3/21/2011 what we’re eating this week

I cannot believe that I have been making dinners for countless nights (years and years and years) and I still feel like I do not have it together.  I started my own three-ring notebook years ago to compile my family’s favorite recipes, but our tastes have changed.  I’m starting a new three-ring binder filled with clear, heavy weight sheet protectors to hold these perfect(for now?!) recipes, as well as a recommended menu list for me in the front as an informal way of reminding myself of those dinners (main dishes, side dishes served) that came out really well so I don’t feel like I’m starting from scratch every time.  So, simplifying and knowing what we’re eating for the week will in turn simplify the grocery list and time spent at the market.  Oh, who am I kidding, it will still take an hour but I’ll be able to maintain a walking meditation and listen to the fruits and vegetables that want me to pick them (you know, by not having bruises and by being freshest) instead of wandering around wondering what in the world are we going to eat, not only that but what have we been eating, what did we even eat last week, I’m drawing a blank, oh just grab something and make sure they go together so I can at least come out of this shopping experience with the ability to form one complete meal.  Yes, organized shopping with a menu list, that’s the way for me to go…those days go so much smoother.  But it takes time.  I have to peruse through cookbooks, find a few recipes, check the ingredients to see what I have, write on my list what I need and remember what ingredients go with what recipe because inevitably the coop I go to will not have some of the ingredients.  So knowing which ones are essential for the dish helps me be creative with finding a substitute if needed.

The goal is to eat healthier with dinners that are more consistently delicious and to be more organized so that menu planning and dinner making magic is simplified and not (as much of) a chore.  I have found that when I have my children help chop, shred, and mix cooking goes faster and is a little easier (but not all the time!) and then they are involved and not fighting upstairs because they are bored.  I think it is important for kids to be involved in the family meal.  There are times though when I just have to get the meal done and on the table; I don’t like that.  Then, there are those more desired times when I light a couple of candles in my kitchen and sometimes play some music and make it a cooking experience.  I embrace the honor (unfortunately not often enough) of being able to make magic in my kitchen.  That’s what I want every day.  I feel so blessed with all of the market and meal options (healthy and unhealthy) that I don’t want to just shove a meal on the table.  So here’s to cooking with candles, new recipes, and the intentions of  love, honor, respect, health, joy, and many blessings that become intermingled with our magical meals!

“Anyone who can read and shop can follow a simple recipe.  But the consciousness of the cook, the presence of holiness in the kitchen, and the shared desire, by cook and guest, to be healthy world mates is something only love can provide.  Be in love while cooking.  Be love itself.”

“Ritual in the kitchen reminds us that preparing food is a celebration of life.  Perform some ritual when you are about to cook–light a candle, play music, arrange fresh flowers….Love is the essential ingredient….We are not only what we eat, we are the thoughts that go into what we eat.”

**quotes from  A Simple Celebration:  A Vegetarian Cookbook For Body, Mind, And Spirit (The Nutritional Program From The Chopra [Deepak Chopra] Center For Well Being) by Ginna Bell Bragg and David Simon

Okay, since I’m just starting this more organized process, I’m going to start easy, especially with spring break.  I’m starting in earnest Sunday April 2, 2011.  (I’ll try not to go back and edit the date!)

Since I’ve already been to the store and then decided to do this, I’m giving myself the space to work my way into this.  So pizza from the pizza place with a green salad (I know, I know wheat and dairy gasp–but it’s so good! and I don’t have to cook!)  Wheat and dairy again in manicotti (large tubes of pasta stuffed with a mix of ricotta, mozzarella, and parmigiano reggiano) with soup and a salad.  Also this week I’m making as the meat package reads “organic pork center cut chops boneless” which I cook by heating a pan with some olive oil over medium heat and sea salt or kosher salt both sides and cook maybe 5 min each side? depends on how thick they are.  Sometimes, I’ll put a lid over them to keep the heat in at the end.  Very easy and good.  I’m also going to be making “Harvest Gratin of Butternut Squash, Corn, and Leeks” but with yams instead of squash  (I love both but this time I have yams) from the cookbook Fast, Fresh, and Green by Susie Middleton.  It does call for a little cream, but I’m sure you could substitute almond milk or something like that. This gets made before the pork because it bakes for approximately 40 min.  If I don’t have a lot  of time, I chop smaller pieces so they will cook faster shaving off some time.  We usually have leftovers from this which is one leftover I love because it is just as good the next day and can be a side dish to another meal making that next meal easier.

I also make fish the same way as described with the pork above and then seve it with the Harvest Squash or broccolini or rice.  I love serving it  for fish tacos with tortillas (corn or flour), shredded cabbage, shredded cheddar cheese (for those in your family who eat cheese), salsa, lime, sour cream.  My kids love this because they get to choose what goes on their taco.

**Grocery List of Magical Items

(or if  you prefer “Grocery List (of drudgery and anxiety within me because I’d rather be reading or knitting or something else that’s more important than holy love cooking in my ritualistic kitchen and preparing food as a celebration of life))wait let me look at the first item on my list:

  • one good attitude with pure-hearted intention
  • butter
  • fish (about a pound-depends on how much you and your family eat)
  • pork
  • squash (or yams, or sweet potatoes)
  • frozen corn
  • kosher salt
  • olive oil
  • heavy cream
  • chicken broth (I use Better Than Bouillon Vegetable (or Mushroom) Base
  • parmigiano-reggiano
  • leeks
  • red leaf lettuce (or whatever looks good for salads)
  • balsamic vinegar (for salad dressing)
  • tortillas
  • salsa
  • cheddar cheese
  • sour cream
  • lime
  • cabbage
  • organic canned minestrone soup
  • manicotti noodles
  • mozzarella
  • ricotta cheese
  • eggs
  • red lentils (for soup or dahl I haven’t decided which)
  • items for my green lemonade–lemons, romaine lettuce, greens (dandelion, kale, chard), fresh ginger, apples–I have a Breville juicer which I love love love
  • and
  • space
  • for
  • items
  • that
  • I
  • forgot
  • to
  • write down

gluten as a possible cause of arthritis

I was wondering if people would think I was crazy because I was wondering if all the wheat pasta, cake, etc. I’d been eating was causing my fingers to feel sore, stiff, and achey like they had arthritis.  I stopped eating wheat  for a few days and the pain went away–coincidence maybe?  So I googled it and ended up at www.wheat-free.blogspot.com and read the “I met a nice man” story which tells of LJW’s story of what he did to get healthier (i.e. eating a mostly Paleo diet, etc.) and heal his body from malaise.

Update:   5/26/2011

I am beginning to believe in systemic candida yeast (throughout the whole body) as a possible cause of my body aches (I had years ago) and the wheat, dairy, sugar, corn, etc. as being inflammatory substances and feeding the candida resulting in internal inflammation, arthritic-like pain, and all-over body aching.  Years ago, when my body hurt for two years and I had tried everything, a course in candida yeast clearing herb capsules is what seemed to help me.   There is a show on www.hayhouseradio.com with Caroline Sutherland who is a medical intuitive where she talks a lot about the problems caused by candida yeast overgrowth.

Addendum 7/21/2011

My optometrist told me today that his wife cured her arthritis by removing wheat, dairy, and sugar from her diet.  (Hmmm!!!)

sit-ups/stomach crunches to help a backache

Years ago when I was relatively healthy and exercising, I hurt my back (pulled a muscle?), reaching across while cleaning the bath tub and again while mopping the floor.  I read somewhere that if you hurt your back, it could be because your stomach muscles are weak  [not including true back disc, etc pain where you need to see a doctor] ( I was practically incapacitated and couldn’t move without hurting).  Weak stomach muscles, yeah right, I thought.  But a few days later when my back wasn’t hurting very much, I started doing sit-ups/crunches and continued. It also helped the back of an acquaintance of mine who had tried everything, even those ball chairs.  So now when my back starts to get a little twingey, I start to do my stomach crunches (watch that you don’t pull on your neck).  It really did work for me, along with being conscious of how I was cleaning!  And it was free with no adverse side effects.

astrology in March 2011 and full moon on 3/18/2011 clearing out the old in order to make space for the new and desired

From what I’ve read and heard through various sources these first few months of this new year 2011 is about finishing up all of our old projects that are still meaningful to us, discarding those projects that are no longer meaningful to us, and getting really clear about our priorities, what is important to us now, and setting our intention for what we want to bring into our lives.  Tradtionally, the new moon is the time for clearing out and then with the full moon (which is right now 03/19/2011) a candle can be lit and dreams and intention can be set for what new opportunities you want to welcome into your life.

Check out astrologer Frank Don’s March 2011 post on his website (www.frankdon.com) for more insight and inspiration.  He talks about clearing out the past without judgment, acknowledging it but with detachment.  He uses the image of standing underneath a waterfall and letting the drops of the past just fall off of you and that “(m)aintaining detachment allows for the cleanse, the release, the letting go.”  Don writes, “These are exciting times and this March highlights the importance of getting rid of the old in order to engage the new.”

excerpts from Sue Bender books: Plain and Simple, Everyday Sacred, Stretching Lessons

**excerpts from Plain And Simple:

I was beginning to understand that our attitude toward the world resonates in the objects around us.  They reveal our intention.

How they [the Amish] live reflects what they believe….The Amish approach everything they do with the same attitude.  They had shown me that any type of work could be meaningful.  It’s the spirit in which you do it that makes the difference.

**excerpts from Everyday Sacred:

Each step is the place to learn.

Good deeds have echoes.

Why be unhappy about something you can change.  Why be unhappy about something you can’t change.

**excerpts from Stretching Lessons:

Goose bumps happen when your soul comes close to you, breathes lightly on the back of your neck, and wakes you up.

It’s a slow thing to give strength to your song.

If we never pause long enough to get to know the silence, how will we know what possibilities it contains.

When we allow ourselves to be more of who we are–it is a risk.

**Bender also has quotes from others in her books:

There’s a new day today–you don’t have to wear yesterday around.–Morning Star

Pay attention to what is beginning to awake within you.  The caterpillar can feel the essence of the butterfly even before it begins to emerge.–Dorian Bietz

Often the way forward is through a detour.–Susan Rothenburg (artist)

I never failed once.  It was a two-thousand step process.–Thomas Edison

Silence is the method of getting to spirit.–Ram Dass

You must do the thing you think you cannot do.–Eleanor Roosevelt

transforming yourself and your life to be even better with more inner peace

I have found chanting sanskrit chants to be very transformative.  I think ideally you should chant them out loud for as long as you feel like doing it, whether that’s for 5 minutes or 30 minutes and traditionally you say the same chant for 40 days.  If you forget a day,  you start again with Day 1.  What happens is that you become comfortable with the chant and begin to say it in the shower, doing the dishes, cleaning the floors, etc.(daily life activities practice) and then you can transfer it over to when you are in a situation where you catch yourself getting angry or frustrated with your significant other, your children, your co-workers, etc.  You catch yourself getting angry or frustrated, inevitably take a deeper breath, and your brain switches to your chant and it reminds you that you are a spiritual person on this earth and that the disagreement is not that big of a deal and therein lies the inner peace.  Of course I don’t catch myself all of the time.   But I’d rather chant to myself  “Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha”  (sounds like “Om gum guh-nuh-puh-tuh-yei nahm-ah-ha”) than say something I will regret later.

Just try it for 40 days; you have nothing to lose.  Thomas Ashley-Farrand has written numerous books on mantras (Healing Mantras and Chakra Mantras are two of them or see his website www.sanskritmantra.com and here it lists how mantras work and here lists some simple mantras if you’re just starting out and goes into more specific details).  He lists different mantras and their meanings.  The one listed above, Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha, is for clearing obstacles, possibly obstacles like cake, shopping, beer–hmm, well, maybe those aren’t obstacles, maybe they are for you, maybe they aren’t.  There is something magical and mystical and cutting of cords and threads in chanting, but it is also very personal.  There are mantras for physical healing, being more spiritual, finding love,healing fear, as well as issues with anger, abundance,prosperity, karma, inner strength, peace…Listen to what your gut or inner guidance says feels right and set your intention (i.e. why you are doing the chant) for the next 40 days.  Good luck, namaste, and many blessings!******

(**Note:  I have a few of Thomas Ashley-Farrand’s books but have never met him and do not have any relationship with his organization.  I am sharing information because I have found sacred sanskrit mantras to be hugely transforming in my own life.)


There is a story in Jack Canfield’s book “Chicken Soup For the Soul” that tells of a man on vacation walking on a quiet beach at sunset who comes upon a local native man who keeps picking up something off the sand and throwing it into the water.  Then he noticed that the things being thrown into the ocean were starfish that had been washed up onto the beach.  He asked the man what he was doing.  The man replied that it was low tide  and the starfish had washed up on shore and if he didn’t get them back into the ocean that they would die from a lack of oxygen.  The story continues with the man on vacation saying, “You can’t possibly get to all of them.  There are simply too many.  And you don’t realize it is probably happening on hundreds of beaches all up and down the coast.  Can’t you see that you can’t possibly make a difference?”    The story ends with “The local native smiled, bent down, and picked up yet another starfish, and he threw it into the sea, he replied, ‘Made a difference to that one!'”

This goes back to the quote “To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.”–anonymous

You do not know how lives you have touched or how many positive ripples have rippled out because of your one kind, simple action, and I bet most of them never even knew your name.

ordinary magic

These are excerpts from the book “Ordinary Magic:  Everyday Life As Spiritual Path” edited by John Welwood.    It consists of essays by different authors.

Once the technique of some task has been perfected, each repetition of its practice mirrors our whole inner attitude.  Every mistake that is made shows us something about ourselves.  If this is understood, our efforts to accomplish daily tasks can, at the same time, become inner work on ourselves.  Thus by means of this continuous repetition, the true inward person begins to emerge.  In this way the ordinary daily round can be transformed into “practice.”  –Karlfried Graf von Durckheim

If I am incapable of washing dishes joyfully, if I want to finish them quickly so I can go and have a cup of tea, I will be equally incapable of drinking the tea joyfully.  With the cup in my hands I will be thinking about what to do next, and the fragrance and the flavor of the tea, together with the pleasure of drinking it, will be lost.  I will always be dragged into the future, never able to live in the present moment.    –Thich Nhat Hanh

Writing…is ninety percent listening.  You listen so deeply to the space around you that it fills you, and when you write it pours out of you.  If you can capture that reality around you, your writing needs nothing else.  You don’t only listen to the person speaking to you across the table, but simultaneously listen to the air, the chair, and the door.  And go beyond the door.  Take in the sound of the season, the sound of the color coming in through the window.  Listen to the past, future, and present right where you are.  Listen with your whole body, not only with your ears, but with your hands, your face, and the back of your neck.  Listening is receptivity.   The deeper you can listen, the better you can write.  You take in the way things are without judgment, and the next day you can write the truth about the way things are.      –Natalie Goldberg