Fresh Color for Dinner!

Mom and Dad Florida

Dad and Mom outside their Florida Home, 1970s

My Dad was right. During his adult years high blood pressure was a dangerous problem because he had a type of hypertension not well-managed with the existing medication. In an effort to help himself he turned to naturopathic medicine. Dad tirelessly promoted a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, at least that’s how it seemed to us sitting at the dinner table. He became the food explorer, trying new flavors and combinations and pressing his discoveries on the rest of the family.

There was no stopping Dad when he leaned over my dinner plate, squeezing fresh lemon on all the vegetables, meat and potatoes saying, “This will make you beautiful!” He often railed against our packaged snack foods of childhood. Mom was no help; she went along with all his ideas. I’m sure she hoped a cure was in reach and his strategy would keep his debilitating disease at bay.

Carrot Appetizer

Carrot, hummus, and sunflower seed appetizer

It turns out Dad didn’t go far enough. Over the years I‘ve been inspired by his food adventurism myself. I cherish the memories of group meals and extended family dinners from my childhood and with our own family and friends today. Healthy fresh meals, full of fun preparations and festive gathering together, remain high spots on my life landscape. For a while though I lost sight of Dad’s full aim, his belief that through loving interaction we also can use food as medicine.

Today there are many voices hawking food cures, touted to us daily across the media. Popularizing a particular food may give it the mantle of fad or quick fix (really, an “it” veggie of the year?)  And ubiquitous food advice masks more serious issues of food access and quality control for large swathes of our population. Now it seems the media saturation, if effective to draw your attention, is increasingly important. A recent study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association shows people all across the country are dying daily from heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes due to poor diet. We are dying from lack of good food in our land of endless abundance and the all-you-can-eat buffet!

Savory pancake

Savory pancake with tomato and avocado-feta topping

Mainstream medicine is taking a life-changing step, to prescribe food and improved patient access to it through hospitals with a Fresh Food Pharmacy.

Not only that, teaching kitchens are springing up in primary care doctors’ offices, with the basic healthy food preparation skills deemed important to ensure compliance with food prescriptions. The loss of home economics in schools turns out to have endangered our entire national population. Good food practices are lacking across all economic strata. Ask your doctor about gaining food skills!

 

Strawberry huller tool

Fresh strawberries are easily prepped with a knife or strawberry huller tool

Healthy choices are a mark of self-care, just as Dad advocated all those years ago. When we teach our children and ourselves the powerful connection between choosing fresh ingredients and our health and wellbeing, we aren’t denying joy, we are embracing a whole new more joyous adventure into living life fully.

It does take inner strength to do this and a big dose of self-parenting as well. For the past two weeks I’ve been attempting a sugar and gluten cleanse with guidance and group support from Donna at Better Off Well. It’s been eye-opening to discover the hidden sugar and gluten in everyday food encounters. I discovered my own behavioral pitfalls and made substitutions for my food indulgences. Every day is not perfect, but I’m more aware and that makes my choices more mindful. This is a potentially life changing moment, and I know my parents would be pleased to see the lessons they introduced still having an impact.

CabbageslawDinner

Red cabbage and citrus slaw, sweet potato and kale-stuffed portobello mushroom

Here’s my latest Book Discovery—Vibrant India: Fresh Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Brooklyn by Chitra Agrawal. The South Indian cooking is light and fresh and full of color and flavor. Ingredients are widely available as are the spices. Take yourself on a food adventure in your kitchen!

And for the crime novel lovers, a dash of Indian food, history and culture is integral to the satirical murder mystery, Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye. As an admirer of Jane Eyre, Jane Steele must navigate the dangerous world of Victorian England to secure her lost inheritance. See my review on Goodreads for more.

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers and others who parent us along the way!

Photos and food prep, Claire Mauro

 

 

Dive Right In

Window on My World
Window on My World

That was fast! In the last 2 weeks we’ve seen the leaves on the trees pop open like umbrellas in a downpour and our weather is veering back and forth from rain to sunny heat. Our zucchini and cucumber plants appear to be growing so fast there are noticeable changes in leaf size and number from morning to evening. Nature, always in transition, is flexing its “becoming” muscle again! Continue reading

Habits Worth Cultivating

Mount Vernon kitchen garden
Mount Vernon kitchen garden

Every three months is a great time to assess our goals, take note of what we’ve achieved and reset our intentions for the next quarter and the year overall. How are you doing?

Take a look at your regular habits. Do they need an update? Here at The Parsley Way we have clearly defined regular practices that we advocate for wellness. The question is, do these practices help you maintain a sense of wellbeing that contributes to your overall productivity and meeting your goals? Continue reading

Spring Fling

Footwear transitions

Feeling a bit rushed off your feet? The blanket’s been ripped away, the hot chocolate sediment has settled at the bottom of the unfinished mug and the book has been abandoned by the easy chair. Up is down and it’s not just the chaos of the political races contributing to that unsettled feeling. Wait, wait, I haven’t finished knitting that scarf, didn’t make borscht, never needed the comfort of bread pudding. But it’s time. Continue reading

Can You Hear Me Now?

earbud

Hearing and Listening
What matters most to you in a conversation, having your say or understanding the other person? Sometimes it just boils down to what we feel we have time for. In the hectic rush of daily life, our personal agendas often rule out deeper listening in favor of general hearing.

We’ve all noticed how the vocal level in a conversation can go up when there are more people in the room. Multiple voices vying for attention add up to louder volume, and that in turn drives the volume up more. We can hear the wall of noise but listening to the words of a conversation is a lot more difficult. It’s made even more so by the fact that often we only have so much emotional energy and brain space to take in other people’s words. Listening well requires we give over our attention to the speaker and consider the words being said. It takes more than just volume to gain our attention. And that’s just the first step. Continue reading

Easing Into A New Year

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What a counter-intuitive start to Winter here in the northeast! The temperature and weather have been at odds with the available daylight. While we feel like we can go, go, go, the low levels and shorter duration of light are inviting us to slow down. All the energy expended during the holidays, followed by a more inward time, is part of an ancient cycle that we recognize at a deep level of our being. In today’s world it’s masked by the constant availability of man-made light in all its multimedia modes. We can take maximum benefit from the Winter season with some quiet moments of contemplation before going full bore into the new year. Continue reading