Posts tagged ‘cookingtothrive.com’

July 24, 2017

Let This Fresh Peach Pie Take a Bite Out of the Heat

Let this Fresh Peach Pie take a bite out of the heat! It’s that time again. The heat index is well over 100º. It happens every year, sometimes much earlier than this, and I hate it. The heat is bad enough, but the humidity makes the air feel heavy and hard to breath in. The sweat won’t evaporate from your skin to cool it. Make-up melts off your face, and two showers a day are the minimum. But hey, I ran across that Fresh Peach Pie recipe that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. A great piece of pie might help take your mind off the heat. Especially a pie that’s served cool.

You’ll have to find your own juicy peaches, but here’s how to turn them into a delicious peach pie. The best part is that you don’t cook the peaches which leaves their texture firm and their taste bright. I haven’t made this pie in years, but the impression it made on me hasn’t diminished.
peach
Anna’s Fresh Peach Pie

4 cups fresh peach slices, peeled
1 cup sugar
1 cup cold water
6 tbsp corn starch
Dash of salt
4 tsp lemon juice
1 drop almond extract
2 drops yellow food coloring
1 crop red food coloring
4 tbsp apricot or orange jello
You favorite 9 inch pre-baked pie crust (Of course, it can be gluten-free.)

Combine sugar, water, cornstarch, and salt, in a saucepan and cook until it is thick and clear. Add lemon juice, almond extract, food coloring, and jello. Allow to cool.

Fold peach slices into sauce and mix well. Pour mixture in crust and place in refrigerator to set. Serve chilled with whipped cream atop.

I ran across this handwritten recipe in my Mom’s recipe box. I think it’s funny that it includes food coloring. It’s been decades since I’ve had food coloring in my pantry, but I loved it as a kid. I especially loved the set of bright colored salt we had in the cabinet. I used to put margarine that included yellow food coloring on my baked potatoes and then salt them with the blue colored salt. This made my potato a totally gross green color. It was fun to watch my family and friends be grossed out while I enjoyed my scrumptious green potato.

Obviously, you can leave the food coloring out of the recipe. And if you’re gluten-free, you don’t need to worry about the Jell-O unless you have an additional allergy or sensitivity. I’ve included links below for you to review the ingredients.

I like to use a gluten-free cream cheese crust for fruit pies. It’s delicious with my Raspberry Rhubarb pie and I’m certain it will complement this pie as well. I also prefer homemade whipped cream on top. I know making whipped cream sounds intimidating, but it’s incredibly fast and easy – even with a hand powered egg beater. The secret is to chill the bowl and utensils in the freezer before you begin.

Hmmmm. A freezer sounds good. Anything cold sounds good. I’m ready to take a bite out of the heat!

http://www.kraftrecipes.com/products/jell-o-gelatin-orange-3-oz-box-660.aspx

http://www.kraftrecipes.com/products/jell-o-gelatin-apricot-3-oz-bo-668.aspx

July 18, 2017

Form Ever Follows Function

“Whether it be the sweeping eagle in his flight, or the open apple-blossom, the toiling work-horse, the blithe swan, the branching oak, the winding stream at its base, the drifting clouds, over all the coursing sun, form ever follows function, and this is the law. Where function does not change, form does not change. The granite rocks, the ever-brooding hills, remain for ages; the lightning lives, comes into shape, and dies, in a twinkling.

It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human and all things superhuman, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, that form ever follows function. This is the law.” – Louis H. Sullivan, American Architect (1)

Form vs function is an often discussed topic amongst graphic designers, interior designers, product designers, and car salesmen. Asking a client which is more important is a quick way to determine how to appeal to that client. If the client’s priority is function, they will be more concerned with the performance of a car or chair than the beauty of its lines. An ad agency asking the question immediately knows to focus on copywriting more than graphic design. That client simply won’t appreciate superior design more than good design.

Presenting form and function as a dichotomy is a useful shortcut to discerning priorities, but it misses the point of the original concept. Function is always the basis for form. Without function, we do not need form. With that in mind, I suppose it could be argued that there is no function for art or music. I disagree, and I digress. We don’t talk much about form following function in the kitchen, but keeping that concept in mind can be helpful when making food choices.

Let’s start with the function of food.

Energy
The most basic function of food is to provide energy. Proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are the macronutrients needed in large quantities to give your body the energy it needs to perform daily activities. The body also uses energy to heal wounds.

Deliberately choosing the optimum amount of protein, fat, and carbs for your metabolism and lifestyle will give you the maximum amount of energy. As far as energy goes, it doesn’t matter how the macronutrients taste.

Cell and Organ Health
Vitamins and minerals are necessary for healthy cells and organs. Without enough potassium, your muscles weaken which can cause irregular heart rhythm. A lack of vitamin C can cause scurvy leading to anemia, exhaustion, pain in the limbs and other undesirable effects. Vitamin D deficiency may lead to rickets or weakening of the bones.

While these and other micronutrients are only needed in small amounts, they are essential if you wish to remain healthy.

Digestive Function

Dietary fiber is important to keep your digestive system moving. Fiber is resistant to digestion and absorption in the small intestine. It helps the colon move waste through the system. Fiber is plentiful in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

Hydration
Water plays a part in breaking down large food molecules into smaller ones. It helps your system transport waste from the body. Lack of water can lead to muscle cramps, headache, confusion, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, fainting, and even death.

As long as you consume sufficient quantity and variety of macronutrients, micronutrients, fiber, and water, enough rest, and plenty of exercise, your body will function well. It does not matter whether the nutrients look pretty, taste good, or are prepared with love using your grandmother’s recipe.

The form of food may not be important to its function, but if it is not appealing to our senses, we won’t choose to eat it. 

How does the form of food affect our appetite?
doughnut
Appeal to Our Senses
The science of neurogastronomy measures how the senses work together to enhance our experience of food. Eating is a multi-sensory experience. If you’ve ever walked into an office where someone just made popcorn, you know that you don’t have to see or taste the popcorn to want a handful. When a food causes multiple parts of our brain to light up, we will think the food tastes better. Obviously, we will choose foods that appeal to our senses.

And that’s where things start to get sticky. Form follows function in that we’re wired to find certain foods appealing, but while a juicy fresh peach may draw you in, so will the smell of fried chicken or French fries. And sugary cake, candy, ice cream, brownies, and doughnuts can feel irresistible. Things get even more complicated when you factor in all the manufactured and chemical flavorings or flavor enhancers we encounter on a regular basis.

Just because it’s appealing doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

Fat makes food taste better, but is it healthy? There are differing opinions and conflicting studies. Some doctors will advise you to limit fat in your diet to avoid high blood cholesterol. Others will advise you to limit sugar rather than fat. Trying to stay on top of all newly published nutritional information is difficult enough, but when studies conflict and marketing dollars are spent to promote a particular food industry’s interest, it’s hard to know what to believe.

A new Harvard study shows that small dietary changes like eating more whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and fish and less red and processed meats and sugary beverages over time can reduce the risk of death. Nature does its part to make vegetables and fruits colorful, juicy, and often sweet. A delicious ripe tomato, raspberry, or pear is full of healthy vitamins and carbohydrates and needs no cooking or adornment to taste good. Both form and function are at a peak when we choose these foods.

fruitForm vs Function

It seems like the dichotomy of form vs function has reared its head again. Many forms of food that appeal to us are unhealthy. That’s why it’s good to make function a constant priority. Good health is the same as optimal body function. Making food choices that maximize optimal body function over time are healthy choices.

Luckily, there are millions upon millions of delicious forms of healthy food from which we can choose each day! Keep the choices simple by prioritizing function, then choosing form.

(1)Sullivan, Louis H. (1896). “The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered”. Lippincott’s Magazine (March 1896): 403–409.

http://www.artic.edu/research/louis-sullivan-collection

https://www.biography.com/people/louis-h-sullivan-38593

http://www.woundcarecenters.org/article/living-with-wounds/how-your-diet-can-aid-in-wound-healing

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rickets/symptoms-causes/dxc-20200468

http://spoonuniversity.com/how-to/how-senses-impact-your-dining-experience

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/105/1/85.abstract?sid=26fe028f-b992-4db2-8550-2db9ac671a52

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/oct/07/fat-not-bad-studies-misleading-scientists-say

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/improving-diet-quality-over-time-linked-with-reduced-risk-premature-death/

June 20, 2017

Do Something About It or Let It Go?

How do you know whether to do something about it or let it go? Last week, I saw a news story in which a mother gave her 10-year-old son some sage advice. The son was angry that some graves in the veteran’s cemetery where his grandfather was buried did not have flags on them. After a few hours of listening to him complain, his mom told him simply that he needed to do something about it or let it go.
brain maze
That’s the best parenting I’ve seen in a long time. It’s also great advice for all of us. Complaining, ranting, and raving on their own just leave us feeling powerless and increasingly angry. Eventually this affects those around us, poisoning our relationships and social interactions. Observing injustice for what it is and bringing it to light are important steps toward facilitating change. Unfortunately, the complaint phase is an easy place to get stuck.

There’s a ton of injustice in the world. There is avoidable tragedy, inexcusable cruelty, disregard for those who are different, deliberate predatory behavior, negligent laziness, and power-grabbing manipulation. That’s a short list. The real list is long, long, long, unending, overwhelming, and impossible for any one of us to fix.

That means we have decisions to make when we feel the crushing effect of personal dismissal or the heartstring pull of another’s adversity. Should we leave the affluent doctor who verbally abuses our children or should we just rant about what a jerk she is and continue to let her support us? Should we continue to give low pricing to the customer who always wants extra thrown in or should we raise the price and risk losing the business? Should we consider adopting a child even though we’re in our 50s? Should we sue our employer who has fired three different employees because they used sick leave to be present after their wife gave birth? Should we buy our 16-year-old a brand new car, or buy a used car and spend the rest of the money to buy a car for a working single mother whose car just died?

Many of these decisions are difficult, multilayered, and complicated. Our decisions will have ripple effects. Of course it’s easier to rant, rave, and complain about injustice than it is to make a deliberate decision to do something or let it go.

But what is it that really stops us? Is it fear, weakness, or the belief that we have no power? Or does that even matter? Does examining, reexamining, and trying to understand ourselves only lead to paralysis?

Can we be better served by practicing the process of making a choice to do something about it or let it go? Or as my grandmother would have said, to “stop stewing in your own juice.” Let’s start with a simple issue and explore what that process would look like.

contractorScenario 1 (Complain)
I observe that my contractor only shows up 1 out of 3 times that he’s scheduled.
I tell my sister how annoyed I am.
I schedule him again.
He stands me up again.
I more heatedly tell my sister how annoyed I am, then I also tell my neighbor, my uncle, and several other people.
I reschedule the contractor again.
This time, he texts me, but he still doesn’t show.
I call everyone I complained to before and rant this time throwing in a few “why me?” questions like, “Why is it always me who gets stood up?”
I feel angry and powerless.

drillScenario 2 (Do something)
I observe that my contractor only shows up 1 out of 3 times that he’s scheduled.
I tell my sister how annoyed I am.

I begin the process of determining whether I will let him go and find someone new, or try to work this problem out with him.
Here’s how that works:
I review why I chose this contractor…
He’s inexpensive, he does quality work, and he’s fast.
I compare him to other contractors I’ve used…
When he shows up, he’s 80% better than 90% of them.

I decide that it is best to do something to try to make this relationship work.

I set boundaries I can feel good about…
One no show with a text is acceptable. A no show without notice or a 2nd no show with or without notice will be grounds for firing him.
I call the contractor to reschedule…
I tell him simply that I like his work, but he needs to show up more consistently or we won’t be able to work together any more. Then I tell him my specific boundaries. I state them in a clear, concise, straightforward, matter-of-fact manner. I do not apologize or pressure.

I schedule him again…
We’ll see what happens. No matter what, I have a plan. I no longer feel angry or helpless. I won’t feel bad if I have to fire the guy because I know I clearly stated my expectations. The decision is now his. If he chooses to show up, he has a job. If he chooses not to, he doesn’t.
I feel relieved.

hold onScenario 3 (Let it go)
I observe that my contractor only shows up 1 out of 3 times that he’s scheduled.
I tell my sister how annoyed I am.

I begin the process of determining whether I will let him go and find someone new, or try to work this problem out with him. 
Here’s how that works:
I review why I chose this contractor…
He’s inexpensive, he does quality work, and he’s fast.
I compare him to other contractors I’ve used…
When he shows up, he’s 80% better than 90% of them.
I factor in that I need the work done before a family reunion.

I decide that it is best to hire someone I can rely on in order to make my deadline.

I let the contractor know that I can no longer work with him on my project because I have a deadline. I move on and hire someone else.
While I will not recommend the fired contractor for deadline projects, I might tell someone to consider him when there’s no deadline. I feel no need to trash him on social media, continue to complain about him to my family, or even think about him again. I just let it go.
I feel relieved.

Obviously, this is a simple scenario I’ve described, but the more I practice the process, the easier it becomes to follow that process even when the relationships are closer and the feelings more complicated. The resulting peace and freedom I feel each time I embrace my power to do something about it or let it go builds my desire and courage to repeat the process.

And that little boy who received the advice from his mother? He chose to do something. He has now placed over 20,000 flags on veteran’s graves. Thanks Preston Sharp for your service, and thanks mom for your wisdom!

See the story here:
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/california-boy-11-becomes-the-pied-piper-of-patriotism/

May 18, 2017

Healthy is Beautiful

Why can’t we see that healthy is beautiful? This week there were radishes in my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box. I immediately thought of my grandmother. As the host of all of our Sunday family dinners, birthday celebrations, Thanksgiving meals, and Christmas lunch, she never molded, garnished, piped or styled anything. She didn’t take the time to weave a lattice top over her apple pie, she just rolled a second crust and put a few slits in the top. Her one nod to beautifying her food was the radish rose. Even those she kept simple, using a few rudimentary cuts. Then she placed them on a china plate – sometimes her pattern and sometimes her mother’s.
radishes
If this leaves you thinking the table was bland or ugly, think again. A simple white on white table cloth held pristine china, real silverware, cloth napkins, and a row of serving bowls down the center brimming with food from the garden — bright yellow corn, red tomato slices, green okra or string beans with new potatoes. Even the stuffed peppers were home grown, and the dark red Bing cherries were picked fresh from a tree in her yard. Gran may not have used the silver service that sat in her china cabinet next to the dining table or made room for flowers and candles on the table, but her table was elegant, inviting and filled with colorful, fragrant, delicious, fresh food.
peppers
What would Gran think of styling or plating food? I don’t know if she’d object. She wasn’t particularly rough around the edges. Her grammar was impeccable, her nails were always perfectly manicured and painted bright red, and she never gave up her high heels. She just had her own sense of priorities and a limited amount of time. That led to practical decisions. Gran was able to discern that fresh ingredients and skilled preparation would trump appearance in the long run so that’s how she allotted her time.

She also shopped and delivered groceries to a disabled man on a regular basis, made regular nursing home rounds to visit old friends, was church clerk and worked 40 hours a week. If you had suggested she style her food rather than perform these tasks, I’m pretty sure she would have stomped her foot and sent you out of the room. That sort of prioritizing just made her mad.

Maybe it’s my grandmother’s influence, or perhaps I’ve just hit that age when lots of things don’t make sense, but our current priorities leave me frequently feeling out of sync. We spend lots of time, energy, and money making things look good on the surface when doing so means sacrificing quality, health, resilience, accomplishment, character, learning, and deep connection. You can see this in play in many areas:
Relationships – Dump this imperfect person for the next imperfect person instead of examining our contribution to the problem
Parenting – Help the child with his homework so he gets a good grade rather than allowing him to learn from failure
Education – Teach to the test instead of teaching how to learn and process knowledge, i.e. think critically
Finances – Spend and borrow so we appear affluent now rather than plan and save for later
Beauty – Starve, cover, augment, inject, fill, and color instead of appreciating the beauty of our natural attributes
Psychological & Emotional Health – Numb with drugs, alcohol, video games, excessive spending, and overworking rather than feeling and healing
Politics – Say what appeals to constituents right now no matter how a policy will affect the country in the future
Nutrition – Substitute packaged, processed, fortified and convenient for fresh, whole, nutrient-rich, minimally processed and variety
Medicine – Treat symptoms with meds in instances when lifestyle changes can be equally effective

The shift in priorities from Gran’s era to now is rarely questioned, but it doesn’t seem to be serving us well. In my city, the homicide total to date is more than double last year’s rate as of this date. The number of nonfatal gunfire injuries has increased 92 percent. Opioid addiction is at an all-time high. Chronic disease is increasing across all age groups. Political divisiveness and hostility now frequently erupt into contentious confrontations. Rudeness abounds. Bad behavior is presented as the norm of the reality TV star. The US barely makes it into the top 20 list of countries with the highest standard of living as measured by the Social Progress Imperative.
flatbread
How many of these problems could we reverse simply by prioritizing basic healthy practices-
Getting enough sleep
Eating fresh, minimally processed food
Finding a way to be active 5-6 days per week
Making time for stillness
Forgiving ourselves
Owning our decisions
Setting boundaries
Showing appreciation
Practicing gratitude
Listening to each other
Showing compassion

Of course, there’s no way to know, but I believe we have the ability to improve anything on which we focus our energy. If we simply viewed healthy as beautiful, it’s clear we’d throw lots of time, money, and energy into achieving a healthy state. Perhaps we can start by pausing a moment to see the beauty in colorful fresh vegetables, fragrant herbs, and listening to each other over a bowl of homemade soup.

With her energy focused on growing and preparing vegetables, making pickles and tomato juice, and keeping the cookie jar full, Gran may not have had time for frilly or fancy, but she certainly provided a beautiful spread. She’s been gone for more than 20 years and we still talk about those meals. We miss them. On Gran’s table, healthy food had lasting beauty.

The lasting beauty of healthy food that contributes to healing – that’s a priority I can get behind!

References:
http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/ADHD-Nation/Alan-Schwarz/9781501105913
http://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2017/apr/29/meeting-to-address-lr-crime-20170429/
http://www.arkansasnews.com/news/arkansas/doctor-warns-epidemic-opioid-addiction-arkansas
http://www.fightchronicdisease.org/sites/default/files/docs/GrowingCrisisofChronicDiseaseintheUSfactsheet_81009.pdf
http://www.businessinsider.com/19-countries-with-the-highest-standard-of-life-according-to-the-social-progress-report-2016-6

Resources:
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/69402.The_Essential_55
https://traumahealing.org/
https://www.onsiteworkshops.com/
https://fearlessliving.org/