As I sit here on this dreary rainy day, I am dreaming of sunshine and spring menu planning. Fresh strawberries, crisp lettuce & of course asparagus, just to name a few of my spring favorites. Last week at the farmer’s market I saw signs of spring popping up with fresh ripe strawberries for sale (granted, they were from North Carolina, not Virginia, but it is a sign of what is to come). As I have gotten older, I have developed a much greater appreciation for the simplicity of fresh, local food. Additionally, fresh produce is loaded with vitamins & minerals & offers a whole host of health benefits. This recipe will most definitely be prepared in my house after the first sighting of asparagus at the Lynchburg Farmer’s Market.
Roasted Asparagus with Lemon Zest & Cheese
· 1 pound asparagus (skinnier may be better)
· 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
· 1-2 tablespoons finely grated hard cheese, such as 3-year gouda or parmesan
· 1 tablespoon lemon zest, plus lemon slices for garnish
· Salt & pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Fit a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Cut the last inch from each stalk of asparagus and discard. Spread stalks out on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, using a pastry brush to coat each stalk, or simply turning the stalks over with a fork until they are well coated. Sprinkle with cheese and lemon zest, and then season with salt & pepper.
3. Bake for 10-13 minutes, until tops of the asparagus, start to turn crisp and stalks are bright green. They should be tender through. Serve hot, with lemon slices for garnish.
Source: Foraged Dish
In case you missed it as you were scraping the snow off your car, spring officially began over a week ago. But the signs are there, with more every day! Among other things, spring is characterized as a season of renewal, rebirth, refresh, re-imagining. Sometimes that means cleaning up or cleaning out; donating clothes and stuff; planting flowers, fertilizing, pruning.
How do these activities and intentions manifest at work? April tends to look like an episode of Survivor in the MG world. Thinking about anything other than the work at hand is difficult if not laughable. And, yet, as we plow through the busy day-to-day demands and #allthatextracatering, we still have our own spirit to nurture and tend as well as the spirits of our teammates.
“Life is like an echo, what you send out comes back to you.” —Chinese proverb
Miriam’s Tortilla Soup
1 T olive oil
2 ea corn tortillas
½ c ea celery & onion, diced small
1 ½ t fresh garlic, minced
2 ½ c marinara sauce
1 ¼ c canned diced tomatoes, with juice
1 qt vegetable broth
3 T fresh cilantro, chopped
Heat oil in saucepan, medium heat. Fry tortillas until crispy, remove. drain well, set aside.
Add celery & onions to pan, sweat 6-8 mins
Add garlic, sweat 1 minute
Add marinara sauce, diced tomatoes & broth. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium, simmer 30-45 minutes
Crush up fried tortilla, add to soup. Simmer 10 minutes
Use immersion or traditional blender, puree until very smooth
Garnish with cilantro
Does weight loss equal improved health? This is one of the questions that a recent article sought to answer by talking to various health experts about weight and health. It’s no secret our sedentary society is predominately overweight & seemingly always on a diet. Yet, only 20 % of people are successful at long -term weight loss. We know that obesity is a series risk to our physical health, yet our tactics to lose weight often backfire, introducing anxiety about foods, body dissatisfaction and eating disorders. What is the ultimate solution? One expert’s common sense recommendation is to take the focus off weight loss and on how to improve our fitness & nutrition, which is a far more achievable long-term goal. Rather than defining our health based on a single scale number, we can make positive lifestyle choices such as being physically active, eating healthy & not smoking.
Check out the full article here:
Why you should stop trying to lose weight
1 head cauliflower, bottom & leaves removed, head intact
2 T olive oil
¼ t ea s&p
3 T butter
1 T fresh garlic, minced
3 T ap flour
1 ¾ c chicken broth
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 T capers, with a little juice
1. Place cauliflower in cast iron skillet, drizzle oil, s&p
2. Cover with foil, cook 40-60 minutes, 400° oven
3. Sauté garlic in melted butter, in saucepan
4. Combine oil & flour to make paste, add to pan, cook until golden brown
5. Add chicken broth slowly, add lemon juice & capers, bring to boil, simmer 15-20 min
6. Remove cauliflower from pan, top with sauce
– to make gluten free use 1 T arrowroot instead of flour
– sub vegetable broth for vegetarian
As I was prepping dinner one night, my 5-year-old sauntered by and declared in his most dramatic voice “wow, she lost a lot of weight.” My initial thought was utter cluelessness and then I realized he had caught sight of the Nutrisystem TV commercial showcasing drastic weight loss. Mind you, this is a happy go lucky 5 year old who is generally unaware of the pressures of everyday life, so his comment gave me great pause. This was followed by my 4 year old daughter quoting “bye-bye belly fat” followed by a flurry of giggles. Why did this weight loss commercial catch their attention? I pondered; what are we teaching our youth about their bodies? Already, two young ones, who in reality probably never gave their own body weight much thought, are picking up the messages that fat = bad and skinny = good. Already receiving messages of shame regarding our food choices & body weight. Yet, despite the shame & constant messaging that our life will magically improve with weight loss, we as a nation are still overweight, still depressed & still sedentary. We have turned food into the enemy, putting it in the same category as other addictive substances. The catch is, food is essential for life; we cannot sustain ourselves without it. Yet, we still are unable to make peace with food & stop thinking of food as the one barrier to our life of everlasting skinniness.
The intuitive eating & mindful eating movements have made great strides in changing our toxic relationship with food. However, they don’t offer the quick fix of diets & many people are simply unwilling to put in the long-term effort (i.e. slow results) required for healthy lifestyle weight loss success. Next month’s blog will highlight some of the main principles of these eating movements (notice the absence of diet) and how we can incorporate them into our life.
Lastly, it is useful to remind ourselves, that health isn’t always about weight. An extreme crash diet, may achieve your weight loss goal, but does it accomplish your long-term health goals?
There is obviously a reason diets are advertised over and over, they do not achieve sustainable weight loss. Sustainable being the key word.
Who doesn’t love the good times? Those special events that go so well. That account makeover that has long-time partners all a twitter. That simple, wowsy addition to a regular lunch meal that has the kids going crazy.
But, it doesn’t – always – go that way, does it?
We’re told not to be emotionally attached to the outcome. I couldn’t disagree more.
I want you and your team to care about results. The easy emotion is feeling the rush of excitement when your team nails it. It’s the uncomfortable feelings we try to avoid: disappointment, regret, and frustration. I used to dismiss uncomfortable emotions. I’d rally the troops with “it’s all good” and look for the “silver lining” and the “lessons learned.” While there’s still value in seeing the bright side, it wasn’t until I finally let the disappointment hit our shared ego and pride that powerful progress was made.
Speak calmly and plainly. Talk about failed promises to the customer. Talk about commitments to excellence. Ask who is willing to be the best. And when folks say “me” – ask everyone (yourself included) to share what they will do, specifically and concretely, to step up. And, boom. If you do this, you will make the most of whatever went wrong, and your team will ignite a greater feeling of pride and shared responsibility.
2 ½ c water
2 ½ c milk
1 c white grits
2 c pimento cheese
1. Bring water/milk to boil, add grits, reduce heat, simmer 20 mins
2. Stir in pimento cheese, s&p to taste
3. Serve immediately
4. Can chill & reheat in casserole, 350° for 30-45 mins
After reading Loving Your Food, I thought long and hard about my current eating habits. While I enjoy the process of cooking, I admit the pleasure I derive from eating pleasure is less than desirable. My eating life has turned into a multi-tasking marathon; it is far easier for me to stand up and complete unfinished tasks as I mindlessly shovel food in my mouth (OK, maybe not shovel, but certainly not eating in the most dignified manner). Obviously, as an RD, this is certainly not good practice as half the time I don’t even realize what I am eating. This article was a good reminder that the act of eating is one of pleasure that should truly be enjoyed. When we rush and multitask while consuming food, that pleasure is gone. Furthermore, we miss the benefit of making mindful choices that not only taste good, but also are also good for us.
The last few days I have tweaked some of the habits that crept into my daily life. I actually sit down and look at my food., I take the time to drink water throughout the day & am taking time to make foods that I alone enjoy. I’m rediscovering that eating is for sustenance and pleasure.
The love of your life has died suddenly. Can you imagine feeling joy ever again?
Sheryl Sandberg went through this experience. She’s written a book about it, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resistance and Finding Joy. She believes resilience is like a muscle and can be built up, that life is never perfect, and doesn’t always go according to plan. “We all live some form of Option B.”
An FBI Agent (and former “fancy department store buyer”), shares her thoughts on resilience – discovered from her earliest experiences at the FBI Academy:
- Accept that it’s not all about you. “You don’t need more mantras or affirmations; you need a better way to look at your world.”
- Refuse to play the blame game. “Life is hard. Pain is inevitable. Growth is optional.”
- Bring it on. Getting knocked down is part of life…getting back up is, too.
- Stop trying to be happy. Happiness is an emotion that draws its power from others. Joy is an attitude that depends only on you.
The gym is crowded in January. This muscle can be exercised anywhere.