SO in the same space and place!!! I have been in a battle with HBP (high blood pressure) for years and I am determined to win. If you need info or perspective let me know - I am willing to share."

 

from John: "I recently listened to the old folks talk about the diet they had growing up. Meat but not a lot of it, plenty of veggies, rice, peas, and taters. I have been giving it a try along with some modest exercise, good things have been happening. The point is it works for me, lifestyle changes have to work for you, find activities you like and it won't feel like exercise. Best of luck to you K Solo, and if you want to go on a bike ride sometimes, I have an extra bike."

(sidenote: I am now the proud new owner of a bike - my first since childhood!)

from Rhonda:

This is a wonderful, honest account of your experience. I also have high blood pressure - and take care of it through a lifestyle approach. Best of luck to you in this journey, my friend! You are far too special to leave us anytime soon....

(sidenote: Rhonda and I have been FB friends for a while now. Though she lives in Canada, we've found we have a lot in common via the thoughts and messages we share on FB. I knew Rhonda was in the health/wellness business, but had assumed she was a trainer for serious athletic types only. Boy, was I wrong. Turns out, Rhonda does work with serious athletic types, but she also works with regular ol' folks like me. I asked her to share a little bit about her amazing business, so I could share with you.)

Satori Concepts helps individuals realize a myriad of health and fitness goals using a holistic, lifestyle-based approach. Over recent years, the health industry has become more and more about “thin” than about good health. My organization focuses on a healthy body image, awareness of media messages, and most importantly, what good health “feels/looks” like. Clients follow a health-first path towards the realization of their individual goals – whether that is to become a competitive athlete, or to have more energy to play with their children. We always consider the question, “Will this approach contribute to your overall best physical/emotional/mental fitness?” before all else, which is not always easy in a world that sells us on quick fixes and unrealistic role models. Through the magic of technology, I am able to offer services that reach far beyond my little office/fitness studio here in Calgary, Canada. Clients receive ongoing contact and training with me via methods that accommodate their own identified learning and motivation needs, in addition to receiving daily contact with me in their venue of choice. Additionally, being a client with my organization means that you will experience networking and mentorship with other clients. So much to tell…and we are just getting started.

I highly recommend that you check out the Satori Concepts website and 'Like' Satori Concepts on Facebook - you will not be disappointed!

If you're experiencing a health challenge or are feeling lost or alone in your journey to better health, feel free to share your story as well, or if you're looking for more resources on healthy living and eating, reach out for suggestions. Leave a note in the comments or send an email to: health (at) bonvivantonline (dot) com.

cheers,

k

how to cook with mushroooms - 3 recipes
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meatless-mushroom-recipes I find that the mushroom is one of those food items that people either love or hate. Admittedly, mushrooms are a bit… creepy. I mean, after all, a mushroom is technically neither plant, nor mineral, nor vegetable, but a (gulp) fungus. And even though I fall in the ‘love ‘em’ camp, I can’t deny occasionally feeling just a bit weirded out – yet still strangely fascinated – by them. If you fall in the hate ‘em camp, I doubt I can do anything to convince you otherwise, but if you’re teetering somewhere on the edge of either camp, maybe these mushroom facts will sway you.

meatless_monday_logoFor the past few months, we’ve been doing Meatless Mondays at my house, and mushrooms have often played a starring role in dishes where we’d normally feature meat. The benefits of using mushrooms as a meat replacement are seemingly endless: they’re cheaper, cook faster, have no cholesterol, very little fat and sodium, and are chock-full of essential nutrients like potassium, selenium, and B vitamins. All of which makes the mushroom quite magical in my eyes.

Here are some of my favorite mushroom recipes:

Mushroom Quinoa Risotto (from Bon Appetit)

In this recipe, portabella and shiitake mushrooms are paired with so-called superfood quinoa (keen-wah) to create a much lighter, healthier version of a traditional risotto. It still has the rich-tasting, heartiness of risotto without the guilt or the lengthy, labor-intensive preparation, which makes it an ideal candidate for a weeknight dinner. You must try this.

 

Fried Parmesan ‘Shrooms over Tomato Sauce

(inspired by Lunacy Black Market)

One of the dishes I always order from my favorite Atlanta restaurant is roasted mushrooms w/crushed tomato sauce. The savory, umami flavor of the ‘shrooms and the tangy tomato sauce are enough to make my mouth water at the mere mention of the dish. When doing my own home-based version of the dish, I alternate between roasting the ‘shrooms or frying them as detailed below. This is a regular go-to dish for weekday dinners when I want to be in and out of the kitchen in less than 30 minutes.

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

4-5 roma tomatoes, chopped (you could also sub ~20 grape tomatoes)

1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 shallot or small onion, chopped (optional)

Dried basil

Portabella mushrooms, washed, de-gilled and sliced into thick 1”slices (you can also buy them pre-sliced to save time)

1-2 eggs

Bread crumbs

Olive or canola oil

Grated parmesan cheese

For tomato sauce:  Add a swirl of olive oil to a pot. Heat on medium-high. Add chopped garlic and shallots and sauté for 3-4 minutes, being careful not to brown garlic. Add basil and sauté for another minute. Add tomatoes. Cover pot with a lid, lower heat to medium or medium-low and let the mixture simmer rapidly for about 15-20 minutes, or until tomatoes start to break down. Stir occasionally and mash tomatoes so that they meld with the other ingredients. You want to end up with a chunky sauce. Salt and pepper to taste, then remove from heat.

For mushrooms: Beat egg well in a bowl and place mushrooms in bowl. Toss mushrooms well to coat with egg. Place bread crumbs in a small paper or plastic bag. Add egg-coated mushrooms to bag and shake well to coat with breadcrumbs. Add enough oil to pan to cover bottom of – about 2-3 Tbsp – or if you prefer, you can use more oil to deep-fry mushrooms. Heat oil on medium-high. When oil is hot, add mushrooms one at a time, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Cook until mushrooms are golden brown on one side, then flip and cook until golden brown on the other side. Remove and drain on paper towel. Sprinkle immediately with grated parmesan. Place a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce on a plate and place a few mushrooms on top of sauce. The mushrooms are also really good over a salad of dressed mixed greens, or eaten by themselves.

 

Mushroom, Goat Cheese, and Arugula Flatbread Pizza

(inspired by Wrecking Bar Brewpub)

Everybody loves pizza. Unfortunately, pizza doesn’t love everybody. Your typical pie is nothing more than a cheese mushroom-goatcheese-flatbread-pizzadelivery system, and is usually topped with fatty meats and salt-laden sauces, and bottomed with a waistline-wrecking white-flour crust. But it doesn’t have to be that way, I promise. The Wrecking Bar, a delightful little gastropub in Little Five Points, serves a version that features 3 types of mushrooms and a healthy smattering of peppery arugula. Here’s how I replicate the dish at home (or in my office toaster oven).

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

Lavash or other flatbread (preferably whole-wheat)

Goat cheese (a soft, spreadable one)

3-4 of each of the following mushrooms, chopped: oyster, shiitake, portabella or baby portabella

Handful of fresh arugula

Olive oil

Spread goat cheese onto flatbread. Evenly distribute chopped mushrooms over goat cheese, then add arugula on top. Drizzle with olive oil. Place in 400 degree oven for about 5 minutes, until arugula is wilted. Salt and pepper to taste. You could add more flavor by adding roasted garlic, pesto sauce, sundried tomatoes, or fresh herbs (basil, sage, thyme) before the pizza goes into the oven.

 

I hope these recipes encourage you to experiment with mushrooms. If you’re the really adventurous types – I recommend trying some of the more exotic varieties like porcini, shiitake, oyster, hen of the woods and enoki. The taste of those varieties is much richer and more complex than the more common white button or portabella mushrooms. And if you choose to experiment with magical mushrooms outside of the kitchen, well… that’s totally up to you. ;)

cheers,

k

photo: mushroom by tamaki, on Flickr

8 simple ways to improve health
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live-well-health-manifesto Since last year’s personal health discovery, I’ve had fits and starts with making permanent - and hopefully beneficial – changes to my lifestyle. While I’m still not 100% there, I’ve already made several small adjustments and have begun to see noticeable benefits. Those results are encouraging. They’re also evidence that I don’t have to make this ‘reclaiming health’ thing overly complicated. I just need to exercise some common sense and a little bit of commitment. Since I know that I’ll occasionally need a reminder of what it is I should be focusing on, I decided to pen my own personal health manifesto. Wanna hear it? Hear it goes….

  1. I have to be my own health advocate. A doctor is not an all-knowing source of medical wisdom. He/she is a practitioner. And practitioners of any craft are as much students as they are adepts. I have the responsibility to educate myself on my own body and conditions so that when I meet with the practitioner, I can engage in thoughtful dialogue and Q&A with him or her and challenge (respectfully) the info he/she provides. We are a team. I should not just take what is said or prescribed as Bible truth. I should use that as a launching point for further investigation, so that when I next meet with him / her, we can continue to plot a course to optimal health for me together. If my chosen practitioner is not open to this type of relationship with me, I should choose another.

 

  1. My body is itself a store of wisdom. If I quiet myself and listen, really pay attention to it, I will receive tons of clues about what might be causing dis-ease or imbalance within me. I was gifted with intuition to do this work, and I should make a conscious effort to strengthen this gift by paying attention to outward signs of inner distress or well-being. My skin, hair, nails, weight, emotions, eyes, teeth, gums, bowel movements, and menstrual periods are all readily accessible and easily observable external signs that give me clear clues as to how I am doing inside. I should not ignore these things or think of them as yucky, messy, gross, or inconsequential. I should pay attention and note any significant changes in them. I should seek out tools and reliable educational materials that allow me to accurately interpret what these changes could be saying about my overall health.

 

  1. Diet (i.e., what I put in my body as food, fuel, or sustenance) is of paramount importance. The KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) method applies here. The simpler the food, the more beneficial it is to me. The more the food looks like it did in its original state, the better it is for me. If it comes wrapped in plastic, encased in cardboard, Styrofoam, cellophane, aluminum, or glass, it is probably less beneficial than things that don’t. I should avoid those types of food as much as possible, but where I can’t or don’t want to, I should both: be very aware (by reading labels) of what extra / unnecessary / unhealthy ingredients are coming inside that package; and be sure to balance consumption of those foods with other, healthier choices. I will limit my consumption of foods prepared by strangers. It is my belief that the closer my relationship to the preparer of the food, the more likely that food is to be good (or at least not bad) for me. I will prepare my own meals as much as possible. I will plan ahead by stocking my fridge / cabinets / workspace with foods that are good for me, so I am not forced to make bad decisions due to limited options.

 

  1. ExerciseMovement is essential. Because I am not an athlete and never plan to be, nor am I a supermodel (though I could be… lol!), I refuse to become obsessed with points, pounds, number of reps, number of calories burned, miles logged, etc. My only obsession will be making time daily or at least 4 out of 7 days to get in the movement that I enjoy, that brings me pleasure, and preferably, that causes me to break a sweat. For me, this includes: dancing, gardening, stretching, dancing, swimming, hiking, biking, stretching, dancing, and stretching. Also – sex is exercise. Especially when done with a partner, and especially when done right.

 

  1. Nature is a source of regenerative energy and healing for me. Its cycles mirror my own internal cycles of birth, growth, death, and rebirth. I must dedicate time to interact with nature on a daily basis, whether by combining it with my physical activity (e.g., hiking, gardening, walking), by meditating on some aspect of nature (e.g., a tree, squirrels playing in the yard, a vase of fresh cut flowers), or incorporating nature into or acknowledging it as I go about my daily routines (e.g., taking lunch outside, touching a leaf as I pass, observing the movement of the clouds overhead).

 

  1. My mental diet is as important as my physical diet. The information and ideas I consume have a direct impact on love-your-lifethe health of my mind and emotions. I will make conscious decisions about the books and magazines I read, the websites I visit, the TV programs and movies I watch, and the conversations and friendships I enter into and foster. This does not mean that I will only consume info or ideas that I agree with, but that I will limit intake of such info that leaves me feeling distressed, anxious, uneasy, or causes an uptick of negative emotions or associations about myself, others, or the world around me.

 

  1. Vices. I like to stay up late. I like to drink. I occasionally like to smoke. I like to drive over the speed limit. I tend to stress. I recognize that none of these things are beneficial to my health, especially if done to a level of excess or overindulgence. At this point, I don’t think I can or want to eliminate any of these behaviors 100%. I accept the inherent risk I am assuming by not being able to do this, and plan to at least minimize / mitigate that risk in the following ways:
    • If I stay up late (or don’t get enough sleep) one night, I will go to bed early the following night and/or sleep in late the following morning, and/or incorporate a nap the following day or days.
    • I will not drink during the week. If I find myself at a weekday event or occasion where alcohol is a factor, I will opt for my non-alcoholic beverage of choice (grapefruit juice and tonic water).
    • I will try to limit smoking to ‘special occasions’ (e.g., 2-3 times / year). Since I’m especially tempted to smoke either when stressed or when drinking, I will ask myself these 3 questions when the temptation arises: 1) is this worth a new wrinkle? 2) is this worth an increase in blood pressure? 3) is this worth dying for?
    • When I recognize stress in myself, I will either: remove myself from the stressful situation, reframe the situation in a more positive light, or focus on my breathing (i.e., taking several deep breaths until I feel the stress is reduced or eliminated.

 

  1. I will practice self-acceptance and self-forgiveness. Not beating myself up for falling off the wagon or experiencing setbacks, but using such experiences to reflect on what caused the setback and what I need to adjust to get back on track.

Do you have any healthy reminders for yourself? How do you keep yourself on track with your health and wellness goals? cheers, k

photo: 100_2230 by echoesofstars, on Flickr

photo: Reminder... by redwood 1, on Flickr"

wake-up call: how i got real about my health
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finding-a-healthy-balance

I don’t deal with sickness well. Whenever I’m called upon to visit an ailing friend or relative, I’m the awkward person in the room. I don’t know where to look or what to say. I just feel uncomfy about the whole business and literally struck dumb.

So you can imagine how I reacted when I went in to one of those urgent care centers for a persistent sore throat almost one year ago today and the doc-in-a-box shared some unexpected news:

"Ms. Solomon, your blood pressure is extremely high."

Me to him: “Really?”

Me to self: “Well, no shit, doc. I just fought Atlanta traffic to get here after a long day of work.”

Him to me: “I don’t mean just a little high. I’m talking stroke-level high.”

Whoa. Now he’s got my attention. Stroke-level high? What the!?

“In fact”, he continued, “If your blood pressure is this high consistently, you’ll be dead by your 45th birthday.”

Gulp. Gee. Thanks, doc.

After reluctantly letting me leave(he seriously considered sending me to the ER), and reassuring me that the sore throat wasn’t an infection, the doctor advised me to monitor my blood pressure several times over the next week or so, and if it remained elevated, to go see my primary doctor.

I left, stunned. What did this mean? I mean, I’d been stressed at work recently, but… I didn’t think it was this bad. I know high blood pressure doesn’t run in my family, and though I’d put on a few pounds and treated myself out to dinner and drinks fairly regularly, I wasn’t exactly an unhealthy eater. Plus, I’d just visited my GYN 6 months ago and my blood pressure was normal. This guy’s tripping. I just need to meditate, enhance my calm, and everything will be back to normal soon.

Except… it wasn’t. I followed the boxdoc’s advice and checked my blood pressure at a nearby pharmacy a couple of days later. It was high. And when I checked again a couple of days after that, and a couple of days after that, it was still way higher than normal. Like… way.

The boxdoc’s words kept reverberating through my head, ‘Dead by 45.’

Even though I had insolently and defiantly quipped at him when I walked out of the door, “See ya on my 46th birthday,” I couldn’t deny the simple truth.

I was scared.

 

Coming to Grips

Over the next few weeks, my emotions were all over the place.

I went from a numbed state of shock: “Why is this happening to me? Is this really happening to me?”

To avoidance: “This isn’t happening. I’ll just not think about it. I mean… I don’t even feel sick.”

To morbid fatalism: “Would it really be so bad to die young and leave a good-looking corpse?”

To finally sucking it up and searching for and visiting a doctor who talked to me, let me cry, reassured me that this wasn’t the end of the world, then scheduled a few diagnostic tests and prescribed some little pills and sent me on my way.

pills-and-billsAfter the tests, which revealed no physiological abnormalities and left me with as many questions as before, I was faced with a daily regimen of pill-taking and a nice stack of medical bills. Both of which pissed me off.

It was then that I confessed to myself that if I to reduce my reliance on pills and avoid even more medical expense in the future, I’d really have to suck it up and take a long, hard look at the factors in my life that had very likely brought me to this point.

 

Skipping Breakfast

Most mornings, my breakfast routine consisted of a cup of coffee. And on a good day, two cups of coffee. After doing lots of research on the benefits of eating breakfast (namely: improved focus, weight loss, reduced risk of heart disease), I determined that this was one of the first things I’d need to change.

 

Eating Out

As a self-proclaimed bon vivant, I consider it almost a duty to try new restaurants and cuisines as often as possible. Plus, I write about food. And how can I write about it if I’m not out experiencing it as much as possible? Yet, when I was honest about my food experiences of late, I had to admit they often left me underwhelmed. And in my desire to try the most interesting- or exotic-sounding or most highly acclaimed items on a restaurant’s menu, I was often consuming the worst food they had to offer from a health perspective. And I was doing this multiple days a week. It was time for me to reclaim my meals by re-entering my kitchen.

 

Too Much Alcohol

I drink. I drink when I’m stressed. When I’m happy. When I have writer’s block. When I celebrate a new gig or the loss of an old one. When I wanna feel sexy. When I wanna appear witty. When I want to calm my nerves after a hard day at work and when I want to be the life of the party on the weekends. And, all of my friends and associates drink too. As with my food interests, I’m always looking for unique or not-so-common cocktails, beers, wines, and liquors to imbibe and share with others. At every event I attend, whether it’s an after-work happy hour, a gallery exhibit or a casual backyard barbecue, alcohol is almost always a central component of the festivities. And my social calendar is often quite full with these types of gatherings and events. I had to find some way to cut back.

 

Smoking

While I’ve never made a regular habit of smoking, the habit I picked up in college continued to linger, and I’d often find myself lighting up when drinking heavily or when around friends who also smoked. My doctor minced no words when I told her about my occasional smoking habit. Her words, “Oh, no. You don’t smoke anymore.”

 

Not Enough Exercise

The most movement I got on many days came from a mild morning walk with some neighbor friends of mine. Certainly not enough to get my heart rate up, break a sweat, or lose weight. I’d often spend the rest of the day sitting in front of a computer, often only getting up to take care of biological necessities.

 

Reliance on Quick Fixes

In the past, when I’ve admitted to being out of balance, say, due to an excess of partying, or a really finding-a-healthy-balance2decadent holiday season, I’ve tried to get back in balance by focusing my energies on the opposite extreme. For example, I’ve used the Master Cleanse (or lemonade diet) to ‘get back on track’ several times. If you’ve never heard of the Master Cleanse, it’s essentially a fast where you consume nothing but a mixture of lemons, water, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup for anywhere from 5-21 days. While it does take a great deal of willpower to do such a fast, and while such fasts are touted for eliminating accumulated toxins from the body, I knew I could no longer rely on quick fixes to provide lasting effects. Proving that I could subsist on spicy lemonade for 5 or more days didn’t change my day-to-day behaviors, my approach to relating to my body, or my discipline to make the right decisions and sacrifices on a consistent basis. I realized that using such binge-and-purge tactics to achieve balance was akin to bouncing up and down repeatedly on a seesaw and assuming the net of the bouncing movements would produce a state of balance. When, in fact, to achieve balance – either on a seesaw or with my health – I would need to find a centered spot that produced the desired effect, then move very little to stay in that space.

 

Other Conditions

I – like many other women (especially African-American women) have suffered from symptoms of fibroids and estrogen dominance for years. Neither my doctor nor any of the other medical information sources I’ve perused had been able to give me any solid or conclusive guidance on what to do to fix this issue (you may remember a previous post on this topic). Yet, intuitively I felt that there might be some connection between the estrogen dominance and my high blood pressure. At a minimum, I felt that the healthy balance changes I planned to implement could only benefit this condition as well. I also made a note to find ways to deal better with daily stresses both on and off the clock.

 

At the end of all that reflection, I simplified the changes I needed to make into the following equation:

Current Health + Exercise + Improved Diet + Consistent Effort – Alcohol – Stress = Healthy Balance

 

It was clear that I had a lot of things that needed working on. And I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. But it was a journey that I was willing to take, and it’s one that I look forward to sharing with you.

 

cheers,

k Photo: Balancing Act by Digitalnative, on Flickr

Photo: Interest's Conflicts by CarbonNYC, on Flickr

Photo: Seesaw by nzgabriel, on Flickr

how to do atlanta - sample food truck fare
atlanta-food-trucks-wonderlicious.jpg

Food trucks evoke memories of the state fair for me. Comfortably chilly weather, the loud hum of generator-powered everything, the smell of something savory in the air. On a lovely cool day this past fall, I took leave from my little office and went to sample some Atlanta food truck eats at 12th and Peachtree. Here's a visual recap of the excursion.  


wow food truck menu

pulled pork arepa - wow food truck

 

WOW food truck atlanta

 

wonderlicious on wheels

 

tamale queen food truck

 

jus' loaf'n food truck

 

sweet auburn bbq food truck

 

the mobile marlay

 

mobile marlay menu

 

fish and chips from the mobile marlay

 

fish and chips - the mobile marlay

 

slider u food truck

 

buen provecho food truck

 

just good food now

 

ibiza bites

 

Life is Food. Taste Life. Ibiza Bites

 

ibiza bites menu

 

signature bite - ibiza bites

 

cake pops - ibiza bites

 

honeysuckle food truck

 

yumbii truck

 

cheers,

k

amuse bouche: biodegradable
biodegradable.jpg

Compost making class Extreme patriotism / chauvinism /  partisanship = little piles of dirt arguing over which piles of dirt they belong to and which long-since-turned-to-dirt people they believe in.

In the grand scheme of things, does it really matter 'who ya wit'? or 'what set you claimin'?

"By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." - Genesis 3:19 (NIV)

cheers, k

photo: Compost making class by Milkwooders, on Flickr

how to make green chicken chili
poblanos.jpg

There's a great brewpub in East Atlanta called The Midway Pub. They've got an amazing selection of craft beers on tap and an even more amazing patio. When I lived in the neighborhood, I'd end up eating or drinking there an average of 3-4 times a month. The vibe of the place is casual, slightly hipster (Okay, okay. Reeeally hipster), and reasonably priced. You know, the sort of place that you might end up at on a chilly winter day, packed into a booth with some really good friends, ordering round after round of intriguing beer selections. On such a day, I found myself in between rounds and in need of some stomach-lining, soul warming fare. Since few things go better with beer than chili, I ordered a cup of Midway Pub's green chicken chili (aka, chili verde). It was so good, that I decided right then and there to master my own version of the dish.

Since then, my green chicken chili has shown up on my own dinner table, at the office, on a cabin trip with friends, and at the neighborhood chili cookoff. Each time, I've gotten very positive reviews about this decidedly different take on traditional red chili. In fact, I now prefer it to traditional red chili.

 

Chicken Chili Verde (aka, Green Chicken Chili) Recipe

Ingredients:

2-3 lbs Boneless, skinless chicken thighs 

4-5 Poblano peppers

1-2 16oz jars of green tomatillo salsa (aka, salsa verde)

1 12-14 oz jar of corn salsa (or substitute an equal amount of frozen corn or canned creamed corn)

1-2 cans of cannellini (aka, white kidney) beans

1 bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped

5-6 cloves garlic

1 large white onion, roughly chopped

2 bunches of green onion, roughly chopped

1 cup chicken broth

Seasoning mixture: cumin, garlic powder, dried cilantro or oregano, onion powder, black pepper

1 lime, juiced

1 Tbsp olive or canola oil

salt, to taste

 

Optional Ingredients:

1 can petite diced tomatoes or fresh chopped tomatoes

1 can chipotle peppers in adobo

cornstarch

soft corn tortillas

 

Kitchen Tools:

Food processor or mini chopper

Large pot

Large bowl

Kitchen shears

 

Set oven broiler to 500 degrees.

Slice poblanos in half. Remove stem, seeds, and membranes. When oven is to temperature, place poblanos on top rack, skin side up and broil on all sides until skins turn black. Remove peppers and place in a plastic zipper bag. Close bag tightly and let peppers rest/steam for 10-15 minutes.

Chop white onion into rough chunks. Set aside.

Rinse and pat dry chicken thighs, coat liberally with seasoning mixture. Set aside.

Add cilantro, garlic and green onions to food processor and process until the mixture is finely chopped.

Add olive oil to pot and heat on medium. Add half of cilantro mixture and all of white onion to pot. Sprinkle with remaining seasoning mixture and stir to combine. Sweat vegetables for about 5 minutes.

Add chicken, lime juice, and chicken broth to pot. Bring to a gentle boil, and let cook for about 10 minutes or until chicken is just tender. Using tongs or a fork, remove chicken from pot, and place in large bowl to cool.

Turn pot to high and boil remaining broth on high until it reduces by half.

Remove roasted poblanos from bag. Peel and discard blackened skins. Chop poblanos.

Once chicken is cool enough to handle, cut chicken into bite-sized pieces using kitchen shears or shred by hand. Return chicken to pot and reduce heat to medium-low.

Add salsas, remaining cilantro mixture, and chopped poblanos to pot. If you’re using chipotle, add a couple of teaspoons of the adobo sauce to the pot (you can add the chipotle peppers too, depending on how spicy you want the chili). Cover and simmer on medium-low for 20-30 minutes.

In the meantime, drain cannellini beans in a strainer and rinse well with water. Add about a cup of the cannellini beans to food processor and process to a paste. Add beans and bean paste to pot, stir to combine. If you’re using diced tomatoes, add those as well. 

If chili is not as thick as you want it, mix a small amount of cornstarch with hot water in a small bowl and add the mixture slowly to pot, stirring until chili reaches desired consistency. Add salt to taste.

Remove from heat and serve with tortilla chips. Garnish with cilantro, green onions, and/or your favorite shredded cheese. And… a spoon. A really, really big spoon.

Note: If I'm really in the mood, I'll fry my own tortilla chips to go with the chili. They taste so much better than store-bought and are worth the extra effort. To make: Cut corn tortillas into quarters. Heat 1 Tbsp of olive or canola oil in a large skillet on medium-high. Fry cut tortilla for about 1 minute on each side, or until lightly browned. Remove and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and cumin powder or any remaining seasoning mixture.

 

cheers,

k

you know you're a bon vivant if....
the-good-life.jpg

A little while ago, I mentioned that I would be delving deeper into defining – in my own terms, based on my own observations – what it means to be a bon vivant. Unfortunately, the term bon vivant is one that is not well understood or is often misconstrued to be an individual who puts on airs or enjoys a excessively lavish, high-priced lifestyle.

Of course, I couldn’t disagree more. So in an effort to clear up any confusion, I’ve penned what I hope will be an informative series of clues that will more clearly define what it means to be a bon vivant and help you decide if you are one of that illustrious ilk known as bon vivants.

Let’s get started, shall we? 

 

You enjoy and actively seek out experiences involving food, drink, and travel

what is a bon vivant
what is a bon vivant

Source: lawsofmodernwoman.tumblr.com via kisha on Pinterest

Bon vivants are sensualists at heart, and anything that stimulates the senses is right up their alley. It’s no surprise that the bon vivant’s greatest passion is food and drink, since dining is one of life’s activities that involves all five senses at once. Travel is generally a close second, since it offers the bon vivant the opportunity for new culinary experiences.  The thorough enjoyment and passionate pursuit of good food, good drink, and good company is a tell-tale sign of a bon vivant.

 

You like work, but only if you can have fun doing it.

what is a bon vivant.
what is a bon vivant.

Living the good life doesn’t usually conjure up images of workday drudgery. So, many bon vivants  will only pursue professions that they truly enjoy. But not every bon vivant has a cool job, nor is everyone with a cool job a bon vivant. Many bon vivants have fairly traditional jobs, but very non-traditional career paths or working schedules. One bon vivant I know literally works to travel, and spends up to 2 months a year away from his high-profile corporate job. Another I know has no job to speak of, and lives modestly (but well) off income from past investments. And yet another bon vivant friend has taken a 2-year-on, 1-year-off approach to employment. She works in her chosen field for about 2 years, then takes every 3rd year to do whatever she likes, whether it be travel, volunteer work, or work on her never-quite-finished novel. [/nextpage]

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You enjoy having money only because it enables your lifestyle

what is a bon vivant
what is a bon vivant

“Money frees you from doing things you dislike. Since I dislike doing nearly everything, money is handy.” - Groucho Marx

For bon vivants, the amount of money they have is secondary to the type of lifestyle they lead. In fact, many bon vivants aren’t anywhere near wealthy, and aren’t driven by financial gain. But since they value high quality experiences, bon vivants usually have the financial means to indulge their tastes. As previously revealed, many bon vivants choose non-traditional jobs to earn money. Some bon vivants were simply born into money. Others, unfortunately, may resort to less scrupulous methods to maintain their lifestyles, including cons, marrying for money, or becoming a ‘kept’ man or woman.

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You have an extensive and varied social network

diversity
diversity

Bon vivants love to surround themselves with interesting people. Especially those with unusual occupations, intriguing conversations or personality traits that the bon vivant finds entertaining in some way.

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You have above average intelligence

above-average-intelligence
above-average-intelligence

Bon vivants tend to not only be well-educated, but also well-learned. They are perpetual students, always seeking to learn new ideas, languages, skills, and concepts. But unlike academicians or scholars, bon vivants often get bored with classroom learning, and prefer to learn by experience. Bon vivants are likely to opt for apprenticeships and self-directed learning to sharpen their intelligence instead of rigorous classroom instruction and advanced degrees.

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You're a Jack or Jill of all trades

Swiss Army Knife

The bon vivant’s love of novelty inspires him to cultivate many interests and skills, and he’s usually experienced enough in all of them to be dangerous. As a result, bon vivants thrive in careers or professions where they can be generalists or universal adapters versus specializing in one well-defined area of practice.

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You’re equally philosophical, spiritual, and religious

jesus-was-a-bonvivant
jesus-was-a-bonvivant

Because of their unconventional ways of thinking and living, bon vivants aren’t likely to be strictly religious. They may even have their own sense of morality or spirituality that is a hybrid of several religions or philosophical traditions. Yet even professed atheist bon vivants will usually have a strong sense of right and wrong that guides their behavior and is reflected in the behaviors and philosophies of their friends and associates. [/nextpage]

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You tend to overindulge in both work and pleasure, often to the detriment of your health

Bon vivants are known for burning the candle at both ends. Since their work is also their play, they are likely to spend long hours at their profession, with seemingly endless energy for the tasks at hand. Bon vivants put as much energy into their leisure (especially wining and dining) as they do their work. Though this work hard, play harder mentality often earns them the admiration of their associates, it can be quite detrimental to their mental and physical health. The bon vivant’s penchant for packing a lot of living into a short period of time is one reason – I’m sad to say – that many bon vivants throughout history have died relatively young.

"Human happiness and contentment involve so much more than improved material conditions... to say this is not to decry the importance of material alleviations, only to insist that they do not by themselves produce the good life." - John Hewetson

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You value high-quality goods, services, and experiences

Bon vivants have high standards of quality, but aren’t necessarily big spenders. A bon vivant will go out of her way for the higher quality item, but isn’t necessarily swayed by the more expensive item.

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You are uninhibited (or less inhibited than most) or gregarious

Little One.

There’s a reason that bon vivants tend to have such a wide and diverse circle of friends. They have no problem striking up conversation with relative strangers. And because of their diverse experiences and education, they’re generally able to find something to talk about with almost anyone. This social self-assuredness makes the bon vivant both fun to have and easy to spot at parties. He’s usually the one enthralling a small group of people with his sparkling wit, a funny story, or a string of well-timed bon mots between sips of his drink. [/nextpage]

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You are heavily dependent on rewards from others

APPLAUSE

Since bon vivants are such social creatures, they will often choose professions with higher visibility and influence, even if it means lower pay. More than most, the bon vivant is motivated by people’s appreciation of her and her work. This is why many bon vivants tend to thrive as performers, artists, and politicians. Read Psychology Today's 'Field Guide to the Bon Vivant' for more on this trait.

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You’re somewhat irreverent or a button pusher

Three Muses - Odd Bird
Three Muses - Odd Bird

Bon vivants are very keen on social graces and will shun those who obviously lack them - as it offends their sensibilities and love of beauty. However, bon vivants enjoy thwarting or challenging conventional ideas, and the bon vivant is often the first to bring up a controversial subject or adopt an unconventional, eyebrow-raising lifestyle. [/nextpage]

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You dress well and/or in a way that expresses your uniqueness

To the bon vivant, image isn’t everything, but it’s pretty damned important. Bon vivants love to express themselves, and their choice of clothing is one of the main ways by which they do it. In other areas of life, bon vivants tend to gloss over the fine points, but when it comes to their clothing, they’re all about the details. Accessories like feathers, hats, scarves, bow ties, rings, and brooches are favorites of the bon vivant, as are unique blends of contemporary and classic styles.

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You enjoy life to the fullest

for every true lover of life!

Bon vivants recognize that living a good life doesn’t mean there will be no bad times. In fact, it’s the bad times that make the good times taste even sweeter. Whether they’re down on their luck or riding high, bon vivants find a reason to celebrate life for as long as they live.

"The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it." - W. M. Lewis "May you live every day of your life." - Jonathan Swift

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how to eat your way though amsterdam in a weekend
amsterdam-food-blog.jpg

This year's trip to London included a weekend jaunt to Amsterdam. 2 days in Amsterdam isn't nearly enough time to see all that the city has to offer. But... I did my best. Here's a recap of the weekend in Amsterdam, as told by my belly.

welcome spread

The trip to Amsterdam had been a long one. By the time I reach my room, I'm exhausted and a bit frazzled. The bottle of wine and tasty crackers my host has laid out looks like mannah from heaven to me.

 

fruit of the room

 

romeo fries plantains

Shortly after I hit the streets of Amsterdam, I've already made a new friend. Frankie, a Surinamese Dutch guy. Frankie introduces me to Romeo - the cook in a Surinamese bar/restaurant in central Amsterdam.

 

tastes of suriname

And Romeo introduces me to Surinamese food. I can't identify half of the items on the plate, but I enjoy every bit of it. There's some pickled veggies going on here, along with a spicy sauce and plantains.

 

taste of suriname

I would have asked Romeo more about the food, but I know better than to try to get a guy's attention when football is on. The bar is packed with older gents watching (and loudly yelling at) the evening's soccer match. Frankie, Romeo, and everyone else in the room is enthralled. I am invisible. Which is great. 'Cause nobody needs to witness my assault on this food.

 

romeo's catch

 

late night snack

 

After dinner, Frankie plays tour guide for the next few hours. He walks me around most of central Amsterdam, pointing out street names and points of interest that I need to remember when I'm on my own tomorrow. I pretend like every street name he makes me repeat doesn't sound exactly like the last one.  I sometimes have difficulty understanding Frankie's English because of his accent, but after a while, I tire of asking  him to repeat himself. A little past midnight, my head is spinning from it all. I suggest we stop for coffee. Frankie takes me to a little Middle Eastern eatery with really, really good coffee. I take sips of coffee and stare appreciatively in silence at rotating, shiny meat.

 

my friend frankie

Frankie moves like a hummingbird. I feel lucky I convinced him to stand still long enough for me to get this pic. My friend Regina had previously asked me to take a pic of the Amsterdam Hard Rock Cafe. Two birds.

 

amsterdam fruit market - morning

The next morning, I'm up early to make the most of the day. I was out with Frankie 'til almost 2 am. When I spy this fruit market on my morning walk, the colors are so bright against the overcast Amsterdam sky, I think I must be sleepwalking.

 

amsterdam fruit market - berries

 

 

lovechild berries

The clerk at the fruit market describes these berries as 'the lovechild of a raspberry and a strawberry'. I cop some. He's right.

amsterdam fruit market

 

vlaamse frites

By this time, I'd been sightseeing by foot and by boat. Time for a snack.

belgian fries w/mayo

Lovely people, the Dutch. Can't for the life of me figure out why they (or anyone) would want to do this to their fries. Ech.

 

belgian fries w/curry ketchup

That's more like it. Perfectly prepared by a man in a lab coat. I secretly dub him, Professor Fry Guy.

 

abraxas latte

 

tabletop image

My view of the table top at Pancakes! Amsterdam.

 

pancake fixin's

 

utensil clock

 

goat cheese pancake

I'd intended to come to Pancakes! Amsterdam for breakfast, but by the time I make it there, it's well after lunch. I decide to skip the more breakfast-y American pancakes and go for a Dutch pancake. It's more of a crepe-style pancake with a choice of sweet or savory toppings. The English version of the Pancakes! Amsterdam website claims that they also have "Glutton free" pancakes available. I wasn't interested.

veggie pancake w/bacon

 

 

spring roll

For my last meal of the weekend, I thought I'd try a rijsttafel - a sort of smorgasbord of Indonesian dishes served with rice.  Not the best plate of food ever. But a decidedly flavorful end to the trip.

rijsttafel

proost,

k

how to cure a hangover - top 10 remedies
hangover-cures.jpg

hangover show

I'm way too hungover to be writing this post. But since I love you, Dear Reader, I wanted to share 10 of my personal favorite hangover remedies. I'll talk softly.

#1 Water and lots of it

water-glass

Dehydration is the main culprit of the pain and suffering associated with a hangover. So load up on the H20.

#2 Multivitamins

vitamins

With a hangover, your body is depleted of necessary vitamins and minerals. A quality multivitamin helps you replenish them.

Note: The best cure for a hangover is prevention. The first two hangover cures in this list are most effective when consumed before or during drinking.

#3 Apple cider vinegar

acvinegar

Excessive alcohol consumption creates an acidic pH in the body. Apple cider vinegar helps create a more alkaline environment. Take a teaspoon or two of apple cider of vinegar in a full glass of water. The taste of the vinegar can also help ease nausea.

#4 Fresh citrus fruit

citrus

High water content helps with dehydration. Lots of vitamins help replenish vital nutrients. And the sour taste helps combat nausea. Honestly, almost any fresh fruit would be a great hangover cure, but citrus is my personal favorite.

#5 Beer

beer

If 'hair of the dog' hangover remedies are your thing, I suggest beer. Beer contains more water than other alcoholic beverages, which will prevent you from dehydrating your body any more than you already have. And the numbing effects of alcohol can help with your hangover headache.

#6 Exercise

exercise

Increasing your heart rate helps speed the metabolism of alcohol out of your body. Plus, the endorphins provide a much needed natural dose of feelgood.

#7 Beets

beet

Beets are nutrient dense, and antioxidant rich. Plus their mineral-ly taste can help your nausea. And they're Zach Galifianakis' (you know, that bearded guy from The Hangover) hangover cure of choice.

#8 Coffee

coffee

The caffeine in coffee constricts blood vessels. This can be a tremendous boon if you're suffering from a raging hangover headache. Unfortunately, coffee also dehydrates your body, so make sure to chase your cuppa with some good ol' H20.

#9 Echinacea

echinacea Echinacea is purported to aid in both the removal of toxins from the body and in boosting the immune system. Take echinacea in tea or capsule form.

#10 Acidophilus

probiotics

Acidophilus (aka, Lactobaccillus Acidophilus) - a strain of 'good bacteria' found in yogurt - helps maintain a healthy pH in your body and speeds the metabolism of alcohol out of your body, which will help you get over that hangover faster. Acidophilus is available in capsule form at most health food stores.

 

"Did you know that having a hangover is... is not having enough water in your body to run your Krebs cycles? Which is exactly what happens to you when you're dying of thirst. So, dying of thirst would probably feel pretty much like the hangover... that finally bloody kills you."

~ Charles Herman in A Beautiful Mind

 

cheers,

k

how to say 'cheers' in 50 languages
cheers-toast.jpg

A long time ago I read somewhere that the toast originated during the Middle Ages. During large banquets hosted by feudal lords and kings, each guest would toast by pouring a little bit of their drink into their neighbor's glass, and by the time the toasting was done, everyone would have what everyone else was having. In a time where hostile takeovers often involved secret poisons, this sort of toast was done to make sure that if there were any poisoners present at the feast, he or she would also get a taste of their own medicine.

Hopefully, Dear Reader, you won't find the need for such paranoid celebratory rituals, but should you happen to find yourself in mixed company, this handy guide from Matador Nights will help you make a proper toast that everyone will understand.

How to Say Cheers in 50 Languages

A-E

Language

Spelling

Phonetic Pronunciation

Afrikaans

Gesondheid

Ge-sund-hate

Albanian

Gëzuar

Geh-zoo-ah

Arabic (Egypt)

فى صحتك: (literally good luck)

Fe sahetek

Armenian (Western)

Կէնաձդ

Genatzt

Azerbaijani

Nuş olsun

Nush ohlsun

Bosnian

Živjeli

Zhee-vi-lee

Bulgarian

Наздраве

Naz-dra-vey

Burmese

Aung myin par say

Au-ng my-in par say

Catalan

Salut

Sah-lut

Chamorro (Guam)

Biba

Bih-bah

Chinese (Mandarin)

干杯 gān bēi

Gan bay

Croatian

Živjeli / Nazdravlje

Zhee-ve-lee / Naz-dra-vlee

Czech

Na zdravi

Naz-drah vi

Danish

Skål

Skoal

Dutch

Proost

Prohst

Estonian

Terviseks

Ter-vih-sex

 

F-M

Language

Spelling

Phonetic Pronunciation

Filipino/Tagalog

Mabuhay

Mah-boo-hay

Finnish

Kippis

Kip-piss

French

Santé / A la votre

Sahn-tay / Ah la vo-tre

Galician

Salud

Saw-lood

German

Prost / Zum wohl

Prohst / Tsum vohl

Greek

ΥΓΕΙΑ

Yamas

Hawaiian

Å’kålè ma’luna

Okole maluna

Hebrew

לחיים

L’chaim

Hungarian

Egészségedre (to your health) / Fenékig (until the bottom of the glass)

Egg-esh ay-ged-reh / Fehn-eh-keg

Icelandic

Skál

Sk-owl

Irish Gaelic

Sláinte

Slawn-cha

Italian

Salute / Cin cin

Saw-lutay / Chin chin

Japanese

乾杯 Kanpai (Dry the glass)

Kan-pie

Korean

건배

Gun bae

Latvian

Priekā / Prosit

Pree-eh-ka / Proh-sit

Lithuanian

į sveikatą

Ee sweh-kata

Macedonian

На здравје

Na zdravye

Mongolian

Эрүүл мэндийн төлөө / Tulgatsgaaya

ErUHl mehdiin toloo / Tul-gats-gAH-ya

 

N-Z

Language

Spelling

Phonetic Pronunciation

Norwegian

Skål

Skawl

Polish

Na zdrowie

Naz-droh-vee-ay

Portuguese

Saúde

Saw-OO-de

Romanian

Noroc / Sanatate

No-rock / Sahn-atate

Russian

Будем здоровы/ На здоровье

Budem zdorovi/ Na zdorovie

Serbian

živeli

Zhee-ve-lee

Slovak

Na zdravie

Naz-drah-vee-ay

Slovenian

Na zdravje (literally on health)

Naz-drah-vee

Spanish

Salud

Sah-lud

Swedish

Skål

Skawl

Thai

Chok dee

Chok dee

Turkish

Şerefe

Sher-i-feh

Ukranian

будьмо

Boodmo

Vietnamese

Dô / Vô / Một hai ba, yo (one, two, three, yo)

Jou / / Dzo Moat hi bah, yo

Welsh

Iechyd da

Yeh-chid dah

Yiddish

Sei gesund

Say geh-sund

 

cheers,

k photo: Cheers! by melalouise, on Flickr