Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Remembering the Mint

I realize it was just Monday I was eating that cod, and here it is only Wednesday and I just enjoyed another incredible fast and simple sea food supper. Ahh well it was wonderful. I had scallops from a little Japanese grocery store that were sashimi grade but I did pan fry them. They were just about the sweetest more delectable scallops I've ever had and they were less money than the sea food store. I had bought some Japanese eggplant at the farmers market this morning so I wanted to do something with them. I decided to make a Japanese meal of it and simmer the sliced eggplants in a sweet soy sauce mixture. I tasted one when the liquid had simmered away and I was not so happy with my improvised creation. Then I remembered I had bought some fresh mint. I tore off some leaves and sprinkled them into the eggplant mixture. It was just what was needed. All of a sudden the dish had more sweetness and depth and tasted terrific. It was lovely sitting next the bright white scallops that had a hint of lemon on them and I had a side of collards I enjoyed as well. Now I'm going to see how mint leaves pair up with bilberries as an after dinner tea.....
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Monday, October 27, 2008

Easy Savings - Gourmet food at home

My dinner tonight consisted of poached black cod with carrot/apple slaw on top, collard greens in a maple mustard dressing and sweet potato fries. It took exactly 1/2hr to cook from start to finish. I had shared the carrot apple slaw in my last free newsletter, only this time I added a touch of turmeric to the mixture that added something nice especially with the white fish.

In a restaurant this meal could easily have cost over $20 not including drinks and dessert. Currently I'm sipping some rooibos and bilberry tea. and had a little jar of homemade yogurt with strawberry jam mixed in. I probably spent about 1/3 the cost of eating something similar out and was satisfied and can feel great about every ingredient. No hidden costs of then needing something to combat "natural flavorings" that get added in seasonings or most packaged foods. It's a horrible way to sneak some MSG into unsuspecting mouths and causes me to react very poorly even when the amount is small. No ant-acids needed or anti anything because the meal was satisfying, balanced and nourishing. Even all organic.

In fact the amount I have saved from using food for health instead of doctors, prescriptions or over the counter pills is many thousands easily. The cost of learning all I've learned over the years included. Knowing how to quickly and easily create satisfying, delectable, meal after meal that keeps me youthful, slender and well has been invaluable.

Now if you were dining with me, I probably would have also make a quick cornbread or amaranth bread and maybe a different dessert to suit your tastes. Company always inspires me to do a little extra. It's worth it to see the smiles and hear the umms and ahhhhs of satisfaction.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

I was recently in a Bed Bath and Beyond. For being such a giant store I expected it to have a few more choices of brooms. There was only one choice. A lot of brooms. There were brooms from floor to ceiling hanging in groups up a very tall wall. Just one kind of broom, all the same. Then I saw little slippers or flip flops with sort of a sweeper bottom. What fun to slip slide around my floor to clean them. I didn't buy the sweeper bottomed slippers though. I realized, getting in the corners or under the bed would be difficult. I needed the kind of help I trusted. An old fashioned, angular broom that would help me get all the difficult spots.

That is what I like about food and life coaching tools. Getting into those tight spots where it is difficult to go into alone. It can be hard to really see ourselves or use the exact right tool on our own. I find that when I seek help, I often know what the answer is but it takes asking someone outside of myself to either see it or finally hear it.

I love what happens in coaching. There is the client asking for something and there is all of the information and tools I have collected and a third party that we can call Spirit that seems to come through us as well as we collaborate on this persons behalf. Something shifts. Ideas form. Energy emerges. Pretty much all of my clients say they feel better at the end of the session than they did at the beginning and some are 6,000 miles away in some other country talking to me on the phone. In fact, I find working on the phone to often be more powerful since there are less distractions and we can really sink into those corners and dark spots.

I've see clients who allowed for a layer to be lifted off to have absolute miracles occur. One woman was happy to understand more about food and in her first session we cleared a long time knee problem. Then she started to lose the unwanted pounds she had been carrying for years. The miracles started to really happen though when she asked me to help her clear her fears around not having enough money. The first session we did this, she got an unexpected check for $600 from someone she had not heard from in 10 years. The next time we worked with the same obstacle she had $300,000 show up that she would not have gotten but just after the session a lawyer who was taking care of her Aunts estate found some legality that make the difference of her getting the money or it being gone forever and only if they acted within a 2 day time frame. It would have easily been missed according to him, it was just "a fluke" that he caught it. And subsequent sessions that I worked with this woman have brought her even bigger sums than that from unexpected and unconventional sources. It's been amazing to witness what happens when we are willing to not skip those corners and really clean out the limitations.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Pleasure and Pain

I think we are supposed to enjoy pleasure and find ways to eliminate pain. It seems only natural. If you are experiencing pain it is telling you there is something to fix. The longer you ignore it, the louder it usually gets.

Let's say you have a pain in your knee. You might first go get a pain reliever like ibuprofen. You take a pill, the pain goes away. Then it comes back. Day after day it starts to get worse. Then you might decide to take more action because it is painful to be in pain. You might recognize that knees are often related to kidneys and you do a kidney cleanse or take herbs and eat foods especially for kidneys like a nice black bean stew, aduki rice and sea vegetable salad. After several days, the pain goes away. Once the pain is gone, you most likely don't think about it much at all. Once it is gone. It is just gone.

I think that is how one woman can have many children. She forgets the pain of the births and remembers instead all of the glorious pleasure of having a new baby. Both men and women are wired to seek out pleasure for the survival of the species. When survival is no longer an issue. The indulgence of pleasure can sometimes bring us back to pain.

Sugar seems one of these (is there a word for this phenomenon?). Sugarcane is sweet. Fruits are generally sweet. Chewing grains and beans more thrall brings out their sweetness and many vegetables too give us a sweet flavor. That is, they have a nice sweetness when our taste buds are acclimated to these sorts of foods.

Industrious man then created processing. Quick, convenient and concentrated with flavors. Flavors that you couldn't even get with traditional cooking because with processing one, could have flavor enhancers or concentrations. It takes approximately three feet of sugar cane to make one teaspoon of sugar. The teaspoon of sugar is very sweet. As we get used to such concentrations, the original cane can taste bland and boring. Fresh fruits become far less enticing as cakes, pies and candies satisfy the desire for this kind of pleasure.

Then eating more processed foods creates more and more acidity, mineral imbalance and disease in the body, creating more and more pains once again. When I ask people to initially start eating simple whole foods they get disgruntled. The food tastes bland to them as they are so used to strong tastes. Then, the more they eat simple foods, the better they become and the health can recover once again. Why wait for the pain? How about starting to reconnect with simple pleasures in each day and the sweetness in life that is freely given.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lift Yourself out of the Ordinary

Have you ever wanted to go to a spa or experience another culture but you didn't want to spend the time or the money? Having a new experience can be uplifting and inspiring. It just doesn't always need to involve a journey to get there. You can have it right in your home too.

Just lifting yourself out of the ordinary can be invigorating. I recently got to join in a 3 day workshop that was just a couple of miles from where I live. I met new people and had an experience. I ate in a restaurant I normally eat at anyway but I experienced it anew as I was having my own little mini 3 day vacation.

This can happen right in your own home. You can create a spa night with friends, taking turns giving treatments or if you feel like indulging further, hire someone to come and give everyone treatments. With food and atmosphere you can go to many places and have some fun experiences that cost little and can be done anytime. It adds a lot to include others so invite some friends or even create a monthly dinner club where you take turns as host.

Get simple things to create atmosphere. If there isn't a party store to go easily, look up how to order things on the Internet. A Caribbean night be as simple as candles, jerk steak or seitan or tofu with an island inspired salad and maybe coconut lime squares for dessert with a game of mankala. Take a Mexican vacation buying or making your own tamales, fajitas, tacos or burritos with salsa, guacamole and chips. Get a CD of Mexican music that you can play in the background and maybe have some steamers around for fun.

Gathering the family around the living room on pillows can make for a fun Japanese sushi night. Place the food on a coffee table and serve small bowls of miso soup and a variety of easy rolls. You could buy frozen appetizers to go along with the sushi rolls so that you need not fry anything yourself or if you feel inclined, make some tempura. I like simple rolls like avocado with shredded carrot and cucumber or broiled salmon with cucumber, stir fry fillings with avocado. Invent your own or make fillings and let everyone take turns rolling up the rolls. Cut them all into bite sized pieces and place on plates for all to share.

The more elements you use to create a new atmosphere, such as using a different room to eat in, music, decor, along with the food, the more it will feel like a satisfying experience. Remember to let others share in the work too. Don't feel that you must be clean-up crew if you just cooked. Allow others to pitch in so that you all feel like you contributed and got something too.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Extraordinary Ume

I love when things can used for more than one purpose or just having the right tool for the job. Things that work well. That's what Ume is in the kitchen or medicine chest. These ancient Japanese wonders work surprisingly well for many things. Upset tummy. Use Ume. Hangover. Ume to the rescue. Skin rashes - ume often helps. Indigestion, colds, flu, or just feeling run down - ume, ume ume can make you feel better.

I find them to taste horrible because I'm not such a fan of the sourness and salty is hardly what I was raised with. My medicines were sugar coated. Ume plums are picked green and then pickled with a red beefsteak leaf that turns them a strong dark pink color. Be sure you are getting the real deal and not something dyed.

Outside of the U.S. pickled foods are much more common because they help us digest our food. (think sauerkraut with bratwurst....) Somehow we forgot this traditional wisdom and have created shelves of digestive aids from tums to tagament and every antacid in between. What would be even better than synthetic sips from an Rx bottle is the simple traditionally made Ume in all it's various forms.

Umeboshi pickled plums go farther than any pickle has gone before. They are antibacterial but seem to be able to destroy the bad bacteria while keeping the good. You can also get Ume concentrate that doesn't have any salt. It works well as a tea with all the same medicinal gifts. There are little portable Ume plum balls in packs for the pocket or purse and then the brine leftover from making the plums is sold as Ume Vinegar. This is wonderful to use in cooking. Not as strong medicinally but it is alkaline and not acid like other vinegars you've tried.

In fact, using Umeboshi in cooking adds great flavor, strength and prevents troubles before they start. I like the flavor much better when melded in with other things. It's strong by itself. Keep them on hand all the time so when you feel out of sorts you can quickly right yourself right from your own kitchen!!!

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Monday, October 13, 2008

I've been listening to Dr. Hu Len this weekend. He is fun to listen to and a great reminder of how we see what we are being. If it is in our experience than it is really coming from inside of us. Some of my first teachers of behavior taught this. The part they did not explain well was how to do anything about it.

Now in my own coaching I hear students lament about their diets, their ailments, their weight and just about everything else in their lives. When I ask them to make a list of things that make them happy or things they enjoy or even good things about themselves, they can not do it. They want to keep looking outside of themselves for entertainment, love, and fulfillment. I was like them.

Hey I grew up in this culture that continually sends us messages to look outside of ourselves. Go get a pill. Go find the answer. Go go go go go. I did go. I continue to search. It seems to come back though to going inside rather than out.

Of course, with food, I need to go and get my food from the outside. What I choose and where I choose though will be dictated by what is going inside of myself. I mentally try on the food before I choose. I check in with my body and what it might need or desire. I think about possible consequences of the food options and I choose what feels best for me at the time. This might sound lengthy but it isn't. How the foods settles will also be influenced by my thoughts. Those unconscious thoughts.

That really is the stuff showing us who we are being. Does someone you know experience people being snooty often? Do you know anyone who seems to always get the short end of the stick? What about someone who seems to have a lot of accidents? You might never experience these things because they are not where your thinking is taking you.

Dr. Len's message is simple. Take responsibility for everything that you see/experience and clean up that inside of yourself that needs the re-wiring. Some is conscious but most is beyond our mind. His tools for cleaning are 4 simple phrases. "I love you. I'm sorry. Please forgive me. and Thank you." This comes from the Hawaiian Ho'o pono pono. While I do not know much about this tradition, I see the value in what he teaches.

I also have the American cultural ideas of - this just sounds too simple to do much. I want to get in and work on the problem. That however could just get me more stuck in the problem like being in mud and spinning my tires to try and get out. If I'm feeling like I get the short end of the stick then working hard will only give me limited results. If I work on loving myself more and apologizing for my wrong thinking that keeps me stuck and then forgiving myself, well, then my efforts can go much farther. I'm playing with it. It's fun and it's easy to do. Try it yourself and let me know your results!!!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ageless Living

I had heard about aging. I just didn't really consider it happening to me. At least not this soon. Am I really 43? I forget here in the land of youth culture that seems to be the Los Angeles I see. We dress young and if nature is knocking things down, we find various means to keep them up just as long as we can.

For now, I'm grateful that what I learned to save my life, as also saved me from aging. At least not as rapidly as I might have. While I don't necessarily believe those stories about the colonel in Peter Kelder's books as being true, there sure is something to healthy living that puts more spring in ones step and keeps the wrinkles at bay!

Not all whole foods are created equal. If you have been following my teaching at all, you know that I don't mean the chain of grocery stores. Not everything in them is all that healthy. Well, not every vegetable, fruit or whole grain will serve you the same either.

Tomatoes are being touted heavily for their heart enhancing licopene but too much of these high acid spheres and you'll be looking for some botox. While beans and leafy greens just might smooth out the lines that are already forming.

Apples are not just re-hydrating, (lack of hydration can certainly prune you up!) they help to take heavy metals out of the body. When the body is less polluted of course if looks more youthful. Think of how beautiful a brand new babies skin is before toxins start to accumulate.

Whole grains are also great at sweeping out toxins. Hato Mugi barley is a Japanese wonder. Even just adding a small amount in with other grains and your skin will soon be more clear and glowy.

Good quality oils like using some flax oil in your dressings and rice bran oil on the stove will also keep you looking fresh while keeping slender.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Design Your Life

I was just on facebook and saw that one of my friends just quit coffee. While I commend her efforts and perhaps she really has quit - this time. You see, over the many years that I have known her, the quitting doesn't last. I'm not sure it really should last. She loves her coffee. Perhaps the addiction to the coffee is what she might quit. Be in control of the intake. Having coffee now and again as a treat instead of an everyday habit. Limiting it and being the one in charge instead of the coffee overtaking her. Luring her into an everyday affair or even many times a day sipping it down adding to inflamation that is the beginning of all disease...

But how many of us justify our actions until they become too painful and we decide to make a switch because we know that that pain is now too great for what we have justified, instead of creating a life that we can live with and enjoy daily??? I know the consequences of what I eat. Sometimes I eat things that make me feel bad inadvertently, but predominately I know what I'm doing. Coffee doesn't work for me at all. First I made it a once a week treat. Then I missed a couple of weeks. Then my cleaned out body could no longer tolerate the caffeine or even the decaf. I felt sick and toxic no matter what kind I tried. So that was that. No more coffee for me. Brownies unfortunately too have left my repertoire of options. Many things I've switched out ingredients or just have them far less often than I did before. My nightly dessert habit turned into about once a week and with only sweeteners that I can feel good from like fruits, agave, rice syrup, etc....Eating refined grain products like bread went from 3 times a day to less than once a day. Needing popcorn or candy with a movie diminished to almost never.

This applies to much more than food though. Do you justify, video games or too much of anything like email, watching TV, spa treatments, shopping? If you have ever watched a soap opera, they can pretty much justify anything on those shows. Characters come back from the dead only to die again or be reborn. People lose their spouses, get them back, have all sorts of things happen, like ship wrecks, and everything gets explained in some way to keep the drama going year after year. What kind of life are you writing for yourself?

Are you being pushed and pulled by what you think you should do or what you think you want to do but maybe neither are really making you happy. I invite you to design your life. Literally write it out, how you would like it to be. Use every area of life. Design your friends. Design your diet. Design your body. Design your relationships. Design your work. Design your vacations, your hobbies, your pets, your passions. Write it all out and realistically write a plan of action to have it. Then begin making adjustments with what you have now to be more of what you feel would make your life even happier - right away and in the future.

By realistic you might cut the coffee cold turkey but if you have done that and failed umpteen times before, you could also say, I'm limiting coffee to once a week and stick to it.

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