Category Archives: Western NY

Message from ZVRS

Retraining Taste Buds

The carrots I hold in my hand are fresh from a local garden. They’re dirty and have wild bushy green tops. I wash and peel the carrots then pick up the knife. I have a long way to go until I can maneuver this utensil like those chefs on the Food Network, but I’m getting better. Faster.

I cut the carrots, chop the onion, dice the celery, slice the mushrooms and throw everything into a skillet with water. While the veggies are steam sautéing I boil tri-colored pasta in a medium pot and steam spinach in a small one. I add tomatoes and tomato sauce to the skillet. When the pasta and spinach are ready I add those too, along with garlic and oregano.

My husband, Ron, wanders in the kitchen.

“What’s for dinner?” he asks.

“Italian Skillet Casserole,” I say.

He leans over my shoulder and investigates the simmering dish on the stovetop.

“Almost all veggies,” I point out.

Cooking healthier foods has been challenging in certain ways, but one thing I completely forgot about when I started this new path is that my husband can’t stand vegetables. He’ll eat certain items (broccoli or beans or salad) because he knows they’re good for him, but he would prefer them as a side dish, not the main dish.

But it just so happens that his company is having a Vegetable Challenge this summer.

So perfect timing.

I scoop out the meal into two bowls, light some candles, and sit down.

It’s delicious, and I look at Ron to see what he thinks. He’s pushing a piece of onion, a hunk of tomato, and a mushroom slice to the side. “I can eat them when they’re small, but these big pieces…” he shakes his head.

“You need to retrain your taste buds,” I suggest softly.

He’s a good sport so he takes a huge spoonful, onion chunks and all, and gives it a go. He likes it. This truly is one of the tastier dishes I’ve made, and when I’m done I push my bowl aside and lean back in the chair.

“Hey, what’s that?” Ron says, peering into my bowl.

“Nothing,” I say.

“Uh-huh,” Ron nods, smirking.

Okay, okay. So I really do consider myself a vegetable lover, but I’ve always struggled with cooked carrots. There is small pile of them left. I guess we both have some retraining to work through.

Dry Ground

And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. And God saw that it was good. –Genesis 1:9

That verse has been stuck in my head since November.

Outside, I’ll point to our little community yard in front of our townhouse and say, “This hasn’t been dry since we moved in.”

It’s true.

When it’s not covered in snow or ice, it’s a wet, muddy patch of grass. I’m ready for sunshine. For warm air. For dry ground.

Last Saturday, I got my wish. The sun blazed in the sky without a cloud in sight. I was so happy and giddy and overwhelmed with possibilities I wasn’t sure what to do. Should I bike? Rollerblade? Find an outdoor court and play tennis? In the end, I opted for a long walk. I simply wanted to let the fresh air clear my mind.

Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk.

I could’ve stayed on the trail forever.

The day came to a close, and by Sunday morning it was raining again. Our patch of grass was wet and muddy. But there are more warm, dry days ahead. I can feel them. And I’m ready to welcome them with open arms.

Toes

Lately, I’ve been giving them a lot of thought.

First, my yoga teacher is always including toes in her instructions. Lift them off the ground (one at a time). Spread them. Plant them back on your mat (one at a time). It takes awhile to learn to control them – they’re so often ignored. Second, I was reading a book about a woman who had a stroke and was paralyzed on her left side, including all her toes. She was explaining the rehabilitation process and talking about the fact that she realized – once she could no longer use them – how important toes are for balance and for pushing off of when walking. Third, I just so happened to be reading the book passage while I was getting a pedicure (a gift from my husband).

So toes were on my mind.

For most of my life I didn’t pay attention to them. And when I got older I would shove them into cold, hard pointy shoes. In turn, that led to foot cramps. The cramps would attack in the middle of the night and hurt so bad I’d cry. But when I started practicing yoga, I noticed my foot cramps disappeared. I decided to give my feet the love they deserved. In addition to yoga, I began wearing comfortable shoes. And from time to time, I’d get a pedicure. I stopped painting my nails awhile ago (to avoid the harsh chemicals), but today I made a special exception.

I picked a color – Dutch Tulips – in honor of spring.

When they were red and shiny, I wiggled them and smiled. Thankful for my toes.

Cannellini Spread with Arugula and Lemon on Wasa

Ingredients

1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14 ounce) can cannellini beans (1-1/2 cups) drained, do not rinse
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons chicken broth
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 whole lemon, freshly squeezed juice
1 cup arugula, chopped
1 piece red pepper strip (optional)
8 pieces WASA Multigrain Crispbread

Directions

Heat olive oil in a 10 inch skillet. Add rosemary sprig and garlic. Sauté until garlic is yellow.
Add rained beans and cook an additional minute or until beans are heated through. Discard rosemary sprig.
Place mixture in food processor with chicken broth. Process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Spread each crispbread with 1 tablespoon of bean mixture. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of fresh lemon juice. Top with 1 tablespoon of chopped arugula. Sprinkle with additional ¼ teaspoon of fresh lemon juice.

TIP: Great for entertaining. Leftover spread may be stored in refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Serves 2

Nutritional Value Per Serving

Calories 410
Total Fat 9 g
Saturated Fat 1.0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 399 mg
Total Carbohydrate 69 g
Dietary Fiber 16 g
Protein 19 g
Calcium 83 mg

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