Jaded Empathy and Other Things that Make Mild Sense 

My brilliant daughter

Adulthood is Terriffying

The community where I did most of my growing up was a typically atypical, moderate-to-severelywealthy, predominately English-speaking, Caucasian town in New England. Anyone whose ever been to New England knows that I’ve basically just described the whole damn region: small, wealthy towns who love left-leaning politics and probably contain or are at least near a tiny liberal arts college.

So the affluent New England town where I grew up, like most affluent New England towns, was heftily packed with progressive liberals.
And this affluent New England town, also like most affluent New England towns, was minuscule. In elementary school, there were perhaps 75 students in my year. In middle and high school, that number increased to a handfulover 100. I think the graduating class might have been 95 or 105 students; I wouldn’t know, I was among those to check out beforePomp and Circumstance had even been rehearsed by…

View original post 580 more words

Be Mindful of the Harvest

Adulthood is Terriffying

Ideas, opinions, emotions: they’re like fruit. They grow – some more tediously and fussily than others – and, if harvested too soon, they’re bitter, sour, or hard; conversely, if left too long on the branch they turn mushy, mealy, or brown.

Some go from unripe to rotten without peaking; many get left behind, return to the soil, and regenerate as energy for roots to consume and feed future plants. Sometimes, every cherry, pear, or almond is delectably perfect; sometimes, the whole field yields nothing, for no discernible reason.

A bad harvest doesn’t mean your trees are bad; it means your farmer is.

(In the context of this metaphor, at least.)

Dan Gilbert, who went to Harvard to study the human brain and has a lot to say about it, did a TED Talk a couple of years ago where he succinctly described his research on humans’ perceptions of themselves…

View original post 687 more words

Sleeping with My Brain

Thoughts from a very tired brain

Adulthood is Terriffying

Sleep is a trickier task than it has any right to be. I’ve been really bad at it my entire life – a fact that no one (doctor, parent, or friend) has ever treated with what I would consider an appropriate level of urgency.

Like, how is calling someone with insomnia a “fussy sleeper” not intended to be condescending? People with asthma aren’t called “fussy breathers.” If a doctor misdiagnoses my insomnia I don’t call her a “fussy diagnoser.” I call her an asshole.

I guess that’s what I am, then: a sleep asshole.

I blame my inefficient sleeping practices on my brain, because everything that’s wrong with me can technically be traced back to my brain and also because that fool never stops talking. I never really do, either, but again it’s my brain’s fault so if you’re going to be annoyed with anyone be annoyed with her. I’m just the innocent…

View original post 602 more words

MGRHS v Ilvermorny

Written by my incredibly talented writer and daughter Hannah’s!

Adulthood is Terriffying

J.K Rowling recently released information”revealing” that the first North American wizarding school in the Harry Potter universe happens to be directly across from the actual secondary school I went to in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

view.jpg

A view of Mount Greylock State Reservation from Mount Greylock Regional High School

Rowling’s wizarding academy, Ilvermorny, is supposedly perched atop Mount Greylock – the highest mountain in Massachusetts or something like that – which (because my high school looked out upon that very mount) is the namesake for the high school I attended for a few terrible years a lifetime ago.

aerial.jpg

An aerial view of the summit of Mount Greylock

Mixed reviews from the community have surfaced about this wizarding school: the owners of the lodge at the summit claim that they are “excited” (and that’s it – which leads me to believe they’re not that excited, or really just don’t care), while others have voiced concern about…

View original post 632 more words

Home Is Where No One Is

Adulthood is Terriffying

I have a lot of past addresses. I’ve accumulated four in the last twelve months alone, in two different counties and four zip codes. Going back five years that number doubles and adds different states to the list of variables. Ten years? I’m an English teacher, I can’t count that high and don’t know how to manage more than two variables.

I left my Mom’s house in Western Massachusetts around age 18 and have since been hopping from dorms to childhood bedrooms to apartments to bedrooms shared with significant others. I haven’t had a bedroom that was truly, indefinitely mine since I was a child, and lord knows children take things like the roof over their head for granted.

As soon as a person is displaced – whether voluntarily or by force – a sense of unrest starts to build. This is Maslovian; the human mind needs a stomping ground, for furious…

View original post 812 more words

Shut Up About Pandora’s Box

Adulthood is Terriffying

I live my life for lazy Saturday mornings. They’re lounge days, designed aroundsitting in bed with a cup of coffee, or reading a book on the couch while sipping coffee, or relaxing in the tub with hot coffee, or basically doing close to nothing whiledrinking too much coffee.

On this particular lazy Saturday, I opted for option three: a hot bath and a cup of coffee.Perhaps because of the coffee, I was in a peppy mood so I decided to click on the Katy Perry Pandora station.

Note: The Katy Perry Pandora station is not recommended listening for feminists who’re just trying to relax.

And, while not a day goes by that I’m not affronted by some oppressive aspect of the world in which I and my ovaries live, I try to hang up the cape every once in a while.One of those “whiles” is definitely when I’m in the…

View original post 842 more words

Food & Mood

People living in my corner of the world have been blasted with some of the coldest weather and heaviest snow in more than 50 years. Cabin fever has set in as the snow and cold increases and the amount of sun decreases. For many, this has also brought on Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. The good news is that spring is coming and there is an end in sight for all of us. In the meantime there are some foods and nutrients that may help relieve the grayness of a harsh winter.

sad

http://www.layoutsparks.com/pictures/sad-8

Research supports the finding that lack of sunlight and vitamin D have been linked to the onset of SAD. While our body is able to make vitamin D when we are exposed to regular sunlight, it is limited even then by the sunscreen we apply to prevent overexposure to sun. Since we are lacking safe access to sunshine, many of us are vitamin D deficient. It is now recommended that we take a vitamin D supplement to assure we are getting enough. Vitamin D is considered one of the most important vitamins for preventing and reducing symptoms related to depression. There are several food sources of this important vitamin we can consider to include in our diet.

maitake

http://www.ehow.com/how_5154650_grow-maitake.html

Foods rich in vitamin D include: many types of mushrooms such as Maitake 131% DV, Portabello 64% DV, Chanterelle 19% DV, Morel 23% Dv, and Oyster 4% DV. Other good food sources of vitamin D include Salmon, eggs, tofu and other soy products, almond milk, dairy, cod liver oil, beef liver, fortified cereals and orange juice. The RDA for Vitamin D is 600 IU (international units) for people age 15-60.

Other “mood” boosting vitamins and minerals that may help chase away the winter blues include Calcium, Chromium, Folate, Iron, Magnesium, Vitamin B6, B12, Zinc and Omega-3 fatty acids.

Calcium is important in maintaining healthy bones and blood vessels. Some studies show that low levels of calcium in women (could not find similar studies for men) may increase symptoms related to PMS and depression. The RDA for calcium is 1000mg per adult. Good food sources for calcium include: Broccoli, collard greens, kale, edamame, bok choy, figs, oranges, sardines, salmon, white beans, tofu, dairy, almonds and okra.

calcium 

http://fightosteoporosis.ca/calcium-and-vitramin-d-for-bones

Chromium is a trace mineral needed to help the body metabolize food and regulate insulin. Chromium also plays an important role in increasing the levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and melatonin in the brain which are all critical to regulating mood and emotions. The RDA is 25 mcg for women and 35 mcg for men. Food sources include: Broccoli, grapes, whole wheat products, potatoes and turkey.

Folate, or B9 supports the health and creation of cells in the body and regulates serotonin. Serotonin is the brain’s messenger, passing messages between nerve cells and assisting the brain in regulating mood among other things. Folate and B12 are often paired to treat depression. The recommended daily amount is 400 mcg (micrograms) per adult. Foods rich in Folate include: leafy greens, avocado, black eyed peas, brussel sprouts and asparagus.

folate

http://nutrition4health-iliana.blogspot.com/

Iron transports oxygen through the bloodstream, supports muscle health and energy. Low levels of iron leave us feeling tired and depressed. Iron deficiencies are more common in women. RDA 18 mg for women and 8 mg for men. Foods rich in Iron include: Soybeans, lentils, turkey (dark meat) beef or pork liver, clams, mussels, oysters, nuts, leafy greens and fresh ginger.

Iron_Rich_Food-460x233

Magnesium is responsible for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It helps to break down glucose and transform it into energy. Make sure to take in enough magnesium daily. The RDA is 300mg women 350 mg men – grab a handful of edamame, cashews, almonds or hazelnuts for snacks; add more whole grains such as millet, quinoa and brown rice and eat fish (halibut in particular).

B6 promotes the health of our neurotransmitters. A deficiency of B6 can lead to a weakened immune system, depression, confusion and short term anemia. B6 is known to relieve mood related symptoms of PMS. RDA is 1.3 mg daily for adults. Foods containing healthy amounts of B6 include: Chickpeas, tuna, Atlantic salmon, chicken or turkey (white meat), sunflower seeds, pistachios, bananas, lean pork, dried prunes, avocado, spinach and lean beef.

Omega-3 fatty acid is not naturally produced by the body but it is critical to mood health. Deficiencies in omega-3 can contribute to mood swings, fatigue, depression or decline in memory. Salmon, sardines, tuna and rainbow trout contain omega-3s. Chia seeds are also a good source. Vegetarians relying on plant based sources may consider supplements as plant and animal omega-3 differ.

 salmon-category1

B12 is critical to good brain health. Our mood depends largely on the signals from our brain making B12 one of the most important nutrients. B12 synthesizes a group of nutrients that are critical for neurological function. Low levels of B12 can contribute to increased fatigue, depression, lack of concentration, mania and paranoia. RDA for B12 is 2.4 mcg. (micrograms)B12 is found naturally in animal proteins such as eggs, beef, fatty fish and pork. It is also added to enriched cereals and breads. Taking a supplement is wise as the body can store what it does not use for a later time.

Zinc protects our digestive system as well as promoting a healthy immune system. Research has shown that healthy levels of zinc in the body reduce the risk of depression. Zinc has been known to enhance the effectiveness of antidepressants in some studies. RDA is 11mg men and 8 mg women. Foods rich in zinc include: pumpkin seeds, cashews, Swiss cheese, crab and pork loin.

Tea – In a study conducted by The Journal of Nutrition researchers linked theanine, an amino acid found in most teas, increased alertness and reduced depression. They believe that the theanine acts with caffeine to boost attention and focus and suggest drinking 4-6 cups daily as a trial.

It is really fascinating to learn the many sources and combinations of good food we can include in our diets to reduce our risk for depression and improve our overall health. It takes thought and planning to assure we are eating well but it is truly worth doing!

Here is a favorite recipe that includes many of the foods listed in the blog post.

Vegetarian Quinoa Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

 Quinoa:

  • ½ cup red quinoa
  • 1 cup hot vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary

Mushrooms:

  • 8 portabella mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 1 cup white beans, rinsed and soaked 6 hours
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach
  • 4 ounces feta cheese

Place while beans in saucepan with ½ strip kombu and enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for approximately 45 minutes until beans are soft. Check often to make sure the water has not cooked out.

Combine quinoa, broth and rosemary in saucepan. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for at least 5 minutes until all liquid is absorbed.

While quinoa is cooking, preheat oven 375. Prepare mushrooms by removing stems and rubbing with olive oil. Place cap side up on baking tray covered with parchment paper and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast mushrooms for 5 minutes, then flip them over.

Place cooked white beans in bowl and mash with potato masher of fork. Add garlic, lemon juice, pinch sea salt and pepper. Cut spinach into strips and add to bean mixture along with the feta. Stir filling until well blended.

Divide the quinoa mixture among the caps. Return to oven and bake for 15 minutes until the filling is lightly browned. Serve immediately.

Eat Well and Be Well

Leanne Yinger, M.Ed. @ Kira’s Kitchen

Board Certified Holistic Health & Nutrition Coach

blog: http://kirasgoodeatskitchen.com

website: http://leanne-yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com

 

Herbs for the Spring or Autumn Soul

http://www.today.com/money/tag/fall-foliage

Fall weather brings out the cook in me along with some scrumptious ingredients for one pot meals. I love to play around with the different combinations of herbs, spices, vegetables and legumes to create new dishes. Between my little backyard garden and my CSA (community supported agriculture) there is quite a variety of fresh produce at this time of the year.IMG_0697

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/preserving-the-color-of-fall-foliage.html

This week I was reacquainted with an old favorite herb, sorrel. A member of the oxalis family, sorrel is used widely in European dishes. I was first introduced to sorrel when working with two wonderful herbalists in Branford Connecticut. I’ve mentioned these women in a previous blog post and it occurs to me each time I am reminded of them how much they positively impacted my life. One of my jobs was to run the day to day operations of their herb gardens and shop. I loved getting paid to be in the cutting and formal herb gardens. Sorrel was a favorite herb of mine at the time and so I learned how to prepare it. Since then I have learned more about it’s health benefits and potential risks for certain people.

Sorrel is a good source of iron, potassium, vitamin A and C. Health benefits of sorrel include aiding good eyesight, strengthen the immune system, stimulate the liver, aid digestion and it can increase circulation and energy level. However, due to it’s oxalic acid content people with kidney stones, gallstones or with rheumatic conditions should use it moderately if at all.

I made a lovely sorrel soup this weekend. It is a very simple recipe for such a yummy soup that can be served either warm or cold. While sorrel is considered a spring herb it can also be added into fall recipes as can other leafy greens. Sorrel is one of the first leafy greens to appear in gardens in the spring and it’s tart flavor reawakens our winter palate. In the fall sorrel is equally delicious when started late in the growing season. If it is an older plant it will contain higher levels of oxalic acid which not only effects the taste but is less beneficial in terms of health benefits. Make sure late season sorrel is from a late season crop. Here’s all the ingredients you need…so simple
prep3
I adjusted this recipe from Mother Earth News http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/sorrel-soup-recipe-zmrz1301zmat.aspx#axzz3FHXPZbNK, I swapped out butter for Earth Balance.

onionsSautee onions

sorrel potato prep1Cut sorrel into ribbons and chop potato into small chunks

ss cookingAdd sorrel and potatoes to onions

sorrel soupBlend together and top with plain Greek yogurt

I served this hot as a first course with ginger glazed salmon and wild rice to follow. I was lucky to have fresh tender sorrel greens available through my CSA, but you can keep this recipe tucked away for spring if you’d like when the new tender growth is readily available.

Happy cooking and eating!

website: http://leanne-yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com

 

Herb Woman

Roots and herbs she gathers, morning, night and noon, by raising dog star underneath the moon.

In her fragrant kitchen while the lost world sleeps, Gentle midnight priestess, she mixes and steeps.

Shakes the leafy brethren, sorts and scraps with skill, on her vibrant fingers wood and field and hill-

Poppy leaves and wormwood, Peony petals split, dreamy hop flowers added for a headache quilt.

Hands only made for healing, nostrils made for smell, forehead wide and yearning, eyes fixed in a spell.

With the loose prescriptions floating through her head, Such are prayers she mutters ere she goes to bed.

By Eleanor C. Koenig