Favorite Fall Comfort Food?

What is your Fall Season “comfort food”?
One of my breakfast comfort foods is oatmeal (boiled with water, bit of milk). Even better in times of “low energy“ adding some extra vitamins with pumpkin seeds, cranberries, some goji berries and a bit of maple syrup …yummy!

Breakfast, start your day with energy

Wikipedia defines comfort food as something of nostalgic nature from our childhood usually that makes us feel “cared for” and indeed a hot breakfast around cold Fall and winter days makes us feel better. A reminder that “all that falls” could be your mood and a bit of seasonal depression so do something, be active, put on that warm cuddly sweater and make something good for yourself !

I absolutely love this “Autumn Sonata” by Igor Krutoy (Fall music compilation)

What is your comfort food ?

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” Albert Camus, French philosopher, journalist and Nobel winning Author of The Plague a novel of poignant questions of the human condition.

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Dark Moon, Black Cats, Evil Eye: Superstitions & Health

The children of U.K., U.S., and Ireland say “trick or treat” on October 31st for Halloween 🎃 while many parts of the world celebrate “all souls day” on November 1st. Images of dancing skeletons, ghosts and the candlelit jack-o-lantern add an air of mystery against the moonlit sky.

“Dark moon” may have been a movie thriller (year 2009) and the Black Moon back in 2016  — a phenomenon of approximately every three years and supposedly precursor to the “end of the world” got me thinking of all the superstitions that we are exposed to in our lifetime from our family circle or cultural traditions. More importantly how these can affect our thinking and ultimately our health and those around us!

I’m impressed by fellow bloggers’ images and information like this one by a man with an appropriate last name “Wolfe”…what would a full or dark moon be without?!   Supposedly some of us have urges of creativity, hatred and envy (anyone have any of these issues today?) but we can learn to hone it into more healthy behaviors as the first step is awareness.

During a black 🌚 moon,  the sun perfectly illuminates  the back side of the moon, hence giving it the eerie glow while it appears like the “apocalyptic night.”  In societies whom we may consider low health literate by our standards, people often have perfectly thought out alternative approaches to what we may consider crazy or out of this world!

We love mystery, as musical hits like the Dark Side of the Moon, Shakespeare’s line “my mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” (Sonnet 130) later copied into one of Sting’s greatest hits “Sister Moon” (1987), reminded me of a question I asked years ago of a serious scientist — “do you believe that planets affect us?” — in my attempt to better understand my own fascination with astrology and astronomy. I was surprised and secretly thrilled with his answer: “if the moon affects the tides and our body is hugely made up of fluids, why can’t planets affect us?” Perhaps the answer is the interplay of our biology (thinking, chemical balance or imbalance, genetic predispositions to anxiety or our amygdala giving us the wrong signals leading to fear) with our experiences… do you like ghost stories?

Those of you who believe in the evil eye (mati) will understand when I say, if a talisman makes you feel more secure wear it or hang it outside your home…. this allows you some form of ‘control’ which may reduce your anxiety use it! BUT if this becomes an obsession (e.g. “I can’t function because I have the evil eye”) or we blame natural phenomena such as fatigue on the evil eye (e.g. “the baby is crying, must be the evil eye”), you may need some good old fashioned counseling.

There is hope!  In an article written in the Huffington Post “How to Get Rid of the Evil Eye” the author reminds us that we all have cultural quirks, and though the evil eye is a tradition of Eastern Europe, the middle east, what I discovered in my past cross-cultural learning is that some beliefs may have permeated to other cultures like in Haiti when my friend spat three times (to supposedly ward off the evil eye), or to my great surprise appeared in more nature-oriented traditions such as the native Americans (or American Indians) who believe in the “eye of timg_7363he lake” or the “eye of Providence” as affecting all mankind.

Lastly, this thing in the west about black cats bringing bad luck — unless you find yourself not seeing the cat in the late night because your eye’s rods aren’t firing fast enough in low light and you wind up stepping on its tail or worse falling over the cat into the trash receptacle, well, don’t blame the cat! They are truly beautiful creatures, in ancient Egypt the black cat was revered and there was even a cult of the cat well until several hundred years A.D.

During the summer of 2016 we had the opportunity to rescue a kitten stuck in the fender of our car (don’t ask how or why, he was very scared from something…. now I better understand the phrase “don’t be such a scaredy cat“) who with a lot of care and love is one of the sweetest creatures I have known, and very lucky to be alive, hence why we named him “Lucky.”

Reframe it to “Black Cats bring me love and good luck, especially if we treat them with love and respect!” You may be a dog person, but any pet contact on a very ‘down’ day or dealing with chronic illness, or with those with whom communicating is difficult (autistic children, elders with dementia) is truly healing and why so many people are learning more about pet therapy.

I may not, in contrast to Sting, wanting to “howl at the moon the whole night through” but I am drifting off to sleep before the witching hour (yes I did read the famed New Orlean native Anne Rice’s novel “The Witching Hour“) thinking of Selene, the moon goddess drifting across the skies…

Carbonara, Coal mining, Carbon dioxide, and Capitalism

The 4 Cs, not in this order, are key local and global issues. Well here is what we “left over” from our Italian “carbonara” a delicious mix of pasta, meat (usually ham/pork), Parmesan cheese, and egg, all grilled over a hot stove inspired by coal miner’s foodstuff. Nowadays this meal may contribute to our over-eating and high calorie cholesterol diet which is to be avoided but, for hard labor and athletes this is the food to help keep them going!

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Capitalism is never 100% bad as I say and many others prove that “responsibility” lies in balance ….much of the time progress for cities and towns that otherwise would be ages backwards ….indeed brought by capitalism but we don’t “see” it until centuries later. We need to reflect on improving quality and create more opportunities as well as maintain worker’s health.

This is an example of Lavrio (Laurium), a city in Southern Attica marked by a long history of mining (the ancient site for the first minting of silver coins used as money happened here). Factories contribute to depleted ozone with emissions and the so-called greenhouse effect by harmful gases like sulfur oxide or carbon dioxide.  Let’s keep up with our scientific and civic literacy — both components of health literacy— shall we? I particularly liked this scientific article.  Thus this place has an oxymoronic history, even though it was a place of progress, with many problems around mining worker’s rights …. many people died and sacrificed in the late 1800’s so that others don’t have to work straight 12-13 hour days (similar issues even in modern day with migrant workers!).

Lavrio overlooks Makronisos (the island in East of Attica, a place where those considered “opposing” the Greek state were sent to political prison in 1940s through 1970s). Many neoclassical buildings are now starting to be rebuilt as we say “respect cities” to be able to attract more tourism on land and sea.  As statues and memorials are built, universities in Greece now use the old mining areas for places of study it occurred to me that we can all be ‘transformers’ and as I thought this a beautiful rainbow appeared on the road back home …. after the rain, hope and promise are soon behind but we need to grab the opportunity when it arises!

 

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The gods, history, art, food and agriculture of the Isle of Naxos, Greece

There are a lot of pages and references  dedicated to the Greek donkey as of late. A sturdy animal used often for the purpose of agriculture by farmers or by villagers without cars to carry heavy weight in incredibly hot temperatures. This is what they were built for as they are similar to the desert camel.  So, please people, unless the donkey owners are untrained or ruthless “meanies” most of these animals are beloved in Greece. I should know, we owned several in our family in years past.

Greece is considered the “hottest” country in Europe with summer temperatures  exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius). The last “hydration” post is most important to review as one can even get sunburnt if they don’t wear a hat often — it happened to me! Health literacy indeed should include the “donkey” holistic model described on this site if we are to look at the bigger picture.

Greece has over 6,000 islands but only 227 are inhabited. So this post will be one of several where I will be sharing some extraordinary experiences with the hope that you will visit there too!

4783E0CD-5D4B-4609-9D92-23BDA16D81FALast year, during this summer period,  we were privileged to stay at the “Princess of Naxos” on the isle of Naxos main town, and interview the owner and island hotel association rep. who was very proud about his island and more recent tourism developments. It’s an island for “all tastes” for families, couples, or individual adventurers. We had the chance to walk and drive around various parts of the island enjoying the pristine blue waters of the sea (Agios Prokopios, Agia Anna, Agios Georgios were personal favorites) visiting museums with remnants from ancient, medieval, to modern times. An island of antithesis yet complementary sites, smells, sounds and tastes. Also a geological marvel with stones and minerals, including Naxos marble, would make anyone want to “dig” for more!

The marble Sphinx is proof of the Hellenistic and Egyptian relationships while the marble “portal” door welcomes visitors to the island. 8110DEED-9A7E-41EE-AC52-469304D7F4F1.jpegAs if a sleeping pharaoh, the gigantic statue of Apollo is carved on the mountain side for worshipers and the majestic pillars of the temples of Artemis and Demeter (female goddesses of fertility and earth’s bounty), or the site of Dionysus (merriment and “wine god”) remind one of how important fertile land and the bounty of food is for human survival.  The gods of pagan times likely affected the mentality of Christianity as various saints are important to Orthodox Christians. We remain with elements of various personality types and the cosmos: earth, air, fire, and water — ancient philosophy, astrology, and later psychologist Carl Jung aspired personality experts Myers & Briggs to better understand ourselves and others.

One can take a side trip to neighboring islands of Paros or Mykonos, and the small (uninhabited) isle of Delos dedicated to the sun god Apollo with a fabulous “terrace of the lions” built around 600 B.C. with infamous Naxos marble showcasing the strength of dominance of the island as biggest sea trades happened here of all the Cyclade islands, the name of the island “group”—  see fellow blogger’s site here.

 

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Following Artemis’ path, I became a “huntress” of sorts to try and understand the island “identity” and driving towards semi-mountainous Filoti (Φιλώτι), we stopped right before at at a local pottery maker whose family art goes back three generations. We still admire his work today in our home and they deliver goods almost anywhere globally. The impressive “wine glass of equality” was fascinating as all drinkers could only have equal amounts — if you went over the ‘line’ wine would be lost pouring to the floor (one would not be happy).

A small shop owner told us stories of agriculture and dedications to the ancient gods as people aspired to live off the land and how Naxos became the main trading isle of the region. Some of the popular trades of the island continue to be their cheeses like my favorite graviera (γραβιέρα), Naxos potatoes (something similar to the U.S. Idaho potato), or their famous citron (κίτρο) green colored liqueur.

His shop was full with handwoven baskets, and anything from mountain oregano to sheep’s bells or khoudounia (there is a site on their origins in Greece here) in smaller animals the smaller bell is called a “trokani” (τροκάνι). Noteworthy is the fact that there are similar herbs and medicinal plants shared among other islands and mainland Greece (Alan Touwaide’s research work is highlighted in a past post on ancient and medicinal plants). This shop is a cultural treasure that will hopefully make it through the ongoing financial crisis of the country.

 

Find out more about this “must visit” Greek island via the website Naxos.gr — from museums to gastronomy, or simply a relaxing seaside vacation, that will leave everyone wanting to return.

Hydrate your body and soul this summer

Happy 4th of July to all U.S. friends and happy summer to everyone else. People ask me what can I do to feel better? How can I stop negativity? How can I look younger?

Firstly everything is “reversible” as long as you take control to “hydrate” your body, the mind, and soul. Would you ever NOT water a plant if you wanted it to flourish? Or not care for your child? Or not listen to your friend’s pain and offer advice? Pain can feel like stones heavy on the heart. But what if they were “hot stones” which are good with healing! Could you collect some at the beach and “throw” your heavy worry to the sea? Whatever it is, WATER heals….

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What about water? — for every coffee you consume and any alcoholic drink you must drink at least 1-2 glasses of water (mind the cup). We should be drinking 6-8 glasses of water daily and in the summer increase to 10-12! I won’t go into other summer safety precautions since I’ve written about this before (see here) but I will go on with “the power.”

We all have the power to change our thoughts and share with others how to become better people but are they ready? Some are “stuck” in thinking everyone is “against” them, they are “not good enough,” you don’t “love them enough” (often this is their own “stuff” from personal insecurities, childhood, borderline behaviors that you cannot do much about as they need spiritual or professional guides). This summer read Ms. Byrne’s book it will open your mind and help heal the soul. In general prayer, meditation, and healthy “mind food” do!

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“The Power” by Rhonda Byrne

As for your skin — besides sunscreen, adding more raw vegetables and fruit 🍉 like seasonal summer squash, grapes, or watermelon do the trick! But some of us have sensitive digestive systems so vitamins are just what the doctor ordered.

My favorite summer skin beauty regimen the last two years is Truvivity is so ask me or others about it and try it today if you want to build your collagen and keep inner hydration healthy against sun damage and normal aging process a bit longer delayed! Beauty is skin deep but if you have a healthy attitude around you will be surrounded by many friends and loving persons to be even more attractive to others. Remember to be beautiful inside and out keep “hydrated” mind, body and soul!

 

Strawberry Moon, Shortcake, and June

According to Native American tradition June was the perfect ripening time to pick strawberries by the full moonlight … since it’s also cooler in the evenings and less critters like bees, my guess is? The article by USA Today published last June 2018 suggests that the warm color of the moon as it is closer to the earth and the related folklore give the related “strawberry moon” reference.

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Full moon overlooks the cityscape

Buying my 1 kg. (about 2 lbs.) in-season June strawberries I was thinking about what desert to make  — despite the fact strawberries have one of the highest ratings of pesticide residue,  about 10 mins steeped in cold water with a tablespoon of lemon juice and a “pinch” of salt helps reduce this ‘bad for your health’ stuff according to experts —  In thinking along the healthier eating lines, we should try to reduce calories due to high sugar in most strawberry deserts. But how?  Then it comes to me…. as a kid I recall those “special occasions” with my aunt Dorothy who introduced me to so many “American” traditions including antique stores, the 4th of July Independence Day parade in the historic Marblehead, MA. complete with fireworks, barbecues, and yes, strawberry shortcake!

In the 1980s there was a greeting card that evolved into many cartoon characters who lived in “Strawberry Land” including friends Lemon Meringue and Blueberry Muffin (by the way I love those deserts too!). Apparently, this became popular again with a newer North American (Canadian – American) ownership and animated series in about 2010!  This desert is still an all-time classic. Growing into adulthood with all the pains and  needing to cut down on extra calories one can understand why it’s best to keep thoughts only on the cartoon’s “Berry Adventures” 😎🍓

So, I substituted the whipped cream with strained Greek yogurt and guess what? It is simply fabulous with that extra protein needed and less sugar calories. Yummy! Well,  I still like those strawberry daiquiris with my leftover strawberry sauce …maybe I’ll drink to that?! Cheers, and happy summer.

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Flying lanterns & Safe Returns

Lanterns made of biodegradable material, big and small, yellow colored with more bold red and blue checkered patterns, floated to the sky by the dozens, accompanied by fireworks, on the Saturday of the Resurrection. Traditions such as these, as well as a simple lighting of candles are customary to Orthodox Christians celebrating Easter week in several towns and villages in Greece and other parts of Eastern Europe.

I was in awe of the spectacle in the town of Leonidio former municipality of southern Arcadia, Eastern Peloponnesus. A small town with a traditional “Tsakonika” language dialect, and modern traditions including rock climbing, Leonidio will also have a summer feast of the eggplant  (aubergine) in the summer “Melitzazz” festival with jazz music 🎼

Yes, there are many pagan traditions that have made it across to religious Christian traditions as a fellow blogger rightfully addresses (Aratta) and the above are a welcomed change adding value to our trip while helping the local economy.

However, some practices are more difficult to fathom at close range including fireworks and other “poppers” including shooting guns for “fun”. This includes a random bullet on Easter Sunday landing in an 8-year-old’s head who is now fighting for her life in the town of Thiva, and a cameraman who lost his life at 58 from a misfired firework in the town of Kalamata. Many towns every year have fireworks to bring in tourism but at what costs? And we as viewers need to keep our healthy distance to prevent injury.

Health literacy people, to prevent injury by safe practices! The US Consumer Product Safety Commission puts out some good guidelines  to be safe around fireworks (CPSC) particularly for young children who may be “curious” or sensation-seeking teens and adults who tinker with danger.

May Wreaths

On May 1st we make wreaths from the earth’s bounty!

Take a moment this May 1st to pick your flowers and dance around the May pole (May energy) or rethink labor “rights” traditionally celebrated as “Labour Day” by many countries, neither North America nor Australia (hmm!) , on the side of safety first and occupational health.