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