Friday, November 29, 2019

The Dutch Art of Doing Nothing

It might be too late, you might just be getting in from BLACK FRIDAY.  
  Humankind has got to stop that insanity.  You don't need to mindlessly acquire "stuff" to be fulfilled.  Stop and give thoughtful consideration to purchasing useful gifts for those you love.  A wise person once said "Stop buying crap, and companies will stop making crap"  Instead of torturing yourself with the madness, try doing what the Dutch do,( they do happen to be one of the happiest country in the world)  Niksen: The Art of Doing Nothing

This an article from Blue Zones.
Have a great week.
Be kind.

Niksen: The Dutch Art of Purposefully Doing Nothing

By Elisabeth Almekinder, Health Journalist, Registered Nurse, and Diabetes Educator for the Manos Unidas North Carolina Farmworker Health Program
Doing nothing, but with a purpose to do nothing or no purpose at all, may help to decrease anxiety, bring creativity to the surface, and boost productivity. The Dutch have perfected the practice of doing nothing, or “niksen” so well that they are some of the happiest people on earth.
I encourage you to loosen your concept of time and productivity and practice this simple exercise from the Netherlands. Allowing your brain to rewire from stress by doing nothing is a wellness practice worth implementing. If you are sitting in a cafe, you can indulge in some stress-busting niksen but sipping your coffee and looking out the window. Leave your phone in your pocket, and let your mind wander. It’s not mindfulness; a better definition would be a short period of mindless relaxation. 
It’s not mindfulness; a better definition would be a short period of mindless relaxation. 

What makes the  Dutch happier than most people?

Dan Buettner has studied the practices of the happiest people on earth wherever they reside. In the blue zones, people find ways to downshift daily. They are not immune to stress, but they have routines that help them to minimize and shed that stress. In Ikaria they take daily naps, in Okinawa they find time to think of their ancestors, and in Sardinia they meet with friends and neighbors for daily happy hours. The Dutch have similar lifestyle habits, which helps keep them at the top of life satisfaction charts. We know Dutch children are some of the happiest in the world, and Holland also enjoys some of what our research shows builds the happiest societies:  a shorter than average workday, national healthcare, and a reduced tuition university system.
Another buzzword “Hygge” comes from Denmark, and refers to being cozy and full of contentment. This tradition is carried down by generations when family members cuddle up in blankets and warm clothing from head to toe and gather by the fireside and candlelight together to enjoy simple pleasures. In Sweden, they value a healthy work-life balance. “Lagom” is their philosophy that everyone should have enough. It means “Not too little. Not too much. Just right.” This term represents their slower-paced, simple life.
Although we often refer to these imported concepts as trends, they have never gone out of style in their native cultures. Just as we use the concept of “ikigai” to explain the longevity culture in the blue zones region of Okinawa, Japan and “pura vida” to understand the blue zones hotspot in Costa Rica, applying traditional wisdom to help cure the ailments of modern life.

Try doing nothing

If mindfulness exercises and meditation are leaving you wondering if you’re doing them right, try niksen. Don’t overthink. Set a time to sit and stare out a window. Allow your mind to wander aimlessly, and let yourself simply, “Be.”
I find that nature helps me achieve niksen. My favorite spot to practice this non-mindfulness exercise is on my screened porch. It’s quiet there, and I can concentrate on the nothingness of the crickets chirping or the frogs croaking.
My mind will wander until I lose track of time. Make sure to leave cell phones and other distractions behind. Focus on a cloud, a tree or a bird perched silently on a limb. Listen to the rain or concentrate on the cicadas buzzing.

What’s the science behind the benefits of doing nothing?

Why will making sure you regularly do nothing increase your feelings of happiness? Unproductive time can make us healthier and happier, according to science. When we remain idle with no agenda, we turn on the creativity centers in the brain. People experiencing work stress and burnout at a coaching center in the Netherlands reported decreased feelings of stress and increased happiness when they practiced niksen versus when they didn’t practice it regularly.

Why do we resist doing nothing?

Perhaps it attests to how busy our society has become in the United States that we think it “lazy” to practice niksen. When students were asked to practice niksen during their meditation and mindfulness practice for five short minutes, many felt they had “too much to do,” felt like it was the lazy thing to do and didn’t associate it with productivity increases, as the Dutch do.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Having a Stress-Free Thanksgiving


The Holidays are upon us!
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, let us continue to focus on gratitude and how important it is show how much we love those around us.  We all know when some family and friends together it can become pretty stressful.  Everyone has their own opinions and like to let it be heard.  Remember to be the one to put out positive energy, helping to keep the chaos down.
It doesn't have to be challenging when different eating habits come together for a meal like Thanksgiving.  In our home, we enjoy a mostly plant-based meal, no turkey, ham or any type of meat.  There might be a little dairy, but only if you choose to partake.  Aside from meat, most traditional Thanksgiving meals are already plant-based anyway. You can replace butter with Earth Balance and eggs can be replaced with "flax eggs" when baking treats.
This year we are having our son, daughter-in-law and grandson join us for the feast.  They will be bringing their own roasted turkey breast and chocolate pie (our Grandson is a chocolate loving freak!) while we enjoy our usual "Tofurky Roast" and vegan pumpkin pie.

Here is our Thanksgiving Menu from Bree:
Tofurky Roast: Despite the mocking reactions of non-vegetarians when they hear the word “tofurky”, the Tofurky Roast is actually really good. It’s a lot less dry than your typical Thanksgiving turkey and is great the next day on a sandwich.
Mashed Potatoes: The variation of mashed potatoes changes year-to-year, so it could be chunky or more of a puree, but we always use Earth Balance and season with lots of salt and pepper. After making pierogi filling this way recently, I think this year we’ll add some caramelized onions to the mashed potatoes for extra flavor.
Cornbread Stuffing with Sage: We live in the south, so it’s cornbread stuffing for us with lots of sage for peak autumnal flavor.
Cranberry-Apple Sauce: This is my mom’s go-to sauce and it’s delicious. It’s made from fresh cranberries, so it’s not a jello-like texture. It’s more like a sauce with small apple chunks that add sweetness and good texture.
Deviled Eggs: To me, you can’t have Thanksgiving without deviled eggs as an appetizer. There’s no vegan hack here. 😅
Italian Green Beans: The flat, Italian-style green beans are my absolute favorite. I can’t explain it, I just love the texture of these.
Parker House Rolls: We change style of rolls year-by-year, but this year we’re planning on doing classic, homemade Parker House rolls because I’m trying to practice baking bread more.
Sweet Potato Casserole: For another side, we like to do sweet potato casserole. This is one of those cases where we use Earth Balance in place of butter.
Vegan Pumpkin Pie: It’s really simple to make pumpkin pie vegan because you really just don’t need to use the eggs or evaporated milk used in other recipes in order to get the custardy filling. I love the Minimalist Baker recipe.
Apple Pie: I’ve considered doing a cranberry pie this year, but I’m sticking with a classic apple. I’m going to use a traditional apfelstrudel filling and do a Dutch crumb topping.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Coconut Ginger Tempeh Rice

  On Sunday, I prep meals for lunches to last throughout the week.  Here is a protein and fiber packed idea.
Coconut Ginger Tempeh Buddha Bowls
Prepare 1 cup brown rice according to instructions.
Add 1 vegetable bouillon cube for flavor to water while cooking.
While rice is cooking, cut 1-16 oz. package of organic Tempeh into small 1/2" cubes.
Boil the cut pieces in salted water for approximately 5 minutes.  
In a oiled skillet, on medium heat brown the tempeh for 10-15 minutes, adding whatever spices you like(curry, cumin, smoked paprika, etc.) 
Remove from the skillet and set aside.
Prepare 1 -16 oz. can of organic beans of your choice (black, white, red etc.) 
Add whatever spices you prefer while cooking( garlic salt, onion, cumin etc.)
When rice is cooked add 2 tablespoons of unrefined coconut oil and good amount of ground ginger and mix well.
Combine rice, tempeh and beans together in large bowl.  Mix thoroughly.
Add salt and black pepper.

While prepping for lunch simply layer a bowl with spinach, kale or romaine etc.  Fill bowl with rice mixture and top with cherry tomatoes or avocado slices and even some roasted seeds.

You should able to get 5 lunches from this recipe.

Have a great week.
Be Kind

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Recommended Reading 09/03/19

It's Recommended Reading time!!
This weeks post is a few days late thanks to Hurricane Dorian.  We have been prepping for the storm, and heading inland to some gracious friends home to spend a few days from the coast.  Our hearts go out to those in the Bahamas who have been hit the hardest so far.  Elbow Key, Abaco which took the initial hit is a beautiful serene little island where I have been surfing and I know those residents are hurting.  I hope the whole East Coast of the U.S. stays strong and be strong.

Unfortunately with the climate emergency storms like Dorian are going to be commonplace.
Bill Nye gives us 3 things we can do to combat climate change.
Here are some Sustainable Eating Tips to help save the planet.

Image result for no planet b


We all know carbs give us energy, but too many carbs?, 4 easily-missed signs you are eating too many.
As much as 75% of cancer can be linked to our food choices, here are 5 food choices to help fight cancer.

If you haven't heard Burger King is now offering the Impossible Whopper, I must say they are very good but I feel very weird going into Burger King! At least now while on the road you have more plant-based options to choose from.  Just don't give in to the temptation and get the greasy fries and soda.  
Here's a easy and healthy recipe for Avocado & White Bean Salad Wrap.
For any newcomers to a plant-based lifestyle here's a plant-based primer guide.


How emotional stress can ruin your life.
Beat "monkey mind" with these breathing techniques.
Blue Zones Project Hawaii: Street Art Makes Pedestrians Safer.
Oceans Disconnected:

"No matter how far you have gone on the wrong road, you can always turn back."

Have great week.
Be kind.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Amsterdam Rice

Amsterdam Rice

While in Amsterdam this past May, we were blessed with awesome daily food choices from the Marriott's  M lounge.   This is our take on a dish we call "Amsterdam Rice".
You will need:

1- 16 oz Extra Firm Tofu
Soyaki or Teriyaki Sauce for marinating.
1- Vegetable bouillon cube.
3-combo of yellow squash and zucchini.
1-sweet onion.
2-3 colorful combo bell peppers.
olive oil.
salt and pepper.

Cut tofu into 3/4" cubes and marinate in teriyaki sauce, flipping several times for 30 minutes,
Bake at 350' for 45 minutes, flipping every 15 minutes.
Largely dice squash, zucchini, bell peppers and onions.

Once tofu is done (unless you have 2 ovens) toss veggies with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake at 450' for 30 minutes, flipping a few times.

Prepare 1 cup of rinsed Jasmine rice according to direction,  using 1 cube of vegetable bouillon for flavoring.  When rice is done, stir in 1 tsp turmeric.  

In a large serving bowl mix all ingredients together.
This makes approximately 6 servings.

"When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive-
to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love"
Marcus Aurelius

Have a great week.
Be kind.
Go green.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Recommended Reading 08/04/19

I have been on a social media  "cutback" over the past few weeks.  I haven't posted anything on the blog for 3 weeks, but I am back with my favorite type of post.  Let us get started with:

Being one that works outside, I have definitely noticed a change in the environment; 
IT IS GETTING HOTTER.  I have noticed small changes in nature.  One example: Podocarpus is ornamental shrub used in Florida as a hedge or a specimen bush.  They produce a small purple berry which ripens in July- August which birds quickly consume.  They are edible and can be made into a native jelly.  The concern, is last year and this year I have not found very many.  Another example is the Smilax vine, just this year I have noticed a large decline in new growth (which is delicious raw and better saute'd in vegan butter and garlic). In the natural areas that I work it grows in abundance.   Not sure why this is but it is puzzling.  Nothing like the looks I get when I break off  a fresh tender shoot and eat it.  No, it doesn't taste like chicken, more like fresh asparagus!  Non-native invasive species are on the move from the southern warm areas in Florida towards the north.  Ex:Melaleuca trees (predominantly found in southern Florida) have now moved into northern central Florida.  I have even found a lone small Melaleuca on the Fl-Ga. border!
Climate Change is happening right now and we have the knowledge to stop the madness.
*It's warming.
*It's us.
*We're sure.
*It's bad.
*We CAN fix it.

Bees and other pollinators are crucial for our food production:
The Netherlands  have turned 316 bus stops into homes for bees.

The Florida Everglades is changing daily. The Snakes That Ate Florida: Python Invasion.

Since Shark Week wraps up today on Discovery Channel here are some crucial points on sharks:
100 Million Sharks are killed every year.

Watch "Saving Jaws"  on for free.

Niacin (B3)helps our bodies turn food into fuel. Studies have also shown it raises good HDL and lowers triglycerides as well or better then prescription drugs. Her are 30 foods high in niacin.

How can you can consume iron rich foods to get the right amount your body needs? What is iron? and why is it important

From the No Meat Athlete: The Only Plant Power Bowl You Will Ever Need.

9 High Protein Breakfasts without eggs.

Everyone needs a daily mindfulness practice.  Here's a some simple techniques.

Start each day with gratitude and see how your outlook will change.
 Have a great week.
Be kind.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

The Power of Peas

Image result for peas


Children cry at the sight of them, while mom's try to hide them in mashed potatoes.  I remember it well, I begged my mom not to make me eat them,  I could not swallow a spoon full of peas, my throat just wouldn't open.  But now, I love peas, especially with vegan butter, salt and pepper mixed with home-made mashed potatoes.  Peas just weren't getting any respect.
There is a "pea revolution" going on.  Pea protein is high in muscle building in BCAA, branch chain amino acids, but is considered an "incomplete" protein because it is low in methionine and tryptophan.  Luckily "incomplete" proteins can compliment each other to provide all the necessary amino acids.  Research has shown that if you are eating a variety of sources throughout the day, it all evens out.  Also pea protein is naturally free of dairy, nuts and gluten, making it perfect for those with allergy or dietary restrictions.  And it is easier on the digestive system than dairy-based proteins.  Plant-based proteins are more sustainable than animal-derived ones, making it another great reason to chose pea protein.  They use less water, fortify the soil and use less energy resources to produce.
These sweet little orbs are packed with vitamin K and soluble fiber which can lower cholesterol and help you lose weight by making you feel full and satisfied longer.
Beyond Meat's Beast Burger  has 20 grams of protein derived from pea isolates per burger.  If you haven't grilled one of these, you simply must.  You will be totally surprised and your carnivore friends might look at 'veggie' burgers in a new light.

3 Ways Protein-Packed Peas Are Winning Over Hearts, Minds and Taste Buds Everywhere

Animal agriculture is not sustainable and we must switch to a plant-based food system.  Want to help reverse global warming?  Try adding this food group to your diet.

We all know how expensive protein powders cost, mostly because of the process to obtain the protein isolates.  But here is a way to save money by making your own powder:
From Scratch Powder
3/4 cup chia seeds
3/4 cup raw unsalted sunflower seeds
3/4 cup hemp seeds
3/4 cup flax seeds

Grind all seeds in a food processor until a fine powder is formed.
Store in a airtight glass container.
This makes 8-1/4 cup servings. Use it in baked goods, soups, sauces or smoothies.

Have a great week.
Be kind.