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Suzanne’s Blog

Thursday
Jun092016

Broth: Easy, Delicious and The Source of the Best Dinners

Dinner is a time to relax and connect after a long day filled with many activities. My intention is for dinner to be a tranquil oasis for my family, a place where we pause, give thanks, enjoy each other’s company, and eat delicious, nourishing food together. I’ve found that planning ahead makes this kind of peaceful dinner happen much more often.

While I love this special time of the day, the last thing I want is to eat a heavy meal that requires a lot of prep time in the kitchen, or hours of clean up in the evenings.

Having homemade broth on hand has made dinner a joy for me. It’s versatile, deeply nourishing, soothing, fast, and best of all, delicious and satisfying.  I’ve discovered broth can be the base for meals that can be lighter or heartier, depending on the season and the needs of members of the famly. 

Here’s the basic broth recipe we use, from The Splendid Table.  You can also buy broth easily at the store.

My husband makes broth every week or two, because we go through a lot, especially in the winter. It keeps well in the freezer.  It’s comforting to know that with broth in the freezer, and some veggies, I’ve got dinner.  Even in the summer, on cool days like today, it makes a perfect, nourishing dinner.

I don’t really follow a recipe, but create a broth-based dinner by reflecting on what would taste good to me, whatever’s in season, and what’s in my fridge.

Spring is often an especially busy time. Being exhausted recently, after a Saturday of garden work, and with 15 min. to prep dinner,  I melted frozen broth, and made this simple soup pictured above with carrots, bokchoy, spinach, noodles, and chicken.  I had the chicken leftover from lunch, and the veggies were what I had in the fridge.  The spices used were coriander, cumin, a pinch of cayenne, black pepper and soy sauce—but you can use whatever suits you.

This same broth works with canned tomatoes, chick peas, onions, basil and shrimp.  Rice, curry, tofu, veggies, and miso work too.  The variations are endless.  Try out combinations that appeal to you.

Broth makes delicious soups, healthy, satisfying dinners that save the day, and bring everyone together at our house—try it and see!


Wednesday
Jun012016

Nourish Yourself Better than Ever and Spend Less Time in the Kitchen

Today I can say that I’m nourishing myself better than ever, and spend far less time in the kitchen, both with food prep and clean up.  We eat a mostly plant-based diet of fresh, whole foods.  It’s easy, delicious, and my family loves it too. Because I’m happier, we’re all having more fun together.  After dinner is over it’s generally family time, we take a walk or relax together.  In addition, I’ve lost about 12 pounds without really trying!   And, because there was no dieting, there’s been no challenge in keeping the weight off. It’s incredible as I look back on the last year, but, my relationship with food and my kitchen wasn’t always working this easily!  

In the last year I’ve begun to implement a simple approach to making meals called “batch-tasking” that I learned as part of my training as a Yoga Health Coach.  “How easy can it be?” has become my mantra with meals and cooking.  Step by step, I changed the way I was cooking, eating, and stepped into a much healthier rhythm.   

Admitting there was a problem, was my first step toward action.  I was fairly healthy, but had started coming down with serious colds and sinus infections, especially around the holidays. I felt tired in the morning, and was using more and more coffee to get started, and I had gained about 10 pounds over the last few years. I thought my diet might have something to do with all of these issues.  Most importantly, and I was ready to make changes.  As I changed my approach to food prep and my kitchen, I found some days were good, and some days were a challenge, but over time, by taking small steps, big changes for the better happened!  

Here’s some of what I learned:

Guidelines for Better Nourishment with Less Kitchen Time:

1) Plan: Make a plan for the week’s meals, and go grocery shopping. If you have some fresh food in the house, everything is easier.  (It’s OK to make a really rough plan—at this point mine is usually, buy what’s fresh, what’s in season, and what looks good. You may need a more detailed plan, but grocery shopping is key.)

2) Do as much meal prep. as possible in the early morning, before the work day gets started.  You can cover a lot of territory by doing kitchen tasks early.  

3) Simple is better: Batch-tasking works by taking care of a few tasks for meals all at once, while you are in the kitchen.  Sweet potatoes can be baked in the morning and left out for lunch or dinner, lettuce can be cleaned and left in the spinner, right in the fridge ready for a meal.  Morning is the best time to make a kale salad, so it can marinate for the day.  Veggies, like beets or brussel sprouts, are roasted in the morning, ready to be put on salads. I spend about a half hour in the morning and get a lot done.  

4) Eat your main meal at noon.  There are huge benefits to this!  And while it takes a little getting used to, you’ll have so much more energy, you won’t look back.

5) Dinner is super simple, and at an earlier hour.  Because your lunch was satisfying and delicious, diner can be easier. Dinner for us happens most days around 6pm now, and is often an easily assembled salad with some smoked salmon, or roasted veggies from lunch.  Another favorite meal is homemade broth blended with roasted veggies for a delicious soup. Because prep. happened early in the day, there’s hardly any cleanup, which means more fun for everyone.  

In the beginning, I found these kitchen practices were challenging to get started, but now they’ve become automatic, and much easier; I’m so grateful I made the shift into more ease and more nourishment this year!

Thursday
Apr282016

Sleeping Helps You Get WAY More Done

 

Lack of sleep can cost us a great deal in terms of our our health, but what about the cost to our productivity?

We often sacrafice sleep because we want to be MORE productive, not less—isn’t burning the midnight oil helping us get more done?  

Actually no, it’s not. Harvard Medical School professor Ronald C. Kessler says, “Americans are not missing work because of insomnia, they’re still going to their jobs, but they are accomplishing less because they’re tired. In an information based-based economy, it’s difficult to find a condition that has a greater effect on our productivity.”

We don’t skip work when we are sleep deprived, we show up.  But unfortunatly we are not able to be mentally focused, or as creative, or as productive.  

Arrianna Huffinton says in her new book, The Sleep Revolution, that dispite the exra hours we put in at work, “loss of sleep adds up to more than 11 days of lost productivity per year per worker, or about $2,280. This results in a total annual cost of sleep deprivation to the US economy of more than $63 billion..”  

The lesson here?  Start to prioritize sleep, it’s going to help you get way more done. 

Monday
Apr112016

Be the Master of Your Technology Instead of it's Slave.

Here’s a simple tip I came up with after reading the the book Wisdom 2.0. by Soren Gordhamer.  This practice will help you become a master of the technology you use, instead of it’s slave.  
According to McKinsey & Company, a Global Consulting Firm, multitasking work environments are “killing productivity, dampening creativity, and making us unhappy.”  So here’s how I cut down on multi-tasking and stay focused.
1) First, I turn off my phone, FB, and email, and sit down at at my computer.  I sit up taller, close my eyes, and take 3 slow deep breaths, expanding the breath all the way down to my belly. 
2) Next I ask myself the question: “Where is my attention most needed at this moment?”  I listen to what arises.
3) I mindfully move my attention to that task, decide how long to devote to the task, and proceed to work in a focused way, without interruptions.
I’ve trained myself to to pause, and stay focused in each moment at work. This strategy creates more ease, and helps me move with patience from one task to the next.    
4) I repeat this process as I move to my next task.
Try it!  I hope you can use this strategy at work to increase your productivity, creativity, and happiness.

 

Saturday
Jan022016

Life/Heart Alignment 

Life/Heart alignment is a pretty big deal for most of us, because it’s possible to go through life losing sight of our core values, so what’s most important to our heart is never addressed in our daily life.  

There have been times when I was relating to life in such a stressed manner that I was totally out of touch with what mattered most to me. If asked what I valued most, I would say my family, my health, eating well, and spending time in nature, but my actions at the time did not reflect my priorities.  Like many yoga teachers, I was working too many hours, seeing clients during the day, often skipping lunch, working evenings, and doing necessary computer work at night. I was someone burning the candle at both ends. Often I was tense, and angry; it was a challenge to enjoy the time I spent with my family and be present to them without checking email (who knew that in a job in the wellness industry I could be so unwell!).  While I loved my work, I had no idea that a start-up would be so challenging, and I was not prepared with habits to assist me at that time.

My daily habits had consequences, and one was that I became more unbalanced over time.  

One of the goals in Yoga is that the internal world, and the external world begin to align—there’s a consistency that develops, or if not, an underlying discomfort, a sense of stress in relating to life is the result.  

If my core values at that time had been: working long hours, being connected online all the time, and eating fast, even while I was driving, my Life/Heart Alignment would have been great--but it wasn’t, and that disconnect created even more stress in my life!

Those of us in the yoga world are really good at imaging possibilities, envisioning, and “feeling into” what’s next in our health evolution, but not so good at grounding the needed habit changes into our daily life. In my experiance, that’s where the “rubber really meets the road”.  We need to create sustainable routines to allow the new possibilities to take root in our lives.  

If you’d like to lose 20 pounds, sleep through the night without medication, relate to time more efficiently, get relief from allergies, deal better with your auto-immune disorder, or reap the beneifts from a mediation practice, it’s possible, but it will be necessary to engineer some changes in your daily life.

It takes skillful actions to move into Life/Heart Alignment.  

A New Year can feel like a fresh start, a time to leave behind what’s not working, and begin again.  The field of possibilities is wide open.  

Take some time and reflect on where you’ve been in 2015, the breakthroughs, and the challenges. What do you sense is the next step for your Life/Heart Alignment in 2016?  Write it down.  Then, create your game plan - how that will actually happen in daily life over the next year.

 

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