Healthful


I have to say from the outset – I have always felt proud of the fact that I am so good with change. My work has changed. My life has changed. My body, my apartments, my friends. But, I find myself baffled about something: why am I so averse to FOOD changes?

This surprises me. I suppose I find some comfort in the knowledge that I can be shaken out of complacency on the “change” front. That’s what acceptance of change is all about — going with the flow, as they say.

I have this wonderful t-shirt I bought at Snoqualmie Falls, outside of Seattle. It says “Advice from a Waterfall” – which in itself is a lovely thought. We can imagine a tree — like those in the Wizard of Oz – with its arms and full head of leaves – knotholes for squirrels and for talking — anthropomorphic. But, waterfalls?

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I am back at one of my favorite retreats. Well, I guess at this point, it is my Favorite, back East anyway. Forget the “one of” part. Kripalu. It is a yoga retreat in the Berkshires, a short drive from Lenox, Mass. It is a former monastery that has been turned into a school for Yogis and Aruyrvedic practitioners. It is also a place for visitors looking for wellness programs, or just a little R&R. You can practice yoga here three times a day, and do this wonderful moving form they call Yoga Dance. The yoga dance is very tribal, very primal, sweat-inducing, and LOTS of fun.

I arrived after a four-hour bus drive, sat next to a cool woman who commuted back and forth between her apartment outside of Boston and the Vermont woods where she lived with the boyfriend she met on You-Tube. When you leave the highly caffeinated world of Manhattan and land anywhere bucolic, it takes awhile to adapt to the deafening din of silence. Crickets in NYC mean no one has come to your nightclub. The smells, the views, the sounds of silence can be intimidating. I walked around, made myself at home in my spartan room (happy to see that the unknown roommate with whom I was to share the room had not arrived yet). A gentle yoga class, a delicious vegetarian dinner, some quiet time in the sun room until three 20-somethings came in to gab. Even then, I wasn’t in the mindset to be the librarian and “shhhhhush” them. I just went to my little room and fell asleep.
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My very sage friend, Amy, nudged me today to get back into writing my blog. We both agree that it just takes that first entry to get revved up again.

So, I make no promises that this will be coherent, but it will reflect my day and my thoughts nonetheless.

I went to the Greenmarket at Union Square in Manhattan on this beautiful, slightly overcast Spring day. It is a regular thing I do on Saturdays. I take my market bag — bought many years ago at a farmers market in Provence. It’s a lovely bag, sold by a French woman who had taken the classic market bag– and we’re talking hearty straw bag made in Morocco. With sturdy leather handles. And she handpainted it for sale at that market in Nyons.
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So, before heading to Oregon — and just a few days after my return from Italy, I was sitting in my NYC apartment – okay still sulking a little bit about American versus Italian food.  A sulk I should reconsider.  First, I’m in the States, so get over it, dammit!  But also – I realize, no have to admit – I also ate what I damn well pleased while there.  Giving lie to my statements that

I never gain weight when I go to Italy!

Except, when I got on the scale upon my return and found out that a week of Janet Eats – Italian style – netted an extra five pounds in avoirdupois.  Oh boy.  Not bummed, mind you.  It is temporary.  And, oh so fun.

I found a quick option to my quest to eat like a Roman – but also keep fit, like most Italians.  I have always said – and this truism is, well, true.

You will not gain weight in Italy, if you eat their food in the WAY they eat their food.  You don’t, for the most part, see them walking around eating food, eating lots of desserts, eating in between meals.  Their fornos are a selected treat.  Not, as I did when I lived there for three months, a place to visit every day.  I have been happy to be vacationing a lot lately.  But, it does make it more challenging to eat healthfully.

  1. Challenge:  Away from home.
  2. Challenge: The food that is available is different, sometimes COMPLETELY different from your everyday choices.  And
  3. Challenge: Who WANTS to eat with limits and care.  It’s vacation!

So, now I face the wonderful opportunity to renew my commitment to healthful eating.  Good choices.  Veggies when I want them.  Steamed with a little olive oil.  Not at all something you even want to eat while on vacation.

You know, you gotta live.  In a way that allows for some indulgences.  If you are challenged, as I am, to eat healthfully on a regular basis (and, even at that, my friends tell me I’m pretty damn good at that) – you need to not judge yourself.  Pick on yourself.  Feel badly about yourself.  Enjoy the food that you eat when you eat it.  If that means a temporary weight gain, then just “man up” and eat the way you know is both best – AND enjoyable – for you.

And, I think I’ll try that recipe I read about from another Word Press Blogger, Iowa Girl Eats:

Baked Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

In the verdant land of Oregon, not just the peace-love-tie-dyed people are on the green side.  Green in that sustainable way, I mean.

On the coast of Oregon, in the most plebeian of food establishments, you will find little signs indicating the provenance of the food you are purchasing.  Or, about to eat.

Surfing at Agate Beach

In Newport, Oregon there are several “restaurants” that feature locally caught fish.  And on the menu or in the glass case, you see things like LC Big Buoy – meaning Line Caught aboard the boat “Big Buoy”.   The fish is, of course, fabulously fresh and delicious.  But, you know you are the in presence of people who understand “sustainable” at a very real level.

I put “restaurants” in quotations, by the way, because some of them are really fish markets with some tables and a great cook in the back who understands how to coax the best flavors from the catch of the day.

I do enjoy “food as metaphor” — for this practice in a old fishing port in the central coast of Oregon, shows they respect the very stores they deplete everyday when they catch what the Pacific has to offer.

On a practical matter, that means I have had scrumptious simple grilled halibut sandwiches.  Clam chowder with huge chunks of local clams swimming in a sea of white cream.  And, I haven’t even moved to Dungeness crab and salmon.

It’s in season is not just a slogan here on the Oregon coast.  It’s Life.

Enough with the wah-wah “I’m not in Kansas anymore” pity party about your Italian vacation and there being NOTHING TO EAT in America.  C’mon!!!

This is how to do it:  get off your vacation exhausted duff (okay, do some yoga first).  Let the airplane headache pass and move on.  Or, just plain move.  I walked to my Weight Watchers meeting and saw that, yes, Virginia, there ARE consequences to your cornetto eating – but basta!  Enough.  Move on.

NYC Italian Coffee Bar

I walked to my favorite coffee bar in NYC — Tarallucci & Vino — a completely Italian place, I presume owned by Italians, but if not – certainly the people who work there are speaking the mother tongue.  And, their customers are.  So, too, the bambini.  I ordered un espresso DOPPIO – figured that being in NYC – I couldn’t just order caffé like in Rome and expect to get espresso.  Squisito!

Greenmarket Goodies

A short stroll away: our version of the Campo dei Fiori – without the statue of the executed guy.  The Greenmarket at Union Square.  I filled my market bag to overflowing: beets with succulent greens still attached.  Radishes, broccoli, cauliflower.  I love fall greenmarkets with its squashes, pumpkins and potatoes.

There you have it.  Pure food: the American way.  Now, start cooking.

This was one of my favorite cross-cultural confusions while in Denmark.  One morning, while rushing to get out of the apartment for some not typical sightseeing in the Danish countryside, I asked my friend if we might have a little breakfast.  What do you usually have for breakfast, I asked.  He replied that he generally had a filling, but pretty boring breakfast cereal with milk.  We went into the kitchen and poured the cereal into our bowls.  It was called Havregryn. My friend didn’t really know the English name for Havre Gryn.

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