Not to drag you down or burst your holiday joy bubble, but are you aware of how many people struggle with sadness this time of year? You, in fact, may be one of them. And, if not you, I’m willing to bet that someone you know is struggling with “the blues” right now ...
The reasons for sadness are myriad. We may have lost someone we love in the past year and their absence weighs upon our heart. We may be experiencing financial woes and can’t do all that we’d like to in terms of giving, traveling, entertaining. We may feel lonely and isolated with no one to share a holiday celebration with.
Or—and this is the category many of us may find ourselves in—the “season” has become too much to handle and we’re feeling stressed. Sadness can be a symptom of undue stress.
So, here’s the rub. The season is short. The feelings are deep. We may feel like we should “snap out out of it,” so we don’t lose time, disappoint others, or miss out on the celebration of the season altogether. What’s a woman to do?
My solution? Get connected with your calm, clear, wise self through simple practices that root you in feelings of simple happiness.
After all, sadness is a “mind state,” a unique combination of body sensations, thoughts, and emotions. We can observe these and successfully transform sadness if we know how.
Sadness is a state no different from anger, fear, worry, jealousy, or any other strong thought/feeling pattern. We just need to know how to respond to it. Not react, but consciously respond with clarity and wisdom. And when we do, our life can look and feel completely different. Literally (unless we are chronically and medically depressed), we can begin to be aware of sadness-tinged thoughts and feelings and shift them. We do this with conscious awareness—recognizing them and then choosing to turn ourselves in a different direction.
We can do this by using gladness-infusing practices. Here’s one for you to try. It’s an enjoyable and easy-to-use practice. You might be surprised at how simple it can be to shift from sad to glad—in nanoseconds. Try it and see!
“Play I Spy”
I invite you to join me in a game of playing "I Spy" to uplift your spirit.
Do you remember the children's game "I Spy”? I often played it with my brothers and sister in the car while traveling. It helped pass the time. It helped us hone in on our world—to pay attention to the majesty and delight all around us.
"I spy with my little eye ... a cow!" someone would say. "I spy with my little eye ... something purple!" and you'd have to guess what it was.
Want to play? Step outside. Take a breath. Take several. Look around.
Then focus on something, see it clearly. Allow it to touch your heart, to open you to yourself and to the beauty of this world. An "I spy" mindset can provide a new view of reality.
Allow your eye to roam around some more. “I Spy” something else and see it clearly. “I Spy” again and get in touch with wonder. “I Spy” once more and feel gratitude.
The Buddha said, "If we could see the miracle of one flower clearly, our whole life would change."
I believe this to be true. And it’s also true of sadness.
"Gladness can be mine, one choice at a time," is a wise mantra for the holidays, don't you think?
If you enjoyed this simple sadness-shifting practice, you may want to take advantage of our new 30-day E-course sent directly to your Inbox each day: “What To Do When You’re Feeling Blue: 30 Days of Insights and Practices to Change the “Hue” of Your Life.”
It’s co-sponsored by Buddha Chick Life and AwakenedLiving.com (Editor, Jan Lundy’s official website) and you can learn all about it HERE.
Chanukah means dedication. The mystics of my tradition teach that embedded in the center of everything and everyone is a sliver of Divine light. Viewing the world in this way, the single spark that lit the ancient oil that miraculously burned for eight days and nights in the desecrated Temple of old is the same one that ignites my own inner flame and yours.
On this Chanukah, I re-dedicate myself to the Oneness of Being, to opening my heart wider in gratitude for the miracle of this precious life, to offering more kindness and compassion to all beings I am blessed to encounter, and to an ever-expanding awareness of sacred ordinary moments illuminated through the light of my soul.
Bright blessings and gentle steps always,
Chanukah begins at sunset on December 20th this year (it always begins on Kislev 25, in the Hebrew calendar.)
Listen to Laura's reflection, including a Guided Meditation here. (5 min.)
Laura is a mother, wife, visual artist, writer, singer-songwriter and experiential educator combining art, yoga, meditation and Jewish spirituality. She is also a Creativity Coach, SoulCollage® facilitator and Spiritual Director. Throughout the past 11 years of child rearing, teaching, facilitating and eventually coaching and spiritual direction, she has also been ill with a wide variety of symptoms receiving several different diagnoses. On September 3, 2009 after an emergency room visit, she was finally diagnosed with RRMS (relapsing remitting ms). While no longer able to work outside her home, she continues to be engaged in the world through blogging regularly and offering individual services via the Internet and phone conferencing. As challenging as living with a chronic, disabling disease is she feels that in many ways, MS has expanded her heart, mind, soul and appreciation for all the things her body IS able to do. “It seems that as the neural connections in my central nervous system decrease, my compassion toward my own lived experience and toward all beings increases. For this I am deeply grateful.” Laura's columns focus on "Healing with Gratitude."
I arrived at yoga 15 minutes before class was scheduled to begin and set up my mat in the front row. I wasn’t sure how many people would arrive for class and, while I don’t necessarily like being in the front, I know the instructor and she would tease me if she came in and saw that I intentionally chose to be further back.
The room was warm and there was one other woman at the far end of the front row. I settled in, cross-legged, to close my eyes and clear my mind. I didn’t expect it to be an easy job. We were just coming off of a long Thanksgiving weekend and I felt catapulted in to the holiday season. With only six days to go before my daughter’s birthday, I had yet to purchase her gift. Once her special day was over, I anticipated a mad dash of shopping, decorating, cooking and traveling until January 2nd. In the meantime, we were looking forward to a move in the late Spring which meant fixing up our house to put it on the market. Add to that all of the “normal” things on my weekly schedule and my mind resembled a plasma static electricity ball when I closed my eyes. You know, the ones that make your hair stand on end when you put your palms to the glass?
I sat for a minute, warring with myself about whether or not I ought to even be attempting this. Maybe the best thing to do would be to get up and go get some of the things crossed off of my list instead of indulging in a 90-minute yoga class. No, I would look silly walking out now and the instructor would surely catch me leaving. Perhaps I should sit and address some of the items in my head right now – devise the menu for my daughter’s birthday party or make a mental list of which things I can likely get done today. I felt my anxiety level ratchet up a notch. What I needed to do was to sit with my anxiety. Just experience without judgment. Acknowledge my discomfort and not try to solve anything.
The teacher entered the room and welcomed us all. I steeled myself for the beginning of class, knowing that once I started it was like strapping in to an amusement park ride – I was here for the duration. Especially in the front row. She asked us to close our eyes and do our best to stay within the confines of our mats. No, stay here, yelled my mind. This is what is really real. These things need to be done. This is real life.
“That means not looking at your neighbor’s practice or thinking about what is for lunch. Just truly arrive on your own mat and be here. Simply here,” Mary gently reminded us.
At that moment I realized that being here in this moment, anxieties and all, was what was truly Real. Those expectations either existed in the past or the future, which really means not at all. The only place to be was here, on my mat, in my body and my mind. I know that yoga and meditation offer me peace and solace as well as strength and a sense of achievement. Despite that, I often trick myself into thinking that activity and busyness are more valuable. More “real.” Because I can get instant gratification when I cross something off of my list, it feels like an accomplishment. The benefits I get from stopping, slowing down, and being deliberate and planful about my actions and thoughts are much less tangible. But if I think about it, I can always add more tasks to my list. That conveyor belt is never-ending. The act of coming back to myself, grounding my actions and thoughts in this moment right now, wherever I am, feels solid and constant. It may not be “progress” in that sense, but without a stable base from which to act, that conveyor belt will drop into the abyss.
As always, by the time Mary had led the class through our second set of sun salutations, my mind and body were firmly on my mat. Halfway through class, I realized the static electricity had completely dissipated and the realization that now is enough carried me through the rest of the 90 minutes.
Whether or not I actually cross everything off of my to-do list doesn’t seem to matter anymore. For now, I am reminded that Now is Reality and everything else will follow.
Midlife brings with it great gifts. One of the sublime treasures of these middle years is memories, remembrances of times past that seem to waft in when I least expect it. Of late, memories abound of special times I’ve spent with my parents and siblings, and with my own children when they were very young. Many are based around holidays.
I had a fortunate childhood. It was a happy one, with carefree days and joyous holiday gatherings. Thanksgiving and Christmas were two of the most cherished. Today I realize this is probably so because they were simple—not garish or overstated—sourced in love and the presence of family. Both my mother and her mother, “in charge” of such days, were practical people, rooted in a farm heritage, so our holiday celebrations reflected their upbringing and values.
What do I remember most? The smell of fresh greenery decorating mantels and banisters. Christmas cards taped in a colorful row on thick oak molding around doorways. Green or red candles burning in sconces. Extra leaves in the dining room table to make room for more. Linen tablecloths, fine china and “good silver” lovingly polished. The sounds of family arriving one by one, announcing “Merry Christmas!” as they walked in the door, arms laden with fragrant casseroles and warm pies. Hugs and kisses and “My how you’ve grown!” I realize today it is the sounds, sights and smells of the holidays which fill my memory bank, inviting me to recreate similar gatherings with my own family.
Like my mother and grandmother, I prefer the simple things, including holiday experiences which are modest, yet meaningful. Each year however, as the holidays approach, I notice how my mind is drawn toward the media hype which urges me to create the “perfect” holiday for my family or guests. I notice how that makes me feel at first—excited and energetic—planning for new gift projects, novel decorating ideas and, of course, shopping for the ideal gift for everyone. I also notice that within minutes of such thinking I begin to feel mentally and emotionally exhausted.
I’m grateful for that feeling now because when it comes, I realize it is there to remind me that I don’t have to buy into any of it. I have the choice to back away and remain loyal to myself and my true desires for a more authentic, “natural” holiday. I don’t HAVE to do anything —only what I really want—and especially not to impress others or fulfill their expectations. I do not need to fall prey to the “shoulds” which haunt so many of us. Contrary to what you may have thought or been taught, such loyalty is not self-serving. It is self-affirming.
So, how can you create a holiday that validates and affirms YOU and your well-being? The formula is simple really. It’s one we learned as children when we had to cross the street. It kept us safe and all in one piece. It works over and over again in many areas of our lives, even holidays, if we just apply it: STOP, LOOK AND LISTEN.
STOP: Before you launch into holiday preparations, slow down and take a deep breath. Notice where your energy is flowing. Notice your thoughts and feelings and give them space to be felt.
LOOK: Step back from yourself and your chosen action. Look within and ask yourself, ‘Why am I engaging in this activity? Am I doing this for myself because I enjoy it? Or am I doing so out of necessity or obligation? Does this provide meaning or is it rote tradition? And, most importantly, am I experiencing pleasure or pain as a result of my choice?’
LISTEN: Pay attention to the answers that come. Be honest with yourself about what you’re feeling and know that it’s OK to feel this way. Know that it’s alright to make new choices for yourself based on these feelings. Ask yourself, ‘What do I REALLY want right now?’
CHOOSE is the final and most important step in creating self-affirming holidays. As children, once we’d stopped, looked and listened at the curb, we needed to assess whether it was a good time to cross the street or not. Ask yourself one last similar question. "What choice can I make in this moment to do the kindest thing for myself?"
The answer which arises will make or break your holiday experience. If you give in to those nasty “shoulds,” don’t be surprised if your resentment level rises along with your blood pressure, your holiday rapidly spiraling out of control. If you heed the voice of your truest self any “shoulds” or expectations can be released, along with any feelings of pressure you’re experiencing. Only then are you truly free to enjoy your life, especially the holidays, in a whole new way.
I invite you to reclaim yourself and your holidays to reflect the values of simpler times. To let go of any complexities that may have been created and relax into the beauty of the moment. To me, this would be the perfect holiday scenario. Just imagine, if the most arduous task required of us was to gather with those we love in front of a crackling fire, all the “shoulds” and expectations we’ve carried for so long smoldering like ash in the grate as we raise our glasses and toast to peace and well-being.
Whether you are dealing with depression, grief or a medical condition during the holidays, it always comes down to stress in one form or another. Here is my holiday information list. I hope it can help you have a happier holiday no matter what is causing you stress. Women often feel the most pressure to plan, shop, cook, decorate, and coordinate seasonal rituals, gifts, mailings and parties. We try to do too much for too many people in too little time. The holidays may also remind us of losses of loved ones, friends, homes, marriages, health and jobs that stir sad feelings.
No wonder some of us start the season aglow with anticipatory joy only to end up weeks later feeling awful. Exhaustion, depression, sleeplessness, poor appetite, overeating, illness and irritability are all signs of stress. When do we know how to stop? Yikes! Yet, stress doesn't have to be part of your holidays. Taking positive actions now to plan the upcoming season will reduce pressures and increase your enjoyment of what can be a lovely time of year. What's more, you can arm yourself with quick practices to remove stress when you're in the midst of the most hectic days. "How?" I am so glad you asked.
DITCH THE GREAT EXPECTATIONS
The biggest stress is expectations, those that others have placed on us and those we impose upon ourselves. We focus on buying more presents, baking more cookies, going to more concerts or parties. Our schedules fill up and our pocketbooks empty. Expectations of how the holidays should be may keep us from enjoying a period of simpler, more meaningful joys. There is such a simple solution to the holiday blues: Just say no and give yourself the gift of compassion. Let someone else do a project, let the bakery do the cookies, have someone wrap your gifts and have a party when decorating the tree. The more the merrier. Plan now and kick back and enjoy some eggnog.
TEN WAYS TO REDUCE HOLIDAY STRESS
1. Get enough sleep. You may wonder how this fits especially when you have a long list of things to do for the holidays. However, this truly is a key step to a stress-free holiday. Lack of sleep leads to fatigue, which in turn reduces your ability to cope with the holiday demands. If this goes on, eventually you will attain the stress that you so want to avoid.
2. Find time to exercise, even if it's only for a few minutes. Exercise helps to increase your energy level and reduce stress.
3. Nourish yourself. In other words, take time to eat properly. In the rush to accomplish all the things planned for the holidays, you may tend to skip meals in order to get more done. You need fuel to perform.
4. Plan ahead so that you are prepared for what's coming up. The last thing you need is unscheduled interruptions to your busy day. If something unplanned comes up that can wait until later, do not be ashamed to politely refuse or reschedule.
5. Set and stick to a holiday budget for things that are on your lists to do and buy. It's easy to overspend over the holidays which can lead to stress. Once you set your budget, your decision making will be easy and less stressful when it comes time to make your holiday purchases.
6. Shop early to avoid the holiday crowd. Try shopping over the Internet and skip the hassle of crowded shopping malls, parking and the frustration of standing in line.
7. Prioritize what you want to accomplish over the holidays. Stick with the most important first and you'll get the things that are most important to you done.
8. Simplify your life. If you can make things easier for yourself, do so. It saves you from stress and it works. A lot of things don't have to be elaborate, especially with decorations and food preparation.
9. Reduce your expectations. High expectations usually equate to higher probability of stress when things don't work out. Don't try to do too many things or expect too much from others; take the holiday time to relax. Find little self soothers to pamper yourself throughout your day.
10. Plan to give service and think of someone's needs instead of your own. This charitable spirit will help you be more appreciative of what you already have and remember what the holiday is really about. Having compassion for others softens our spirit and lends its way to awakening your heart within.
END OF YEAR
Daylight, my friend seldom seen Your absence tells which season’s close Time to reflect on months gone by, but not yet Christmas nears, no time to think.
Passing smiles caught through busy streets Indoors we flee in front of fires Glasses clink, we toast the year’s end You catch my eye, next year we’ll meet.
One last farewell, down family roads we head It’s late now, a window candle is lit One more drink poured, the last stories shared Another year, things change, the same warmth’s felt.
Cindy Hively calls the Roanoke Valley in Virginia her home. She is surrounded by beautiful mountains that inspire and heal her everyday. Having worked twenty five years in the retail industry, she moved up quickly and loved her career, but had to quit work due to chronic illness. She is on a healing journey through Metta meditation, mindfulness practices and self compassion. Read more of Cindy Hively here: 1. Awakening The Woman Within with Goffstown Today, www.Goffstowntoday.com 2. Simple Steps Real Change, FB page http://www.simplestepsrealchange.com 3. Psychological Health of Roanoke, VA, www.PsychHealthRoanoke.blogspot.com 4. Cindy (Harpe) Hively FB page, http://facebook.com/cindyhivelybc
You are in the backyard sitting on the new snow When she says go you hesitate mutt fur matted down tail between your shivering legs You are used to people saying shoo get lost you stupid dog laugh at you called you vermin Once someone tried to set you on fire She learned this from the dog officer who had seen you before she knew your story Another time a man lodged a bullet in your side used you for target practice
When she says go you look at her over your doggie shoulder with eyes full of anxiousness that would pain anyone who loved the way dogs run and jump in play You hold a hesitation of hope that this time no one will hit you The dog's dream if he can conjure up dreams
This time it is different
When she says go she means go to the bowl of food on the steps Eat When she says go she means go through the door into the warm house the plaid plump bed on the floor from L.L. Bean is yours good boy lie down When she says go She means go to the bathtub where she will wash off what other people have done to you Go to this new life
When she says go she means come to her
Your tail wags You rest your face on her knee She tells you how much you are wanted How handsome you are You sigh If dogs could smile there would be a big one on your face
Elizabeth P. Glixman is a poet, writer and artist. Her poetry, fiction, nonfiction, interviews and artwork have been published on the Web and in print magazines and anthologies. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, A White Girl Lynching (2008) and Cowboy Writes a Letter & Other Love Poems (2010), both published by Pudding House Publications, Ohio. A new poetry chapbook The Wonder of It All will be published by Alternating Currents. Elizabeth uses mind body spirit modalities to help manage and heal from chronic fatigue syndrome. Read more at http://www.spiritofchange.org/alternative-medicine/chronic-fatigue-syndrome-more-than-just-being-tired
With so many family gatherings and holiday parties this time of the year, you might have committed to doing some serious baking. Do you now find yourself feeling resentful or stressed out and thinking that it might just be easier to dash off to the store and pick up a dessert as you hurry away to that scheduled function?
Here is an invitation to slow down and consider the delight and enjoyment of--
If you care to experiment with a new recipe, I’ve included one below-
This new favorite of mine is a bountiful, moist bundt cake that includes the best of harvest and holiday flavors—apple, cranberry, pumpkin, pecans and maple syrup—along with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
Take a deep breath and be prepared to enter into a whole new baking enterprise.
A little planning will allow for a fully engaged experience. Before you begin baking, simply take the time to read through the entire recipe. Actually, do this a day or two before you intentionally engage with this exercise. Make sure you’ve got all the ingredients on hand. You don’t want to have to bolt off to the store because you suddenly realize you don’t have any vanilla in the cupboard.
Now, you can look forward to the pleasurable experience of Mindful Baking.
Assemble all the ingredients and enjoy the process….
Have your bundt pan at the ready – along with measuring spoons, cups and spatula.
Preheat the oven.
Prepare the fruit – Halve the apple. Core it. Gently peel it. Carefully slice the fragrant halves. Nibble a slice. Think of the orchard grower. Do you know the farmer? Be grateful for his efforts.
As you coarsely (no need for perfectionism here) dice the fruit, listen to the sound of the knife as it cuts into that fresh, crisp goodness.
Scoop out one cup of cranberries. Notice their ruby sheen. Pop one in your mouth and take delight in its tangy sweetness.
Weigh out the pecans. As you chop them up, notice the unique shape of this delectable nut. Sample one – enjoy its tender crunch and distinct flavor.
In a separate bowl, measure out the two cups of flour. As you add the other dry ingredients – such as the baking soda and baking powder, take note of the variance of their whiteness. Portioning out the spices, breathe in their distinctive smells and observe the assorted colors and textures.
As you put the butter and sugars into the mixing bowl, consider the differences between white sugar and brown sugar. Dip your fingers into the bowl and feel the sugar crystals.
As the butter and sugars are creaming, observe the change in consistency. Adding the eggs one at a time, allow each one to be fully incorporated into the mix. Next, add the vanilla. Ummm – smells good, doesn’t it?
To this creamy mix, add the apples and pumpkin. Next, add the dry ingredients which have been whisked together. Finally, fold the cranberries and pecans into the mélange. Pause and look at the jumble of textures –the batter, blended together, is now scraped into the bundt pan - ready to be baked up into fragrant generosity.
Set the timer and make yourself a cup of tea while the oven does it thing.
What a wonder. One hour later the delicious aroma coming from the kitchen signals, moments before the timer goes off, that this lovingly prepared desert is ready to come out of the oven.
Let it cool for about 10 minutes before you tip the finished product out of the pan onto a cooling rack.
Oh, it’s tempting to slice into it – but wait! This cake deserves a special presentation. Allow it to cool completely before you ice it with the maple syrup icing.
This is the final touch.
Serve this delightful offering with a special pride. Be prepared for compliments galore. Those who partake will wonder why THIS cake brings such pleasure.
I’ll let you in on the secret: Baking with mindfulness imbues its own special ingredient no matter what the finished product is – sweet or savory. Can you guess?
Though not listed in the recipe, it is LOVE.
May you be a happy baker.
May you be a satisfied baker.
May you be a skilled baker.
May you bake with ease.
Here, then, without further ado, is Dorie Greenspan’s quintessential "All-In-One Holiday Bundt Cake" found on Page 187 of Baking - From My Home to Yours.
(With a few adjustments on my part)
2 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking powder ½ teaspoon baking soda 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon ¼ teaspoon nutmeg Pinch of salt 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1&1/4 sticks (10Tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature 1 cup sugar ½ cup (packed) light brown sugar 2 large eggs, room temperature 15 ounces canned unsweetened pumpkin puree 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1 large apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped 1 cup Craisens (dried, sweetened cranberries) 1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-10-inch (12cup) Bundt pan. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and ginger.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and both sugars together at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the pumpkin and chopped apple. Don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Still on low speed, add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. With a rubber spatula, stir in the Craisens and pecans. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with the rubber spatula.
Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minute before unmolding, then cool to room temperature on the rack.
Maple syrup Icing: (optional – but highly recommended)
Sift 6 Tablespoons confectioner’s sugar into a bowl.
Stir in 2 Tablespoons maple syrup.
Add more maple syrup little by little, until you have an icing that runs nicely off the tip of spoon – you might need additional ½ Tablespoon syrup to get the right consistency.
Drizzle the icing from the tip of the spoon onto the domed cake – allowing it to drip down the sides of the cake. Sprinkle a few chopped pecans onto the icing.
Allow the icing to set for a few minutes before serving.
Linda is an empty nester - who has taken over vacated bedrooms for creative purposes or at least creative possibilities and good intentions. She loves to bake and is making her way through Dorie Greenspan’s, Baking – From My Home to Yours, by trying one new recipe each week. Her husband is a grateful guinea pig and friends and neighbors are the glad recipients of the surplus. Other interests are hiking, camping, reading and knitting. Some days, she imagines that she is a writer & a nature photographer. Passionate about wholeness and healing, her sweet spot is that of practicing Spiritual Companioning and Spiritual Direction.
One of my new favorites for "Healthy Eating" is Thai food. My daughter who lives in the DC area has turned me on to trying new ethnic foods. My last visit with her included a night out at a small yet authentically and intimate Thai restaurant. The smells, the freshness of the food and the health benefits made me fall in love with appreciation of healthy eating. I started doing research on Thai food and the immune-boosting and simplistic ease of making Thai dishes started my new adventure of "Cooking Thai."
Thai cuisine is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. In fact, several Thai dishes, such as Tom Yum Soup, are currently under scientific study for their incredible health benefits. Of course, it's already known that many of the fresh herbs and spices used in Thai cooking, such as turmeric, galangal, coriander, lemongrass, and fresh chillies, have immune-boosting and disease-fighting power. Find out more about these and other ingredients that contribute to making Thai food one of the healthiest you can eat. I suggest a Goggle search, you will find so much information and many recipes.
Thai food is one the most followed food trends across the world. Thai food is adored and savored for the perfect aroma and smack of its various dishes. Thai food is a perfect blend of its neighboring regions like India and China, which also satisfies the Western palate. No wonder why it is so popular! Similar to various types of Asian cuisine, Thai food mainly includes rice and noodles. Apart from rice, it also includes numerous savory fish recipes, vegetables, herbs and spices, that bring a salty, saucy and sour flavor to this irresistible Eastern delight. However, many health conscious people are inquisitive asking a basic question, "Is Thai food healthy?" Frankly speaking, health benefits of Thai food entirely depend on the kind of Thai recipes that you consume. (Source: Important Food Facts byRutuja Jathar)
Harmony of taste is the basic principle of Thai food, which you can easily find in all the Thai recipes that you make or order. Hence, remember that Thai food recipes like Tom Yum soup, chili hot chicken, fish cakes and Phad ka Prao are all made with utmost balance of ingredients and flavor. Before finding the answer to the question, "Is Thai food healthy?", we need to understand that Thai food doesn't contain big meat chunks and large animals. The meat that is included in the Thai food is fortified and shredded with various herbs and healthy vegetables. This fact makes the Thai food all the more healthy and tempting.
Secondly, authentic Thai food recipes are prepared with some of the best cooking methods like stewing, grilling and baking, that include least amount of oil and hence they preserve food's nutrition to the fullest. It also means that other cooking methods like frying, deep frying and stir frying were introduced to them by foreign countries like China and Japan. Thai food is also hugely influenced by Dutch, French and Portuguese cuisine and other nearby Asian regions like Vietnam, Burma, Malaysia and Laos.
Whether healthy eating healthy is Thai food or something else, the objective is to feed your body, mind, spirit and soul with nutrition and nurturing meals that are good for you. This will lead to better health. (Also a huge help to those who suffer with chronic disorders and dis-ease.)
Many blessings as you eat healthier and enjoy the change it will bring to the table. With a heart of health and best eating wishes and practices to everyone.
Put the string beans and frozen edamame into a steamer basket and steam them for 4 minutes. Transfer the beans to a large bowl and put them into the refrigerator to cool for 15 minutes or longer.
In a small bowl whisk together the oil, vinegar, apricot preserves, sugar and ginger. Add the black beans and scallions to the other beans, drizzle with dressing, and toss to coat. Season with salt, to taste.
1 (14-ounce) can lite coconut milk (recommended: A Taste of Thai)
1 lemon, zested
Freshly chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish
Directions Season chicken breast pieces with Thai seasoning; set aside. Spray a large nonstick skillet with olive oil cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add seasoned chicken, onion, garlic and mushrooms. Saute until chicken is just cooked, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the green beans, chicken stock, coconut milk and lemon zest. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the beans are cooked al dente, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve hot garnished with cilantro.
Miso Soup with Vegetable Stock and Tofu
1/3 ounce konbu (kelp), about 2 or 3 squares
4 cups vegetable stock, recipe follows
3 large dry wood ear mushrooms, wiped clean
2 teaspoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons white or yellow miso paste
1 tablespoon brown miso paste
1/4 cup finely sliced scallions
4 ounces tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Directions To make the "dashi" soup stock, in a large saucepan, combine the konbu and vegetable stock and heat over medium-low heat almost to the boiling point. Remove the konbu just before the mixture comes to a boil and discard. Remove from the heat and skim any foam that rises to the surface. Let stand for 2 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a saucepan. Keep warm over low heat. Add the mushrooms and soy sauce to the dashi and steep until mushrooms are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, and when cool enough to handle, slice thinly. Return to the liquid. Add the miso pastes and cook over low heat, stirring to dissolve. Add the scallions and tofu and cook until warmed through, about 3 minutes. Serve immediately.
We spend so much of our days expending our energies on tasks that may not cater directly to our own needs. We know in our hearts that not giving to or caring for ourselves depletes us and weakens our continued attempts to keep up with our responsibilities.
I have found that when I sprinkle my days with little dollops of comfort I keep feelings of overwhelm at bay. I guess we could think of comfort as the ultimate luxury. It’s a luxury we can give ourselves each day and not only on special occasions.
Start with the following eight simple gifts of comfort in your home to give you a sense of well-being and contentment because you are important, special and deserve it.
1. The best position for your bed is where it feels most comfortable to you but still allows an easy traffic flow. Place yours at an angle or off-centre on a wall so you can enjoy a view through your window, even if you can only see is the sky.
2. Pile lots of pretty pillows on your bed for a luxurious look and ample comfort for reading there. When you are ready to sleep, store them on a chair or in a corner. If you have room, place a bench or small chair at the foot of the bed and leave your bedspread there at night.
3. Keep a small, personal basket on your bedside table. Include such items as a drinking glass, a spoon, lip balm, hand cream, nighttime medication, cologne etc. If you prefer not to have them exposed, use a covered basket or throw a small scarf over them.
4. If you don’t have room in your kitchen for a family-sized breakfast table, put a small two-chair porch set next to a window or snuggled in a corner. It could be your special space. Use it to enjoy some natural light, a view of your garden or the busy street. In fact, it makes for the perfect spot to read, write or engage in some other activity while cooking something you need to keep your eye on. Your husband and children can also use the space to keep you company while you prepare meals.
5. Make your living room your favorite place to relax. Visitors shouldn’t be the only ones who get to sit here and enjoy this room. You should too even if by yourself. Dress it up with the things you cherish. Create the kind of atmosphere that pulls you in and encourages you to linger. Group your furniture for small, cozy intimate sitting areas. Small groups make a room inviting and warm. They also encourage conversation and spontaneity.
6. Keep your dining table clear of clutter especially if it is visible from other rooms in your home. Clutter anywhere creates a sense of confusion and doesn’t order well for calm, harmonious and comfortable living. A beautiful centerpiece need not be elaborate or expensive. Pick a couple of related items from your kitchen cabinets and group them for an eye-pleasing display.
7. If you still enjoy the pleasure of writing letters by hand, keep a box of stationery, stamps and a selection of assorted postcards and paper in a basket or box, along a few pens. You could keep your journal there as well. With a well-equipped basket like this, you can choose to sit anywhere in your home to catch up on correspondence or other paperwork.
8. Adopt a slower pace when at home. After a hectic week of eating on the run, savor your weekend meals. After each meal, don’t rush off to do household chores. Linger a while, reflect on your day.
In the spirit of giving and good cheer, pamper your body, warm your heart and soothe your soul. Give yourself some simple gifts of comfort.
Year after year our family grows. We have 4, 5, and even 6 separate "christmas parties" to attend each December. It is rather easy to get overwhelmed and rushed. Gifts being thrown at the children after they've eaten pumpkin pie and cookies does not always seem to be the most loving combination (all though it sounds like it would be). Especially when you do this 4, 5 or even 6 times!
This year I am really trying to help my daughter understand how truly blessed we are so that she may truly and genuinely thankful and appreciative throughout this crazy busy time. I want us to remember each other and the love we shared. I want us to remember hearing grandmas and grandpas telling us stories or sharing their old recipes with us. I want us to remember the little cousins dancing to Christmas music together and smiling from ear to ear. I want my nieces and nephews to remember how safe and loved they felt in the arms of me and my family. It's not about the toys and the overindulgence that has become Christmas. It's about breathing in the simple goodness that is family. It's about family and friends knowing and feeling how special and important they are to us because we took the time and found the energy and words to make sure they were aware of their roles in our lives.
May your holidays be filled with an abundance of beautiful and loving blessings.
Parties, presents, desserts and pies oh my!
These are some of the joys during our holiday times.
You’ll see friendly faces, worship, praise, and say grace.
You’ll fill your little belly with lots of love and flavor.
Made by those who enjoy and savor
Your presence and smile.
All you have to do my sweet child,
Is open your heart to receive and give out love wherever you go.
Those you love will spend money, love and time
Creating days and moments for you to feel much delight.
We are blessed with family, food and friends.
We are gifted these moments to enjoy and extend
Our hearts, our hands, our smiles and our gifts.
Use your smile and laughter to uplift and shift
The holiday grinches you meet and help them to see
How blessed we are and how thankful we can be.
It’s up to us to spread the love.
It’s up to us to share our hugs.
We are blessed. We are so fortunate.
Let us share what we have in every moment.
It’s the holidays. It’s time to pray.
It’s time to give thanks and appreciate.
The things we will receive are special and great.
The family, friends, and love are even better.
Rejoice, enjoy, uplift, give, share, care, bless, pray and play
All through these spectacular and love filled holidays.
If you're able to do so you may have just found your way
to create more happy and healthy moments during these cold and snowy days.