Category Archives: New York State

Message from ZVRS

Halloween

I’m debating what to do about Halloween.

I loved dressing up and collecting candy as a kid. But as an adult – and someone with a growing awareness of our country’s health crisis – I don’t want to encourage the consumption of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavorings…you get the idea.

I could hand out boxes of raisins, but I hated that as a child.

I could hand out toothbrushes, but again, that’s no fun.

I could bake something – treats using crispy brown rice cereal and natural peanut butter – but I know homemade goods would get thrown out by vigilant parents.

I have a friend who has her kids put their loot in a pile before bed. During the night the Great Pumpkin comes and Poof! their candy is turned into little games and trinkets from the dollar store. I also know a dentist who gives money in exchange for the kids who turn in their candy.

Hmm.

I was reading a recent issue of Body & Soul magazine and saw a small article on fair trade. Most chocolate, the article said, is exported from the Ivory Coast where kids aren’t going to school because they’re working on cocoa farms to help with family income. Buying fair trade products ensures that the money goes directly to the farmers and their communities instead of all the middlemen. And it just so happens that you can buy individually wrapped pieces of fair trade dark chocolate (according to some studies, dark chocolate does have a few health benefits).

Click here for a link to the article and a list of the companies.

Germaphobe

The waiter walks over and sets a glass of ice-water on the table.

“Ew,” my mom says when he walks away. “I don’t like it when restaurants put lemons in your drink.”

For years she’s claimed that lemon wedges have tons of bacteria – picked up because of how much they are handled by bare human hands – and this YouTube video seems to prove she’s right, reporting that over 77% of lemon wedges in drinks tested positive for disease causing bacteria.

My husband has an issue with restaurants that place the silverware directly on the table instead of on a napkin or tablecloth. When I tell him the tables are washed, he says, “Yeah, but have you seen those ratty rags they use?”

What a bunch of germaphobes!

Except I have my issues too. I don’t like touching menus. I especially can’t stand it when a waiter places a menu down on top of my plate. I mean really, when are menus cleaned?

I’m totally of the belief that exposure to bad bacteria can build my immune system. And, logically, I know that menus are only one of many places I’m coming across a boatload of germs. But still, menus freak me out.

Do you have any quirky things you’re a germ-freak about?

Acorn Squash Dip with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds on Wasa

Ingredients

2 cups acorn squash, cooked
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons fat free half and half
½ cup diced onion
2 leaves fresh sage
2 teaspoons maple syrup
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds
1 package WASA Hearty Rye Crispbread

Directions

Slice open acorn squash and remove seeds. Place sliced side down in an 8 X 8 inch glass dish, cover and microwave on high until tender (approx 10 minutes).
Scoop out meat with a spoon when cooled and set aside.
Heat oil in a skillet. Add onion and whole sage leaves. Sauté until onions are transparent. Remove sage.
Add squash, half and half, maple syrup, and parmesan cheese. Mix well.
Spoon into bowl, sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and serve hot on a platter with crispbread.

TIP: May substitute WASA Oat, Sourdough Rye, Multigrain, or Rye Crispbread. Leftover dip may be stored in refrigerator for to 3 – 4 days.

Prep time: 20 minutes

Serves 6

Nutritional Value Per Serving

Calories 254
Total Fat 6 g
Saturated Fat 6 g
Cholesterol 1 mg
Sodium 257 mg
Total Carbohydrate 52 g
Dietary Fiber 8 g
Protein 6 g
Calcium 57 mg

The Practice of Pause

In the most recent issue of Newsweek magazine, Robert J. Samuelson wrote a column titled The Sad Fate of the Comma.

He says:

I have always liked commas, but I seem to be in a shrinking minority. The comma is in retreat, though it is not yet extinct. In text messages and e-mails, commas appear infrequently, and then often by accident (someone hits the wrong key). Even on the printed page, commas are dwindling. Many standard uses from my childhood (after, for example, an introductory prepositional phrase) have become optional or, worse, have been ditched. If all this involved only grammar, I might let it lie. But the comma’s sad fate is, I think, a metaphor for something larger: how we deal with the frantic, can’t-wait-a-minute nature of modern life. The comma is, after all, a small sign that flashes PAUSE. It tells the reader to slow down, think a bit, and then move on. We don’t have time for that. No pauses allowed.

My husband came home from work a few hours after I read the article and mentioned that a yoga instructor had visited his office as part of their Wellness Program.

“Did you learn anything?” I asked.

He said he learned that if people took ten minutes out of their day to sit quietly and relax, scientific studies show stress levels reduce drastically. In other words, he learned it’s important to pause.

He had a worksheet from the Mind/Body Medical Institute. Click here for the full set of instructions, but in a nutshell it simply says to sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and breathe (the easy part), as you clear your mind of active thoughts (the hard part).

Summers seems like an especially good time to incorporate the practice of pause because schedules can get so busy. You might be thinking: “That’s precisely the problem. I’m so busy I don’t have time to relax for 10 minutes.” But as the yoga instructor who visited my husband’s office mentions on her website, pausing will calm you down and clear your mind for better decision-making, ultimately giving you much more time.     Š

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