Archive for December, 2010
We are always on the lookout for healthy snacks that deliver protein that helps balance blood sugar levels (and fuel the brains of little ones) and fiber to maintain healthy digestive tracks. And who isn’t looking for a bit of good luck in the New Year?
So when we came up with this recipe for roasted blackeyed peas, we got excited and decided to share it. You can eat these toasty creations by the handful or sprinkle them over a salad.
- Turn on your favorite music
- Drain one can of blackeyed peas
- Toss them with:
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Teaspoon Kosher salt (optional)
1/2 Teaspoon chili powder (optional)
1/2 Teaspoon cumin (optional)
Bake the blackeyed peas on a baking sheet at 425 degrees for 20-30 minutes, turning them halfway through.
Cool and serve!
“If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results.” ~Jack Dixon
I originally started to write a post offering tons of different New Year’s resolutions and tips to stick to them to create lasting change.
After all, that’s what we bloggers do around December 31st: share our best practices for improving our lives as December rolls into January—compile well-researched suggestions to change and do it consistently, despite knowing most people give up on resolutions within weeks of setting them.
Then I realized that didn’t feel authentic to me.
I don’t actually believe New Year’s Day is any different than any other day. I don’t believe a random point in the time measurement system we’ve created requires us to make a laundry list of things we need to change or improve.
Today is in fact just another day, and tomorrow is one, as well.
I don’t mean to minimize the excitement of the New Year, or any of the days we’ve chosen to celebrate for religious or honorary reasons. I love a big event as much as the next person; in fact, I sometimes bust out the champagne for parallel parking well or using a really big word in a sentence.
What I’m saying is that New Year’s resolutions often fail for a reason, and it’s only slightly related to intention or discipline.
Resolutions fail because they don’t emerge from true breakthroughs—they’re calendar-driven obligations; and they often address the symptoms, not the cause of our unhappiness.
Some resolutions are smart for our physical and emotional health and well-being. Quitting smoking, losing weight, managing stress better—there are all healthy things.
But if we don’t address what underlies our needs to light up, order double bacon cheeseburgers, and worry ourselves into frenzies, will it really help to vow on one arbitrary day to give up everything that helps us pretend we’re fine?
It’s almost like we set ourselves up for failure to avoid addressing the messy stuff.
Why We’re Really Unhappy
I can’t say this is true for everyone, but my experience has shown me that my unhappiness—and my need for coping mechanisms—come from several different places:
- I’m dwelling on the past or obsessing about the future.
- I’m comparing myself to everyone else—their accomplishments, the respect and the attention they garner, and their apparently perfect lives.
- I’m feeling dissatisfied with how I’m spending my time and the impact I’m making on the world.
- I’ve lost hope in my potential.
- I’m expecting and finding the worst in people.
- I’m turning myself into a victim or a martyr, blaming everyone else.
- I’m spiraling into negative thinking, seeing everything as a sign of doom and hopelessness
- I’m assuming there should be a point in time when none of the above happens anymore.
The last one, I believe, is the worst cause of unhappiness. All those other things I mentioned are human, whether we experience them persistently or occasionally.
We’ll do these things from time to time—and they’ll hurt. In the aftermath, we’ll want to do all those different things that every year we promise to give up.
We’ll want to eat, drink, or smoke away our feelings. Or we’ll want to work away our nagging sense of inadequacy. Or we’ll judge whether or not we’re really enjoying life enough and in the very act of judging detract from that enjoyment.
So perhaps the best resolution has nothing to do with giving up all those not-so-healthy things and everything to do with adopting a new mindset that will make it less tempting to turn to them.
An Alternative to Resolutions
Maybe instead of trying to trim away all the symptoms of our dissatisfaction, we can accept that what we we really want is happiness—and that true happiness comes and goes. We can never trap it like a butterfly in a jar.
No amount of medication or meditation can change the fact that we will sometimes get caught up in thoughts and emotions.
What we can do is work to improve the ratio of happy-to-unhappy moments. We can learn to identify when we’re spiraling and pull ourselves back with the things we enjoy and want to do in this world.
Instead of scolding ourselves for all the things we’re doing wrong and making long to-do lists to stop doing them, we can focus on doing the things that feel right to us.
This may sound familiar if you’ve read about positive psychology—I’m no posi-psy expert, and to my knowledge no one is since the industry is unregulated.
But it doesn’t take an expert to know it feels a lot better to choose to nurture positive moments than it does to berate myself for things I’ve done that might seem negative—all while plotting to give them all up when the clock strikes tabula rasa.
4 Simple Steps to Increase Your Happiness Ratio
This is something I’ve been working on for years, so it comes from my personal experience. As I have worked to increase my levels of satisfaction, meaning, and happiness, I have given up a number of unhealthy habits, including smoking, overeating, and chronically dwelling and complaining.
That all required deliberate intention, but it was impossible until I addressed the underlying feelings. I still have some unhealthy habits, but I know releasing them starts with understanding why I turn to them.
Starting today, and every day, regardless of the calendar:
1. Recognize the places where you feel helpless—the housing situation, the job, the relationship, that sense of meaningless. Then plan to do something small to change that starting right now. Acknowledge you have the power to do at least one small thing to empower yourself.
Don’t commit to major outcomes just yet. Just find the confidence and courage to take one small step knowing you’ll learn as you go where it’s heading. As you add up little successes, the bigger picture will become clearer. This isn’t major transformation over a night. It’s a small seed of change that can grow.
2. Identify the different events that lead to feelings that seem negative—talking to your downer cousin, overextending yourself at work, not getting enough sleep, drinking too much.
Whatever it is that generally leaves you with unhappy feelings, note it down. Work to reduce these, making a conscious effort to do them on one fewer day per week, then two, and then three. The key isn’t to completely cut out these things, but rather to minimize their occurrence.
3. Identify the things that create positive feelings—going to the park, painting, looking at photo albums, or singing. Whatever creates feel-good chemicals in your head, note them down and make a promise to yourself to integrate them into your day. As you feel your way through your joy, add to this. Learn the formula for your bliss.
Know that these moments of joy are a priority, and you deserve to receive them. When you’re fully immersed within a happy moment of your own choosing, you’re a lot less likely to get lost dwelling, obsessing, comparing, judging, and wishing you were better.
4. Stay mindful of the ratio.
If you’ve had an entire week that’s been overwhelming, dark, or negative, instead of getting down on yourself for falling that low, remind yourself only your kindness can pull you out. Tell yourself you deserve to restore a sense of balance—to maintain back a healthy ratio.
Then give yourself what you need. Take a personal day at work and take a day trip. Go to the park to relax and reflect. Remind yourself only you can let go of what’s been and come back to what can be.
It’s not about perfection or a complete release from all the causes of unhappiness. It’s about accepting that being human involves a little unhappiness—but how often it consumes us is up to us.
This might not be a lengthy list of unhealthy behaviors you can give up and how, or a long list of suggestions for adventure and excitement in 2011. But all those things mean nothing if you’re not in the right head space to release the bad and enjoy the good.
Resolve what you will this year, but know that happiness is the ultimate goal. It starts in daily choices, not lofty resolutions–on any day you decide to start.
These are delicious! Cilantro is an all-around health supportive herb that aids in the detoxification in the body, especially in heavy metals. Or perhaps a more apropos timing for a post-holiday detox! Enjoy~
Cilantro Scented Turkey Burgers
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 medium onion, diced small
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
3 scallions, minced
1/2 cup cilantro, minced
1 1/2 lbs ground turkey
1 large egg white, lightly beaten or tapioca flour or arrowroot can also be used
1 1/2 Tbsp butter, or non-dairy alternative of your choice
1 package sprouts, (alfalfa, broccoli, sunflower, radish, etc. )
1. Heat the sesame oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and ginger; saute over medium heat until onions are tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Season with tamari and toasted sesame oil, stir to combine and remove from heat to cool in a large bowl.
2. Combine ground turkey, scallions, cilantro in a medium bowl and mix, add egg white (or other binder). Using your hands, mix gently to combine. You can also add some love at this point too if you so desire . Shape into 1/2 inch thick patties about 3 inches in diameter. If the mixture is wet, add tapioca flour or arrowroot, a little at a time.
3. Place a heavy skillet over medium heat and add the butter or non-dairy alternative or your choice (Earth Balance is a personal favorite of mine, soy-free version). When it begins to bubble, add patties and cook for about 3 minutes on each side, turning only once. Do not press (all the good juices, flow out then; making them dry).
4. Check if the burgers are done by inserting the tip of a knife into the center of one of the patties.
5. Bon Apetit’ and I like to serve them with Raw Almond Mayo, Teriyaki Mustard & Sprouts. They would go great with our Homemade Healthy Fries for Your Little Fries.
We are always on the lookout for healthy snacks that deliver protein that helps balance blood sugar levels (and fuel the brains of little ones) and fiber to maintain healthy digestive tracks.
So when we stumbled across this recipe for roasted chickpeas, we got excited and decided to share it.
- Turn on your favorite music
- Drain one can of chickpeas
- Toss them with:
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Teaspoon Kosher salt (optional)
1/2 Teaspoon paprika (optional)
1/2 Teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
And maybe a pinch of cinnamon (if you have kids with a flavor-seeking appetites!)
Bake the chickpeas on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, turning them halfway through.
Cool and serve!
(And remember to always take note of what works for your family’s dietary constraints, as to some, chickpeas might inducing a legume-like allergic reaction, so always proceed with caution and seek the advice of a medical professional).
Sometimes statistics are so compelling that they speak for themselves. That struck me when I received an e-card from Stonyfield Farm, an organic dairy company that works with Wal-Mart to ensure that families around the country, on both sides of the political aisle and on every wrung of the economic ladder, have access to dairy products that have been produced free of synthetic and artificial ingredients that might harm our children.
At Stonyfield, they are not producing these products because they have to, they are doing it because they believe that exercising precaution when it comes to the health of our families and the environment that we live in is the right thing to do.
And in 2010, according to Stonyfield, their purchase of organic milk for the use in their products alone:
PREVENTED over 9,000,000 (9 million!) pounds of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer and 185,000 pounds of insecticides and weed-killers from entering air and contaminating our water, land and food supplies.
PRESERVED over 180,000 acres by keeping them free of toxic, persistent pesticides and chemical treatments (the kinds of chemicals that build up in our bodies and in our soil).
AVOIDED the use of over 425,000 livestock antibiotic and synthetic growth hormone treatments in “food animals” so that these drugs don’t find their way into the foods that we feed our families.
As it becomes increasingly obvious that legislation is not in place to protect children from the impacts that chemicals in our food, air, land and water have on the health of their developing immune systems, I, for one, am extremely grateful for the remarkable work that Stonyfield Farm and other corporations are doing to protect the health of our families and preserve the integrity of our food supply by adhering to this higher standard of the precautionary principal.
And as we head into a new year, it’s important to remember that while none of us can do everything, all of us can do one thing.
So do one thing in 2011: switch to rbGH-free milk (free of synthetic growth hormones), opt out of genetically engineered foods that contain conventional corn and soy modified to enable increased doses of chemicals, or install a water filter under your kitchen sink to help reduce your families exposure to residues now found in our water supply.
Remember, there’s no need to be perfect, just smart.