Category Archives: Body

100 days meat free

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To celebrate my first 100 meat free days and reward myself and surprise my dear ones, I got creative with several recipes inspired by lovely people.

First, let me introduce the heart-rice. Inspired by Olivia Steer http://oliviasteer.ro/crema-de-orez-harap-alb/:

1 cup rice

1 cup almond milk

1 cup cashew nut, processed in a blender

30 g cacao butter

1 table spoon vanilla

3 table spoons honey/maple syrup or any other syrup you prefer

heart rice

I cook the rice for 15 years the same way (a Chinese method): 1 cup rice to 1.5 cup boiling water, 3 minutes on high heat, 7 on medium heat and 4 on low heat in a well covered pan. Once it’s ready, keep it covered for another 10 minutes, then add the cashew, cacao butter, vanilla and the syrup/honey. Enjoy!

My cook diary enlists now an Orange poppy seeds almond cake inspired by http://talesofakitchen.com/desserts/orange-poppy-seeds-almond-cake-with-thick-fig-cream/ . I skipped the thick fig ‘cream’ and opted for a tart pan… Happy to have snapped a shot before the remaining three pieces vanished.it needs an overnight stay in your fridge, for a perfect marriage of flavours.poppy cake

And the jewelry of the crown: the vegan chocolate cake inspired by http://www.instructables.com/id/The-BEST-chococlate-cake-ever…that-happens-to-be/,  turned into muffins (purely for logistics purposes, i.e. easier to share with colleagues). I have however skipped the Chocolate Glaze (due to margarine) and replaced the 1 cup sugar with 4 teaspoons powdered Stevie and 2 tablespoons agave syrup. If you prefer it sweeter, go for 4 tablespoons agave syrup. I have also enriched the taste with ¼ cup almond meal. A colleague who refused sweets before, now literally devoured it!

chocolate cake

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When a breast met a beast

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Cold. Sharp. Fast and furious. The scalpel cut my flash. Deep. Deeper. The surgeon took it out. He showed it to me. The one inch ball covered by bloody vessels, which wanted to nest in my left breast. I was almost 18.

In the white and cold surgery room there was another table  surrounded by a team of doctors who were stepping on a pool of blood dribbling on the floor. My surgeon asked me to turn my head away.

I got out of the hospital in half an hour, due for a check up a day later. Technically, it was a simple procedure. I was happy to put it behind me. Not so fast, my mind decided. For years, I could not stand any sharp objects pointing at me. The surgery left a small mark, but for years I let no man touch or kiss it. It was a minor intervention, with major consequences. 

I read these days testimonies of four women who survived cancer in Marie Claire Novembre 2012 (full text on http://www.marieclaire.fr/,cancer-du-sein-et-desir-temoignages-de-celles-qui-l-ont-vecu,20123,651596.asp).  They went through major interventions which touched the body and soul. Some with great family support. Others not.

The amount of questions goes up. The fear goes up. Some remedies work well for the body. Others do not work so well the spirit. What is key is that the support person/group understand and remember the fundamentals of treating the women whose breast met a beast: she needs a holistic approach: body, sound and mind.  These are great allies and need to be considered as such. When such a feminine symbol is touched, not only the body is in pain. The mind is ravaging with ‚would I be perceived as a women again’, ‚would he/she stay?’, ‚would he/she get scared?”. The soul is terrified by the gloomy atmosphere some doctors paint.

A mental walk in her shoes will give answers. Just be there. Ask no questions. Gently Touch. Whisper words of love. Sooth and sing lullabies.  Trust Life. And Love.

I am about to go vegetarian

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It sounds appealing to become one with vegetus, as in lively and vigorous, right?

For my birthday party at work I ordered Mexican food: all meat based and spicy. In the evening, I felt a wave of aggressiveness taking over my mind. Nothing pleased me. I was ready to fight for no particular reason.’ Give me a sword and I am willing to join a crusade’ kind of mood :). Now it’s funny. It was not that funny back then.

No wonder my body reacted to the unusual intake of meat. I am a moderate meat consumer and I consume meat only from sources I know and I trust. My mind reminded me of my earlier thoughts about adopting vegetarian or maybe even a vegan diet. The pregnancy and breastfeeding postponed that debate. Maybe its time for another go.

I remember my body lightness and mind’s joy after a six week Lent when all meat, fish, diary, egg products were excluded at no costs and with no particular effort. My mind produced bright ideas. I was engaged fully in all my projects. Stress went down. My energy went up. I was happy and spreading happiness.

Today I came across a study on that issue: „Restriction of meat, fish, and poultry in omnivores improves mood: A pilot randomized  controlled trial” http://www.nutritionj.com/content/pdf/1475-2891-11-9.pdf. References thereto can be found on also on: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/11/vegetarianism-stress-happiness-_n_1335664.html. Another interview I recently came across is pretty inviting:

http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2012/07/qa-joanna-blythman?fsrc=nlw|newe|7-25-2012|2890091|36966107| with Joanna Blythman, a British investigative food journalist, on her book “You are what you eat” .

So, shall we, dear? as in embrace your body with a conscious mind of what you eat? After all, ‘we are what we eat’.

Do you garden?

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I would not bore with advantages of gardening. I am a novice rooftop gardener. Started with a kitchen herbs garden: pots of basilic, thyme, mint, chilly pepper and strawberies that actually produce a heavenly tasting berry. 

I love the connection to Earth that this kitchen garden provides me with. Bigger and busier the cities I live in, greater my attraction to gardening and micro-scale farming by my kitchen window.

A touch of green to spoil my vision. A flavour of nature to spoil my senses.

A tribute to my grandmother who’s garden was an Eden.

My kid learns about causality: you plant, you water, they grow, you eat. Kids learn about planning, sharing and carrying for.

These are useful skills for some adults, me included, some times, as well.

This could actually be a good question at job interviews: „do you garden?”.

May tell quite something about people, don’t you think?

Coffee, chocolate, wisdom: combined

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I should be working on an assignment on inter-institutional coordination in complex emergencies. My mind took a break. A coffee and chocolate break. And not even feelling guilty about it. Love my mind!

I have two addictions – dark chocolate and wise people. Love them combined.

Every Friday morning it’s my beauty hour. Friday is the “day of Frige”, an Old English goddess, cousin with Roman Venus, goddess of beauty. It is kind of an explanation I give myself for indulging  all kind of beauty treatments on Friday. It’s also a nice prelude to week-end days.

So every Friday morning I go to a beauty salon to my beloved cosmetologist whose hands are beautifying my face for the last decade or so. She just turned 70. Before her divine massage she orders coffee. We chat about everything and nothing. This is The best coffee I ever had and hope to continue having for the next decade or so. It smells and tastes like no coffee on earth.

The feeling is similar to having a bottle of wine with a great person and still feeling alcohol-free as opposed to getting drunk from a sip of wine in an inappropriate company.

To make it even more magical I bring her chocolate desserts I bake, for us to celebrate these special moments. The way she tastes my desserts and appreciates the flavours stays with me for another week. Untill next Friday morning.

So why is this coffee so different? ….It’s the wisdom and gestures of this lady. The way she graciously puts the coffee on table, takes a first sip, ponders to feel it’s warmth and asks about how I have been. Her eyes are always illuminated by a magic internal light. She is always genuinely interested in conversation and in spite of her enormous life experience she is never in a hurry to give advice.

Such an organic and holistic approach – body & soul & mind – wrapped in an aroma of coffee & chocolate, with the fragrance of a facial masque, enriched with seven decades of life wisdom and served in a nonchalant and elegant way.

From the love of beauty and with the beauty of love.

French dessert – a confession of an aficionado

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I am a sucker for French dessert. Coulant of chocolat, marbre au chocolat et banana, chocolate mousse, éclairs, fondue, truffles, crème brûlée, savarin, sorbet, crepes, gâteau aux poires et pépites de chocolat …. needless to mention croissant, pain au chocolat and escargot.

This is my mood booster, with a cup of hot Turkish coffee with a bit of cinnamon, sweetened cherry and a spoon of cocoa.

I do not only enjoy eating them, I love to cook them. Such a sense of magic happening under your eyes: eggs meeting butter and melted chocolate to form a creamy marriage, flour creating white clouds on the kitchen’s ceiling, cinnamon, vanilla, etc. to spoil senses, fingers feeling the softness and delicacy of the cream ….

Cuisine is an art – remember Gusteau’s famous “anyone can cook”?! (“Ratatouille”). It is also a therapy. Nothing relaxes me more than finding a new recipe, testing it and seeing the dessert baking in the oven: growing, mounting, getting crispy or moist. In 60 minutes you’ve got the result. In another 30 minutes you’ve got the impact – mouths full of yummy-yummy and smiling faces around the table. Now talk about “result-based management”! And there is more. Guests asking for the recipe and, after having tried it themselves, returning calls with “wow, my guests were all “wow wow””.  Double impact and … cascading! The other day, my good friend told me her grand kids baked one of my recipes for her birthday, as a b-day surprise. You should have seen her sparkling eyes when she was telling me how delighted she was about the dessert and the efforts her grand kids made for her! … Oh, love!

Give it a try: it works well for both body and soul. Well…. when done with moderation… some sort of moderation…any sort of moderation that works well for you, today and ever, with love and beauty, for body and soul.

Ready? Go! http://www.famousfrenchdesserts.com/, www.joyofbaking.com , http://www.delish.com/recipes/cooking-recipes/classic-french-desserts-recipes and many others. Please do share yours.