After a week of vacation, I always come home with (albeit brief) renewed energy and new ideas. I was looking for some salad inspiration after returning from a great week of birdwatching and kayaking in Florida. The weather at home is still not really even close to spring like…but I need some roughage and colour in my daily diet.
I tried to remember what I had seen in recipes for bowls – all the parts nicely partitioned in a bowl – waiting to be mixed up into a great salad.
I started with a pile of brown rice, added sweet corn I had frozen last season, a grated carrot and a chopped English cucumber. I felt healthy just looking at it! I added in some feta and dressing and it made a great kickstart to getting more of my 5 to 10 servings of fruit and vegetables every day.
If I could walk outside every day in the woods, I would. But when you throw in the seasons and eliminate days of driving snow and sweltering heat…sometimes we need somewhere else to walk.
I’ve rediscovered an indoor track in my area and have made it two times in the last two weeks. I know that doesn’t exactly constitute a habit (yet) but I’m working on it. And there’s lots of winter on the way.
As I lapped around the astroturf track without a podcast or music track in my head – just my own thoughts – I briefly wondered if this was perhaps a boring, repetitive way to keep fit. But I quickly pushed that thought aside when I realized how much great thinking is accomplished walking around and around.
I’ve been waking up lately with those nasty middle of the night to-do lists in my head. You know the ones that are mostly fictional? But as I lapped around in lane 1 everything was so much clearer. The to-do list was gone. I could think about anything or nothing. Head – cleared. Body – moved.
When the weather fits, I’ll walk it off outdoors, but I’m also reenergized about keeping it up whatever the weather.
When the clocks fell back an hour this past weekend, and the rain was not letting up, I decided to give myself a mini spa day. What I mean is – I washed my face and hair from the growing pile of product samples I’ve gathered over the years.
I started with a Kiehl’s exfoliating scrub on my face. I have only ever ordered online once from this company, and love the perk that I got to pick three free samples to add to my order. The cold weather is just starting but it felt pretty amazing to slough off a layer of dry skin … and lines (hopefully).
Next up was a shampoo and three-minute miracle conditioner treatment sample I had pulled out of a magazine months ago from Pantene. I even set the timer for the full three minutes. And presto, my hair is silky and soft…for now.
I just need a super plush bathrobe to complete the experience.
My sister and I have both been involved in sex ed of sorts – she got paid to do it as a college lecturer and I volunteered at a birth control centre years ago. In that world, STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) were something to avoid. But today I came up with another meaning for the acronym…something that might be shared but not nearly as nasty! We’ve both been struggling with it and maybe you have too.
Seasonal transition disorder.
You know that in between place. You are shedding layers as the warmer weather lurks nearby. But you find some extra layers that settled in over winter that are harder to drop. You wanna get outside but the winter hibernation exhaustion just won’t wake up. And just as you got ready to pass by the root vegetable based comfort food, you aren’t yet inspired to chop that salad every day.
Here are some of the seasonal transition decisions we have talked about trying.
- Just eat one vegetable instead of making an entire salad. Cut up an entire red pepper. Chop up a cucumber, add a little feta, olive oil and lemon juice. Eat an avocado au naturel.
- Change up your routine. Add in some morning stretches before work to warm up your brain and your limbs.
- Try something for just 30 minutes…and you might want to do more – like gardening, biking, walking or cleaning.
- Write it down. Frustrated with what you are eating or how to get more active? Keeping track of what you eat and your activities might shed some light on patterns you could tweak.
Most of all…hang in there. When summer really arrives, the outdoor living will motivate you (us!) to eat more grilled, in season veggies, and walk and move more during the longer daylight hours.
A bowl of this simple soup has everything you need. I felt pretty smug after making it recently – vegetables, whole grain and protein!
A friend brought me the recipe, and I was a little skeptical about not starting a soup with the usual saute of onion, garlic and carrots. But this one doesn’t want for anything…even though everything is simply simmered.
Here’s the recipe:
Put 2 cups of water, 2 cups of chicken broth and 2 cups of beef broth in a large pot. Add 2 raw cubed chicken breasts (skinless, boneless), 1 diced onion, 2 tsp crushed garlic, 1 bay leaf, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, turn to low and simmer for about one hour.
Add 1 cup chopped zucchini, 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms, 1/2 cup chopped broccoli florets, 1 cup peeled and cubed squash (or sweet potato), and 1 cup barley (well rinsed). Bring back to a boil and simmer on low for another hour or so – until vegetables are desired texture.
It makes a hearty, barley-rich soup, and the chicken is incredibly tender. You could use whatever vegetables you have around (I happened to have mushrooms, zucchini and sweet potato).
We started 2016 with our words for the year. I had to look back to see what I had chosen…so maybe it didn’t stay in my consciousness very long!
So we’re going to do it again to start 2017.
My word is move. Not that I intend to move my house – more my body, my mind, my sketching pens…and more.
And my sister’s word is mindfulness. A great word and practice and way of looking at yourself and the world.
We’d love to hear about your words.
Happy New Year!
CJR & HAR
No matter what and where and how you celebrate over the coming holiday season…it is often a stressful, tiring, lonely, exciting and exhausting time.
Today, we just want to remind all our readers that in the middle of the craziness, to take time to pause, look around, take a deep breath. And then carry on.
HAR & CJR
I love getting an early start to a Sunday morning hike. But sometimes, it’s a perfect change to have no plans.
I didn’t set the alarm yesterday – slept in until a whopping 8 AM. It was rainy. So no hurry to get out anywhere. After a nice cup of French press coffee, I made Banana Bran Blueberry muffins, worked on the crossword and then by about 10 I was ready to get out for a fall walk with the dog.
It was such a nice change to let the day unfold in a different way, at a different pace. I got everything done that I had planned, even by starting partway through the morning.
My long-time, wise yoga teacher often reminds us to try doing less. We are all pretty good at getting a lot of stuff done on long to-do lists…sometimes the better work is to try and do less.
I love fall. I love when the nights start to cool off. And after the ridiculous, extended humidity of this summer, I can’t wait for long pants.
And I love getting back into some kind of routine. Much as I love the freedom of “I’ve got nothing planned!” – it isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be.
We were talking the other day about getting back into a good, healthy food routine too. Cooler weather definitely inspires my cooking side.
I roasted vegetables this weekend – I don’t think I’ve done that since May. I added feta to them for dinner, and will turn them into soup for healthy workday lunches.
And I’m trying to find ways to give my fitbit a workout. There are some nice steep streets in my neighbourhood – and they make a nice evening walk…as long as the temperatures stay in the reasonable range. I don’t know about you, but heat and humidity put a quick halt to my energy and exercising.
I’m thinking again about planning my meals – including overnight oatmeal and freezer muffins.
And trying to wind things down a little earlier in the evening so I can get 8 hours of sleep.
What fall routines do you have?
If I can haul myself out of bed early in the morning, I never regret it. Especially on a weekend. And when the humidity broke briefly this past weekend, I was thinking about all the great moments that early mornings offer.
- Making a ridiculously precise cup of java and sipping it in silence outside
- Walking the dog around the block before the neighbourhood wakes up
- Doing a quick sketch to bring some creativity up to the top
- Checking out the garden to see what is growing
Hope you have a great week!