Planning meals, the Idaho Plate Method, Families, traditions and lockdowns

There are many different families — singles, couples, big and small. Eating right and making it easy, while not over-worrying about “proper nutrition” is a constant concern I hear. The lockdown has helped some people “learn” more and discover hidden talents, while others are struggling with their own melancholic tendencies or even “Zoom fatigue” (I’m sure this will be added in a future Diagnostic manual!) . This post is about food 🥘 mix-and-match ideas and tips, with some traditional recipe ideas!

Start off thinking slow cooking …. and healthy “fast” foods going back to ancient times. Anyone see the recent post on the Ancient Pompeii food stand? Ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus’ noted simple healthy combinations leading to the “basis” of modern diets with his writings about Mediterranean food, herbs and cooking. Do you know why bitter Oregano is added to Greek salad? It has antiseptic qualities and wards off bacteria which get worse in the hot 🥵 Mediterranean sun 🌞.

If one is lucky to come from a family whose roots are based in gardening, farming, and Mediterranean cooking — one of the healthiest diets in the world — it adds to one’s “food literacy” an important part of health literacy, increasing the value of seasonal foods\eating. This all might seem easy, but it’s not to everyone. In times of financial imbalance, food scarcity, disinterest, or lacking access (e.g. urban poor neighborhoods complain about food “deserts” lacking produce or markets); thus, challenges will ensue. However we live in the digital age and we can learn. Current efforts of sustainable urban gardens and food collaboratives contribute positively globally !

There are always things to learn and share. Asking amazing cooks and “superwomen” (or men) helps one gather excellent recipes and ideas. Remember, it’s important to have the ‘rainbow colors’ fruits (fresh or dried) and vegetables (fresh or frozen) in our daily diets as much as we can. Eat mindfully
🧡 checkout some tips for various physical conditions by an amazing doctor, triathlete and longtime friend ChefMD Kathy💙

Here are some images of recent favorites 🏡 from quince with pork and salad, bean soup, rice with avocado and shrimp, mozzarella tomato with fresh (or dried) basil, traditional “trahana” and Covid immunity building supplements (vitamins and teas) with some room for a cinnamon-apple 🍎 tart…. and yes cinnamon is great to help us lose weight and ‘heat’ the system in the winter months!

One has to “think ahead” to pass on their “skills” to future generations especially help teens and young adults find a “purpose” and build life skills. There are fabulous food shows, we like Akis’ food lab. We also encourage young people to learn about sustainability and such things as urban gardens are great! During winter months, we need to give ourselves an OK ✅ to eat more comfort foods and not over stress about calories. Sparingly 1 Wine 🍷 or 🍺 1 glass is fine for adults, but we aware of extra calories and of course we never drink and drive (think designated driver!).

NOTE 📝 We are not nutritionists here! No need for you to be wealthy to afford food “supplies”, just food smart. If you’re told you’re a great cook and meal host, share your knowledge! Sharing is indeed caring.

Having worked over five years with people who have diabetes, some work with anorexia and obesity recovery from eating disorders, being in tune with the “science” of diets and food resources, having family working in eating establishments (from restaurants to schools), and experiencing the lockdown — including sometimes working and eating too late, meeting and cooking with a ‘master chef’ years ago, many things “rubbed off.” What works and what doesn’t, reality of time and money, cultural issues (e.g. no lard for me despite having had some good fried chicken in the southern U.S.!). Here are a few good tips:

❤️ 6-8 glasses of water 💧 daily including tea (morning or midday) or 1 cup black coffee — with an extra glass of water, are a great way to retain your necessary body fluids. Summer months +2-3 glasses and more fruit!

❤️ Always eat breakfast, be a good role model to your children. Your body is like a 🚗 car, it cannot run on “fumes” (water and coffee are nice but EAT some protein!). If your kids like the sugary cereals mix all up with bran or cornflakes, add some fresh or dried fruit inside or on the side — you’ll feel better about it, and in the long-run they will too.

Choco balls and corn flakes

❤️ The Idaho plate http://platemethod.com/ method is easy to “visualize”— think half your plate of veggies (keep olive oil and lemon 🍋 nearby as it’s better than high calorie sweet sauces) use during lunch and dinner, you’re ahead of the “keeping healthy” game!

❤️ Learn about family food traditions — it’s ok to binge on the heavier calorie ones in the winter just take an extra walk (some smart phones even tell you how many steps you’ve done — aim between 8-10,000 steps daily). This year I learned about curing olives. We made some good meals like quince with pork chops; chestnuts 🌰 with walnuts and raisins stuffed in small to medium-sized turkey; a bean soup combination for Fall-Winter. Did you know that eating about six olives is equivalent to a small piece of meat for protein? 🧑‍🍳 A recent Epicurious food post had wonderful Dutch oven recipes, which one can easily use crock pots as well ….slow, easy, good for you, and your family, and of course delicious.

Despite mom’s chronic arthritis she still makes her traditional and awesome Christmas-New Year aromatic orange, cinnamon, cloves in fried dough recipe “tiganides” or “lalaggia” (they’re made in 2-3 different ways depending what part of the Southern Peloponnese) are a favorite to eat warm, plain or with aged cheese, as a breakfast alternative 😋 … families loved this during cold January. More traditional holiday foods are pictured in this article by Protothema.

❤️ Healthy snacks including protein shakes or bars between meals (XS bars and Body Key by Nutrilite / Amway are some favorites) for busy people, a small piece of dark chocolate every other day as a pick-me-up, accompanied with black coffee/espresso (kids need more calories so don’t be afraid of giving cookies) they also love apple 🍎 or peach 🍑 pie!

Whether you’re making browniesHome for the holidays w/ coconut 🥥 oil for winter or a peach tart for summer, they’re simply good !

I’d like to do an entire post on quince — it has a tangy flavor (wear gloves 🧤 when cutting up because it colors the skin) and is great with regular potatoes and meats like chicken or pork, oven-baked. It’s also amazing as a sweet preserve; eat plain or w/ strained yogurt. It’s high on selenium and kids like it too!

pre-cut quince and quince sweet preserves


❤️ Keep to a planned mealtime schedule as much as possible — lunch between 1-2 pm and dinner about 7 hours later (with a snack in between) is ok. There is a lot of talk lately about “metabolic types” and fasting periods. Note 📝 if you eat a bigger lunch, eat LESS for dinner. Dinner before 8(ish) is best. It’s simple, but not obvious. Think smart prep, some extra meals can be kept frozen, pre-cut salad kept in Tupperware-type containers (that can last up to a week!). Active kids need more snacks so keep yogurt, protein bars/shakes, and fresh or dried fruit close at hand!

We aspire to ‘mix-and-match’ foods, store and reuse for future meals and an ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ philosophy!

❤️ Aspire to an Eat, Pray, Love philosophy as our times make things difficult and it is vitally important to keep the faith in times of uncertainty. This means appreciating what you have, mindful eating, forgiving and loving those dear to you, lending a hand to a neighbor and your community (via donations or in-kind goods). Do what you can, you will feel better in the end! And yes, when you are creative and DO more, especially good cooking and baking you become stronger and more resilient to our difficult times. Remember it is not just about YOU, it is about all of us, big and small, all creatures, a new philosophy for a healthier life.

“So many things are possible, just as long as you don’t know they are impossible.”

–Norton Juster

Smile 😊 it’s a NEW Year!

We are turning the “chapters” of our life pages, renewal and moving ahead. Smile it’s a new year 2021 — 365 new days for ideas and renewed hope and life chances!

One of the best “calendars” I have received and a great message “Smile” 😊 try new things and develop gratitude …. what 3 new things will you try? I’ve outlined a few ideas 💡 ….

Let’s shed light on things we’ve neglected
  1. Enrol in online classes with 365 quotes by Persian poet Rumi? OR some belly dance classes to shed pounds\kilos? There are many courses like DailyOm or sites like MindValley that are certainly interesting!
  2. Clean house, clean out old habits, particularly those bad ones that affect your health (body, mind, spirit), as well as your community’s well-being. (Respect your own body and build immunity, think about your ‘cave’ be less selfish, respect others & refresh cities).
  3. The calendar 📅 of happiness ? Check out this link (actionforhappiness).
Begin 2021 with new ideas & new energy
Some guided meditations are useful instead of only passive breathing, tap into your active mind !

Home for the holidays

Hot beverages, home cooking, turning inward, online burnout, family matters. This is what many people described as key themes from this year’s holidays. Perhaps a slowing down is what that “little bugger” Covid intended, for sure we still have much to learn.

Many of us want to look ahead to a brighter year, thinking of New Year’s resolutions…cook more, quality time with family and friends, reading, music, art, inner work…and yes more hot chocolate and the Eat, Pray, Love philosophy. And, a recent gifted book I’m reading by Haemin Sunim, The Things You can See Only When you Slow Down (c) 2012. One thing is for sure it’s great to make comfort food. The leftover candy canes this year went into some fabulous chewy, coconut oil based brownies ! Yummy 😋

We have responsibility to ourselves and our communities in slowing down the transmission of all communicable disease 🦠 so we can give our health professionals and healthcare facilities a “break.” This WHO social marketing campaign makes it clear. Burnout and risk are also clear.

We are amidst a global pandemic. The latest stats show us that there is a big Pharma “war” for the most COVID vaccines as seen by this very interesting site called “Visual Capitalist” (global maps vaccines ), and of course the gaming industry gains (much to the dismay of parents) , and the “Top 20 visuals from 2020” — missing some additional losses (actors Sean Connery [007] Kirk Douglas [Spartacus], David Prose [Darth Vader], Kelly Preston [Travolta’s spouse] & Nick Cordero [A Bronx Tale] , soccer player Diego Maradona, basketball player Kobe Bryant, rockstar Eddie Van Halen, country singer Kenny Rogers and comedian-singer Little Richard, Maestro Ennio Morricone, to name a few in tribute.😕😢 some of whom had COVID related complications.

No, it’s not just “another flu” …it’s likely as complicated as HIV-AIDS once was. It’s also fast forwarding us to what people call “futurism” and there is certainly a lot of mistrust in governments, the global “network” of economic and media gurus… full conspiracy theories. My friend’s card reminder should help all of us cognitively reshift …..

When life gives you lemons 🍋 ….make lemonade! Indeed

….and of course some good tea!

How do you paint your “cave”?

The last few weeks in one of my S.A.D. “Moments” I asked myself how did people make it during prehistoric times, clans and nomads living in caves? Yes, it was the exercise of the hunt that raised those endorphins keeping them fit and slim. Thinking survival of the fittest (resourceful, smart, etc.) through current evolution as some people fear while some welcome technology and futurism. We can learn a lot about historical events from Google, like this post about the anniversary of finding the Chevaut Cave (Le Grotte Cheveaut) in Southern France 🇫🇷 discovered December 1994. It prompted me to read further.

This over 36,000 year old cave is considered one of greater importance that it’s listed in world heritage UNESCO sites. Came across this presentation enhancing life-long learning — this time history and archaeology. How cool it is to hear world renowned archaeologists help us “travel through time” a true opportunity online. These are the “paints” of our modern way of learning and living. We are no longer cave men are we?!

Ask an Archaeologist episode

Do think about what you can add to your home or office to help brighten your mood? It doesn’t mean a lot of money. A poster, cleaning up the piles of papers, giving away clothes, books or any CDs you don’t want… Marie Kondo says we should be thankful to each item that has contributed to our life. These items may be frivolous, therefore think of adding more mindfulness in managing your life space.

Help your kid do their art 🖼 project (because who will in lockdown?) and display it proudly. Cook a meal you haven’t done before and say Grace at the dinner table, each day is a gift.

What does your “cave” say about you? Take stock. Do your holiday lists and think of ways to bring warmth to your cold on-line days of work. There are great virtual “Christmas Cafes” to hang out…. bring your own hot beverage and make your “cave” a little more cozy. Take time to enhance your life, your space, share fun e-cards or printed cards with family and friends as the year comes to a close. It’s your gift 🎁

Trying to make it through all those online meetings.

It’s the little things…. this holiday season

Nostalgia over melancholia (be nostalgic but fight off being melancholic 😔) you can do it! The newest trend is 21 days of daily meditation — affirmations and guided versions are great 👍 — to help one change their subconscious mindset. It works.

As a kid we watched a lot of common Christmas movies, like Scrooge which taught us not to hoard wealth, the Little Donkey or Rudolph about how differences make us unique. Somehow Coca Cola red and white colors has now overtaken any idea of the “giving” Saint Nicholas.

Saint Nick 🎅🏻 I hear is taking precautions this year as the word spreads. Someone sent me this image, a welcome reminder of capitalism at best 😆 ….

Currently, “Happy Holidays” is the politically correct terminology for the new world order but nevertheless it’s the little things that feed our subconscious that make this season great.
The other day my good friends surprised me with a beautiful plant 🪴 for celebrating my Saints day, how special that felt. Yes 👍

Each item we choose to display may remind us of a trip, a friend, an accomplishment — like our last year’s making a wooden “Rudolph” with the help of Lions Club & Black and Decker (corporate social responsibility as all money made went to local charities).

Let’s be “rebellious” and stop destroying the little things that give us hope and positivity — even in our part of the world where Dec. 6th marked a tragic event — a big mistake — by one police officer who accidentally took the life of a teen boy who was with his friends bad mouthing the local cops the “ACAB” mentality (not a race issue but definitely a local community gone amuck), 12 years later the trauma keeps being politicised — this community needs healing not more trouble! It is time to refuse focusing attention on the anarchy of youth who resort to burning, looting, destroying our cities — no more PR by media (where is their responsibility not to focus on this?) Can we re-shift our thinking? Yes “Imagine” with the Swoosh effect and also neurolinguistic NLP techniques !

‘Tis the season then! Perhaps you can:

  • drop off a gift 🎁 to someone not expecting it like a “care package” of goodies, a plant, or send flowers 💐
  • make some soup or shovel the snow for your elderly neighbor without them asking (or paying for ….social security checks are low now, and people are suffering enough)
  • send cards with a note 📝 about your news….so much nicer than email which can be “deleted” and forgotten more easily. Thanks 🙏 dear ones who still do this!
  • say “hello” or a nice compliment ….it’s amazing what it does!
  • revamp or redecorate a family heirloom to keep fond memories and share stories
Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

We miss being able to give, and of course we should be open to receiving. Several years ago students moved to give hope to others with programs like “Make-a-Wish” foundation. What comes around goes around, and specifically giving and volunteering also contributes strongly to our own happiness and well-being. Thus, add this to your “health literacy” matrix.

Loving the “we serve” purpose

A recent YouTube video was circulating pre-Covid days by GENTRI that took the “Little Drummer Boy” to a new level giving meaning for children fighting cancer….. 💕🙏

Living and walking the “talk” of the Christmas spitit

Re-shift and be Thankful

You’re drinking and having a good time, getting into a car driving fast, alone or with friends. No one volunteered to be the “designated driver” and somehow you escape hitting someone on the street, running into a tree or worse, getting into a head-on collision with another car or truck. You stop, breath heavily, are THANKFUL that you are still alive.

Rethink, and re-shift your mind’s gears … what can you do to avoid “crashing” in times of crisis? This is a post about re-evaluating your situation and even your life. This is not “toxic positivity” as I’ve read people describing those who may be in their own “positive la la land”…. perhaps this is “delusional” or simply a defense mechanism for survival?

There seem to never be enough positives, as there are too many grumpy, sarcastic, catastrophic “toxic critics” for my tastes.

Too many who lack faith, forever question truth as if blind, some live in perpetual darkness. Read between the lines.

“Toto we are not in Kansas anymore” as Dorothy once said in The Wizard of Oz — what a journey that was on the yellow brick road to “find home.”

People who have high expectations for others to “save them” yet don’t DO something to help themselves or ask for support, may lapse into negative catastrophic behaviors — ranging from drinking irresponsibly, taking inappropriate meds or street drugs, to eating crap food, listening and watching crap music, overdosing on social media “likes”, video games/TV. Many move to procrastination or sloth, filling their mind with toxic negative thoughts. This then leads to anxiety, depression, blame, in extreme cases suicide or homicide. Hurting themselves and others with little thought as to why or how they can change, not caring about consequences.

The fields of wellness and health literacy attempt to address how we can improve through language associations and subconscious work…. learn more about neurology and specifically neurolinguistic programming.

Daily mindfulness exercises can help us bring conscious attention to our daily activities/routines for better health long term.

  • Rethink and re-shift your language.
  • Focus on what is positive daily, and try not to dwell on the negatives (don’t ruminate).
  • Clear out the “junk” that surrounds you physically, and keeps you from moving on mentally. (Remember the Kondo method?)
  • Be kind. When the going gets tough, always ask for help!
What are you THANKFUL for this year?

‘Catching cancer’ early, a Halloween reminder …

We can take time this Hallowed eve of “Halloween” to reflect on the good spirits of departed loved ones. There is a grief process and taking healthy actions to increase health literacy around health and mental health topics as what we do on this blog.

Photo by VisionPic .net on Pexels.com

Beyond the fact that October was health literacy month, it was also Breast Cancer awareness month. Reminders for self-testing, getting necessary tests like annual blood tests, Pap tests (women) and mammograms for the over 35 group, colonoscopy, particularly those at high risk. This article by Medical News Today was very useful in understanding how and why we need to check our body’s “nodes” (axillary nymph nodes in this case) for any swelling and changes and get to a doctor!

Recently losing a friend to an up-and-down battle with cancer makes me think of all the people I’ve worked with (or was friends with) that got sick, some survive, some do not. There tend to be personality characteristics of people who tend to get sicker, but a big piece has to do with how their environmental stressors and even unhealthy living areas contribute to this. This is indeed the nature-nurture link. Fall is generally the season of pomegranates and thinking of loss as we head into the long winter period of darkness. Maya Angelou’s poem “When I think of death” helps in expressing grief but also a fact of life.

What is your grief? Poems
We grieve, remember, and remind others to self-care

There are several bloggers who write about cancer and many NGOs dedicated to “spreading the word” on such ailments as breast cancer — in the U.S. it is the Susan G. Komen Foundation (similar org called “Alma Zois” Άλμα Ζωής in Greece). This was the first year in a decade we didn’t do their annual fundraiser walk/run and so the necessary funding and advertising for these agencies is reduced. This makes it impossible for people to do the necessary work.

There are also reminders for getting to a doctor and the necessary treatment especially in Covid19 lockdowns ….. thus sharing this blogger’s content here —

“… knowing you are going to die makes clearing out the cupboards so much easier!” The sound of choked laughter came through the phone. “You should write that,” said my friend, once his calm was once more regained. The sentiment had, I think, taken him off guard, but it was a simple observation. Even in […]

First, catch your..?  #cancer — Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo

In closing a reminder for those interested in reading more about health literacy and aging, as well as the end of life issues (see post).

We never know we go when we are going — We jest and shut the Door — Fate-following-behind us bolts it — And we accost no more

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) born in Amherst, Massachusetts

Hats off for Teachers

Someone once said that we underestimate the hours and personal time that teachers and doctors put in to care for their students and patients. October is health literacy month and if we want to have healthy societies we start by having good and trusting relationships with our caretakers and teachers. Take the time to thank them for all that they do!

Burnout is a common symptom now with Covid19 and we need to recognize it and do more self care! WHO recognizes the burnout syndrome as “an occupational phenomenon” (site link). It is normal to have “low moments” as long as we see the long-term benefits.

A few years ago we presented under the auspices of Eimai leadership institute Peacejam Greece on community issues including health literacy, and community affects of vandalistic style graffiti. Indeed we start with one child, one student at a time.

Teaching has its benefits seeing students become more confident and grow, makes it all worth the stressful moments ! However I’ll agree with fellow blogger about digital fatigue, this is why we need to work on mindfulness (stop and move away) as well as our daily doses of vitamin D (sunlight preferred), vitamin C with careful attention to not “over supplement”, some exercise even walking, and sleep as much as possible even power naps ! In thinking of self-care we thank our “angels”for guiding our lives to better health and a bit of “healing music”.

Let’s keep talking how tech can HELP and how they do not….or how much TIME they take from learning to live? Some food for thought….

Fall, nuts vs. candy “corn”

Autumn or “Fall” is that time of year when leaves change color abandoning summer as we move to darker days and nights. The colors are simply brilliant and we may think of seasonal food like pumpkin 🎃 or nuts …lots of them! From the walnut, to the chestnut 🌰, as we recall a wonderful past excursion to the mountains of Arcadia in the Peloponnesus!

Beautiful Autumn

One of my favorite books that taught me about appreciation of good 🍷 wine, seasonal foods, exercising and keeping fit, all the while maintaining our chic scarves tied in multiple ways while enjoying a nice piece of dark chocolate is titled “Frenchwomen for all Seasons” by Mireille Giuliano (published in 2006).

As we transition to “packing on” those extra pounds (kilos) we need to remember that some are healthy for our winter “survival mode” as evidenced from theory of evolution. Indeed the healthy omega 3s are necessary for maintaining healthy skin, hair, and body. So why do we crave all those sugars? I’d say it’s not a bad thing ….in moderation. And of course taking some good supplements like vitamin C or Lecithin vitamin E by Nutrilite a good thing for those over 45 who tend to eat high fat foods and need some extra support building immunity — remember your sunlight or artificial light for good mental health! This is the time of year when we are always craving those extra carbs like sugar. That said here is my take on “nuts vs. candy corn”. You can always ask your doctor or nutritionist and decide! Hmmm….

Good for you”Good” for sharing
Omega 3s, can eat with honey 🍯 a bit of honey 🍯 but mainly sugar
Squirrels 🐿 love themSquirrels cannot eat them (!)
Earth colors Bright colors
Year round Halloween 🎃
Nuts 🆚 Candy corn 🌽